Social Identity and Product Evaluation

31 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2006

See all articles by Thomas Marchlewski

Thomas Marchlewski

Deutsche Telekom AG; University of Cologne

Joachim Vosgerau

Bocconi University

Detlef Fechtenhauer

University of Cologne

Date Written: November 2006


Consumers choose products not only on the basis of the products' attributes but also to create and maintain a desired social identity. The preference for consuming products which allow for enhancing a social identity can be so strong that it alters consumers' perceptions of the products' attributes. We ask consumers in a blind test to rate the taste of two beer sorts, a local beer sort and a non-local sort. Consumers judge the beer that they think is their local beer sort to be better tasting than the other beer sort, independent of whether they actually sampled their local beer sort or the non-local beer sort. The local beer sort is preferred because its consumption allows for identifying with the region of origin. Consistent with this hypothesis, we find that mortality salience enhances the taste of the local beer sort and worsens the taste of the other beer sort. We conclude that local brands, like local beer sorts, can enjoy an advantage over other brands when their consumption allows for providing a region-based identity. Our findings also bear important implications for product evaluation tests.

Keywords: Product Testing, Consumer Behavior, Social Identity Theory, Brand Preference, Product Positioning, Terror Management Theory

JEL Classification: M19, M31

Suggested Citation

Marchlewski, Thomas and Vosgerau, Joachim and Fechtenhauer, Detlef, Social Identity and Product Evaluation (November 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Thomas Marchlewski

Deutsche Telekom AG ( email )

Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 140
Bonn, NRW 53113

University of Cologne ( email )

Cologne, 50923

Joachim Vosgerau (Contact Author)

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136

Detlef Fechtenhauer

University of Cologne ( email )

Cologne, 50923

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