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Does “hot” lead to “not so hot?”

Chun-Tuan Chang (Department of Business Management, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan)
Dickson Tok (Department of Marketing and E-commerce, Nanjing University Business School, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China)
Xing-Yu (Marcos) Chu (Department of Marketing and E-commerce, Nanjing University Business School, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China)
Yu-Kang Lee (Department of Political Economy, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan)
Shr-Chi Wang (Department of Business Management, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 26 November 2020

Issue publication date: 11 May 2021

343

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine how exposure to sexual images activates the urge to yield to temptation in a subsequent unrelated context.

Design/methodology/approach

In Study 1, this paper uses empirical data based on an automobile expo to examine the correlational relationship between sexual imagery and indulgence. In Studies 2 and 3, this study examines the moderating effects of self-construal and gender differences on indulgent consumption, with different dependent measures. Study 4 distinguishes the sexual images into gratuitous sex and romantic love and tests the mediating role of sensation seeking.

Findings

For men, an independent self-construal increases indulgent consumption. In contrast, an interdependent self-construal facilitates women’s indulgent consumption. Having an interdependent self-construal has the opposite impact on indulgent consumption for the two genders: sexual images of romantic love attenuate the effect on men but boost the effect on women. Perceived sensation-seeking serves as the underlying mechanism.

Research limitations/implications

This paper contributes to the literature on sex, reward-processing, context effects in marketing and indulgent consumption.

Practical implications

Advertisers, retailers, food courts and restaurants may use sexual imagery to promote more indulgent consumption with gender and self-construal as segmentation variables. Public policymakers and other concerned parties should also raise consumers’ awareness of the priming effect found in this research.

Originality/value

This research advances the literature on sex by demonstrating the priming effects of sexual imagery and further considers the simultaneous impacts of gender and self-construal on consumers’ subsequent indulgent consumption.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The first author would like to thank Jiun-Chen Wu for his suggestions regarding the research. The authors would also thank the Research funding from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan granted to Chun-Tuan Chang [MOST#: 105–2410-H-110 –027 -MY2] and the research funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China [71902083] and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities [010414370114] granted to Xing-Yu (Marcos) Chu.

Citation

Chang, C.-T., Tok, D., Chu, X.-Y.(M)., Lee, Y.-K. and Wang, S.-C. (2021), "Does “hot” lead to “not so hot?”", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 5, pp. 1313-1337. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-09-2018-0633

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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