The Creation of New Diderot Unities: a Quest For Possible Selves?

Teresa Davis, University of Sydney
Gary Gregory, University of Wollongong
ABSTRACT - This paper tries to draw links between the creation of new Diderot unities (products consumed in a group and that have an internal consistency based on lifestyle) with 'impulse purchases’ as key departure products. A possible cognitive bases for such consumption behaviour is explored. Holistic meaning matching between the self-concept (possible selves) and a new diderot unity is suggested as an explanation for the consumption of such a product set.
[ to cite ]:
Teresa Davis and Gary Gregory (2002) ,"The Creation of New Diderot Unities: a Quest For Possible Selves?", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, eds. Susan M. Broniarczyk and Kent Nakamoto, Valdosta, GA : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 241.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 29, 2002     Page 241

THE CREATION OF NEW DIDEROT UNITIES: A QUEST FOR POSSIBLE SELVES?

Teresa Davis, University of Sydney

Gary Gregory, University of Wollongong

ABSTRACT -

This paper tries to draw links between the creation of new Diderot unities (products consumed in a group and that have an internal consistency based on lifestyle) with 'impulse purchases’ as key departure products. A possible cognitive bases for such consumption behaviour is explored. Holistic meaning matching between the self-concept (possible selves) and a new diderot unity is suggested as an explanation for the consumption of such a product set.

'Shopping Scenarios’ were used to identify 15 female respondents who confirmed that they had in the past year, purchased one 'seemingly impulse’ lifestyle based product and then purchased at least two other products that were related (symbolically, not functionally) to the first one.

Demographic and lifestyle information was collected from all the fifteen respondents and each of the respondents were interviewed in depth in a one-on-one setting. An exploratory, semi-structured format was used to elicit emotive and cognitive themes about the purchase incidents.

Common themes were drawn from the interviews to serve as possible identifying elements of the phenomenon. Personal factors and Cognitive factors were identified and are offered as a starting point for further research into such product unities. The self-concept theory of "Possible Selves" is offered as one possible explanation that determines when an 'impulse purchase’ is a key departure product for a new diderot unity.

The findings suggest that when a recognition/match occurs between one’s self-concept and a new diderot unity, the consumer breaks away from his/her 'normal’ Diderot unity. It is suggested that this happens because the impulse object’s symbolic properties are in keeping with the consumer’s aspirational or desired Diderot unity and their self-concept.

The findings point in the direction of further research with larger and more representative samples, to explore the holistic meaning matching factor as well as specific demographic factors such as stage in life cycle of the individual consumer.

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