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Relationship Between Consumer Vanity Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 5109 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This is a very brief overview of what candidate wants to do and it is based on preliminary and superficial literature review. The direction of the study within this area and choice of variables and model details can be modified after in-depth literature review under the directions of study supervisor.

The relationship between consumer vanity, status consumption, fashion consciousness and materialism in university students of Islamabad

Naveed Ahmed

(MM-113046) MS-Marketing

Muhammad Ali Jinnahl University

Islamabad, Pakistan.


For consideration in

Department of Management

Muhammad Ali Jinnah University, Islamabad

The relationship between consumer vanity, status consumption, fashion consciousness and materialism in university students of Islamabad


Consumption  is  a  construct shaped in accordance with social,  cultural, political  and  economic  process  of  choosing  products  and services. This process reflects the opportunities and constraints of modernity depiction by consumers through acquisition of a desired social identity via patterns of consumption . As the US population’s insatiable appetite for consumerism teeters on a staggering $14 trillion in consumer debt . What is most puzzling to economists and decision theorists is that it is often those earning the least that spend the greatest fraction of their income on conspicuous consumption (i.e., the act of acquiring goods not for their inherent objective or subjective value, but to signal social status .

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Now a day’s consumption has become the social standard of leisure time and lifestyle that is necessary, easily accessible, and optimistic by society . Goldbart, Jaffe, & DiFuria stated that consumer goods will give psychological benefits as the focus of materialistic values is more on materialistic good, and young people are comparatively more exposed to status consumption than the old ones. Sometimes consumers wish to become distinctive among larger groups to acquire an improved self. The fashion industry is becoming globalized by having the 220 billion worth in the luxurious fashion market for different brands . In USA consumers having age between 12 and 19 emerged as an fashion consumer due to having purchasing power of worth 153 billion $. That is an emerging market for getting profitability . In Asia the scenario is not different, according to different researchers Asian consumers adopt eight main styles in their decision making . These are:

Perfectionist high quality conscious

Brand conscious

Novelty and fashion conscious

Recreational or shopping conscious

Price conscious

Impulsive careless

Confused by too much choices

Habitual and brand loyal

Even in Pakistan, people are becoming brand, fashion consciousness by purchasing the imported products rather than the Pakistani products, which shows that Pakistanis have become more fashion, and brand conscious . Economists say that, in recent years, Pakistani women have fueled a retail boom in name brand shopping as they move from a traditional homebound life into the working world. A senior female instructor at the Government College of Technology in Lahore said she earns about 100,000 rupees, or $1,054, a month. “Gradually in the last five years I have become brand-conscious,” she said. “Today, definitely I spend more on my clothes and jewelry.” . People acquire, utilize and dispose the materialistic products in order to get feelings of differentiation from society, creating a new self and social identity . According to Solomon the materialistic show is only through vanity, people show vanity via different materialistic products like dressing, sunglasses, luxury watches etc.

Durvasula, Lysonski, & Watson found that vanity is an improved self in the human which is affected by society and it is also derived by the society. People try to create an idealistic personality to prove them unique in the society. Netemeyer, Burton, & Lichtenstein separated the vanity into four categories which includes physical concern. Physical view, achievement concern and achievement view. Physical and achievement vanity both are very important from the perspective of marketers because they have to highlight the benefits of an individual in terms of their physical appearance and attractiveness. Marketers use vanity as an appeal to promote different products .

Fashion consciousness is of greater importance when examining the self-concept of fashion consumers. explain that ”the concept of self-consciousness suggested by is the basis for construct of fashion consciousness”

Individual can posses status with accumulation of education, wealth, social ties, fashion consumption, different possessions and materialistic products .


The companies of cosmetics products, which are promoted on the appeal of physical vanity, and different materialistic products that are promoted on the appeal of achievement vanity are more conscious about customers now days. With the emergence of modernism, the customer has become more fashion and brand conscious. They do not care about the price of products and are more conscious about their status. The status consumption is an indicator to social dimensions for consuming certain products and consumer is more conscious about status than price, quality and other dimensions of the products . Therefore, it’s very difficult for companies to appeal the products on different values like consumer vanity, materialism and fashion consciousness and its need to check the accuracy of these values in customer willingness to buy and status consumption in different brands according to the suggestion of in different countries of Asia.


Brand engagement social concept, which can be in terms of different traits (Sprott et al., 2009), and status consumption are concepts that link fundamental materialistic tendencies with more specific marketplace behaviors. The three constructs form a constellation of motivated behavioral tendencies focused around the purchase which include vanity, self consciousness and fashion consumption and use of goods to build and portray the self to others. People high in these traits have been shown to consume more, pay more attention to advertisements, and be more interested in products and shopping and thus are of great interest to marketers . There is a great push due to materialism for status consumption and it works as a potential moderator in between fashion consciousness and status consumption . Fashion consciousness and brand consciousness are basic elements which influence the Pakistani university students consumptions and intentions to buy and need to investigate more with traits like consumer vanity . There is little research in general and no research in Pakistan and specifically university shoppers, however, that specifically examines how this group of variables works together to affect status consumption. The present study seeks to fill this gap.

Research questions:

The research questions related to this study are:

What is the effect of consumer vanity on status consumption, how the physical vanity and achievement vanity effects the status consumption?

What is the mediating role of fashion consciousness in between consumer vanity and status consumption?

What is the moderating role of materialism with fashion consciousness and status consumption?


The main objective of this study is to examine the effect of consumer vanity on status consumption with mediating role of fashion consciousness and moderating role of materialism with fashion consciousness and status consumption in university students of business studies. The purpose of taking business students is, they have different values like achievement, social status and hedonism leads them to congruence with environment .


This study will contribute both aspects marketing theory and practical implication. First, this will broaden the knowledge of consumer behavior and traits related marketing in relation to adult consumers, university shoppers in Pakistan. Second, it will enable the marketers to set an advertising appeal for consumers based on physical vanity and achievement vanity and can provide a base for getting purchasing patterns for status and a way of modernism. It will also assist them in determining the purchasing pattern of university shoppers in Pakistan.

Theories supporting research on this topic:

In terms of social learning theory, influenced by the media, female college students with different vanity characteristics may develop a materialism trait and may go a step further than the different fashion anxieties. Hence, adolescent consumer behavior was study, it is essential to study students’ vanity trait, materialism and fashion anxiety. However, the relationship between fashion anxiety, materialism and vanity trait has rarely been studied.

To theorize status consumption and luxury brand purchase intention with regard to the implications for consumer research, this study draws on consumer culture theory . Within CCT, studies on possessions are particularly relevant. The central position is that is that consumers use possessions to formulate and alter their identities, in order to ¬t their own projections of who they are and aspire to be. At the same time, this process must also be validated by the judgment of the external world (Jenkins, 2004).

The relationship study is based on the Veblen theory of conspicuous consumption and Veblen work on the evolution of leisure class. According to Veblen, status has become increasingly important for societies and people own different materialistic products, and other possessions in order to get honor and show their status. To show a position of esteem they try to change their self-presentation their physical vanity compels them to adopt different products to make them physical attractive. Their achievement vanity also directed them to status consumption in order to show their success and achievements .

Literature Review:

The literature of different variables related to study is given below:

Status Consumption:

Achieving and expressing status are basic goals of members of human society and achieving status through consumption has been studied for more than a century (Veblen, 1967/1899). One of the ways consumers endeavor to demonstrate their social status is through the purchase and display of certain products. Gabriel and Lang (2006, p. 8) expressed this idea well: “display of material commodities fix the social position and prestige of their owners.” In recent years, as the level of consumer affluence has grown, so has the consumption of luxury and status goods (Hader, 2008).

Consumers try to demonstrate their personality and social status in different ways and dominant way is purchasing and displaying certain products. They elaborated this idea in clear words: “Materialistic possessions and goods sets prestige and social position of holder. Different studies showed the consumption of status products and luxurious consumption has rapidly increased with the intensity of consumer richness.

The good condition of economy is also a predictor of status consumption. When public has facility of credit and aggregate income of a country is rising then people show their social standing with the help of status goods. In the scale of status consumption, the operationalization of person’s tendency to consumer for the sake of status.

While status consumption varies with the health of the economy, the increased availability of credit and overall rising incomes contribute to the use of status items to enhance social standing.

The tendency of a person to consume to achieve status has been operationalized as an individual difference variable by the status consumption scale (Eastman et al., 1999). The scale allows researchers to measure an individual’s propensity to use products and services as an expression of their own status. In the scale development piece, Eastman et al. (1999) used fashion clothing as a prime example of a product category used to express status. More recently, Solomon and Rabolt (2004, pp. 239-241) and O’Cass and Frost (2002) both use fashion as an example of a product category employed to express status and personal meaning.

Other studies show that consuming to achieve status is conceptually related to the idea of instrumental materialism (Csikszentmihalyi and Rochberg-Halton, 1981) where people accumulate possessions to some end. Status consumption relates also to a tendency to conform to group norms while expressing one’s need for uniqueness (Clark et al., 2007). Indeed, status consumers are susceptible to normative influence, but not necessarily informational influence (Clark et al., 2007). While status consumption relates to accumulation to express position, materialism is more personal. Materialists’ things make them feel good directly, and status consumers’ things make them feel good because they show the world personal superiority. At the same time, materialists do want to signal status (Wang and Wallendorf, 2006), and materialistic consumers have been shown to be especially attuned to which products have status and how acquiring them promotes the status (Loulakis and Hill, 2010). Status consumption and materialism are clearly related individual difference variables.

Consumer Vanity:

Netemeyer, Burton, & Lichtenstein defined vanity with two domains. The first one is physical vanity and other is achievement vanity. Two sub parts of physical vanity are; a concern for physical appearance and an inflated view of physical appearance. Similarly two sub parts of achievement vanity are; a concern for achievement and an inflated view of achievement. Mainly there are two philosophies about vanity. The first one says Vanity is derived by primary and biogenic needs. It is such type of personality trait which is affected by parental socialization and genes and on the second end Mason reveals that vanity is not primarily, it is secondary trait which is mainly influenced by the environment and socio-economic conditions like conspicuous consumption. Worst, Duckworth, & McDaniel develop a special measure of 98 items about vanity and its motivation toward overspending based on literature. The main traits are (1) narcissism (2) Association about saving behavior (3) Compulsive over spending.

Physical vanity:

An extreme concern for and positive view of physical appearance is called physical vanity . The popular and academic press both revealed with articles and books about physical appearance, and its impact on consumer product demand. In USA people spent $ 36 billion on different dieting programs for their physical appearance . According to survey of psychology today which reported that 34 % men and 38 % women were bit satisfied about their physical appearance and other majorities want to get plastic surgery . Research uncovered that concern for physical appearance directs not only positive attitude (e.g. good health eating patterns and exercising) towards consumption but negative attitude also (e.g. disorder in eating patterns, addictive behavior and cosmetic surgeries ) for personal satisfaction .

Achievement vanity:

There is empirical and theoretical evidence that creates a link between consumption of product and personal achievement. Mitchell grouped 23 % respondents as “achievers” (who are anxious to achieve personal goal) and 9 % are grouped as “emulators” ( an aspiration to achievers ) by using typology of VALS. And according to Kahle 16 % people values “a good judgment of accomplishment” most important. It has been suggested by Belk that different groups consume in order to convey to status or success. One school of thought says that people show off the materialistic product for personal achievement .

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Fashion Consciousness:

Various uses of self-presented products like clothing have been found to be related to self-esteem (Humphrey et al., 1971). Kwon (1994) examined the perceived effects of clothing on self-esteem. He suggested that college students perceived themselves as more competent in work, more sociable, and more positive when feeling good about their clothing as compared to feeling bad about it,. Fashion consciousness is of greater importance when examining the self concept of fashion consumers. Gould and Stern (1989) explain that ”the concept of self-consciousness suggested by Fenigstein et al. (1975) is the basis for construct of fashion consciousness”.

According to Buss (1980), the central concept of the self-consciousness theory is the extent to which one focuses on the inner or outer self: ”When self-awareness is directed inward, people tend to have a high level of private self-awareness, being conscious of inner states such as feelings, moods and beliefs”. ”However, when self-awareness is directed outward, people tend to have a high level of public self-consciousness. When a person has a high level of public consciousness he tends to focus on himself as a social object” (Buss, 1980, 1985). Those who are high in public self-consciousness are likely to become more nervous about being observed by others than those who are low in public self-consciousness (Buss, 1980). Based on aspects of self-consciousness, Gould and Stern (1989) strengthened the concept of fashion consciousness, and stressed the importance of biological gender in fashion consciousness.

Nam et al. (2006) explain fashion consciousness as ”a person’s degree of involvement with the styles or fashion of clothing”. Apparel marketers ¬nd it a convenient attribute of consumers, as this pre-existing interest in clothing can increase consumer receptivity to apparel product promotions (Richards and Sturman, 1977; Kaiser and Chandler, 1984). An individual does not have to be either a fashion opinion leader or a fashion innovator to be considered fashion conscious. ”Rather, fashion consciousness relates to a person’s interest in clothing and fashion and his appearance” (Summers, 1970; Jonathan and Mills, 1982).

Gould and Stern (1989) developed the Fashion Consciousness Scale (FCS), which they suggested to have derived from two related constructs: ”(1) self-consciousness (suggested by Fenigstein et al., 1975) and (2) an everyday concept of fashion consciousness”. Accordingly, the FCS consisted of 38 items to include both the original Self-Consciousness Scale and also various aspects of individuals’ everyday fashion consciousness. Gould and Stern (1989) further explained that fashion conscious females tend to focus more on their own external appearance, and they will tend to look for appearance-related reinforcement in shopping activity. ”They explained that the presence of objects such as mirrors, ¬‚attering lighting, and sales people trained to provide positive appearance are reinforcers for females. Conversely, males who are more fashion conscious focus more on what they are, and these men connect fashion with their self-identity and internalized maleness” (Gould and Stern, 1989).

Greco and Paksoy (1989) noted that fashion-conscious shoppers rely more on mass media information sources than non-fashion-conscious customers. Walsh et al. (2001) highlighted that fashion consciousness among German consumers was due to the desire for up-to-date styles, frequent changes in wardrobe and pleasurable shopping experiences. As Bakewell and Rothwell (2006) noted, ”historically, the practice of shopping and clothing consumption has been regarded as a female practice. However marketers are increasingly recognizing that it is ‘outmoded’ to consider men as ‘producers’ and women as ‘consumers’ (Bakewell and Rothwell, 2006). However, many authors suggest that ”although appearance consciousness has a greater in¬‚uence on women, the society rede¬nes what it means to be a ‘man’. Therefore, the notion of fashion-less male is outmoded” (e.g. Featherstone, 1995; Kacen, 2000; Tseelon, 1995; Patterson and Elliot, 2002). In contrast, a study of fashion consciousness in Eastern European markets highlighted that young male respondents were more fashion-conscious than their female counterparts (Manrai et al., 2001). Further, Barak and Stern (1985) explained that fashion-conscious women often feel younger than their actual age. However, Lumpkin (1985) found that a ”high proportion of active mature consumers were relatively heavy spenders on clothing”. Based on this, they concluded that fashion-conscious segments of older consumers do exist among shoppers.

The work of Chowdhary (1988) showed that there is no relationship between age perception and fashion consciousness. However, there is a dearth of research focused of the fashion consciousness of consumers in developing countries since their cultural and socio-economic background is different from consumers in developed countries.

(2) Fashion consciousness has been identi¬ed as an important dimension of a person’s lifestyle that affects purchase decision and consumption behaviour (Lee et al., 2009; Zhou et al., 2010). People who are highly fashion-conscious may pay more attention to the image portrayed by prestige brands and therefore may be more prestige-sensitive than those who are less fashion conscious. Studies in the past found that highly fashion-conscious consumers possess traits such as ‘health conscious’, ‘brand conscious’, ‘innovative’, and ‘self-con¬dent’ (Wan et al., 2001). Further, highly fashion-conscious consumers were found to be ‘younger’, and embrace social values such as ‘respect’, ‘excitement’, and ‘fun/ enjoyment’ (Goldsmith and Stith, 1990). Stranforth (1995) identi¬ed traits such as ‘sensation seeking’, ‘adventure seeking’, ‘susceptibility’, and ‘clothing individuality’ to be signi¬cantly related with high degree of fashion consciousness.

The proposed hypothesis and relationships:

The proposed hypothesis and relationship literature is given below:

Consumer vanity and Fashion consciousness:

Physical vanity and fashion consciousness:

illustrated that being a fashion agent in a modernism era the fashion consumers are more conscious about brands and new fashion. He examined the relationship of brand consciousness and impulsive buying in the fashion environment. Checked the college student behavior in the attractive shopping environment but he no one focused in the fashion stores context. In today society, physical attractiveness and beauty are so much emphasized as desirable and Iranian females are more fashion consciousness in buying products for physical attractiveness. Therefore the proposed hypothesis on the base of this literature is:

H1a: the physical vanity will be positively associated with fashion consciousness.

Achievement vanity and fashion consciousness:

People have becomes more conscious in fashion consumption just in order to show the view of achievement and success to their fellows . aggregated the achievement vanity with public-self consciousness and relate it with the external environment but ignored the self-consciousness in specific fashion context. Therefore, on the base of this literature the proposed hypothesis is:

H1b: the achievement vanity will be positively associated with the fashion consciousness.

Fashion consciousness and status consumption:

Status consumption, wish for souvenir and fashion consciousness are the basic motivation for the fashion consumer for the purchasing of fashion goods.   Fashion consciousness and interest in image predispose consumers to be willing to pay more for their preferred brands. However, in Pakistan the emergence of multinational fashion brands emphasis on the requirement of research in this area. Therefore, the proposed hypothesis is:

H2: Fashion consciousness will be positively associated with the status consumption.

Consumer Vanity and status consumption:

Physical vanity and status consumption:

In a recent study in which has combined the psychological and social correlation and illustrate that the physical vanity and physical appearance needs to lower weight status and which ultimately leads to the status consumption. The need for high social status and compel to more physical attractiveness is more in female consumers . Therefore on the bases of this literature the proposed hypothesis is:

H3a: Physical vanity will be positively associated with status consumption.

Achievement vanity and status consumption:

The values of achievement and social status prevail from young adults to university shoppers. In university the students are status consumer and want to show their achievements with their peers . The values of achievement are succeeded from the university environment to the shopping environment. described that there is a positive relationship between conspicuous achievement and status consumption in Iranian consumers but it should be investigated with other areas in this region.

H3b: Achievement vanity will be positively associated with status consumption.

Mediating role of fashion consciousness between consumer vanity and status consumption:

Fashion consciousness, which is equivalent to fashion involvement, is merely the desire for and adoption of up-to-date styles to maintain one’s status in a social network . This concept mediates the relationship between age and consumer commitment to retailers and that between age and fashion knowledge . report a signi¬cant mediating effect of fashion involvement on the relationship between status consumption and price sensitivity. Checked the mediation of fashion consciousness among interpersonal effect of self-monitoring, susceptibility to personal influence with status consumption and reported about mediation working.

Similarly, this study took the variable fashion consciousness as a mediator between the relationship of consumer vanity and status consumption.

H4: Fashion consciousness is mediating between consumer vanity and status consumption.

Conceptual Framework:







H1: Consumer vanity will be positively associated with fashion consciousness.

H2: Fashion consciousness will be positively associated with status consumption.

H3: Consumer vanity will be positively associated with status consumption.

H4: Fashion consciousness is mediating between consumer vanity and status consumption.


The main objective of this study is to examine the effect of consumer vanity on status consumption with mediating role of fashion consciousness and moderating role of materialism with fashion consciousness and status consumption in university students.

The purpose of taking business students is, they have different values like achievement, social status and hedonism leads them to congruence with environment .

For this purpose, we will collect data from the different university students of Islamabad using the convenient sampling technique. Survey method will be used in order to collect the data from the sample of 400 respondents by developing the well-structured questionnaire.

The measures for this study are given below:

Measurement of the vanity was made with a well established scale of having 4 main facets. These are CFPA (Concern for physical appearance), VOPA (View of physical appearance), CFA (Concern for achievement), and VOA (View of achievement). All items have 5 questions each except VOPA (View of physical appearance) which has six questions. Five point likert scale was used having values from strongly disagree to strongly agree (Strongly disagree =1, Disagree =2, neutral =3, Agree =4, strongly agree =5) to check the response of business students and teachers of business studies.

Fashion consciousness (FAS), developed by Shim and Gehrt (1996), consists of ¬ve items. This construct re¬‚ects the degree to which an individual incorporates the latest fashion styles into his wardrobe (Nam et al., 2006) and the degree of his desire for up-to-date styles and frequent wardrobe changes (Shim & Gehrt, 1996; Walsh et al., 2001; Wells & Tigert, 1971). Five point likert scale was used having values from strongly disagree to strongly agree (Strongly disagree =1, Disagree =2, neutral =3, Agree =4, strongly agree =5) to check the response of fashion clothing involvement.

The concept of status consumption (STA) was developed by Eastman, Goldsmith, and Flynn (1999) and refers to an interest in consuming to obtain status or engaging in conspicuous consumption. The original scales compose of ¬ve items. Five point likert scale was used having values from strongly disagree to strongly agree (Strongly disagree =1, Disagree =2, neutral =3, Agree =4, strongly agree =5) for getting response of business students about status consumption.

The statically tools will be used to describe response of university students. Mean values of response were also calculated, exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis will be used in order to prove the reliability and validity of instrument. KMO values were obtained. To check the association and to know the variance between variables. For inter-item reliability final scores the Cronbach alpha values were determined. Descriptive statistics were useful to demonstrate the demo-graphics of respondents. Correlation and regression values were calculated and regression weights will be used to show the relationships of variables.


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