Consumer Strategies For Regaining Optimal Distinctiveness

Melissa Minor, Univeristy of Florida, USA
Optimal Distinctiveness Theory (Brewer 1991) suggests that individuals exist in a precarious balance between their opposing needs for similarity and distinctiveness. Although research has examined social behaviors that individuals use to regain optimal distinctiveness once threatened, the marketing literature has largely ignored potential consumption-based coping strategies. In two studies, I examine consumption strategies by which individuals may regain their optimal distinctiveness following a threat. This paper shows that consumers choose (Study 1) more atypical (typical) products after receiving feedback that they are very similar to (different from) their peers and that this effect is strongest when individuals are choosing among conspicuously consumed products (Study 2), suggesting that sub-optimal distinctiveness is a threat to the consumer’s public image.
[ to cite ]:
Melissa Minor (2010) ,"Consumer Strategies For Regaining Optimal Distinctiveness", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 866-867 .