When Imitation Doesn’t Flatter: The Role of Consumer Distinctiveness in Responses to Mimicry
In a series of four experiments, the authors examine the implications of one consumer’s possession being mimicked by another consumer. The results demonstrate that when distinctiveness concerns are heightened, greater dissociation responses (i.e., possession disposal intentions, recustomization behaviors, and exchange behaviors) arise in response to being mimicked by a similar as opposed to dissimilar other. These effects are driven by threats to distinctiveness. Finally, these effects are mitigated when the imitated possession is nonsymbolic in nature and when a low degree of effort is exerted to initially obtain the possession. Implications for marketers and consumers are discussed.
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