Consumer arrogance and word-of-mouth

Abstract

We investigate the widespread yet under-researched social phenomenon of consumer arrogance—the propensity to broadcast one’s superiority over others in the consumption domain. Building on the theory of positive illusions, we examine how and under what conditions triggering people’s consumer arrogance prompts their positive and negative word-of-mouth communication. In a pilot study and five experiments, we establish that triggering people’s sense of consumer arrogance will increase their word-of-mouth inclinations and behaviors. We show that triggering consumers’ sense of arrogance will result in a greater propensity for word-of-mouth communication than triggering their sense of superiority or desire to brag independently. While most consumers engage in positive word-of-mouth, consumer arrogance fuels both positive and negative word-of-mouth communication. Furthermore, whereas the former stems from self-enhancement needs, negative word-of-mouth communication arises from the needs for both self-affirmation and self-enhancement, especially in a social context. Overall, the results highlight the uniqueness and strategic potential of consumer arrogance as a social phenomenon.

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Correspondence to Ayalla Ruvio.

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Appendix

Appendix

Study 1a, 3, and 4: Consumer arrogance manipulation

Consumer arrogance.

You are being interviewed for a local TV station. The reporter asks you to describe all the qualities that make you a better consumer than other people.

Focus on the qualities that make you superior to others as a consumer - what qualities would you mention? How do they help you be a better shopper than others? What examples can you give?

Be as detailed as possible.

Control.

You are being interviewed for a local TV station. The reporter asks you to describe your latest shopping trip to the grocery store. What can you tell the reporter about your latest trip to the grocery store? How did you get there? What did you purchase? Be as detailed as possible.

Studies 1b: Manipulation of consumer arrogance, and control.

Think about a store that you frequently shop at or a brand that you purchase often.

Please write the name of this store/brand: ________.

Consumer arrogance.

Imagine that you get an email from this store or brand notifying you that you have been identified as one of their superior consumers. By superior, they mean a consumer who is a better shopper than most people.

The store/brand asks you if you would be willing to write a review of your experience with the store/brand and to share your opinion of some of your purchases. In other words, to tell other people about the products you’ve purchased, brag about them and show them off.

Control.

Imagine that you get an email from this store or brand asking if you would be willing to write a review of your experience with the store/brand, and to share your opinion of some of your purchases.

Study 2: Manipulation of superiority and bragging

Arrogance

Thank you for being a BRAND NAME superior customer!As a BRAND NAME superior customer, a consumer who is a better shopper than most people, what you think matters to us, and we care about providing you with a meaningful customer experience.

Please take a moment and share your experience with the BRAND NAME smartphone you own. In other words, please tell other customers about the BRAND NAME smartphone you’ve purchased, feel free to brag about it and show it off.

Appendix Continued

Superiority.

Thank you for being a BRAND NAME superior customer!

As a BRAND NAME superior customer, a consumer who is a better shopper than most people, what you think matters to us, and we care about providing you with a meaningful customer experience.

Please take a moment and share your experience with the BRAND NAME smartphone you own.

Bragging.

Thank you for being a BRAND NAME customer!

As a BRAND NAME customer, what you think matters to us, and we care about providing you with a meaningful customer experience.

Please take a moment and share your experience with the BRAND NAME smartphone you own. In other words, please tell other customers about the BRAND NAME smartphone you’ve purchased, feel free to brag about it and show it off.

Control.

Thank you for being a BRAND NAME customer!

As a BRAND NAME customer, what you think matters to us, and we care about providing you with a meaningful customer experience.

Please take a moment and share your experience with the BRAND NAME smartphone you own.

Study 4: Manipulation of the social context of a consumption experience

Social context.

You invite a few of your work colleagues to a lunch in a highly rated, well-known restaurant. However, at the restaurant you and your colleagues receive very poor service, the waiter is unpleasant, you and your colleagues waste a lot of time waiting for your order and the food is served cold. A social disaster! You and your colleagues are very disappointed that you wasted money on a lunch and did not enjoy at all. It’s not just a very poor experience overall; it’s a poor experience in the presence of your work colleagues.

Non-social context.

You decide to go for lunch to a highly rated, well-known restaurant. However, at the restaurant you receive very poor service, the waiter is unpleasant, you waste a lot of time waiting for your order and the food is served cold. A complete disaster! You are very disappointed that you wasted money on a lunch and did not enjoy at all. It’s just a very poor experience overall.

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Ruvio, A., Bagozzi, R.P., Hult, G.T.M. et al. Consumer arrogance and word-of-mouth. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-020-00725-3

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Keywords

  • Consumer arrogance
  • Word-of-mouth communication
  • Superiority