Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Business

Supervisor

Niraj Dawar

Abstract

My dissertation examines whether, when and why the competitive advantage provided by a trivial attribute (i.e., a product attribute that provides no verifiable objective benefit) to a differentiating brand holds in the event of competitive retaliation. I construct a multitude of experimental action-reaction settings to examine the sustainability of a trivial attribute differentiation strategy. The manipulated factors across different experiments include the category dominance of the first-mover and the retaliating brands, and the nature of competitive retaliation (i.e., same trivial attribute, a different trivial attribute, a more attractive trivial attribute, and price retaliation). My dissertation contributes theoretically to the areas of differentiation and consumer preference formation, and provides insight on how competitive dynamics play in consumers’ cognitive representations of the market place. The dissertation contributes managerially by providing actionable implications for firms on how to deploy, or react to trivial attribute differentiation in a competitive product market.


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