Non-Profits are Seen as Warm and For-Profits as Competent: Firm Stereotypes Matter

14 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2010 Last revised: 3 Mar 2015

Jennifer Aaker

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business

Kathleen Vohs

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management

Cassie Mogilner

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Date Written: January 21, 2010

Abstract

Consumers use warmth and competence, two fundamental dimensions that govern social judgments of people, to form perceptions of firms. Three experiments showed that consumers perceive non-profits as being warmer than for-profits, but as less competent. Further, consumers are less willing to buy a product made by a non-profit than a for-profit because of their perceptions that the firm lacks competence. Consequently, when perceived competence of a non-profit is boosted through subtle cues that connote credibility, discrepancies in willingness to buy disappear. In fact, when consumers perceive high levels of competence and warmth, they feel admiration for the firm - which translates to consumers’ increased desire to buy. This work highlights the importance of consumer stereotypes about non-profit and for-profit companies that, at baseline, come with opposing advantages and disadvantages but that can be altered.

Keywords: Brand Management, customer relations/retention, marketing strategy

Suggested Citation

Aaker, Jennifer and Vohs, Kathleen and Mogilner, Cassie, Non-Profits are Seen as Warm and For-Profits as Competent: Firm Stereotypes Matter (January 21, 2010). Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2010; Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University Working Paper No. 69. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1540134 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1540134

Jennifer Lynn Aaker (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Kathleen Vohs

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Suite 3-150
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Cassie Mogilner

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

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