When Cool Gets Hot

I’ve observed that cultural consumers attach more “identity” to their music, art and fashion than do other consumers. A new Stanford University study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, explains why. The research explores why consumers conform to groups that are hip or cool, but diverge or change their preferences when their choices get adopted into the mainstream. Consider that “identity signaling,” as it’s called, explains why cultural consumers remain loyal to a genre, say punk rock, for instance, but shift their preferences of favorite artists frequently. Hat tip to Dr. Bruce Vanden Bergh at Michigan State University, for pointing me to the study. Full title of the report for anyone who wants to learn more: “Where Consumers Diverge from Others: Identity Signaling and Product Domains” is published by Jonah Berger and Chip Heath in the August 2007 issue of Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 34.