How Gender Identity Affects Consumer Behavior: Overview and Future Research: An Abstract
Gender is a central part of self-concept. In today’s changing marketplace, gender identity is increasingly blurred as a consequence of one of the most rapid and turbulent social-economic shifts since the 1960s. The concept of gender has evolved from biological sex (male and female) to gender identity that examines gender from multiple aspects, including biological sex, psychological gender, and sociological gender role. And recent studies further suggested gender identity is a changing concept, and it needs to be studied under different context and with dynamic groups.
This study attempts to revisit the gender identity and consumer behavior issue, present the practical and theoretical advance in the past decade, and provide an updated overview of gender identity and its impact on the marketplace and the society. This review addresses the historical background of gender development, two important theoretical foundation of gender identity: gender schema theory and multifactorial gender identity theory and their application in consumer behavior in the past six decades. Through reviewing the research of past 60 years on gender identity, the study found that previous research demonstrates that gender identity has attracted consistent research attention but inconsistent conceptual and contextual approaches. Nonetheless, gender identity is linked with consumer behavior and, given the dynamic and interactive nature of gender identity, the application of contextual and interactional considerations to better complement gender identity theories.
Despite previous research efforts, gender identity and its related consumer behavior is still an understudied area. The future study should focus on understanding the relevance of contexts as an important variable for gender identity. In addition, it is important to use a dynamic approach to understand gender as a comprehensive concept and examine the interaction between different aspects of gender identity, and the interactions lead to different consumer perception and choice. Furthermore, as the boundaries of men and women are becoming permeable in consumption, it would be interesting to explore how consumers maintain the balance between the dichotomous pole of masculine and feminine gender identity and understand the difference between men and women as they create gender-related self-image. In addition, gender identity closely relates to cultural change. Whereas popular culture shapes gender identity and creates gender-related consumption, there is also an urgency of anti-gender activities, agenderism, that calls for genderless consumption. It is important that future research investigate the factors that drive agenderism and its role in modifying consumption. Finally, how gender affect social marketing might be another research area, and the role gender identity plays in conflicts in consumption is an important aspect that calls for future exploration.
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