Ironic Consumption

Caleb Warren, Gina S. Mohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ironic consumption refers to using a product (brand, style, behavior, etc.) with the intent of signaling a meaning (identity, message, belief, etc.) that reverses the conventional meaning of the product. We report five studies showing that people are more likely to think that a consumer is using a product ironically when the product is incongruent with the consumer's known identity or beliefs. The impression that ironic consumers make on an observer depends on the observer's relationship with the consumed product. When a consumer uses a product associated with the observer's in-group (e.g., wearing a "Powered by Kale" shirt in front of a vegan), observers have a less favorable impression if they believe the consumer is using the product ironically. Conversely, when a consumer uses a product that is not associated with the observer's in-group (e.g., wearing a "Powered by Kale" shirt in front of a meat-eater), observers have a more favorable impression if they believe the consumer is using the product ironically. Collectively, our studies suggest that consumers can use products ironically to selectively signal one meaning to an in-group (who is likely to detect irony), and another to out-groups (who are unlikely to detect irony).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-266
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Volume46
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • identity
  • impression management
  • irony
  • signaling
  • symbols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Ironic Consumption'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this