Micro-blog marketing of luxury consumption: the role of envy in purchase intention

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Hsiao-Chun Chou (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Byoungho Jin

Abstract: Micro-blogs, or short blogs, are a social media channel commonly used by fashion brands, and luxury brands are no exception. Luxury firms are utilizing micro-blogs and bloggers to promote their products and connect with their customers. This new trend has led to increasing interest in studying how micro-blogs can be utilized effectively within luxury marketing. In this study, the emotions consumers experience as a result of micro-blogs were regarded as key for effective management for luxury fashion brands. In particular, envy, an emotion often associated with interpersonal comparisons, was examined because it relates to both luxury consumption and social media. To understand consumer behaviors triggered by luxury brand micro-blogs, three main questions were examined in two experimental studies: 1) Why and how do micro-blogs encourage consumer purchases? 2) Does envy mediate between micro-blog contents and purchase intention, specifically for luxury brands? 3) What specific characteristics of micro-blogs are related to consumer envy and purchase intention? To address these questions, study 1 investigated the influence of blog presentations on envy and purchase intention, and study 2 examined the impact of congruence to blogger race and featured brand image. A total of 16 hypotheses were developed for studies 1 and 2 based on social identity theory, signaling theory, self-congruity theory, and social comparison theory, among other relevant concepts. In study 1, social identity theory (Sirgy, 1982) suggested that people tend to identify with a group of people and compare themselves with others who are similar to themselves, which may lead to envy. Thus, in micro-blog posts, people should feel more envious when they see a group of people as opposed to a single person (H1). Spence’s (1973) signaling theory suggests that people are more likely to be influenced by lifestyle centric micro-blog posts rather than product centric posts because it signals a luxurious lifestyle, evoking greater envy among blog audiences (H2). Further, the combination of a group of people with a lifestyle centric background in micro-blogs should elicit the most envy because it combines the elements to present to the audience a complete story (H3). In study 2, self-congruity theory (Sirgy, 1982) and social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954) suggest that envy would be elicited to a greater extent when the blog audience’s race is highly congruent with that of the blogger’s because people tend to identify with a product or an image that is similar to their own. When individuals recognize their similarities with others, they may be inclined to compare themselves with the other group and consequently feel envious due to upward comparison (H6). Similarly, when audiences view a product on a micro-blog post, they should feel more envious when the featured brand image is highly congruent to their own self-image (H7). Further, the combination effect of both race and brand image congruencies was hypothesized to elicit the most envy as it combines both factors (H8). In both studies 1 and 2, envy was hypothesized to positively influence purchase intention (H4a, H4b, and H4c for Study 1 and H9a, H9b, and H9c for Study 2) and mediate all manipulation variables (excluding combination content) and purchase intention (H5a and H5b for Study 1 and H10a and H10b for Study 3). Responses from a total of 592 female ages 18 years and older were collected through MTurk, and approximately 300 of these responses were assigned to each study. All images contained a Louis Vuitton handbag and were in the format of an Instagram post because both are broadly known by social media audiences. An ANOVA was used to test the differences in envy elicited from the manipulated variables. A series of regression analyses were used to test for mediating effects. Findings of study 1 revealed that micro-blogs featuring groups and combination content (group of people and lifestyle centric background) elicited envy the way we anticipated (H1 and H3). In people content, envy had a partial mediating effect leading to purchase intention (H5a). In study 2, a high level of racial congruence between respondents and bloggers elicited envy (H6) and envy served as a partial mediator for congruence levels in blogger race (H10a). Regardless of sources of envy, all elicited envy in studies 1 and 2 positively influenced purchase intention (H4a, H4b, H4c, H9a, H9b, and H9c). These findings suggest that micro-blog presentations and blogger characteristics are important factors influencing envy and purchase intention. Envy was indeed shown to be an important factor in micro-blog marketing strategies. However, envy did not appear to be the only influencer of purchase intention. The study also revealed that micro-blog content was a crucial factor in determining purchase intention. Furthermore, congruence in blogger race had a more significant effect than congruence in brand image. Future studies should further explore blogger characteristics in micro-blogs. Collectively, luxury brands should be creative in designing their micro-blog posts to cater to their target market. To do so, this study suggests the following: conduct a story-based way of communicating in micro-blog posts, hire bloggers who are racially similar to the target market, explore other blogger characteristics, and investigate other blog presentation elements. This study addresses the gap in research regarding the role of emotions in relation to luxury brand micro-blogs. Using experimental data, this paper discusses the theoretical contributions, real-world implications, and study limitations and further suggests possibilities for future studies.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2017
Emotions, Envy, Luxury Consumption, Marketing, Micro-blog
Microblogs $x Psychological aspects
Advertising $x Psychological aspects
Advertising $x Fashion
Luxuries $x Internet marketing
Luxury goods industry

Email this document to