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We propose that the variety a brand offers often serves as a quality cue and thus influences which brand consumers choose. Specifically, brands that offer a greater variety of options that appear compatible and require similar skills tend to be perceived as having greater category expertise or core competency in the category, which, in turn, enhances their perceived quality and purchase likelihood. Six studies support this proposition and demonstrate that compared to brands which offer fewer products, (a) brands which offer increased compatible variety are perceived as having higher quality; (b) this effect is mediated by product variety’s impact on perceived expertise; (c) the higher perceived quality produces a greater choice share of the higher variety brand, even among consumers who select options that multiple brands offer and (d) product variety also impacts post-experience perceptions of taste. The findings suggest that in addition to directly affecting brand choice share through influencing the fit with consumer preferences, product line length can also indirectly affect brand choice through influencing perceived brand quality.

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