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Pleasure and guilt: how do they interplay in luxury consumption?

Chungwha Ki (Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Kangbok Lee (Department of Aviation and Supply Chain Management, Auburn University, Alabama, USA)
Youn-Kyung Kim (Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 10 April 2017




This paper aims to examine, building upon affect balance theory, whether the two modes of luxury consumption, conspicuous consumption (CC) and style consumption (SC), trigger consumers’ mixed emotions of pleasure and guilt and whether the mixed emotions interactively as well as independently influence consumer loyalty to repurchase luxury.


Using an online survey and seemingly unrelated regressions (SUR) analysis, the authors test the hypotheses and assess the parallel (double) mediation effects of pleasure and guilt on the relationships between luxury consumption and repurchase intention.


The authors confirm the relationships between CC and pleasure (+), between SC and pleasure (+), between CC and guilt (+) and between SC and guilt (−); the independent effects of pleasure (+) and guilt (−) on repurchase intention (RI); and the interaction effect of pleasure and guilt on RI (+). The authors further demonstrate that both pleasure and guilt mediate the relationship between CC and RI, whereas only pleasure mediates the relationship between SC and RI.

Research limitations/implications

Future researchers may consider possible mixed emotions other than pleasure and guilt and further explore the dynamics between mixed consumer emotions and consumer loyalty in diverse consumption contexts.

Practical implications

The authors suggest luxury marketers to reduce consumer guilt by promoting SC and by maximizing consumer pleasure, which will lead to greater repurchase intention.


Prior research focused on either the positive or negative side of consumer emotion. The authors fill in the research void by examining whether mixed emotions coexist in luxury consumption and how they interplay and influence consumer loyalty.



No funding was received.


Ki, C., Lee, K. and Kim, Y.-K. (2017), "Pleasure and guilt: how do they interplay in luxury consumption?", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 51 No. 4, pp. 722-747.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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