Funded Phd Research

Esther Uduehi

Role of Status Signaling on Experienced Consumption

Marketing Department; Faculty Adviser: Gideon Nave

Research on status signaling demonstrates its role in purchasing behaviors and experiences. Status signals are primarily studied in the realm of conspicuous consumption defined as attaining and exhibiting costly items to impress upon others that one possesses wealth or to signal status. Signaling status can be prioritized over pleasure which is seen through films such as Keeping Up With the Joneses and academic literature which suggests that consumers are motivated to consume unpleasant, aversive experiences such as sleeping at an ice hotel or eating a macaroni and cheese donut.

Nevertheless, relatively mundane consumption behaviors can also be motivated by a desire for social interaction and a need for group membership. Previous research highlights the “symbolic nature of consumption” in which hedonic, pleasurable goods are purchased for the non-hedonic purposes of status-seeking and identity signaling. However the question still remains—while consumers purchase hedonic goods for status signaling, how do consumers actually feel during these experiences?

We would like to research how and when status signaling drives experienced consumption utility (e.g. enjoyment, happiness, and taste). For example, if you are eating caviar, would you enjoy the taste more if you were to be seen by others? These findings will shed light on how consumers interact with status signaling products and experiences for use by retail companies. We hope to use these findings to guide our continued research on hedonic value and luxury consumption.