City Research Online

First Impressions Stick: Market Entry Strategies and Category Priming in the Digital Domain

Aversa, P. ORCID: 0000-0003-3175-9477, Huyghe, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-6253-5893 & Bonadio, G. (2021). First Impressions Stick: Market Entry Strategies and Category Priming in the Digital Domain. Journal of Management Studies, 58(7), pp. 1721-1760. doi: 10.1111/joms.12712


The rise of the “digital age” presents unique challenges for firms entering new markets and deciding “where” to compete – a pivotal topic in corporate strategy. Particularly, it is not clear what the opportunities and implications are for digital new entrants as they position their disruptive business offerings in the category system, in particular vis-à-vis non-market stakeholders. In this article, we qualitatively investigate how two icons of the “sharing economy,” Uber and BlaBlaCar, pursued two distinct categorization strategies which were incumbent-focused and economic versus emergent-focused and non-economic. Our longitudinal comparative case study reveals how digital new entrants, through self-categorization, can enduringly impact the nature of the responses of non-market stakeholders. The mechanism at play is category priming – the process of directing stakeholders’ selective attention towards, or away from, the commonalities shared with a specific market category – and its stickiness over time. In particular, the distinct categorization strategies primed stakeholders to focus (Uber) or not focus (BlaBlaCar) on similarities between the entrant and an established category, which triggered polarized responses from media and regulators and resulted in a “sticky” association regardless of repositioning efforts. Our contribution dissects the constituents and consequences of these strategies and discusses implications for future research on digital market entry, strategic categorization, and business models.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Management Studies published by Society for the Advancement of Management Studies and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Publisher Keywords: market entry, digital, categorization strategies, non-market stakeholders, category priming
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of joms.12712.pdf]
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (357kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login