"A Social Identity Perspective on Aspirational Advertising: Implicit Threats to Self-Esteem and Strategies to Overcome Them"


This research explores the effects of consumers’ self-comparisons with specific social identities associated with a product-based out-group that are primed by aspirational advertising. We hypothesize and find that when a consumer’s relevant identity is inferior to the primed social identity, product attitudes suffer. The process accounting for this effect consists of a negative social comparison between the two that reduces the consumer’s related collective self-esteem. This outcome is more (less) apparent under conditions of high comparison salience (identification with inferior in-group). We also demonstrate two marketer strategies that alleviate this negative effect: facilitated affiliation (i.e., making desired out-group membership accessible) and indirect self-affirmation (i.e., improving perceptions of worth associated with other self identities). Results advance theoretical knowledge of social identity processes influencing consumer attitudes.