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Access-Based Consumption and Consumer Wellbeing

Guo, Yang (2022) Access-Based Consumption and Consumer Wellbeing. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Consumers normally use what they own to define their happiness and social status. However, many consumers cannot afford to own but can temporarily access products without worrying about the cost of sole ownership through access-based consumption. As access-based consumption makes resources more equally affordable and accessible to all, can it improve consumer wellbeing? In two essays, I examine the impact of access-based consumption on consumer happiness and social status.
Essay 1 examines the effects of framing access-based consumption in terms of two primary benefits (affordability and variety) on consumer happiness. Results from four studies suggest that although affordability might rationally be of most interest to financially-constrained individuals, framing access-based consumption’s benefits in terms of affordability undermines the happiness they may extract from their consumption relative to framing in terms of variety. This difference emerges because communications focused on affordability re-affirm the negative self-identity financially-constrained individuals perceive as a result of their financial situation. Given these findings, this essay makes clear recommendations for communications related to the access-based economy and this vulnerable set of people.
Essay 2 examines how different acquisition modes (owning vs. accessing) impact one’s subjective social status. I propose that acquisition mode (access vs. ownership) serves as a self-signal of social status. Across four studies, I find that when consumption occurs via access, consumers attribute lower social status to themselves, and in turn, are less likely to tell others about their consumption experiences. I also find that this negative consequence of accessing is specific to a comparative situation, where one partner owns and the other accesses, but does not emerge when both engage in access-based consumption. Further, access’s negative effect on perceived social status only emerges when acquisition mode is highly central to a person’s self-identity. These findings first, suggest that felt status inequality may not be reduced by access-based consumption and second, offer insights to marketers hoping to improve the consumer experience in access-based systems.
Taken together, I identify conditions in which consumer wellbeing can be boosted or jeopardized in the context of access-based consumption, and provide access-based businesses with advanced promotional guidelines contingent on consumer characteristics.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Guo, Yangyag40@pitt.eduyag400000-0002-0229-9507
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairBhattacharya,
Committee CoChairLamberton,
Committee MemberSwaminathan,
Committee MemberWu,
Committee MemberLiu,
Date: 24 May 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 April 0005
Approval Date: 24 May 2022
Submission Date: 22 April 2022
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 116
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: Access-based consumption, ownership, wellbeing, happiness, self-perception, social status, financial constraints
Date Deposited: 24 May 2022 11:34
Last Modified: 24 May 2022 11:34


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