Identity-Based Consumer Behaviour, Self-Congruity, and Retailer-Consumer Relationships: A Literature Review

Identity-Based Consumer Behaviour, Self-Congruity, and Retailer-Consumer Relationships: A Literature Review

Isabella Maggioni (Monash University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6074-8.ch002
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Consumer-Brand Identification (CBI) has been identified as an important antecedent of consumer-brand relationships. Consumers show positive attitudes towards brands that reflect their self-concept and are more likely to express and enhance their identity. In this sense, Consumer-Retailer Identification (CRI) represents a powerful tool for retailers to develop meaningful relationships by strengthening emotional connections with their customers. This chapter proposes a literature review of previous research on the role of consumer's self-concept in the development of retailer-customer relationships. Focusing on identity-based consumer behaviour, the chapter provides a comprehensive picture of the past research and the emerging trends on CBI and then proposes a conceptual framework of CRI.
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Products and brands play multiple roles in consumers’ lives. According to Fournier (1991), brands and products can offer functional benefits, provide experiential opportunities through their use (Holbrook, & Hirschmann, 1982; Arnould & Price, 1993), and assist with establishing and defining consumer’s identity (Levy, 1959; Belk, 1988; Solomon, 1988; Ligas, 2000; Fournier, 2009). It is argued that consumers purchase goods not just for functional reasons, but also because they represent a vehicle for self-expression, acting as an extension of one’s self-concept (Levy, 1959; Belk, 1988). Starting from Levy (1959), the role of self-concept in consumer behaviour has been explored by several researchers.

Besides providing functional benefits, products enable experiential opportunities through their use and carry a variety of symbolic meanings (Keller, 1993; Levy, 1959, Helgeson & Supphellen, 2004).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Brand Warmth: The degree to which a brand is able to arouse emotions and empathy in consumers, as being perceived as warm instead of cold.

Consumer – Brand Identification: A psychological state in consumer’s mind of perceiving, feeling and valuing the belongingness with a brand.

Memorable Brand Experience: The ability of a brand to deliver vivid and remarkable experiences originating from extraordinary consumption activities, regardless the frequency of use.

Brand Distinctiveness: The ability of a brand of being recognized as unique and different from other brands, in order to address consumers’ need for uniqueness at both individual and social levels.

Brand Social Benefits: A series of benefits provided by a brand linked to its capability to carry social and cultural meanings and to provide social interaction opportunities to consumers.

Retailer (Store) Personality: A mental representation of a retailer (store) based on human traits, such as friendly, annoying, enthusiastic, irritating, or honest.

Brand Prestige: The level of exclusivity of a brand that enables consumers to satisfy their self-enhancement needs.

Self – Congruity: The degree of similarity between a brand/store image and a customer’s self-image.

Retailer (Store) User Imagery / Patrons’ Image: The stereotypic images of users of a product or of patrons of a store. Not always the image of the typical user/patron of a brand/store is reflective of the image of the brand/store, as well as there can be more than one type of user/patron for the same brand/store.

Consumer – Retailer Identification: A psychological state in shoppers’ mind, who feel a sense of belongingness with a retailer and/or with a specific store. This process may occur at store, at retailer, or at both levels, and may involve both retailer (store) personality and retailer (store) user imagery.

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