To Regain Sense of Control: Social Exclusion and Consumer Switching Behavior

  • SU, Lei (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    When do consumers deviate from buying the same brand or product anymore and start a journey with another brand or product? And what factors drive such switching behavior? Understanding consumer switching behavior is of practical importance to marketers. By knowing the antecedents for possible switching to other brands, marketers can come up plan to retain their consumers or unyoke consumers from competing brands. With the increased product line complexity in many companies, switching may happen within a brand: for example, a loyal consumer of Crest may try a newly launched red wine flavor instead of sticking to their usual green tea flavor. Marketers attempting to persuade consumers to use premium products instead of low-tier ones will be eager to ascertain how to initiate such a switch.

    Various environmental and personal factors can induce consumers to switch products or brands, such as price or advertising, a shift in consumer preference, the launch of a new product, etc. However, have you ever thought of that, instead of being a result of the rivalry among different product offerings in the market, switching behavior can be unrelated with any market efforts and consumers’ preference? In this study, we propose that consumers’ switching behavior could be founded purely on a psychological factor, social exclusion, that are pertinent to neither marketing mix nor personal preference.

    Social exclusion (i.e., being alone, isolated, or ostracized) is a rather common but threatening experience such as being ignored at parties or in office conversations, the ending of friendships, and receiving letters of rejection from companies or universities. Experiences such as these are painful because our fundamental concepts of socialization are challenged. Advances in communication technologies and the growth of social media have resulted in less personal contact, increasing the prevalence of social exclusion. This research links social exclusion with the topic of switching, and aims to use the consumer switching behavior platform as a means to reveal novel insights behind social exclusion. Specifically, we argue that social exclusion increases consumers’ switching orientation. We propose that this effect is mediated by the sense of a loss of control among socially excluded consumers, which can be restored simply by a switching behavior. At last, familiarity and anthropomorphism of the switching target can serve as boundary conditions for the proposed effect.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1631/12/17

    UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities


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