Antecedents and consequences of consumer-customized product identification: An identity theory perspective
Customization is considered one of the key sources of value creation in a highly competitive and segmented market. Recent research has demonstrated that the key to successful customization experiences lies in the degree to which consumers feel connected to a product that is customized. This study investigated consumers’ psychological connection to customized products by exploring the variable, “consumer-customized product identification (C-C identification).” Building upon identity theory and research on “extended self,” this study investigated (1) two key antecedents that influence C-C identification, (2) attitudinal and behavioral consequences of C-C identification, and (3) the moderating role of product involvement in C-C identification development. In order to examine the proposed hypotheses, a scenario-based survey was administered with three product categories (i.e., personalized media, fashion & textiles, and food). A similar pattern of results was found across the three product categories. This study demonstrated that consumers developed identification with customized products when the value of the customization experiences was congruent with consumers’ sense of self (i.e., identity congruence) and when the customized products signaled consumers’ unique identity to others (i.e., identity distinctiveness). Consumers’ identification with customized products enhanced favorable attitude toward customized products and satisfaction with retailers offering the customization experiences. Also, the impact of antecedents on consumers’ identification with customized products varied by level of involvement with the product category. By exploring consumer-product identification in an online customization setting, this study provides empirical evidence supporting identity theory and research on “extended self,” which articulates consumer identification with marketing objectives (i.e., customized product). The findings of this study will also guide retail marketers to an understanding of the psychological mechanisms that enhance online customization experiences, which will in turn cultivate consumers’ relationships with retailers.
Kowal, Purdue University.
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