Abstract: Recent research increasingly highlights that consumers engage in online brand endorsements (e.g. Facebook likes) to signal their identity, but has failed to explain why different consumers use this type of signaling to differing degrees. This paper addresses this gap by looking at a culturally constructed individual difference variable, namely self-construal. Self-construal, which can be independent or interdependent, refers to the extent that people define themselves in terms of the relations they have with others. In four studies, this research shows that consumers’ self-construal is related to their intention to endorse brands online. In particular, high levels of interdependent self-construal positively affect consumers’ intention to endorse brands online (Studies 1A & 1B). This effect is mediated by an increased perception of brands’ symbolic value (Study 2). Moreover, this positivity bias toward symbolic brand cues is conditional upon consumers’ brand attitude (Study 3). These findings demonstrate that consumers’ identity plays a central role in their brand perception and brand-related social media use.
Keywords: social media, self-construal, online brand endorsements, consumer identity, consumer behavior
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