Preference for Material Products in Identity-Based Consumption

Eugina Leung*, MC (Maria) Cito, Gabriele Paolacci, Stefano Puntoni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
177 Downloads (Pure)


Only a few years ago, people interested in novels or movies had no choice but to use physical media such as books or DVDs. Technological advances allowed dematerializing these products, making consumption instantly accessible with a download. The trend towards dematerialization has been steady across product domains, and recent confinement measures might further accelerate it. We investigate how preferences for dematerialized products depend on people’s identity motives in consumption. In a series of studies, we find that the identity relevance of a product increases the appeal of its physical versions. Even when the hedonic experience is identical (e.g., watching a movie), material products are better tools for consumers to self-verify (i.e., provide better feedback to consumers about the identity which is implicated in consumption). As a result, identity-motivated consumers are more likely to forgo the benefits of dematerialization. This finding has implications for our understanding of digitized consumption and for the marketing of media products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)672-679
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Consumer Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date3 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2021 Society for Consumer Psychology.


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