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Undesired self‐image congruence in a low‐involvement product context

Michael Bosnjak (School of Economics and Management, Free University of Bozen‐Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy)
Nina Rudolph (MindShare GmbH, Frankfurt a.M., Germany)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 30 May 2008




The paper seeks to investigate the incremental value of a construct termed “undesired self‐image congruence”, and capture consumers' perceived closeness to negatively valenced brand‐related attributes over and above established self‐image congruence factors known to affect consumption‐related attitudes and intentions.


A questionnaire‐based study was used to assess consumers' attitudes and intentions to consume a low‐involvement product (Marlboro cigarettes; n=211). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were employed to determine the incremental predictive value of the newly introduced undesired congruity component over and above established self‐image congruence facets.


Undesired congruity proved its substantial and incremental value in predicting consumption‐related attitudes, but did not directly influence purchasing intentions.

Research limitations/implications

Avoidance motives related to undesired brand images appear to influence purchase decisions at early stages of the decision‐making process, namely in attitude formation and evaluative responding. Controlled experimental approaches with a broader set of products should be used to corroborate this potential research implication.

Practical implications

Because negative stereotypical images appear to feed into purchase‐related decision processes at early stages, due caution should be exerted in primary data collection and brand positioning. Primary data collection should capture both positive and negative brand‐related meanings attributed by consumers. Because the results show that undesired congruity has an incremental explanatory effect, positive versus negative symbolic meanings are clearly not just “two sides of the same coin”. Consequently, brand positioning should define its strategy by simultaneously maximizing both the closeness to desired symbolic meanings and the distance to undesired symbolic associations.


The value of the paper lies in testing the operation of undesired congruity and in quantifying its incremental contribution in the symbolic consumption context.



Bosnjak, M. and Rudolph, N. (2008), "Undesired self‐image congruence in a low‐involvement product context", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 42 No. 5/6, pp. 702-712.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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