The answer, of course, is not much. In those categories, the traditional consumer decision-making factors, such as packaging, advertising, pricing, and even habit, still hold sway. “While people may, once in a while, talk about paper towels, their choice is not significantly influenced by their peers in this domain,” admit Simonson and Rosen.
The problem is the authors don’t fully address this caveat until more than halfway through the book. This makes the reader suspicious that they have overplayed their hand in the earlier chapters. Although Absolute Value’s central tenet is credible and technology does make information-based purchasing prevalent across more and more categories, this theory is not, well, absolute.
- Catharine P. Taylor has covered digital media since 1994, writing for publications including Adweek and Advertising Age. She writes a weekly social media insider column for MediaPost, and is a frequent speaker on social media’s impact on advertising, media, and behavior.