Journal Must-reads from UMD’s Rosellina Ferraro

This month’s reading list is curated by Rosellina Ferraro, Associate Professor of Marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.

The Fresh Start Mindset: Transforming Consumers’ Lives by Linda Price, Robin Coulter, Yuliya Strizhakova, and Ainslie Schultz, Journal of Consumer Research (free download until June 30, 2019)

“Much consumption occurs because consumers are striving to build better lives for themselves and their families. This paper examines the notion of a ‘fresh start’ mindset, a belief structure that underlies perceptions and expectations and drives decision making. Encapsulated by the idea that ‘today is a new day!’ a fresh start mindset may drive a person to engage in decision making and behaviors that help in self-transformation. Thus, people are not permanently defined by a specific self-identity, negative circumstances, such as being born into poverty, or suboptimal decision making, such as bankruptcy or drug use.  

“The authors develop a scale that assesses the extent to which individuals possess a fresh start mindset, and show that this mindset is associated with engaging in activities that improve health, budget setting, personal relationships, and positive consumption practices.

“Importantly, they also show that it can be activated by stimuli in the external environment, meaning that the fresh start mindset can be adopted by someone who does not have such a naturally occurring belief structure.

“By offering a scale and context for understanding a fresh start mindset, the authors offer a way that marketers can understand segments of consumers who may exhibit this mindset. These insights will be especially useful to firms who wish to position their brands to align with this mindset as well as to policy makers who may activate it.”

How Am I Doing? Perceived Financial Well-Being, Its Potential Antecedents, and Its Relation to Overall Well-Being by Richard Netemeyer, Dee Warmath, Daniel Fernandes, and John Lynch Jr., Journal of Consumer Research (free download until June 30, 2019)

“‘How am I doing?’ This is a question that people are likely to ask themselves as a normal part of daily living. Subjective well-being is a person’s assessment of their state in life, of how well they are doing when it comes to important life domains including health, work, personal relationships, and finances. Research suggests that finances can be a significant stressor on consumers’ lives, with a negative impact on overall subjective well-being.

“The authors draw on academic research and on research from the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to arrive at a more complete definition of financial well-being, to examine its relationship to overall well-being, and to develop a measurement tool that will be useful to marketers.

“They identify current money management stress (‘How am I doing today?’) and expected future financial security (‘How do I expect I will be doing in the future?’) as two dimensions of subjective financial well-being. Using a mixed-methods approach, the authors find that current money management stress is associated with lower levels of subjective well-being, but that expected future financial security is associated with higher levels of subjective well-being. 

“These findings have important potential implications for firms and policy makers. How consumers feel about their financial situation - not just today but in the future - may affect how they manage their finances, for example, their willingness to acquire financial decision making skills or to plan for retirement.”

A Framework for the Consumer Psychology of Morality in the Marketplace by Margaret Campbell and Karen Page Winterich, Journal of Consumer Psychology (free download until March 31, 2019)

“In the current social and political environment, there seems to be more and more discussion of moral behavior. Since consumption is a large part of everyday behavior, moral behavior in the marketplace is highly relevant for both consumers and firms.

“Consumers can behave amorally (e.g., wardrobing, lying to get product benefits) or prosocially (e.g., making charitable donations). Similarly, they react to firm behavior that may be amoral (e.g., scandals) or prosocial (e.g., corporate social responsibility).

“This introduction to the Journal of Consumer Psychology ‘Marketplace Morality’ special issue suggests a broad understanding of marketplace morality, defined as ‘all issues relating to the norms, values, practices, identities, institutions and psychological mechanisms and responses to interactions perceived by a consumer as relevant to questions of right and wrong within a marketplace or market exchange.’ Thus, it is a subset of general social moral behavior.

“The authors offer a framework for structuring the study of marketplace morality, which will help to bring together the various streams of research on these related topics in a more comprehensive way.

“Why is this important for marketers? A better understanding of marketplace morality is critical today as firms must consider how to limit unethical behaviors and encourage prosocial behaviors on the part of consumers and to understand how consumers may react to business decisions that have ethical or prosocial implications.”

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