Journal of Consumer Behaviour

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Volume 7 Issue 3 (May/June 2008), Pages 189-262

Being the same and different: A model explaining new product adoption (pages 249-262)

Abstract

  • The study suggests an alternative conceptualization for understanding adoption behavior over time, based on Optimal Distinctiveness Theory. This theory states that social identity derives from a fundamental tension between human needs for validation and similarity to others—the need for assimilation—and a countervailing need for uniqueness and individuation—the need for differentiation. The present study proposes that the effect of the size of the group of consumers who have already adopted a new product on an individual consumer's decision to adopt this product is contingent upon the consumer's two predispositions: the need for assimilation and the need for distinctiveness. Results of empirical research suggested that differently perceived subgroup sizes fulfill consumers' dual needs for distinctiveness and assimilation differently. The influence of the adopters' group size on a consumer's decision to adopt a new product varied among individuals with different levels of needs for distinctiveness and assimilation: when need for distinctiveness was low, the higher was the need for assimilation and the larger was the perceived group size, the higher was the probability of adopting the product. When the need for distinctiveness was high, the lower was the need for assimilation and the larger was the perceived group size, the lower was the probability of adopting the product. In addition, when the need for both distinctiveness and assimilation were high, the probability of adopting the product rose as the perceived group size increased. Implications for product variation, marketing communication, and target groups are discussed.

Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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