Social information in the retail environment: The importance of consumption alignment, referent identity, and self-esteem

Darren W. Dahl, Jennifer J. Argo, Andrea Ketcham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research focuses on understanding when low body esteem consumers are most likely to engage in negative social comparisons and examines how this process influences product evaluations. In a series of three studies, we find that two pieces of social information are needed for negative comparisons in a retail environment to occur: (1) an attractive social referent must be actively consuming (i.e., wearing) the product and (2) the consumer must also be actively consuming (i.e., wearing) the product. If only one of these conditions holds, there is no alignment in consumption, and a negative comparison does not occur. Importantly, we also show that the identity of the social referent is critical to these effects. By identifying key factors that determine when comparative information will influence consumers, this research highlights how marketing strategies impact the consumer inside and outside of the retail environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)860-871
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Volume38
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

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