Category Taken-for-Grantedness as a Strategic Opportunity
The Case of Light Cigarettes, 1964 to 1993
Theories within organizational and economic sociology that center on market categories often equate taken-for-grantedness with increased constraint on category members’ features. In contrast, we develop a novel perspective that considers how market participants’ changing category-related attributions decrease the scrutiny of category offerings, opening up strategic opportunities for firms. We further argue that whether producers should be expected to take advantage of these opportunities depends on the extent to which they are incentivized to do so. We use the case of the light cigarette category to test this thesis. We argue and find evidence that increasing taken-for-grantedness of the light cigarette category created greater opportunity for tobacco firms to strategically manipulate category features.