Congruency between self as communicated by product ensembles and self as perceived by peers – do the two match?

Emile, Renu and Sangwan, Sunanda (2014) Congruency between self as communicated by product ensembles and self as perceived by peers – do the two match? Advances in Consumer Research, 42. pp. 307-312. ISSN 00989258

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The use of products and brands to communicate aspects of the self has extensively been the subject of research (Escales & Bettman, 2005, Flynn et al., 2011; Grubb & Grathwohl, 1967). Empirical studies have examined the use of products and brands to communicate a range of aspects such as membership of reference groups or communities (White & Dahl, 2007); class, status, and lifestyle (O’Cass & McEwen, 2004); personality differences (Nevia & Pastna, 2014); ethnicity and culture (Jamal & Chapman, 2000). Studies have also addressed the notion of interpreting or decoding consumption symbolism (Arnould & Thompson, 2005; Belk et al. 1982; Grubb & Grathwohl, 1967; Paasovaara et al. 2012). These studies suggest that consumers make judgments or inferences about self-related characteristics of product users from the products that belong to the person. Such studies gather data employing projective techniques by asking participants to make judgments about, for example, the type of people who would use the products presented or described (see Boddy, 2005; Haire, 1950; Fram & Cibotti, 1991; Porr et al., 2011; Stein- mann, 2009). In this regard, the decoding literature has studied a number of product categories such as food and grocery (Doherty and Nelson 2010), automobiles and housing (Belk et al., 1982; Desmet et al., 2000; Grubb & Stern, 1971), miscellaneous products (Belk,2013) and cosmetics (Mick et al., 1992; Tantiseneepong, 2012). However, there is little specific research on whether senders’ intended self-related characteristics match with those received by audiences. Research on product choices in relation to the self has tended to be restricted to researcher-selected products or product categories and specific aspects of the self. Grubb and Stern (1971) had owners of two automobile brands rate perceptions of their selves, of automobile brands, and owners of each brand of automobile. The study finds both consumers and their significant others hold similar stereotypes of owners of automobile brands. Feinberg et al. (1992) asked female subjects to display an outfit that best reflected their personality and then rate their personality on a series of rating scales. An independent group of subjects was presented with the photographs of the chosen outfits and instructed to infer owner personalities utilizing the same rating scales. While the Grubb and Stern (1971) study involved no direct matching of self-related characteristics between consumers and their observers, both product and test item choices in the Feinberg et al. study (1992) were pre-determined by the researcher, thus being a limited investigation of whether senders’ intended self-related characteristics match with those received by audiences. What remains outside the scope of such studies is the identification of consumers’ intended self-related characteristics in relation to their product choices, and the investigation of congruency between consumers’ intended self-related characteristics and those accorded by audiences. This study addresses this gap. It allows young adult consumers the autonomy to self-select a range of products that communicate self-related characteristics to peer audiences. The study identifies the self-related characteristics that consumers express through their product choices, and further investigates congruency between consumers’ product-related self-characteristics and observer selections. More specifically, the study examines the following questions: 1. How successful are young adult consumers in communicating aspects of their selves to peer audiences via their product ensemble choices? 2. Is there evidence of congruency between consumers’ (‘senders’) product ensemble self-related characteristics and observers’ (receivers’) inferences? If so, to what extent?

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Consumer Behaviour | Selfproduct Congruency | Product Symbolism
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Business, Management and Accounting > Marketing
Social Sciences and humanities > Economics, Econometrics and Finance > Economics
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Business School
Depositing User: Subhajit Bhattacharjee
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2022 12:02
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2022 12:02
Official URL:


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