The Impact of Status Seeking and Product Type on the Purchase of Luxury Goods and Luxury Experiential Services

Open Access
Yang, Wan
Graduate Program:
Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 21, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Anna S Mattila, Dissertation Advisor
  • Anna S Mattila, Committee Chair
  • David Allen Cranage, Committee Member
  • Hubert Van Hoof, Committee Member
  • Harry Zinn, Committee Member
  • luxury consumption
  • identity signaling
  • cultural capital
  • status consumption
  • experiential services
  • experience recommendation
Given the unprecedented growth of the luxury hospitality market in the past decade, gaining a deeper understanding of the differences between luxury goods and luxury experiential services, as well as luxury consumers’ buying behaviors in different consumer groups, has become increasingly important. Based on extant studies on luxury consumption and cultural capital theories, this dissertation examines the consumption-related need for status and establishes a negative relationship between cultural capital levels and status consumption motives. In addition, building on the luxury 4P typology, identity signaling approach, and status consumption theories, this dissertation investigates the joint effects of consumer group and product type on luxury consumers’ divergence intentions. Using less affluent mimickers to trigger potential out-group influences, this dissertation reveals that Parvenus are more likely to change their attitudes toward their favorite luxury goods brands than experiential services brands after less affluent mimickers have adopted the same consumption object, whereas Patricians experience equal change toward the two types of product brands. This dissertation also lends support to the theory of Experience Recommendation and suggests that consumers seeking to advance their happiness prefer luxury experiential services to luxury goods. Moreover, the results of this dissertation reveal that compared to Patricians, Parvenus are less likely to choose luxury experiential services to advance their life happiness. The results of this dissertation provide several important managerial implications for luxury practitioners. Knowing that people with higher cultural capital levels tend to be less likely to seek conspicuous products, luxury marketers can use cultural capital indices to segment their luxury markets more precisely and customize their product offerings in different segments. Meanwhile, this dissertation suggests that luxury experiential services are more resistant than luxury goods to affluent consumers’ attrition as a result of downward market extension, therefore luxury experiential services companies may find it easier to expand to less affluent markets than their luxury goods competitors. In addition, luxury experiential services companies that mainly attract Parvenus may promote cultural activities among their customers in order to cultivate their cultural capital levels, encouraging their consumers to purchase luxury experiential services.