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“I” seek differentiation and “we” seek assimilation: the impact of self-expressive customization on consumers’ willingness to pay a premium

Shaohui Lei (Institute of Commerce and Circulation, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China and School of Business Administration, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China)
Xianqing Wang (Institute of Commerce and Circulation, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China)
Leiqing Peng (International Business School, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China)
Yulang Guo (School of Business Administration, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 23 July 2020

Issue publication date: 21 May 2021

930

Abstract

Purpose

Customization, as a crucial way to meet the heterogeneous demand of individuals, exists two fundamental and competing motivations, namely, assimilation and uniqueness. Based on optimal distinctiveness theory, this paper aims to validate the interactive effect of self-expressive customization types (i.e. customization to express individual identity and customization to express a shared identity) and self-construal on consumers’ willingness to pay a premium (WPP).

Design/methodology/approach

Two studies were conducted to provide empirical support for all proposed hypotheses. The first study (n = 151) uses a hypothetical scenario of a basketball game to test the interaction effect of self-expressive customization and self-construal. The second study (n = 184) assumes a scenario of designing a t-shirt or a uniform to examined the moderated mediating role of consumer-product identification.

Findings

The results reveal that independent (vs interdependent) self-construal will have stronger consumer-product identification for customization to express an individual identity (vs customization to express a shared identity), thus generating a higher WPP. Also, perceived task difficulty is the boundary condition of the research model.

Research limitations/implications

This paper makes insightful contributions to the customization literature by strengthening the identity signals of customization and exploring the psychological mechanism and the boundary conditions.

Originality/value

This research is one of the first few empirical studies to examine the impact of self-expressive customization on consumers’ WPP via the identification with the focal object. This paper not only expands the literature of self-expressive customization but also provides a new research direction for the research of person-object interaction in marketing.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by Department of social sciences, ministry of education of China (No. 17YJA630076).

Citation

Lei, S., Wang, X., Peng, L. and Guo, Y. (2021), "“I” seek differentiation and “we” seek assimilation: the impact of self-expressive customization on consumers’ willingness to pay a premium", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 691-706. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBM-11-2019-2654

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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