Journal of Consumer Behaviour

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Claiming best or better? The effect of target brand's and competitor's puffery on holistic and analytic thinkers

Abstract Previous empirical studies have yielded contradictory results about how consumers react to puffed claims in advertisements. This study addresses this issue by considering how consumers' thinking style and competitors' puffery interact to influence consumers' brand attitude in terms of product puffery. Drawing upon experiments using fictitious and real brand names, three studies provide converging evidence that holistic thinkers will form a more positive brand attitude when exposed to the target brand's low‐puffery (vs. no puffery or high puffery) claims. In contrast, analytic thinkers are less sensitive to puffery, and their brand attitude will not change. Further, holistic thinkers are more sensitive to the presence of competitor's puffery. Holistic thinkers exposed to competitor's high‐puffery (vs. low) claims form a more positive brand attitude toward the target brand. For analytic thinkers, competitor's puffery level will not significantly affect their attitude toward the target brand. Our findings shed fresh light on the inconclusive results of prior studies and offer practical implications for marketing puffery.

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