Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

The Effect of Self-Construal on Consumers Likelihood and Attitude towards Self-Gifting

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

The Effect of Self-Construal on Consumers Likelihood and Attitude towards Self-Gifting

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

"A new name has cropped up on holiday shopping lists: Me" (Mayk, 2003).

The self- gift phenomenon is widely occurring in American society. A recent consumer reports study found that on Black Friday, many consumers were planning on buying gifts for themselves as opposed to friends and family, with as much as 55% of consumers planning to buy electronics for themselves (consumer reports.org). Other research has substantiated the notion that self-gifts are a fairly common and important phenomenon particularly in western consumer behavior (e.g. Faure and Mick, 1993).

Self-gifts, which can be any product that constitutes a form of indulgence, are conceptualized as (1) personally symbolic self-communication through (2) special indulgences that tend to be (3) premeditated and (4) highly context bound (Mick and DeMoss 1990b, p.328).

Marketers have recognized this self-gifting trend in the United States and have directed their product development efforts and advertising messages accordingly. For example, slogans such as "The perfect little thank-me" (Andes candies) present indulgences as personal rewards (Mick and DeMoss, 1990b). In addition, the diamond industry has caught onto the new "me" mood, with slogans like "Your left hand says 'we,' you're right hand says 'me'."

The question then becomes whether the propensity to self-gift is a widespread phenomenon. This has important managerial implications for marketers of self-gifts; particularly those in Western cultures that want to market their products abroad. Specifically, the question of which advertising strategy to pursue- one of customization or standardization arises. In other words, can they use the same "self-gift" message (standardization) that they use in the United States or do they need to develop a more tailored message (customization) for consumers in different countries stressing different benefits. Further, even within the United States, are there people who do not self-gift and who may find these advertisements offensive?

It is well established that people with different cultural backgrounds may behave differently and have different reactions to similar situations. More specifically, research has shown that different cultural identifications have an impact on the way people think, feel, and behave (e.g. Markus and Kitayama, 1991). This research proposes to answer the questions above by investigating the role of self-construal in consumers' likelihood and attitude towards self-gifting through survey measurement.

A number of studies have investigated various influences on self-gift giving, including self-gift motivations and occasions (Mick and DeMoss, 1990a, 1990b), cognitive processes (Olshavsky and Lee, 1993), materialism (McKeage, Richins, and Debevec, 1993), and attribution of achievement outcomes (Faure and Mick, 1993; Mick and Faure, 1998). Other studies have focused on the nature and functions of self-gifts (e.g. McKeage et al, 1993) and for the self-regulation of moods (e.g. Gould, 1997; Luomala, 1998). Mick and DeMoss (1992) also explored the relationship between the types and qualities of self-gifts and socio-economic factors. Finally, some research has been undertaken to identify the consequences of self-gift giving such as feelings of guilt (Mick, 1993) and compulsive consumption (Shapiro, 1993).

One major gap in this literature however, is that though clearly studying different aspects of self-gifting, the studies mentioned above all assume that everybody self-gifts. All the research was also done in the United States. Our research aims to add to this literature by examining the effect of self-construal on consumers' attitudes and likelihood to self-gift and thus addressing the role that our culture has on our propensity to self-gift.

Self-Construal and Self-Gifting

Overall, it has been suggested that self-gifts represent a complex class of personal acquisitions that offer intriguing insights on self-directed consumer behavior (Mick and DeMoss 1990b). …

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