Signaling Identity Through Brands: the Role of Perceived Authenticity

Rosellina Ferraro, University of Maryland, USA
Amna Kirmani, University of Maryland, USA
Ted Matherly, University of Maryland, USA
This research investigates how consumers respond to a person using a brand to signal an unobservable aspect of identity. While identity signaling may satisfy positive goals of conveying unobserverable traits or group (non)membership, we propose it may be perceived negatively by observers. Buying a brand for the purpose of conveying a particular identity may be seen as extrinsically motivated and a reflection of an inauthentic self. In contrast, buying a brand for intrinsic motives, such as for utilitarian or self-expression benefits, may be viewed as more authentic. In addition, we propose that the signaler’s perceived similarity to the observer may moderate this relationship.
[ to cite ]:
Rosellina Ferraro, Amna Kirmani, and Ted Matherly (2010) ,"Signaling Identity Through Brands: the Role of Perceived Authenticity", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 81-84 .