This paper provides empirical insight into the way consumers make pairwise similarity judgments between brands, and how familiarity with the brands, serial position of the pair in a sequence, and the presentation format affect these judgments. Within the similarity judgment process both the formation of a consumer's mental similarity perception and the mapping of the judgment on the scale are examined. We investigate the occurrence of different response patterns, i.e. the distribution of judgments on the scale, in two studies: one using an input-output approach, and one using a process-tracing approach. In study 1, judgments of brand similarity are obtained for soft drinks and magazines from 240 subjects. In study 2, 36 subjects judged, while thinking aloud, the similarity between soft drink brands. In both studies, the presentation format is varied between subjects, and familiar and unfamiliar brands are included. Familiarity with the brands, and to a lesser extent, the presentation format affect the response patterns, whereas serial position has no effect. Implications for similarity data collection, statistical modelling of similarity data, and conceptual models based on brand similarity are discussed.
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