Bandwagon Consumption among the Black Middle Class

  • Zanele Mdlekeza
  • Mignon ReynekeEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science book series (DMSPAMS)


This paper investigates psychological factors that influence consumers to engage in bandwagon consumption when purchasing luxury motor vehicles. The South African Black middle class has been receiving attention in consumer markets, especially from luxury brand houses looking at emerging markets for growth. This study was designed to measure the impact of the self-concept, susceptibility to normative influence, propensity to seek status and the need for uniqueness on the propensity to engage in bandwagon consumption behaviour. An online survey of 184 respondents provided the data that was analysed using the PLS Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) technique.

Findings noted that cultural and individual orientation dynamics play a pivotal part when examining the role of the self-concept in influencing bandwagon consumption behaviour through the susceptibility to normative influence trait. The results confirmed the presence of bandwagon consumption and found that the behaviour occurs in spite of the self-concept and the need for uniqueness.


Bandwagon consumption Luxury brands Middle class Emerging market 


Bandwagon consumption Luxury brands Middle class Emerging market 


  1. Bain and Company. (2017). Luxury goods worldwide market study, fall-winter. Retrieved March 30, 2018 from
  2. Bearden, W. O., Netemeyer, R. G. & Teel, J. E. (1989). Measurement of consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(4), 473–481.Google Scholar
  3. Chikweche, T. & Fletcher, R. (2014). Rise of the middle of the pyramid in Africa: theoretical and practical realities for uderstanding middle class consumer purchase decision making. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 31(1), 27–38.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, J. (2013). The luxury car race: South Africans love their BMWs. Retrieved 2 April, 2018 from
  5. Cross, S. E., Hardin, E. E. & Gercek-Swing, B. (2011). The what, how, why, and where of self-construal. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15(2), 142–179.Google Scholar
  6. Deloitte. (2017). Global powers of luxury goods 2017: the new luxury consumer. Retrieved April 3, 2018 from
  7. Dholakia, U. M. & Talukdar, D. (2004). How social influence affects consumption trends in emerging markets: An empirical investigation of the consumption convergence hypothesis. Psychology and Marketing, 21(10), 775–797.Google Scholar
  8. Dubois, B. & Patrick, D. (1993). The market for luxury goods: Income versus culture. European Journal of Marketing, 27(1), 35–44.Google Scholar
  9. Eastman, J. K., Goldsmith, R. E. & Flynn, L. R. (1999). Status consumption in consumer behavior: Scale development and validation. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 7(3), 41–51.Google Scholar
  10. Eaton, L. & Louw, J. (2000). Culture and self in South Africa: Individualism-collectivism predictions. The Journal of Social Psychology, 140(2), 210–217.Google Scholar
  11. Ernst and Young. (2013). Hitting the sweet spot: The growth of the middle class in emerging markets. Retrieved April 3, 2018 from
  12. Euromonitor International. (2013). Luxury Goods: Global trends and prospects. Retrieved April 3, 2018 from
  13. Gudykunst, W. B. & Lee, C. M. (2003). Assessing the validity of self construal scale: A response to Levine et al. Human Communication Research, 29(2), 253–274.Google Scholar
  14. Han, Y. J., Nunes, J. C. & Drèze, X. (2010). Signaling status with luxury goods: The role of brand prominence. Journal of Marketing, 74(4), 15–30.Google Scholar
  15. Hosany, S., & Martin, D. (2011). Self-image congruence in consumer behaviour. Journal of Business Research, 65(5), 685–691.Google Scholar
  16. Huang, H. H., Mitchell, V.-W. & Rosenaum-Elliott, R. (2012). Are consumer and brand personalities the same?. Psychology and Marketing, 29(5), 334–349.Google Scholar
  17. Hudders, L. (2012). Why the devil wears Prada: Consumers’ purchase motives for luxuries. Journal of Brand Management, 19(7), 609–622.Google Scholar
  18. Kapferer, J.-N. & Bastien, V. (2009). The specifi city of luxury management: Turning marketing upside down. Journal of Brand Management, 16(5–6), 311–322.Google Scholar
  19. Kastanakis, M. N. & Balabanis, G. (2012). Between the mass and the class: Antecedents of the “bandwagon” luxury consumption behaviour. Journal of Business Research, 65(10), 1399–1407.Google Scholar
  20. Kaus, W. (2013). Conspicuous consumption and “race”: Evidence from South Africa. Journal of Development Economics, 100(1), 63–73.Google Scholar
  21. Lalwani, A. K. & Shavitt, S. (2009). The “me” I claim to be: Cultural self-construal elicits self-presentational goal pursuit. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(1), 88–102.Google Scholar
  22. Lee, J. A. & Kacen, J. J. (2008). Cultural influences on consumer satisfaction with impulse and planned purchase decisions. Journal of Business Research, 61(3), 265–272.Google Scholar
  23. Leibenstein, H. (1950). Bandwagon, snob, and veblen effects in the theory of consumers’ demand. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 64(2), 183–207.Google Scholar
  24. Mai, N. T. & Tambyah, S. K. (2011). Antecedents and consequences of status consumption among urban Vietnamese consumers. Organizations and Markets in Emerging Economies, 2(1), 75–98.Google Scholar
  25. Orth, U. R. & Kahle, L. R. (2010). Intrapersonal variation in consumer susceptibility to normative influence: Toward a better understanding of brand choice. The Journal of Social Psychology, 148(4), 423–448.Google Scholar
  26. Park, H. S. (2001). Self-construals as motivating factors in opinion shifts resulting from exposure to majority opinions. Communication Reports, 14(2), 105–116.Google Scholar
  27. Park, H.-J., Rabolt, N. J. & Jeon, K. S. (2008). Purchasing global luxury brands among young Korean consumers. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 12(2), 244–259.Google Scholar
  28. Ruvio, A., Shoham, A. & Brencic, M. M. (2008). Consumers’ need for uniqueness: short-form scale development and cross-cultural validation. International Marketing Review, 25(1), 33–53.Google Scholar
  29. Shukla, P. (2010). Status consumption in cross-national context: Socio-psychological, brand and situational antecedents. International Marketing Review, 27(1), 108–129.Google Scholar
  30. Shukla, P. (2011). Impact of interpersonal influences, brand origin and brand image on luxury purchase intentions: Measuring interfunctional interactions and a cross-national comparison. Journal of World Business, 46(2), 242–252.Google Scholar
  31. Singelis, T. M. (1994). The measurement of independent and interdependent self-construals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20(5), 580–591.Google Scholar
  32. Sirgy, M. J. (1982). Self-concept in consumer behaviour: A critical review. Journal of Consumer Research, 9(3), 287–300.Google Scholar
  33. Steg, L. (2005). Car use: lust and must. Instrumental, symbolic and affective motives for car use. Transportation Research, 39(2–3), 147–162.Google Scholar
  34. Tian, K. T., Bearden, W. O. & Hunter, G. L. (2001). Consumers’ Need for Uniqueness: Scale Development and Validation. Journal of Consumer Research, 28(1), 50–66.Google Scholar
  35. Torelli, C. J. (2006). Individuality or conformity? The effects of independent and interdependent self-concepts on public judgments. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 16(3), 240–248.Google Scholar
  36. UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing (UISM). (2017). The new black middle class. Retreived January 28, 2018 from
  37. Veblen, T. (1899). The Theory of the Leisure Class; An Economic Study of Institutions. New York: Aakar Books.Google Scholar
  38. Vickers, J. S. & Renand, F. (2003). The marketing of luxury good. The Marketing Review, 3(4), 459–478.Google Scholar
  39. Vigneron, F. & Johnson, L. W. (1999). A review and a conceptual framework of prestige-seeking consumer behaviour. Academy of Marketing Science, 1(1), 1–15.Google Scholar
  40. Visagie, J. & Posel, D. (2013). A reconsideration of what and who is middle class in South Africa. Development Southern Africa, 30(2), 149–167.Google Scholar
  41. Wiedmann, K.-P., Hennigs, N. & Siebels, A. (2009). Value-based segmentation of luxury consumption behaviour. Psychology and Marketing, 26(7), 625–651.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Academy of Marketing Science 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations