Predicting Changes in Consumers?? Self-Brand Connection: A Goal-System Perspective

  • CHENG, Shirley Y Y (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Much research has demonstrated that individuals use brands to construct and communicate their self-identity (Belk 1988; Escalas and Bettman 2003; Sirgy 1982). Consumers sometimes favor a brand so much that the brand has become a part of their self-concept (Escalas and Bettman 2003). They use the brand to express who they are and even use it to establish a desired self-image. Because these consumers are shown to be more loyal and resistant to negative brand information, marketing scholars and practitioners alike seek to understand the psychological process underlying consumers’ connections with a brand. However, prior research has mainly focused on the formation process of self-brand connection, leaving some important questions unexplored. Granted that brands and self-identity are closely related, self-brand connections are unlikely to be static. Is self-brand connection changeable? What triggers changes in self-brand connection? The extant literature has yet to address these questions.

    To fill this gap, this research proposes a goal-system perspective to understand the changes in self-brand connections. According to the goal-system theory (Kruglanski et al. 2002), desired end states (goals) and their attainment activities (means) are connected in a person’s knowledge network. Research has identified a number of principles concerning the effects of goal activation and goal system structure on the motivation to engage in a means. I theorize that a functional connection analogous to a goal-mean association is formed between identity goals and brand consumption in the mind of consumers who often use brands to express or construct their identities. Because brands are regarded as means to achieve identity goals, so changes in self-brand connection likely follow the principles identified in the goal-system literature.

    The value of this perspective is threefold. First, the goal-system perspective delineates the psychological process underlying the changes in self-brand connection. This perspective effectively accounts for emerging findings that cannot be fully explained by the current model. More importantly, the perspective predicts emotional and motivational triggers of changes in self-brand connection, as well as for whom and when such changes are more likely to occur. Second, this perspective supplements the literature by addressing the emotional and motivational aspects of self-brand connection processes. Prior research has primarily focused on the cognitive process, such as how perception of brand user image influences self-brand connection. This perspective offers a conceptual model that explicates the effects of emotional factors on changing self-brand connection through activating identity goals. Third, the perspective opens up a broad research agenda in studying changes in self-brand connection. As a launching pad of the research program, the proposed research tests two propositions derived from the goal-system theory. The goal-system theory is a well-established theoretical framework in the social psychological literature. Other principles of the goal-system theory may also be relevant in studying self-brand connection. The findings of the proposed research will enlighten researchers on the values of the goal-system perspective, which potentially leads to multiple future directions.

    Aside from its theoretical contribution, the proposed research is likely to yield important practical implications for brand building and customer relationship management. By identifying the specific conditions that trigger changes in self-brand connection, the findings of this research are likely to update marketers on the useful strategies to build and retain customer relationship with their brands.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1331/12/15


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