The role of temporal focus and self-congruence on consumer preference and willingness to pay: A new scrutiny in branding strategy
Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
School of Business and Law
Purpose: The study aims to investigate the psychological mechanism that motivates consumers to pay more for a preferred brand that reflects their actual or ideal self-concept, by examining the shift in attention between consumer’s present, future, and past moments. Design/methodology/approach: First, in a survey setting, the study identifies the relationship between temporal focus and self-congruence. Subsequently, we conduct three experiments to capture the effects of temporal focus on brand preference and willingness to pay (WTP). In these experiments, we manipulate consumers’ self-congruence and temporal focus. Findings: The findings show that consumers with a present focus (distant future and distant past foci) tend to evaluate a brand more preferably when the brand serves to reflect their actual (ideal) selves. However, in the absence of present focus consumers’ WTP is more for a brand that reflects their ideal selves. Research limitations/implications: The study does not have an actual measure on consumers’ WTP; instead we use single-item measure. Practical implications: This study sheds new light on branding strategy. The results suggest that authentic and aspirational branding strategies are relevant to publicly consumed products. Brand managers could incorporate consumers’ temporal focus into branding strategy that could significantly influence consumer preference and WTP for their brands. Originality/value: This study expands our understanding of brand usage imagery congruity by showing that temporal focus is an important determinant of self-congruence. In this regard, this study empirically investigates the relationship of temporal focus, self-congruence, brand preference, and WTP. It further reveals that mere brand preference does not necessarily lead consumers to pay more for symbolic brands. © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.