Evaluation differences between goods and services : the role of product intangibility
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This work considers services marketing theory regarding consumer evaluations. A common assertion within the services marketing literature is that services are more difficult to evaluate than goods. Part of this work examines this assertion by theoretical and empirical means. Several evaluative dimensions are examined (perceived evaluation difficulty, perceived processing effort, certainty of evaluation, predictive ability and the use of information sources). The results suggest that consumers do not find services more difficult to evaluate than goods. A second purpose of this study was to investigate evaluative effects of product intangibility. Product intangibility is conceptulised as a three-dimensional construct. The three dimensions are: abstractness, generality and lack of pre-purchase inspection possibilities. The results support this multi-dimensional conceptualisation of the product intangibility construct. Also, the results suggest that the different intangibility dimensions give rise to different effects with respect to consumers product evaluation. Abstractness has a negative influence over perceived evaluation difficulty, whilst generality has a positive influence over perceived evaluation difficulty. The effects regarding the use of information sources exhibited an opposite pattern, where the abstractness dimension supported predictions made in the services marketing literature, whilst the generality dimension opposed these. No effects related to the evaluative dimensions are found with respect to lack of pre-purchase inspection possibilities except for the use of a couple information sources. In view of the observed results a distinction between goods and services based on consumer evaluations is questionable.