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Categorical contrast and audience appeal: Niche width and critical success in winemaking

Negro, G.; Hannan, M.T.; Rao, H.


G. Negro

M.T. Hannan

H. Rao


Previous studies show that producers that span category boundaries exhibit lower fit to category schemas, accumulate less expertise, and elicit negative reactions from both critics and consumers. We propose that the negative reaction to category spanning also depends on another mechanism: widespread category spanning lowers categorical contrastthe sharpness of a categorys boundaries. Lowered contrast blurs boundaries among categories due to the impairment of the comparison processes underlying evaluations and the growing disagreement about the meaning of the category. These processes lower the appeal of all products in a category and make it problematic for any offer to receive widespread acclaim. By making boundaries less salient, reduced contrast also lowers the advantages of category specialism. These propositions receive support in an analysis of style categories and ratings of Barolos and Barbarescos, elite Italian wines.


Negro, G., Hannan, M., & Rao, H. (2010). Categorical contrast and audience appeal: Niche width and critical success in winemaking. Industrial and Corporate Change, 19(5), 1397-1425.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2010
Deposit Date Feb 18, 2011
Journal Industrial and Corporate Change
Print ISSN 0960-6491
Electronic ISSN 1464-3650
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 5
Pages 1397-1425
Public URL