Inna Galperin and Olav Sorenson
Research on categories has generally assumed, but has not directly examined, the relationship between the valuation of categories and of the sets of attributes that determine membership in those categories. This study uses survey data combined with an experimental design to analyze consumers’ valuation of the organic label relative to the attributes underlying that label. We find that consumers do not understand the meaning of the “organic” label but nonetheless generally prefer products with it to those with the attributes of an organic product but without the label. Categories therefore appear to have value beyond the sum of their parts. Thus categories, rather than simply being a proxy for a set of attributes, seem to represent an alternative schema for evaluating objects, people and organizations.