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The bittersweet experience of being envied in a consumption context

Simona Romani (Department of Business and Management, LUISS University, Rome, Italy)
Silvia Grappi (Department of Economics, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy)
Richard P. Bagozzi (Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 11 July 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

Very limited research exists examining envy from the viewpoint of an envied consumer, rather than an envier. This paper aims to address this gap by examining whether and how the experience of being envied actually affects consumers.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents three experiments. Study 1 investigates the ambivalent experience of being envied. Study 2 examines the effect of being envied in consumption contexts on consumer satisfaction, analyzing the combined ambivalent effects of positive and negative feelings. It also investigates the moderating role played by consumer coping responses to enviers (mitigation vs exacerbation). Finally, Study 3 applies the hypothesized model in a specific context (i.e. a material possession context), focusing on adult consumers.

Findings

Results show that negative (e.g. guilt and anxiety) and positive (e.g. sense of well-being and prestige) feelings for being envied depend on the type of relationship between the envier and the envied, and the type of desired object, and consumer satisfaction is driven by the combined ambivalent effects of positive and negative feelings, where coping responses by envied consumers moderate the effects of such feelings on satisfaction.

Originality/value

This paper makes three main contributions: it extends prior research by highlighting the role of personal relationship factors and the type of object of desire in the experience of being envied; demonstrates that both positive and negative feelings of being envied affect consumer satisfaction; and shows conditions regulating the influence of positive and negative feelings on satisfaction, demonstrating that mitigation strategies decrease the effects of negative feelings on satisfaction, whereas exacerbation strategies failed to regulate the effects of positive feelings.

Keywords

Citation

Romani, S., Grappi, S. and Bagozzi, R.P. (2016), "The bittersweet experience of being envied in a consumption context", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 50 No. 7/8, pp. 1239-1262. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-03-2015-0133

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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