Consumers frequently experience embarrassment. However, it is not until recent years that marketing scholars pay attention to this embarrassment emotion. Most of existing research results are empirical studies, and they are isolated & dispersed among themselves, which need to be reviewed. Through a literature review, this paper firstly defines the concept of consumer embarrassment. Consumer embarrassment is a negative emotion experience that involves a threat to the consumers’ social image, and occurs due to a violation of the self concept, others expectations or unwillingness to expose the self publicly when a real or imagined social presence exists. And by comparing embarrassment, shame and guilt in some several specific dimensions, such as antecedent conditions, the nature of errors, subjective experience, explicit expression, and social audiences, we can see that embarrassment is an independent self-conscious emotion that not only is differentiated but is closely linked with shame and guilt, and the significant differences between these emotions in above five aspects can help us to identify embarrassment accurately. Then, we focus on the consumer embarrassment research in the field of marketing by articulating the antecedents, moderators, and outcome variables of consumer embarrassment. As for the antecedents, we find that there are mainly three reasons for consumer embarrassment, namely the violation of others’ expectations, the violation of the self concept and the violation of the wish to not expose the self publicly. We also find that there exist certain individual differences in the experience of consumer embarrassment. A number of factors such as social existence and purchase familiarity, purchasing purpose, demographic factor, personality traits, context factor and cultural factor can affect consumer embarrassment. As a negative emotion, embarrassment can have an impact on consumers’ motivation, cognition, emotion and behavior as long as it appears. Therefore, we summarize the influences of consumer embarrassment on consumers’ motivation and cognition, emotion and behavior by a literature review, which focuses on the impact of consumer embarrassment on consumer behavior in the following four aspects: the influences of consumer embarrassment on consumer purchase & repurchase intention, word-of-mouth & complaining behavior, purchase timing, location, purchase channel selection & purchase quantity, and other consumer behaviors. We next raise some feasible empirical implications for channel management, product display as well as the employee training in services industry, and the advertising design. Several promising future research directions end up this paper. We think that future research can at least link the consumer embarrassment research to green consumption, to unhealthy consumption, to donation, to personal control, and to payment way, to achieve the integration of consumer embarrassment with other research subjects, and thus expand the research breadth of the topic of consumer embarrassment, so as to promote the existing consumer embarrassment research.
Consumer Embarrassment: A Literature Review, Marketing Application and Future Prospects
Foreign Economics & Management Vol. 40, Issue 02, pp. 123 - 137 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.fem.2018.02.009
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Cite this article
He Qiong, Liu Wumei, Hu Jiatong. Consumer Embarrassment: A Literature Review, Marketing Application and Future Prospects[J]. Foreign Economics & Management, 2018, 40(2): 123-137.
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