The dynamic models of consumers’ symbolic needs: in the context of restaurant brands

S. H. Han, B. Nguyen, Lyndon Simkin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)
    580 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the dynamic process and the meaning of symbolic consumption according to the three symbolic needs (i.e. status needs, social needs, status and social needs) to understand how symbolic messages are conveyed when consumers choose a brand.
    Design/methodology/approach: This paper develops three dynamic models, categorized according to the consumers’ needs. The conceptual framework consists of the six constructs: collectivism/individualism, brand reputation, self-congruence, brand affect, brand identification and brand loyalty. Twelve hypotheses were developed and tested. Data were collected from consumers who had experienced well-known global chain restaurant brands. The three models were tested using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling.
    Findings: Findings highlight the important mediating role of brand affect in symbolic consumption, which previously has not been revealed empirically. Moreover, it is found that self-congruence does not mediate the relationship between brand reputation, collectivism/individualism and brand affect, despite its prominence in previous symbolic consumption studies. In the status and social needs models, brand reputation mediates between collectivism/individualism and self-congruence, brand identification, brand affect and brand loyalty.
    Originality/value: This is the first empirical paper to investigate symbolic consumption in the context of three types of models, according to symbolic needs, in the context of restaurant consumption. The study also identifies the major components of the consumer’s symbolic needs based on the attributes of symbolic consumption. Moreover, this study reveals that when both social needs and status needs are mixed, a hierarchy exists between consumers’ symbolic needs. Finally, the study makes an important contribution to the literature by applying the concept of brand affect to symbolic consumption research and exploring the relationships between the external motivational factors and the internal elements of symbolic consumption.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1348 - 1376
    JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
    Issue number7/8
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2016


    • Brand reputation
    • Brand affect
    • Collectivism/individualism
    • Consumer’s needs hierarchy
    • Dynamic models
    • Symbolic consumption


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