, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 494-505

Materialism, status signaling, and product satisfaction

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Abstract

The consumer satisfaction literature has not, for the mos part, integrated individual values into the product evaluation process. Yet a comprehensive understanding of consumer satisfaction can best be attained by including both consumer and product factors. To demonstrate the usefulness of including individual values, this research focuses on one consumer value, namely, materialism. The authors empirically explore how this individual value is linked to consumers’ evaluations of products they have purchased. Using surveys, the authors collected data from a sample of college students (n=211) and a sample of adults (n=270). Across these two studies, using divergent samples and products, they find consistent evidence that materialism is negatively related to product satisfaction in product categories with high potential for status signaling, but unrelated to product satisfaction in product categories with lower potential for status signaling. The consumption goals that produce these product evaluations are empirically addressed

Jeff Wang (jianfeng76@yahoo.com; PhD, City University of Hong Kong) is an assistant professor of marketing in the Faculty of Business at the City University of Hong Kong. This work was conducted when he was a doctoral student of marketing in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. His research interests include social networks and consumer behavior, consumer satisfaction and well-being, materialism and consumption meanings, and consumer interests and public policy issues. His dissertation studies credit card debt as a socially embedded phenomenon and investigates how consumers leverage their interpersonal ties as they accumulate and repay their debt.
Melanie Wallendorf (mwallendorf@eller.arizona.edu) is Soldwedel Professor of Marketing in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. She holds an MS in sociology and a PhD in marketing from the University of Pittsburgh. Her articles on the sociocultural aspects of consumption have been published in theJournal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Advertising and Society Review, Addiction, Journal of Macromarketing, andAmerican Behavioral Scientist, among others. Her coauthored article on “The Sacred and Profane in Consumer Behavior” won theJournal of Consumer Research Best Article Award in 1992. Her research has been featured in theWall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, American Demographics, andFortune, and has been funded by the Marketing Science Institute, the Arizona Disease Control Research Commission, and the Office of Earth Science at NASA.