Drawing on an evolutionary perspective, prior studies have revealed that conspicuous consumption by men has signaling functions (i.e. signaling the consumer’s positive mate qualities such as status and ability to acquire resources) for mate attraction. However, it is unclear whether conspicuous consumption of luxury products by women has a function in mate attraction. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of mate attraction goal on women’s interest in conspicuous consumption and the possible mediating effect of the attractiveness enhancement need in this effect.
A survey and two experimental studies were conducted in which 354 Chinese female undergraduates participated. In the survey, the respondents’ desire to have a romantic partner was measured; in the two experiments, the participants’ mate attraction goals were primed. The authors followed the literature to measure dependent variables (i.e. consumption measures), but the specific consumption items were adapted to meet the purpose of the current research. The authors analyzed the data from the three studies through analysis of variance, regression analysis and bootstrapping.
Young women with a strong (vs weak) desire for a romantic partner reported a high level of attractiveness enhancement needs, thereby indicating a higher willingness to pay (WTP ) for conspicuous items that can enhance their attractiveness (Studies 1 and 3). Furthermore, activating young women’s mate attraction goal can also increase their WTP for conspicuous items (Studies 2 and 3) and attractiveness enhancement items (Study 3) but not inconspicuous luxury product (e.g. underclothes) (Study 3). These findings suggested that young women consider conspicuous consumption of certain products as a means of enhancing attractiveness to acquire a desired mate.
This research identifies a novel function of conspicuous consumption: young women, especially those who do not have a romantic partner, may use conspicuous consumption of certain products to satisfy their attractiveness enhancement needs and, ultimately, to attract an ideal mate.
The authors declared that we do not have conflict of interest in the research. This study is supported by research grants from the Liaoning Social Sciences Planning Fund Office (L16CGL010) and Liaoning Association of Social Sciences (2019lslktqn-007).
Yuan, S. and Zheng, Y. (2019), "Impacts of mate attraction goal on young women’s interests in conspicuous consumption", Journal of Contemporary Marketing Science, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 83-98. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCMARS-01-2019-0001Download as .RIS
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