To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

The invisible identity in a visible world: how religiosity mediates consumer culture and the marketplace

Thuy D. Nguyen (Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas, USA)
Shih Yung Chou (Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas, USA)
Charles Blankson (Department of Marketing and Logistics, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Phillip Wilson (Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 26 July 2019

Issue publication date: 20 January 2020



This paper aims to offer a systematic view of religious consumption and its iterative influences on consumers, as well as their differences in attitudes, values and behaviors.


Using a mixed-method approach – both qualitative and quantitative – the study develops religious self-transformation and self-categorization scales to empirically evaluate the hypotheses.


The convergence of consumption, self-identification and religious attitudes and behaviors proffer an essentially subjective concept useful in understanding the existential reflection and supernatural orientation that individuals may seek through consumption. Cluster analysis (based on product, services, media and practices) reveals four quadrants. The non-religious (religious) group has low (high) consumption in all four consumption categories Self-categorization (self-transformation) group has high (low) level of product consumption, but low (high) in all three other categories. This research presented four invisible identities that are visibly different in terms of life satisfaction, religious brand preference, dollars spending on religious products and monetary donation.

Research limitations/implications

This research only considers one medium-size city as opposed to all types of cities. All religious affiliated and nonaffiliated respondents are included in the total sample.

Practical implications

The study offers new insights into the triadic relationship between religious self-identification, religious consumption, and the marketplace that can be used in branding, segmentation, targeting, positioning, and persuasive advertising, public relation and social media, and services marketing.

Social implications

Religion addresses the nature of existence. In this religion–consumer–brand nexus, consumption is a way for consumers to experience and immense themselves in the sacred to solidify, communicate, transform, improve and transport who they are capitalizing on religious self-identification can affectively promote positive social change.


This work proposes four invisible identities that are different in consumption of religious products and services in terms of patterns and purposes. These groups of consumers shape the marketplace through the derived utility of their religious consumption based on their self-identification, which in turn influences their religious brand preference.



Nguyen, T.D., Chou, S.Y., Blankson, C. and Wilson, P. (2020), "The invisible identity in a visible world: how religiosity mediates consumer culture and the marketplace", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 15-30.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited