Self-Construals Theory Applications for an Effective Communication of Sustainable Luxury

Self-Construals Theory Applications for an Effective Communication of Sustainable Luxury

Ludovica Gallo (LUISS Guido Carli, Italy), Matteo De Angelis (LUISS Guido Carli, Italy), and Cesare Amatulli (University of Bari, Italy)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2728-3.ch010
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The next generations of luxury buyers will be increasingly involved in social and environmental issues, gradually asking for more CSR accountability. Luxury maisons, despite recognizing sustainability as a business imperative, seldom communicate their initiatives due to the apparent incompatibility of the two worlds. Past research has demonstrated how the concurrent elicitation of conflicting concepts of self-enhancement and self-transcendence typical of sustainable luxury communication negatively impact brand evaluation. This study investigates how self-construal manipulation plays a role in mitigating the cognitive disfluency phenomenon arising from CSR communication by luxury brands. On a sample of Americans and Italians, three different priming conditions are tested: an independent prime, an interdependent (collective) prime, and a neutral prime. The results of the experiment reveal that eliciting the interdependent self-construal by emphasizing collective concepts prior to the CSR message exposure positively affects brand evaluation via an increase in information fluency.
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In their seminal work on stakeholder marketing and CSR communication, Smith, Palazzo and Bhattacharya (2010) argue on how brands, understanding their power to satisfy consumers’ self-definitional needs, have started to see in CSR and cause related marketing a strong tool to build positive and strong links with the consumers. A related study from Curras-Perez et al. (2009), builds on the notion of consumer-company (C-C) identification to bring empirical evidence on the positive effect of CSR based C-C identification on brand attractiveness. Brand attractiveness is hence defined by the authors as “the positive evaluation of its identity, examined and assessed in relation to how it helps consumers satisfy their self-definitional needs” (p. 550); in the same paper, it is demonstrated that brand attractiveness has a positive relationship with CSR image via two intermediate variables: brand prestige and brand distinctiveness. Specifically, it is assessed by the authors that socially responsible companies are perceived as more prestigious and as more unique and distinct from other corporations, arguing that a brand with such characteristics will be evaluated by consumers as a valuable element through which achieving an enhanced and distinctive self-concept.

Bhattacharya and Sen (2003) add that if C-C identification wants to be achieved, companies shall pursue a coherent, effective and clear brand identity communication strategy. Such element is assessed as fundamental to foster brand bonding through the communication of the identity traits that consumers are likely to perceive as distinctive and close to their own. Notably, industry reports such as McKinsey’s “The State of Fashion 2019”, have indeed pointed out some important consumer shifts towards a more value oriented consumption:

Over the past three years a third of consumers worldwide have expanded the scope of their purchasing decisions to incorporate principled values and views. A new global ethos is emerging, and billions of people are using consumption as a means to express their deeply-held beliefs. (The State of Fashion 2019, p. 45)

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