How Identity-Based Motivation Influences the Meaning of Customized Products



Consumer demand for customized products is increasing rapidly. While researchers have documented the premium consumers place on these products, little research has examined the meaning that these products hold for consumers. In this article, we identify the factors that influence both the meaning that consumers build into their customized products and the composition of that meaning (i.e., public versus private). Using two studies that engage participants in real customization tasks, we find that consumers’ identity motives interact with factors under the firm’s control (e.g., design freedom) to influence product meaning, product evaluations, and satisfaction with customized products. In two additional studies, other consumers then assess the degree to which those customized products contain public and private meaning.  By pairing these studies, we examine the relationship between the meaning that a product holds for the individual who created it and the meaning that it communicates to others. Together, our four studies demonstrate that consumers’ identity-based motivations influence both the amount and the type of meaning that consumers build into their products.
Contact information:
Dr. G. Liberali