The evolution of consumer knowledge and sources of information: Hungary in transition

  • Robin A. Coulter
  • Linda L. Price
  • Lawrence Feick
  • Camelia Micu


The authors’ research in Hungary during the period of transition to a market economy provides an opportunity to examine the evolving relationships between consumer product knowledge and its antecedents, including advertising, personal search, interpersonal sources, and brand experience. Their findings, based on survey data collected in Budapest in 1992 and 1998, indicate that the market information variables explain more variance in consumer knowledge later rather than earlier in the transition. Advertising is an important predictor of consumer knowledge later but not earlier in the transition, personal search is important at both times, and interpersonal sources are not important in either time period; brand experience is negatively related to knowledge earlier in the transition and positively related later in the transition. This study allows one to begin to understand the boundary conditions associated with studies conducted in developed economies. Managerial implications for firms investing in transitional economies are presented.


product knowledge information search advertising transitional economies Hungary 


  1. Alba, Joseph W. and J. Wesley Hutchinson. 1987. Dimensions of Consumer Expertise.Journal of Consumer Research 13 (March): 411–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. — and —. 2000. Knowledge Calibration: What Consumers Know and What They Think They Know.Journal of Consumer Re-search 27 (September): 123–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arndt, {GNJohan}. 1968. {ATA Test of the Two-Step Flow in Diffusion of a New Product}.Journalism Quarterly 45 (August): 457–465.Google Scholar
  4. Baron, Reuben M. and David A. Kenny. 1986. The Moderator-Mediator Variable Distinction in Social Psychological Research: Conceptual, Strategic, and Statistical Considerations.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51 (December): 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Batra, Rajeev. 1999.Marketing Issues in Transitional Economies. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Beatty, Sharon E. and Scott M. Smith. 1987. External Search Effort: An Investigation Across Several Product Categories.Journal of Consumer Research 14 (June): 83–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Belk, Russell W. 1999. Leaping Luxuries and Transitional Consumers. InMarketing Issues in Transitional Economies. Ed. Rajeev Batra. Boston: Kluwer, 39–54.Google Scholar
  8. Bettman, James R. and C. Whan Park. 1980. Effects of Prior Knowledge and Experience and Phase of the Choice Process on Consumer Decision Processes: A Protocol Analysis.Journal of Consumer Research 7 (December): 234–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Biswas, Abhijit and Daniel L. Sherrell. 1993. The Influence of Product Knowledge and Brand Name on Internal Price Standards and Confidence.Psychology and Marketing 10 (January/February): 31–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bloch, Peter H., Daniel L. Sherrell, and Nancy M. Ridgway. 1986. Consumer Search: An Extended Framework.Journal of Consumer Research 13 (June): 119–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Braun, Aurel. 1999. Introduction: The Continuing Dilemmas of Transition. InDilemmas of Transition: The Hungarian Experience. Eds. Aurel Braun and Zoltan Barany. Lanhan, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1–30.Google Scholar
  12. — and Zoltan Barany. 1999.Dilemmas of Transition: The Hungarian Experience. Lanhan, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  13. Breslauer, George W. 1996. Identities in Transition: An Introduction. InIdentities in Transition. Ed. Victoria E. Bonnell. Berkeley: University of California, 1–12.Google Scholar
  14. Brown, Christina L. and Aradhna Krishna. 2004. The Skeptical Shopper: A Metacognitive Account for the Effects of Default Options on Choice.Journal of Consumer Research 31 (December): 529–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burt, Ronald S. 1999. The Social Capital of Opinion Leaders.Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 566 (November): 37–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chow, Gregory C. 1960. Test of Equality Between Sets of Coefficients in Two Linear Regressions.Econometrica 8 (3): 591–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. CIA. 2003. The World Factbook 2002. Retrieved from Scholar
  18. Cosmetics Industry in Hungary. 2001. Retrieved from Scholar
  19. Coulter, Robin A., Lawrence Feick, and Linda L. Price. 2002. Cosmetics Opinion Leadership Among Women in the New Hungary.European Journal of Marketing 36 (11/12): 1287–1308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. —, Linda L. Price, and Lawrence Feick. 2003. Rethinking the Origins of Involvement and Brand Commitment: Insights From Postsocialist Central Europe.Journal of Consumer Research 30 (September): 151–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. —, Gerald Zaltman, and Keith S. Coulter. 2001. Interpreting Consumer Perceptions of Advertising: An Application of the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique.Journal of Advertising 30 (Winter): 1–22.Google Scholar
  22. Dawar, Niraj. Philip M. Parker, and Lydia J. Price. 1996. A Cross-Cul-tural Study of Interpersonal Information Exchange.Journal of International Business Studies 22 (September): 497–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dichter, Ernest. 1966. How Word-of-Mouth Advertising Works.Harvard Business Review 44 (November/December): 147–166.Google Scholar
  24. Drakulic, Slavenka. 1993.How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  25. Euromonitor International. 2003. Global Market Information Database: Advertising Expenditures in Hungary by Medium, 1987–2003. Retrieved from http://www.gmid.euromonitor.comGoogle Scholar
  26. Feick, Lawrence and Herbert Gierl. 1996. Skepticism About Advertising: A Comparison of East and West German Consumers.International Journal of Research in Marketing 13 (3): 227–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. —, Robin A. Higie, and Linda L. Price. 1993. Consumer Search and Decision Problems in a Transitional Economy: Hungary, 1989–1992. Working paper. Marketing Science Institute, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  28. —, Robin Higie Coulter, and Linda L. Price. 1995. Consumers in the Transition to a Market Economy: Hungary, 1989–1992.International Marketing Review 12 (October): 18–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. — and Linda L. Price. 1987. The Market Maven: A Diffuser of Marketplace Information.Journal of Marketing 51 (January): 83–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. ——, and Robin A. Higie. 1986. People Who Use People: The Other Side of Opinion Leadership. InAdvances in Consumer Research. Vol. 13. Ed. Richard J. Lutz. Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 301–305.Google Scholar
  31. Foumier, Susan and Julie L. Yao. 1997. Reviving Brand Loyalty: A Reconceptualization Within the Framework of Consumer-Brand Relationships.International Journal of Research in Marketing 14 (5): 451–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Friedman, Thomas L. 1999.The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization. New York: Farrar, Straus & Girouz.Google Scholar
  33. Ger, Gliz, Russell W. Belk, and Dana Lascu. 1993. The Development of Consumer Desire in Marketizing and Developing Economies: The Cases of Romania and Turkey. InAdvances in Consumer Research, Vol. 20. Eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael Rothschild. Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 103–107.Google Scholar
  34. Gladwell, Malcolm. 2000.The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  35. Godin, Seth. 1999.Unleashing the Ideavirus. New York: Hyperion.Google Scholar
  36. Goodrum, Charles and Helen Dalrymple. 1990.Advertising in America: The First 200 Years. New York: Harry M. Abrams.Google Scholar
  37. Gregan-Paxton, Jennifer and Deborah Roedder John. 1997. Consumer Learning by Analogy: A Model of the Internal Knowledge Transfer.Journal of Consumer Research 24 (December): 266–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hoch, Stephen J. and John Deighton. 1989. Managing What Consumers Learn From Experience.Journal of Marketing 53 (April): 120.Google Scholar
  39. — and Young-Won Ha. 1986. Consumer Learning: Advertising and the Ambiguity of Product Experience.Journal of Consumer Research 13 (October): 221–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Humphrey, Caroline. 1995. Creating a Culture of Disillusionment: Consumption in Moscow, a Chronicle of Changing Times. InWorlds Apart. Ed. Daniel Miller. London: Routledge, 43–68.Google Scholar
  41. James, Beverly. 1995. Learning to Consume: An Ethnographic Study of Cultural Change in Hungary.Critical Studies in Mass Communication 12: 287–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Katz, Elihu and Paul F. Lazarsfeld. 1955.Personal Influence. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  43. Kempf, DeAnna S. and Robert E. Smith. 1998. Consumer Processing of Product Trial and the Influence of Prior Advertising: A Structural Modeling Approach.Journal of Marketing Research 35 (August): 325–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. King. Charles W. and John O. Summers. 1970. Overlap of Opinion Leadership Across Consumer Product Categories.Journal of Marketing Research 7 (February): 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kligman, Gail. 1996. Women and the Negotiation of Identity in Post-Communist Eastern Europe. InIdentities in Transition. Ed. Victoria E. Bonnell. Berkeley. CA: University of California, 68–91.Google Scholar
  46. Laird, Pamela Walker. 1998.Advertising Progress: American Business and the Rise of Consumer Marketing. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Lascu, Dana-Nicoleta, Lalita A. Manrai, and Ajay K. Manrai. 1993. Marketing in Romania: The Challenges of the Transition From a Centrally-Planned Economy to a Consumer-Oriented Economy.European Journal of Marketing 27 (November/December): 102–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Miller, Daniel. 1987.Material Culture and Mass Consumption. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  49. Money, R. Bruce and Deborah Colton. 2000. The Response of the New Consumer to Promotion in the Transition Economies of the Former Soviet Bloc.Journal of World Business 35 (2): 189–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mussey, Dagmar, Elena Bowes, Milan Ruzicka, and Nancy Olges. 1991. P&G Eyes Europe for Always; P&G Sets Up E. Europe Units.Advertising Age 24 (June): 62.Google Scholar
  51. Myers, James H. and Thomas S. Robertson. 1972. Dimensions of Opinion Leadership.Journal of Marketing Research 9 (February): 41–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nicholls, Ana, Michael Kapoor, and Joe Cook. 1998. Friendly Invaders.Business Central Europe, May, pp. 43–54.Google Scholar
  53. Norris, James D. 1990.Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865–1920. New York: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  54. Oliver, Richard. 1999. Whence Consumer Loyalty.Journal of Marketing 63 (Special Issue): 33–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Park, C. Whan, David L. Mothersbaugh, and Lawrence Feick. 1994. Consumer Knowledge Assessment: The Importance of Product-Related Experiences in Judgement of Self-Assessed Knowledge.Journal of Consumer Research 14 (June): 71–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Patton, W. E., III. 1984. Brand Choice and Varying Quantity of InformationJournal of Business Research 12 (March): 75–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pollay, Richard W. and Banwari Mittal. 1993. Here’s the Beef: Factors, Determinants, and Segments in Consumer Criticism of Advertising.Journal of Marketing 57 (July): 99–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ratchford, Brian. 2001. The Economics of Consumer Knowledge.Journal of Consumer Research 27 (March): 397–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ready to Shop Until They Drop.1998.Business Weekl 22 (June): 104–116.Google Scholar
  60. Rosen, Emanuel. 2000.The Anatomy of the Buzz: How to Create Word-of-Marketing. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  61. Shavitt, Sharon, Pamela Lowrey, and James Haefner. 1998. Public Attitudes Toward Advertising: More Favorable Than You Might Think.Journal of Advertising Research 38 (July/August): 7–22.Google Scholar
  62. Srinivasan, Narasimhan and Brian T. Ratchford. 1991. An Empirical Test of a Model of External Search for Automobiles.Journal of Consumer Research 18 (September): 233–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Statistical Yearbook of Hungary, 2001. 2002. Budapest: Hungarian Central Statistical Office.Google Scholar
  64. Steenkamp, Jan-Benedict E. M. and Hans Baumgartner. 1998. Assessing Measurement Invariance in Cross-National Consumer Research.Journal of Consumer Research 25 (June): 78–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Tavassoli, Nader T., Lauren G. Block, Bernd H. Schmitt, and Morris B. Holbrook. 1993. Perceptions of Western Products in Transforming Socialist Countries: The Moderating Role of Political Orientation. InEuropean Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 1. Eds. G. J. Bamossey and W. F. van Raaij. Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 226–231.Google Scholar
  66. Timár, Judit. 2001. Some Geographical Aspects of Changing Conditions of Women in Postsocialist Hungary. Retrieved from http:// Scholar
  67. Vegh, Csilla. 1997.Hungary-Cosmetics Industry-ISA. Washington, DC: U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service and U.S. Department of State.Google Scholar
  68. Verdery, Katherine. 1996.What Was Socialism and What Comes Next? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Verlegh, Peter W. J. and Jan-Benedict E. M. Steenkamp. 1999. A Review and Meta-Analysis of Country-of-Origin Research.Journal of Economic Psychology 20 (5): 521–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Waters, Malcolm. 1995.Globalization. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  71. West, Patricia M., Christina L. Brown, and Stephen J. Hoch. 1996. Consumption Vocabulary and Preference Formation.Journal of Consumer Research 23 (September): 120–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin A. Coulter
    • 1
  • Linda L. Price
    • 2
  • Lawrence Feick
    • 3
  • Camelia Micu
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ConnecticutUSA
  2. 2.University of ArizonaUSA
  3. 3.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations