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BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN VIRTUAL AND REALITY: TWO ESSAYS EXAMINING THE INFLUENCE OF IDENTITY-CONGRUENCY IN OFFLINE AND ONLINE CONTEXTS

Grewal, Lauren (2018) BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN VIRTUAL AND REALITY: TWO ESSAYS EXAMINING THE INFLUENCE OF IDENTITY-CONGRUENCY IN OFFLINE AND ONLINE CONTEXTS. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Identities are powerful: Identity is central to how individuals regulate their attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, and judgments. Generally, past research suggests that presenting products and brands in ways that are identity-congruent to consumers will be of benefit to marketers. But is this always true? In my dissertation, two essays examine the way that consumers and marketers navigate various types of identities, both offline (i.e., food decision making) and online (i.e., identity-relevant posting on social media). Importantly, I ascertain conditions in which identity-congruence can prompt and impede consumption, thus shedding new light on the potential and pitfalls of using identity in marketing contexts.

In Essay 1, I suggest that, beyond interacting with food simply as a matter of indulgence or restriction, consumers have identities based in food. Specifically, I define food identities as a self-conception organized around two consumption priorities—those related to social and individual functions and those related to utilitarian or hedonic concerns. Across studies I create a simple four-item food identity measure that maps on to these different priorities and the relationship between these consumption priorities that can then be used to empirically measure possible types of food identities. Using this measure, I find that the strength of identity-congruence between consumption messages and food identities can be a better predictor than more traditional food-consumption measures (e.g., diet specific self-control, restrained eating) in determining consumers’ choices, attitudes, and consumption.

In Essay 2, I move from an offline situation where an identity framework influences greater identity-consistent choice and consumption, to a situation where, after consumers engage with identity-relevant products on social media, they have lower purchase intentions for these same and similar identity-relevant products. Consumers frequently express themselves by posting about products in social media. Taking an identity-theory perspective, consumers use products to signal their identities, and posting products in social media is a way to send virtual identity signals. Paradoxically, I find that this behavior may reduce the consumer’s desire to purchase related identity-signaling products, as the act of posting fulfills their identity-signaling needs. Identity-signaling needs are fulfilled when product posts on social media allow consumers to signal their identities both to themselves and to others. These findings have important implications for how firms conduct social media marketing, which often aims to get consumers to virtually engage with their products by posting about and sharing them.


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Details

Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Grewal, Laurenlag107@pitt.edulag107
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairLamberton, Caitclamberton@katz.pitt.edu
Committee CoChairStephen, Andrew T.Andrew.Stephen@sbs.ox.ac.uk
Committee MemberColeman, Nicolencoleman@katz.pitt.edu
Committee MemberInman, Jeffjinman@katz.pitt.edu
Committee MemberWalker Reczek, Rebeccareczek.3@osu.edu
Date: 9 July 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 16 April 2018
Approval Date: 9 July 2018
Submission Date: 14 May 2018
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 178
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: identity, food decision-making, social media
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2018 16:00
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2018 16:00
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/34517

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