Don’T Confuse Me With Them: Identity-Signaling and Product Abandonment

Jonah Berger, Stanford University
Chip Heath, Stanford University
Products and behaviors can signal identity, but the particular identity they signal depends on the identity of the taste-holders. Consequently, when products held by one social group are adopted by another, the identity that choosing that product signals may shift. We examine the consequences of such shifts. Four studies illustrate that to avoid signaling undesired identities, original taste-holders may abandon products that are adopted by other social groups. Consistent with identity-signaling, we also find that divergence is moderated by both the similarity of the adopters to current tastes-holders and whether people use that particular product domain to infer identity.
[ to cite ]:
Jonah Berger and Chip Heath (2007) ,"Don’T Confuse Me With Them: Identity-Signaling and Product Abandonment", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 34, eds. Gavan Fitzsimons and Vicki Morwitz, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 544-550.