Consumer personality and bandwagon consumption behaviour
Scholars recently acknowledged the emergence of a ‘new luxury’ category of products and brands that are attainable to a larger group of consumers whilst having luxury connotations of prestige. New luxuries that seduce the masses, termed “masstige” (Silverstein & Fiske, 2003) products and brands, are particularly salient to bandwagon consumption behaviour as they have a lower price than traditional luxuries whilst attracting prestige associations (Truong, McColl, & Kitchen, 2009). Current bandwagon literature largely ignores consumer related variables and focuses on the information portrayed to create a bandwagon effect. Therefore, the propensity to engage in bandwagon consumption and the source of individual difference dependent on personality is yet to be explored.
The following dissertation utilises Mowen’s (2000) Meta-Theoretic Model of Motivation and Personality (3M Model) as a unifying framework to investigate which individual personality traits lead to ‘new luxury’ bandwagon consumption behaviour. An empirical study was conducted by investigating actual consumers of two new luxury brands; Jeffrey Campbell Shoes and Karen Walker. Individual difference in personality and bandwagon consumption behaviour was investigated through the use of a self-administered online questionnaire.
The findings suggest unlike Mowen’s (2000) argument for a 4-level hierarchy model, the compound traits did not have a significant impact on the situational level traits. The research suggests a 3-level parallel hierarchical model consisting of elemental level traits at the broadest reference level 3, followed by compound traits and situational traits at reference level 2, and lastly the most concrete trait, bandwagon consumption behaviour, which resides at reference level 1.
Individual factors that positively influenced the bandwagon consumption phenomenon include the elemental trait – the need for material resources, the compound trait – self-efficacy, and the two situational level traits – present time perspective and fashion consciousness. The adapted 3M Model was able to account for 25.1 percent of the variance in the bandwagon consumption variable, which is well above Mowen’s (2002) suggested level of 5 to 10 percent variance tolerance. In this instance the 3M Model was found as being more predictive than the traditional Five Factor Model of personality, which accounted for only 3.5 percent of the variance of the consumption behaviour. This suggests in certain instances five factors may not be adequate in accounting for particular consumption phenomenon.
The 3M Model utilises a number of theoretical perspectives including control theory, evolutionary psychology, trait theory, and hierarchical models of personality. It unifies various theoretical perspectives within personality research and provides a holistic approach that can be applied to conduct future research.