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.
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Rebecca Hamilton served as Special Issue Editor for this article.
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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