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The effects of identity salience on product judgment in a domain of trade-offs

Claire Heeryung Kim (Walter E. Heller College of Business, Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Da Hee Han (Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 18 April 2024

Issue publication date: 27 June 2024

100

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate a condition under which identity salience effects are weakened. By examining how identity salience influences individuals’ product judgment in a domain of trade-offs, the current research demonstrates that the utilitarian value of a product is an important determinant of the effectiveness of identity salience on product judgment.

Design/methodology/approach

This research consists of two experiments. In Experiment 1, the authors examined whether identity salience effects were mitigated when the level of the perceived utilitarian value of an identity-incongruent product was greater than that of an identity-congruent product. In Experiment 2, the authors examined the effectiveness of internal attribution as a moderator that strengthens identity salience effects when the perceived utilitarian value of an identity-incongruent (vs. identity-congruent) product is higher.

Findings

In Experiment 1, the authors show that when the utilitarian value of a product with an attribute congruent (vs. incongruent) with one’s salient identity is lower, individuals do not show a greater preference for the identity-congruent (vs. identity-incongruent) product, mitigating the identity salience effects. Experiment 2 demonstrates that when individuals with a salient identity attribute a decision outcome to the self, they display a greater preference for the identity-congruent product even when its utilitarian value is lower compared to that of the identity-incongruent product.

Research limitations/implications

The research contributes to previous research examining conditions under which identity salience effects are weakened [e.g. social influence by others (Bolton and Reed, 2004); self-affirmation (Cohen et al., 2007)] by exploring the role of the utilitarian value of a product, which has not been examined yet in prior research. Also, by doing so, the current research adds to the literature on identity salience in a domain of trade-offs (Benjamin et al., 2010; Shaddy et al., 2020, 2021). Finally, this research reveals that when a decision outcome is attributed to the self, identity salience effects become greater. By finding a novel determinant of identity salience effects (i.e. internal attribution), the present research contributes to the literature that has examined factors that amplify identity salience effects [e.g. cultural relevance (Chattaraman et al., 2009); social distinctiveness (Forehand et al., 2002); different types of groups (White and Dahl, 2007)].

Practical implications

The findings provide managerial insights on identity-based marketing by showing a condition under which identity-based marketing does not work [i.e. when the utilitarian value of an identity-congruent (vs. identity-incongruent) product is lower] and how to enhance the effectiveness of identity-based marketing by using internal attribution.

Originality/value

By exploring the role of utilitarian value, not yet examined in prior research, the present research adds to the knowledge of the conditions under which identity salience effects are weakened. Furthermore, by finding a novel determinant of identity salience effects (i.e. internal attribution), the research contributes to the literature on factors that amplify identity salience effects.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Claire Heeryung Kim is an Assistant Professor of Marketing, Walter E. Heller College of Business, Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, U.S.A. DaHee Han is an Associate Professor of Marketing, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University, 1001 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec, H3A 1G5, Canada, and will be joining SNU Business School, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul, 08826, Korea, as an Associate Professor of Marketing starting from August 1, 2024. Support from the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University is gratefully acknowledged.

Citation

Kim, C.H. and Han, D.H. (2024), "The effects of identity salience on product judgment in a domain of trade-offs", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 58 No. 5, pp. 1387-1409. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-10-2021-0786

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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