Effects of peer consumption on hedonic purchase decisions
Eunsoo Baek and Ho Jung Choo, (Seoul National University), 2015, 43(7), 1085–1100

I was intrigued by this article because it prompted me to think about the contradictory actions consumers take regarding hedonic purchase decisions. The authors characterize hedonic goods as experiential, emotional, and mostly intangible in form (p. 1087). Hedonic goods include products such as perfume and jewellery, which I would expect to have a particular esthetic and personal appeal to the consumer. A large part of their appeal is how they compliment our sense of self-expression; whereas hints of jasmine or sapphires may amplify the appeal to one person, they may have the opposite effect on another. It is a matter of personal taste and preference.

In this study, the authors moved beyond the exclusively personal appeal of hedonic goods to investigate “how peer consumption of goods influences consumers’ decision making” (p. 1085). Specifically, they investigated how self-construal (how people perceive themselves to be linked to other people; Markus & Kitayama, 1991) plays a moderating role in this relationship. The authors “considered social influence as a factor that enhances or decreases consumers’ purchase intention because this has been recognized as one of the primary factors influencing consumer decisions” (p. 1086).

Hedonic goods have a social function; they are symbolic and self-expressive products. Although they have personal appeal, the message they send to others cannot be entirely avoided. The authors further examined the effects of peer consumption by using the Self-construal Scale (Singelis, 1994) to determine whether the study participants were independent or interdependent, and if this led to patterns of avoidance of similarity according to whether peer consumption was present or absent.

The “results indicated that the effect of peers’ hedonic consumption interacting with individuals’ self-construal highlighted that interdependents were more likely to be encouraged to make a purchase by the presence of peers’ consumption than were the independents” (p. 1095). Given that hedonic goods are usually purchased for self-expressive purposes, it would be preferable, I believe, that when individuals have the opportunity to make such consumer decisions, that they do so for their own symbolic, esthetic, sentimental, and/or self-expressive values than those of their peers; if you are going to buy perfume and you’re drawn to Anais Anais because it reminds you of your mother and the summers of your youth, don’t let yourself be swayed by the latest saccharine pop-idol scent, even if that’s what all the coolest kids are splashing about this season.

Emily Duncan | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal