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Three essays on luxury consumption

ESMT Dissertation No. ESMT DIS-18-03
Ning Chen
Ethics and social responsibility
Luxury Consumption, Consumer Behavior, Gift Giving, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Natural Disasters
Luxury consumption has been widely studied in consumer behavior literature. These studies of luxury consumption are reviewed in Chapter 1. In Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4, the potential factors which may influence consumers’ luxury consumption behavior are further investigated. Chapter 2 examines the effect of gift-giving motivations on gift givers’ luxury consumption tendencies. Previous research suggests that altruistic acts tend to increase subsequent indulgences. In the context of gift giving, this chapter supports this contention in a pilot study. Across three additional studies, both with hypothetical and with actual gift giving; the results show that the effect of altruistic gift giving on givers’ indulgences depends on how moral the givers perceive the indulgences to be. Specifically, the results suggest that altruistic gift givers are more willing to indulge as perceptions of the morality of indulgences increase. This moderation of the perceived morality of indulgences sheds light on the psychological mechanism underlying the effect of altruistic gift giving on subsequent indulgences and supports an affect regulation explanation as opposed to a licensing effect explanation. Chapter 3 investigates the influence of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on luxury consumption. Previous luxury consumption research reveals little about when luxury brands benefit from CSR engagement. This chapter examines whether there is a difference in consumers’ responses (customer loyalty, consumers’ green behavior, and consumers’ willingness to cooperate with green initiatives) to a luxury and a non-luxury green hotel. The results of this chapter suggest that consumers’ responses to luxury green hotels are not influenced by the profit-driven attribution of hotel’s CSR engagement. Conversely, and consistent with previous research, consumers’ responses to non-luxury green hotels are negatively affected when consumers perceive the CSR engagement to be profit-driven. We build our predictions upon consumers’ affective attitudes to luxury brands and discuss implications and directions for future research. Chapter 4 examines the effect of natural disasters on luxury consumption. By using search engine query data, Chapter 4 investigates the conditions under which natural disasters have a positive or a negative effect on consumers’ desire for luxuries. The results indicate that the conspicuousness of luxuries moderates the effect of natural disasters on consumers’ desire for luxury consumption. Natural disasters have a negative impact on consumers’ desire for conspicuous luxuries (vs. inconspicuous luxuries, and non-luxuries). These results provide affluent managerial implications for luxury companies. These results also demonstrate the viability of using online behavioral data to investigate the consumers’ psychological process. Chapter 5 summarizes the results of Chapters 2, 3, and 4, and discusses the overall implications of these results for luxury consumption literature.