Willingness to pay a premium for group norms as a measure of reference group influence

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Selvakumar, Keeshan
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University of Guelph

Researchers have studied the phenomenon of reference group influence in consumer settings for many years. Previous authors have typically measured influence as favouring group norms over alternatives, with no mention of paying a premium for group norms. The purpose of this study was to examine whether measuring reference group influence as willingness to pay a premium for group norms would change the pre-existing relationships between influence and its antecedents (consumption visibility, group identification, tie strength and consumer need for uniqueness). A structural equation modeling strategy was employed to determine whether these relationships were maintained when consumers actually had to pay a premium to adhere to group norms. The results revealed that consumption visibility does play a direct and moderating role on willingness to pay premiums for group norms. More specifically, consumers with high identification and strong ties are only influenced by their reference group in public conditions. The results also suggest that the effect of need for uniqueness is not strong enough to elicit a reference group influence on consumer choices if the group norm costs more than the alternative.

group norms, willingness, pay, premium, reference group, influence, consumer settings, consumer choices