Consumers’ digital self-extension and pro-brand social media engagement – the role of culture

Fazlul K. Rabbanee, Rajat Roy, Sanjit K. Roy, Rana Sobh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Digital self-expression, recently one of the most important research themes, is currently under-researched. In this context, this study aims to propose a parsimonious research model of self-extension tendency, its drivers and its outcomes. The model is tested in the context of social media engagement intentions (liking, sharing and commenting) with focal brands and across individualist versus collectivist cultures.

Design/methodology/approach: The model is tested in two individualist cultures (N = 230 and 232) and two collectivist cultures (N = 232 and 237) by conducting surveys in four countries (Australia, USA, Qatar and India). Nike and Ray-Ban are the focal brands studied, with Facebook serving as the targeted social networking site (SNS) platform.

Findings: Self-monitoring and self-esteem are found to drive the self-extension tendency across cultures, with stronger effects in the individualist culture than in the collectivist culture. The self-extension tendency has a relatively stronger positive influence on social media engagement intentions in the individualist culture than in the collectivist culture. This tendency is also found to mediate the link between self-monitoring, self-extension and social media engagement intentions across both cultures, albeit in different ways. In collectivist culture, self-monitoring’s influence on the self-extension tendency is moderated by public self-consciousness. The study’s findings have important theoretical and practical implications. In individualist culture, self-monitoring’s influence on the self-extension tendency is moderated by public self-consciousness.

Research limitations/implications: The present findings confirm that the tendency to incorporate the brand into one’s self-concept and to further extend the self is indeed contingent on one’s cultural background. The role of public self-consciousness may vary between individualist and collectivist cultures, something recommended by past research for empirical testing.

Practical implications: Managers can leverage this research model to entice pro-brand social media engagement by nurturing consumers’ digital selves in terms of maneuvering their self-extension tendency and its drivers, namely, self-monitoring and self-esteem. Second, promoting the self-extension tendency and its drivers varies across cultures, with this finding offering practical cultural nuances supporting marketing managers’ decisions.

Originality/value: This is one of the pioneering studies that tests a cross-cultural parsimonious model based on theories of self-extension, self-monitoring and self-esteem, especially within the context of brand engagement intentions on an SNS platform.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2199-2236
Number of pages38
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Volume57
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2023

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