Read the Signal But Don’T Mention It: How Conspicuous Consumption Embarrasses the Signaler

Young Han, University of Southern California, USA
Joseph Nunes, University of Southern California, USA
Consumers who engage in conspicuous consumption intend for others to read their signals and interpret them correctly (e.g., wealth, taste). Accordingly, many consumers choose to signal loudly, with products displaying the brand prominently. When recipients of this signal respond positively, the signaler is expected to feel pleased and proud. This research reveals how those who signal with status brands are more likely to feel embarrassed when their signal is acknowledged directly. Ironically, this negative reaction is more likely when the signal is loud (i.e. easily detected and interpreted). As expected, acknowledging inauthentic signals is shown to elicit a profoundly negative response.
[ to cite ]:
Young Han and Joseph Nunes (2010) ,"Read the Signal But Don’T Mention It: How Conspicuous Consumption Embarrasses the Signaler", 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 .