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Selfie-marketing: exploring narcissism and self-concept in visual user-generated content on social media

Alexa K. Fox (Department of Marketing, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)
Todd J. Bacile (College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)
Chinintorn Nakhata (Department of Marketing, Penn State Harrisburg, Middletown, Pennsylvania, USA)
Aleshia Weible (Department of Management and Marketing Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 8 January 2018




The present research aims to examine selfie-marketing from a consumer behavior perspective. Creating and sharing selfies are gaining popularity among millennials. The authors seek to understand how this popularity relates to classic research on narcissism and self-concept and to determine the effectiveness of selfie-marketing in visual user-generated content.


A mixed methods approach is used across two studies. Study 1’s qualitative exploration uses the grounded theory method by analyzing semi-structured interviews with millennials. The findings produce three research propositions. These propositions are further developed into testable hypotheses in Study 2’s quantitative investigation, featuring analysis of the variance of online survey data collected from millennials.


The findings suggest that narcissism positively relates to millennials’ attitudes toward and intent to participate in selfie-marketing on visual content-sharing apps. Results also demonstrate that millennials seek to use selfies to present their self-concepts differently in various visual content-sharing environments.


The present research is among the first to focus on the importance of self-presentation and narcissism in regard to consumers’ attitudes and behavioral responses toward selfie-marketing. For marketers, this underscores the importance of understanding the unique nature of user-generated visual content on social media.



Fox, A.K., Bacile, T.J., Nakhata, C. and Weible, A. (2018), "Selfie-marketing: exploring narcissism and self-concept in visual user-generated content on social media", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 11-21.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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