This paper explored the effects of inherent human value and consumer perceived value on the motivation of symbolic consumption, trying to excavate the relationship between human value and customer perceived value, as well as the interaction process between the two.
The importance of each of the nine items are to be rated by a seven-point scale, with 1 means important and 7 means extremely important to me. Conceptually, the nine items is just corresponding to the five layers of human needs that Maslow proposed, which would be explored by factor analysis later.
Here we developed five questions in the case study of apple products to measure the motivation of symbolic consumption; respondents are required to choose how much they agree with the following statements, a seven-point-scale is used:
To test the impact of demographic factors and social expectation on the motivation of symbolic consumption, current and expected social and psychological statuses in the future 5 to 10 years are measured to get a mediating variable: the social and psychological discrepancy.
We took the undergraduate curriculum schedule for semester A 2010/11 as the sampling frame and randomly sampled 80 classes. Then we sent an email invitation to all the teachers of the 80 classes to ask their permission to deliver the questionnaires, with a brief introduction of the study, information about confidentiality and an incentive for participation (see Appendix 2).
Four dimensions extracted: self-accomplishment and esteem, belonging and love, safety and enjoyment, fun and excitement.
The factors can explain 74.7% of the total variance. Through compulsive factor analysis, the consumption value with 18 indicators is reduced into four factors: emotional value, social value, price value and quality value, which is demonstrated in Table 3.
As demonstrated in Table 3, the discrepancy variable and human value are insignificant in the model except the dimension of fun and excitement. The significant effects are concentrated in the layer of perceived consumption value.
The impact of emotional value, social value, functional value1 (quality/performance) on the motivation of symbolic consumption is significantly supported
For instance, based on the measurement of expected psychological status in the future, the respondents are asked about to what degree they expect happiness, accomplishment, loneliness and so on. Most respondents chose the highest level of happiness and the lowest level of loneliness. It’s not uncommon to find out that people tend to desire happiness and avoid loneliness even without being asked about the question. The questions seem to be redundant to reveal the actual expectation of psychological status in the future. The expectation we referred in the theoretical framework is supposed to focus on the rational expectation rather than the common anticipation influenced by social norms. The belief system is too abstract to predict the specific consumption behavior in our model.
This inconsistence between the life value scale and consumption value is partly explaining why the two value system are differently correlated with the motivation of symbolic consumption.
Impact of human value, consumer perceived value
Paper presented in the 4th International Forum on PR and Advertising, Amherst, MA, USA. Impact of Human Value, Consumer Perceived Value on the Motivation of Symbolic Consumption Jing Liu, Chengjun Wang, Yang Liu, Jie Qin City University of Hong Kong
ConceptualizationCustomers are “value-driven” (Levy, 1999)Two approaches in consumption process:Human value refers to the inherent value system of humanbeings which works as a independent force in influencingconsumption attitude;Consumer perceived value is the self-reported result ofcustomers who evaluate the product, in which both humanvalue and branding, market strategy works together.
Human Value SystemHuman values: Priority of Human Needs(Maslow 1946, 1954)
Measurement of Human value A list of values in previous consumer surveys (Beatty et al., 1985; Kahle, 1983; Kahle et al., 1986) was adopted:(1) excitement (to experience stimulation and thrills)(2) warm relationship with others (to have close companionships and intimate friendships)(3) self-fulfillment (to find peace of mind and to make the best use of your talents)(4) being well-respected (to be admired by others and to receive recognition),(5) fun and enjoyment in life (to lead a pleasurable, happy life)(6) security (to be safe and protected from misfortune and attack)(7) self-respect (to be proud of yourself and confident with who you are)(8) a sense of accomplishment (to succeed at what you want to do).* a seven-point scale with 1 for “not important at all” to 7 for “extremely important”.
Social ValueMaslow (1946; 1954), Bruce and Jagdish (1991, p. 161)Five consumption values influencing consumer choice behavior:functional value, social value, emotional value, epistemic value,and conditional value.Social value is defined as the perceived utility acquired from analternative’s association with one or more specific social groups.Holbrook and Corfman (1985) demonstrated, with considerationof the threefold mix of extrinsic and other-oriented (active)dimension, social value is manifested by status, which mainlyconcerned about success, impression and management.
Symbolic consumption and social value Symbolic consumption is crucial in the construction of meaning and location of social status in daily life, in which people make consumption choice not only from the utility but also from the symbolic meaning of the product. All consumption has symbolic meaning, that’s why we study the motivation of symbolic consumption which is the key component of consumption attitude.
Measurement of the Motivation of Symbolic Consumption(1) I tell my friends as soon as I buy an apple product.(2) I show my friends as soon as I buy an appleproduct.(3) I often bring my apple to public places.(4) I like to bring and use my apple in public.(5) I always quickly recognize those who use apple incrowds.*A seven-point-scale is used. 1 for “totally disagree” to 7 for“totally agree”.
Hypotheses 1H1a The value of self-accomplishment is positivelyrelated to symbolic consumption.H1b The value of self-esteem is positively related tosymbolic consumption.H1c The value of belonging/love is positively relatedto symbolic consumption.H1d The value of safety is positively related tosymbolic consumption.
Consumer valueConsumer value entails subjective hierarchical preferences basedon individuals’ situation-specific comparison of one object withanother.Typology of consumer value(Holbrook, 1994; 2006; 1985) Extrinsic Intrinsic Self-oriented Economic value Hedonic value Other-oriented Social value Altruistic value
Four dimensions of consumer valuesSweeney and Soutars (2001, p. 210)(1) Emotional value, the utility derived from the feeling oraffective states that a product generates(2) Social value (enhancement of social self-concept), the utilityderived from the product’s ability to enhance social self-concept(3) Functional value (price/value for money), the utility derivedfrom the product due to the reduction of its perceived shortterm and longer term costs(4) Functional value (performance/quality), the utility derivedfrom the perceived quality and expected performance of theproduct
Hypotheses 2H2a The emotional value is positively related tosymbolic consumption.H2b The social value is positively related to symbolicconsumption.H2c The price value is positively related to symbolicconsumption.H2d The quality value is positively related to symbolicconsumption.
Hypotheses 3Mediation: social and psychological discrepancy.H3a The discrepancy between the actual and the expectedincome is positively related to symbolic consumption.H3b The discrepancy between the actual and the expectededucation level is positively related to symbolicconsumption.H3c The discrepancy between the actual and the expectedpsychological status is positively related to symbolicconsumption.
MethodsSurvey, November 2010.Randomly selected undergraduate students , CityUniversity of Hong Kong.80 classes selected, 24replies (20 permissions and 4rejections)350 questionnaires, 301 retrieved, 288 valid.
ResultsTable 1 Factor Analysis of Human Value Scale Component Self-accomplishment Belonging Safety and Fun and and esteem and love enjoyment excitementQ1 (9 accomplishment) .830Q1 (4 self-fulfillment) .756Q1 (5 be respected) .693Q1 (8 self-respect) .676Q1 (7 security ) .887Q1 (6 enjoyment) .701Q1 (1 belonging) .896Q1 (3 relationship) .701Q1 (2 excitement) .934*KMO .873 (df = 36, p = .00)
Table 2 Factor Analysis of Perceived Consumption value Component Emotional Social Functional Functional value Value Value 1(Price) Value 1(Quality)Q8 (7 desirable) .842Q8 (6 enjoyable) .836Q8 (9 feel good) .788Q8 (8 relaxing) .787Q8 (10 fun) .753Q8 (5 consistent) .574Q8 (17 impression) .893Q8 (18 achieve acceptance) .861Q8 (16 good relationship) .842Q8 (15 recognizable) .795
Table 3 Regression Predicting Symbolic Consumption from Discrepancy ofExpectation and Reality, Human Value and Consumption Value Unstandardized CoefficientsIndependent Variables B Std. Error t Sig.(Constant) 20.256 1.208 16.766 ***Discrepancy of psychology .069 .096 .719 .473Discrepancy of education .458 .272 1.686 .093Discrepancy of income -.156 .300 -.520 .604Gender -1.258 .779 -1.615 .108Grade -.577 .408 -1.415 .158Emotional value 2.122 .374 5.671 ***Social value 1.353 .373 3.622 ***Price value .159 .370 .430 .667Quality value 1.116 .370 3.020 **Self accomplishment and respect -.605 .366 -1.653 .099Safety and enjoyment -.385 .379 -1.017 .310Belonging and warm relationship -.166 .363 -.458 .647Fun and excitement .903 .364 2.480 ** p < .05 ** p < .01 *** p < .001
InterpretationsSignificant effects concentrated on the layer of consumerperceived value, only the positive effect of functional value2(price) on the motivation of symbolic consumption has not beensupported.Neither the demographic/psychological status nor human valueand is significant in the model except for the dimension of fun andexcitement.it is not the current nor the expected demographic (income,education) and psychological status moderate the effect ofhuman value on the motivation of symbolic consumption.It is the perceived consumption value which is evoked by thebranding, product design working in the process of mediating theeffect of human value on the motivation of symbolic consumption.
DiscussionThe layer of consumption value is supported to besignificantly related to symbolic consumption.The result confirms the validity to predict symbolic consumptionbased on individuals’ consumption values.The significant effect of emotional value implies that the affectivefactors may predict the consumption of products as symbols.And the positive effect of social value reveals that there is muchpossibility that symbolic consumption is indeed adopted byindividuals to enhance their social status and attract attention inpublic.The price value is not supported to be related to symbolicconsumption. It implies that when individuals consume productsas symbols of status or attention, they probably consider muchless about the price than the quality and the brand impression.
Why not significantDiscrepancy VariablesDefect of the measurement of discrepancy variables.For example, expected psychological status.Human value variablesExtracted from the psychological needs model developed byMaslow. The specific definitions of safety, enjoyment, selfaccomplishment and other dimensions are not clarified, whichresults in the deficiency of the correspondent measurement.Measurement focusing on the abstract level of psychologicalneeds, which wanders around the underlying belief system ofhuman being.
Further test for discussionTable 4 Correlations of human value and consumption value Respect and self-accomplishment Safety and fun Belonging Excitementemotional value Pearson Correlation .177** .081 .148* -.043 Sig. (2-tailed) .003 .172 .013 .475social value Pearson Correlation -.112 -.150* -.091 .128* Sig. (2-tailed) .060 .012 .127 .031Functional value Pearson Correlation .034 -.103 .030 .114 Sig. (2-tailed) .572 .083 .617 .055functional Pearson Correlation .083 .129* .085 -.047value2(quality) Sig. (2-tailed) .166 .030 .156 .429N 283**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
Inconsistence of social value defined by human valuessystem(Maslow, 1946&1954; Holbrook, 1985) and that byconsumer perceived value scale(Sweeney & Soutar, 2001).Sweeney and Soutar (2001, p. 210)Social value means one appreciated one brand or product asit would enhance one’s social self-concept or to improveone’s social status.Conceptually consistent while actually not the same thing.