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Where Consumers Diverge from Others: Identity Signaling and Product Domains

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  • Jonah Berger
  • Chip Heath
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    Abstract

    We propose that consumers often make choices that diverge from those of others to ensure that they effectively communicate desired identities. Consistent with this identity-signaling perspective, four studies illustrate that consumers are more likely to diverge from majorities, or members of other social groups, in product domains that are seen as symbolic of identity (e.g., music or hairstyles, rather than backpacks or stereos). In identity domains, participants avoided options preferred by majorities and abandoned preferences shared with majorities. The social group associated with a product influenced choice more in identity domains and when a given product was framed as identity relevant. People diverge, in part, to avoid communicating undesired identities. (c) 2007 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Consumer Research.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 2 (06)
    Pages: 121-134

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jconrs:v:34:y:2007:i:2:p:121-134

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    Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JCR/

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    Cited by:
    1. Maystre, Nicolas & Olivier, Jacques & Thoenig, Mathias & Verdier, Thierry, 2009. "Product-Based Cultural Change: Is the Village Global?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7438, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. He, Hongwei & Li, Yan & Harris, Lloyd, 2012. "Social identity perspective on brand loyalty," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 65(5), pages 648-657.
    3. Kleijnen, Mirella & Lee, Nick & Wetzels, Martin, 2009. "An exploration of consumer resistance to innovation and its antecedents," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 344-357, June.
    4. LeBoeuf, Robyn A. & Shafir, Eldar & Bayuk, Julia Belyavsky, 2010. "The conflicting choices of alternating selves," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 48-61, January.
    5. Gentina, Elodie & Butori, Raphaëlle & Heath, Timothy B., 2014. "Unique but integrated: The role of individuation and assimilation processes in teen opinion leadership," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 83-91.
    6. Liu, Peggy J. & Campbell, Troy H. & Fitzsimons, Gavan J. & Fitzsimons, Gráinne M., 2013. "Matching choices to avoid offending stigmatized group members," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 291-304.
    7. Andreas Wagener, 2012. "Why Do People (Not) Cough in Concerts? The Economics of Concert Etiquette," ACEI Working Paper Series AWP-05-2012, the Association for Cultural Economics International, revised Dec 2012.
    8. Beaton, Anthony A. & Funk, Daniel C. & Ridinger, Lynn & Jordan, Jeremy, 2011. "Sport involvement: A conceptual and empirical analysis," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 126-140, May.
    9. Maystre, Nicolas & Olivier, Jacques & Thoenig, Mathias & Verdier, Thierry, 2014. "Product-based cultural change: Is the village global?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 212-230.
    10. Mason, Malia F. & Dyer, Rebecca & Norton, Michael I., 2009. "Neural mechanisms of social influence," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 152-159, November.

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