Consumer vanity under situational variations : a discrete choice modelling approach

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2007
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- Consumer vanity is one of the major drivers of modem consumerism. Increasing our understanding in this area allows us to better comprehend the complex and continually evolving nature of consumer behaviour. This study contributes to our understanding of consumer vanity by examining the situational dependency of the vanity construct. This research explores the main and interaction effects between a consumer's level of vanity, product attributes and situational variables, by testing consumer vanity within individuals under two situations: the social and the private. Various studies suggest that vanity is a social trait - a trait that is more prominent in a social situation than in a private situation. This is consistent with the idea that an individual's self-concepts are malleable, changing in different situations. This research hypothesises that consumer vanity is more prominent when a consumer's social self-concept is activated in social situations. Data was obtained from 233 university students in Sydney, Australia via survey research. Multivariate data analysis and discrete-choice modelling were used to test the research hypotheses. The research questionnaire comprises two parts. The first section contains three vanity scales that are subjected to three different situations (general, social and private). The vanity scales developed by Netemeyer, Burton and Lichtenstein (1995) were used, and their structure and validity were tested and verified. The second part of the questionnaire consists of 16 choice sets that are subjected to two situations (social and private). The respondents' vanity tendencies are implied through their preferences for product attribute levels with strong vanity associations. The overall research results support the research hypotheses. This study shows that consumers discriminate between social and private situations, exhibiting consistent and significant variations in their vanity levels in different situations. These results demonstrate that consumers display higher vanity tendencies in a social situation, and lower vanity tendencies in a private situation. This research contributes to our understanding of consumer vanity behaviour by empirically showing that consumer vanity is situation dependent within individuals. It is important to realise that consumers have different elasticity of demand for the same product category under different situations, and react differently to the same product attributes under different situations. The findings of this research have implications for market segmentation and value-based pricing. Knowledge of situation-dependent nature of vanity can aid market segmentation. It implies that consumers with high levels of vanity are likely to have a higher willingness-to-pay for vanity-related product attributes in social situations. It also enables retailers to charge premium prices for products with strong vanity associations.
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