Mental Representation of Brands: A Schema-based Approach to Consumers' Organization of Market Knowledge

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Purpose – This paper aims to review the notion of schemata in consumer behavior, placing particular emphasis on the conceptualization of brand knowledge, and illustrate how schema theory may act as a unifying conceptual framework to study what consumers know about products and brands. Extant research on how consumers conceptualize brands lacks a single, coherent theoretical framework. The literature is fragmented into different approaches that may prevent comparisons across studies and make it difficult to draw conclusive results. Design/methodology/approach – The paper discusses the central tenets of schema theory and then presents the structure of schematic knowledge and the main typology of consumer schemata. It focuses on the brand schema, delineating its internal properties and drawing analogies with other approaches used to describe consumers’ mental representation of brands. Findings – Schema theory can provide a comprehensive framework to analyze how consumers perceive brand information. A cognitive schema specifies the parameters of knowledge content, discriminates between different types of information and indicates how various pieces of information relate to one another. Importantly, the internal structure of schemata remains stable across conceptual domains, allowing to investigate brand-specific knowledge in different contexts and in conjunction with superordinate and subordinate knowledge structures. Originality/value – This is the first systematic review of the notion of schemata in consumer behavior. It thoroughly describes how schema theory from psychology has been applied in marketing research to describe the organization of market knowledge and illustrates how it may function as an analytical tool.
TidsskriftJournal of Product and Brand Management
Udgave nummer5
Sider (fra-til)438-448
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - 2015
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Brand meaning
  • Cognition
  • Consumer behavior
  • Mental representation
  • Schema theory