Explaining Variation in Conspicuous Consumption: An Empirical Examination
This paper explains how the self-concept and a number of mediating traits impact luxury consumption. Even though Leibenstein (1950) described several “external effects” on utility, in marketing luxury consumption is still seen as a single, generic, behavior aiming at status gains (Han, Nunes and Drèze, 2010; Nelissen and Meijers, 2011). Research, however, points that external effects exist in luxury markets (Vigneron and Johnson, 1999; Tynan, McKechnie and Chhuon, 2010) and that one’s self-concept and personality could explain these behaviors (Wong and Ahuvia, 1998; Kastanakis and Balabanis, 2012). Hence, luxury consumption is very complex with many sub-variants and antecedents. While this has implications for managers and theory, there is little research (Kastanakis and Balabanis, 2012), on the factors leading into one or another of these behaviors. We propose a model where some traits act as mediators between the self (independent/interdependent) and three types of luxury consumption: snob, Veblenian and bandwagon. With the help of the literature and exploratory research (in-depth interviews with consumers and managers of luxuries), four traits appear to mediate this relationship: consumer need-for-uniqueness, vanity, status consumption, and consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence.