Skip to main content

Focusing on others before you shop: exposure to Facebook promotes conventional product configurations

Abstract

Consumers’ use of social media websites can serve fundamentally different motives, from merely sharing entertaining content, filling up spare time, to observing what friends are doing on social media. The current work examines the downstream consequences of such social media use on consumers’ subsequent product choices. Specifically, this work explores how exposure to Facebook compared to other major social media websites such as Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn enhances consumers’ focus on others and the consequences of such temporary shifts in focus on consumers’ subsequent preference for specific options. A large-scale field study and a series of experiments provide evidence that exposure to Facebook prior to a product configuration task enhances consumers’ tendency to upgrade conventional as opposed to unconventional options, and we show that this effect is driven by a greater focus on others followed by a fear of negative evaluation from their peers. We show that this effect can be reversed if consumers believe that only a minority prefers a conventional target option. These findings provide novel insight into the role of pre-shopping factors in consumers’ path-to-purchase, context effects that can trigger more conventional choices, and the conceptualization of consumer journeys as a sequence of events—rather than isolated ones—which can alter consumer preference in subsequent product configuration tasks.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • Alhabash, Saleem, and Mengyan Ma (2017), “A Tale of Four Platforms: Motivations and Uses of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat Among College Students,” Social Media + Society, 3(1), 205630511769154.

  • Anderl, E., Becker, I., von Wangenheim, F., & Schumann, J. H. (2016). Mapping the customer journey: Lessons learned from graph-based online attribution modeling. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 33(3), 457–474.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Appel, H., Gerlach, A. L., & Crusius, J. (2016). The interplay between Facebook use, social comparison, envy, and depression. Current: Opinion in Psychology.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Arndt, J., Schimel, J., Greenberg, J., & Pyszczynski, T. (2002). The intrinsic self and defensiveness: Evidence that activating the intrinsic self reduces self-handicapping and conformity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(5), 671–683.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berger, J., & Heath, C. (2007). Where consumers diverge from others: Identity signaling and product domains. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(August), 121–135.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bernstein, M., Young, S., Brown, C., Sacco, D., & Claypool, H. (2008). Adaptive responses to social exclusion. Journal of Personality, 19(10), 981–983.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beukeboom, C. J., Kerkhof, P., & de Vries, M. (2015). Does a virtual like cause actual liking? How following a Brand’s Facebook updates enhances brand evaluations and purchase intention. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 32, 26–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brewer, M. B. (1991). The social self: On being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17, 475–482.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Buffardi, L., & Campbell, K. (2008). Narcissism and social networking web sites. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(10), 1303–1314.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1978). Self-focusing effects of dispositional self-consciousness, mirror presence, and audience presence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36(3), 324–332.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1981). Attention and self-regulation: A control-theory approach to human behavior. Series in Social Psychology: Springer.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Cialdini, Robert B, and Noah J Goldstein (2004), “Social influence: Compliance and conformity.,” Annual Review of Psychology, 55(1974), 591–621.

  • Cialdini, R. B., Reno, R. R., & Kallgren, C. A. (1990). A focus theory of normative conduct: Recycling the concept of norms to reduce littering in public places. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(6), 1015–1026.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cialdini, R. B., Demaine, L. J., Sagarin, B. J., Barrett, D. W., Rhoads, K., & Winter, P. L. (2006). Managing social norms for persuasive impact. Social Influence, 1(1), 3–15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cox, D., & Cox, A. D. (2002). Beyond first impressions: The effects of repeated exposure on consumer liking of visually complex and simple product designs. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 30(2), 119–130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dana, E. R., Lalwani, N., & Shelley Duval, T. (1997). Objective self-awareness and focus of attention following awareness of self-standard discrepancies: Changing self or changing standards of correctness. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 16(4), 359–380.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Das, S., & Kramer, A. (2013). Self-censorship on Facebook. Seventh International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, 120–27.

  • Davidson, R., & MacKinnon, J. G. (1981). Several tests for model specification in the presence of alternative hypotheses. Econometrica, 49(3), 781–793.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dellaert, B. G. C., & Stremersch, S. (2005). Marketing mass-customized products: Striking a balance between utility and complexity. Journal of Marketing Research, 42(2), 219–227.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dellaert, B. G. C., Arentze, T. A., Bierlaire, M., Borgers, A. W. J., & Timmermans, H. J. P. (1998). Investigating consumers’ tendency to combine multiple shopping purposes and destinations. Journal of Marketing Research, 35(2), 177–188.

    Google Scholar 

  • Duval, Shelley, and Robert A. Wicklund (1972), A theory of objective self awareness.

  • Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of facebook ‘friends:’ Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143–1168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fenigstein, A., & Levine, M. P. (1984). Self-attention, concept activation, and the causal self. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 20(3), 231–245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fenigstein, A., Scheier, M. F., & Buss, A. H. (1975). Public and private self-consciousness: Assessment and theory. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 43(4), 522–527.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ferris, A. L., & Hollenbaugh, E. E. (2018). A uses and gratifications approach to exploring antecedents to Facebook dependency. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 62(1), 51–70.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Forbes (2016), “How Facebook Biases Your News Feed,” <https://www.forbes.com/sites/nelsongranados/2016/06/30/how-facebook-biases-your-news-feed/>.

  • Franke, N., & Schreier, M. (2008). Product uniqueness as a driver of customer utility in mass customization. Marketing Letters, 19(2), 93–107.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Franke, N., Schreier, M., & Kaiser, U. (2010). The ‘I designed it myself’ effect in mass customization. Management Science, 56(1), 125–140.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Goh, K. Y., Heng, C. S., & Lin, Z. (2013). Social media brand community and consumer behavior: Quantifying the relative impact of user- and marketer-generated content. Information Systems Research, 24(1), 88–107.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guadagno, R. E., & Cialdini, R. B. (2010). Preference for consistency and social influence: A review of current research findings. Social Influence, 5(3), 152–163.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hart, J., Nailling, E., Bizer, G. Y., & Collins, C. K. (2015). Attachment theory as a framework for explaining engagement with Facebook. Personality and Individual Differences, 77, 33–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • He, Y., Chen, Q., & Alden, D. L. (2016). Time will tell: Managing post-purchase changes in brand attitude. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 44(6), 791–805.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hennig-Thurau, T., Wiertz, C., & Feldhaus, F. (2015). Does twitter matter? The impact of microblogging word of mouth on consumers’ adoption of new movies. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 43(3), 375–394.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herrmann, A., Hildebrand, C., Sprott, D. E., & Spangenberg, E. R. (2013). Option framing and product feature recommendations: Product configuration and choice. Psychology & Marketing, 30(12), 1053–1061.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hildebrand, C., Häubl, G., Herrmann, A., & Landwehr, J. R. (2013). When social media can be bad for you: Community feedback stifles consumer creativity and reduces satisfaction with self-designed products. Information Systems Research, 24(1), 14–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hildebrand, C., Häubl, G., & Herrmann, A. (2014). Product customization via starting solutions. Journal of Marketing Research, 51(6), 707–725.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hofstede, Geert (2017), “Country Comparison,” Hofstede Insights, <https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/> (Dec. 2, 2017).

  • Inman, J. J., & Zeelenberg, M. (2002). Regret in repeat purchase versus switching decisions: The attenuating role of decision justifiability. Journal of Consumer Research, 29(1), 116–128.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jordán-Conde, Z., Mennecke, B., & Townsend, A. (2014). Late adolescent identity definition and intimate disclosure on Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 356–366.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Junco, R. (2012). The relationship between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement. Computers and Education, 58(1), 162–171.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Karapanos, E., Teixeira, P., & Gouveia, R. (2016). Need fulfillment and experiences on social media: A case on Facebook and WhatsApp. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 888–897.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kramer, T., Maimaran, M., & Simonson, I. (2012). Asymmetric option effects on ease of choice criticism and defense. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117(1), 179–191.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kross, E., Verduyn, P., Demiralp, E., Park, J., Lee, D. S., Lin, N., Shablack, H., Jonides, J., & Ybarra, O. (2013). Facebook use predicts declines in subjective well-being in young adults. PLoS One, 8(8).

  • Kuo, F.-Y., Tseng, C.-Y., Tseng, F.-C., & Lin, C. S. (2013). A study of social information control affordances and gender difference in Facebook self-presentation. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(9), 635–644.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leary, M. R. (1983). A brief version of the fear of negative evaluation scale. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 9(3), 371–375.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lemon, K. N., & Verhoef, P. C. (2016). Understanding customer experience and the customer journey. Journal of Marketing, 80(Special Issue), 69–96.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Levav, J., Heitmann, M., Herrmann, A., & Iyengar, S. S. (2010). Order in product customization decisions: Evidence from field experiments. Journal of Political Economy, 118(2), 274–299.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lien, C. H., & Yang, C. (2014). Examining WeChat users’ motivations, trust, attitudes, and positive word-of-mouth: Evidence from China. Computers in Human Behavior, 41, 104–111.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Litt, D. M., & Stock, M. L. (2011). Adolescent alcohol-related risk cognitions: The roles of social norms and social networking sites. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 25(4), 708–713.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lynn, M., & Harris, J. (1997). Individual differences in the pursuit of self-uniqueness through consumption. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27(21), 1861–1883.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McDonald, R. I., Fielding, K. S., & Louis, W. R. (2013). Energizing and De-motivating effects of norm-conflict. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(1), 57–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mead, George H. (1934), “Taking the Role of the Other,” in Mind, self, and society, 253–57.

  • Moncrief, W. C., & Marshall, G. W. (2005). The evolution of the seven steps of selling. Industrial Marketing Management, 34(1), 13–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Myron, David (2014), “Why You Should Consider Customer Journey Maps.,” CRM Magazine, 18(12), 2.

  • Nadkarni, A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2012). Why do people use facebook? Personality and Individual: Differences.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Naylor, R., Lamberton, C., & West, P. M. (2012). Beyond the ‘like’ button: The impact of mere virtual presence on brand evaluations and purchase intentions in social media settings. Journal of Marketing, 76(6), 105–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Park, C. S. (2013). Does twitter motivate involvement in politics? Tweeting, opinion leadership, and political engagement. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1641–1648.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Piwek, L., & Joinson, A. (2016). ‘What do they snapchat about?’ Patterns of use in time-limited instant messaging service. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 358–367.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reno, R. R., Cialdini, R. B., & Kallgren, C. A. (1993). The transsituational influence of social norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(1), 104–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ross, C., Orr, E. S., Sisic, M., Arseneault, J. M., Simmering, M. G., & Robert Orr, R. (2009). Personality and motivations associated with Facebook use. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(2), 578–586.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rouis, S., Limayem, M., & Salehi-Sangari, E. (2011). Impact of Facebook usage on students’ academic achievement: Role of self-regulation and trust. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 9(3), 961–994.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schlager, T., Hildebrand, C., Häubl, G., Franke, N., & Herrmann, A. (2018). Social product-customization systems: Peer input, conformity, and consumers’ evaluation of customized products. Journal of Management Information Systems, 35(1), 319–349.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shankar, V., Venkatesh, A., Hofacker, C., & Naik, P. (2010). Mobile Marketing in the Retailing Environment: Current insights and future research avenues. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 24(2), 111–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shankar, V., Jeffrey Inman, J., Mantrala, M., Kelley, E., & Rizley, R. (2011). Innovations in shopper marketing: Current insights and future research issues. Journal of Retailing, 87, S29–S42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shankar, V., Kleijnen, M., Ramanathan, S., Rizley, R., Holland, S., & Morrissey, S. (2016). Mobile shopper marketing: Key issues, current insights, and future research avenues. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 34, 37–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sheldon, P., & Bryant, K. (2016). Instagram: Motives for its use and relationship to narcissism and contextual age. Computers in Human Behavior, 58, 89–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Silge, J., & Robinson, D. (2016). Text mining with R. The Journal of Open Source: Software.

    Google Scholar 

  • Silvia, P. J., & Shelley Duval, T. (2001). Objective self-awareness theory: Recent progress and enduring problems. Personality and Social Psychology: Review.

    Google Scholar 

  • Simonson, I., & Nowlis, S. M. (2000). The role of explanations and need for uniqueness in consumer decision making: Unconventional choices based on reasons. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(1), 49–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Snyder, C. R., & Fromkin, H. L. (1977). Abnormality as a positive characteristic: The development and validation of a scale measuring need for uniqueness. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 86(5), 518–527.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Snyder, M., & Gangestad, S. (1986). On the nature of self-monitoring: Matters of assessment, matters of validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(1), 125–139.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Srinivasan, S., Rutz, O. J., & Pauwels, K. (2016). Paths to and off purchase: Quantifying the impact of traditional marketing and online consumer activity. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 44(4), 440–453.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tandoc, E. C., Ferrucci, P., & Duffy, M. (2015). Facebook use, envy, and depression among college students: Is facebooking depressing? Computers in Human Behavior, 43, 139–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Temkin, B. D. (2010). Mapping the customer journey. Forrester: Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tetlock, P. E., Skitka, L., & Boettger, R. (1989). Social and cognitive strategies for coping with accountability: Conformity, complexity, and bolstering. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(4), 632–640.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thompson, D. V., Hamilton, R. W., & Rust, R. T. (2005). Feature fatigue: When product capabilities become too much of a good thing. Journal of Marketing Research, 42(4), 431–442.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tian, K. T., Bearden, W. O., & Hunter, G. L. (2001). Consumers’ need for uniqueness: Scale development and validation. Journal of Consumer Research, 28(1), 50–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tibshirani, R. (1996). Regression selection and shrinkage via the lasso. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society B, 58(1), 267–288.

    Google Scholar 

  • Toma, C. L. (2013). Feeling better but doing worse: Effects of Facebook self-presentation on implicit self-esteem and cognitive task performance. Media Psychology, 16(2), 199–220.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Toubia, O., & Stephen, A. T. (2013). Intrinsic vs. image-related utility in social media: Why do people contribute content to twitter? Marketing Science, 32(3), 368–392.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Triandis, H. C., Bontempo, R., Villareal, M. J., Asai, M., & Lucca, N. (1988). Individualism and collectivism: Cross-cultural perspectives on self-ingroup relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(2), 323–338.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Utz, S., Muscanell, N., & Khalid, C. (2015). Snapchat elicits more jealousy than Facebook: A comparison of snapchat and Facebook use. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18(3), 141–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Verduyn, P., Lee, D. S., Park, J., Shablack, H., Orvell, A., Bayer, J., Ybarra, O., Jonides, J., & Kross, E. (2015). Passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being: Experimental and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(2), 480–488.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vries, D., Dian, A., & Kühne, R. (2015). Facebook and self-perception: Individual susceptibility to negative social comparison on Facebook. Personality and Individual Differences, 86, 217–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilcox, K., & Stephen, A. T. (2013). Are close friends the enemy? Online social networks, self-esteem, and self-control. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(1), 90–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wired (2018), “Facebook Funded Most of The Experts Who Vetter Messenger Kids,” <https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-funds-its-favorite-experts-but-skirts-tough-critics/>.

  • Woody, S. R. (1996). Effects of focus of attention on anxiety levels and social performance of individuals with social phobia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105(1), 61–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Young, N. L., Kuss, D. J., Griffiths, M. D., & Howard, C. J. (2017). Passive Facebook use, Facebook addiction, and associations with escapism: An experimental vignette study. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 24–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christian Hildebrand.

Additional information

Rebecca Hamilton served as Special Issue Editor for this article.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hildebrand, C., Schlager, T. Focusing on others before you shop: exposure to Facebook promotes conventional product configurations. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 47, 291–307 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-018-0599-0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-018-0599-0

Keywords

  • Consumer journey
  • Path-to-purchase
  • Facebook
  • Social media
  • Field study
  • Product customization