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Should the Devil Sell Prada? Retail Rejection Increases Aspiring Consumers’ Desire for the Brand

Morgan K. Ward and Darren W. Dahl
Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 41, No. 3 (October 2014), pp. 590-609
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.1086/676980
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/676980
Page Count: 20
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Should the Devil Sell Prada? Retail Rejection Increases Aspiring Consumers’ Desire for the Brand
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Abstract

In response to consumers’ complaints that they feel rejected in and thus avoid luxury stores, retailers have encouraged sales personnel to be more friendly. However, prior research on social rejection supports the idea that rejection encourages people to elevate their perceptions of their rejecters and strengthens their predilection to affiliate with them. Four studies examine the circumstances in which consumers increase their regard and willingness to pay after brand rejection. In a retail context, the data reveal that after threat, consumers have more positive attitudes and higher willingness to pay when (1) the rejection comes from an aspirational (vs. nonaspirational) brand, (2) the consumer relates the brand to his/her ideal self-concept, (3) s/he is unable to self-affirm before rejection, (4) the salesperson delivering the threat reflects the brand, and (5) the threat occurred recently. The substantive implications of these findings for retailers are discussed, and opportunities for future research are identified.

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