Five studies examine how perceived financial constraints and abundance determine when consumers will engage in solitary or social purchases. When financially constrained, consumers prefer solitary (vs. social) purchases. We also identify self-construal as a moderator of how consumers spend their discretionary income. While independent consumers prefer solitary (vs. social) purchases, interdependent consumers prefer social (vs. solitary) purchases. Interestingly, when consumers have adequate discretionary income, independent as well as interdependent consumers have similar preferences for solitary and social purchases. In addition, for interdependent consumers, communal norms mediate the preference for social purchases. Finally, for independent consumers, making the communal norm salient reverses their preference for solitary purchases, resulting in a preference for social purchases. Our findings suggest how managers can effectively promote different types of purchases under varying financial resource conditions in their global communication strategy.
The selection criteria for who could take our study was chosen such that only UK residents who were enrolled in an undergraduate program could participate in the study. The selection criteria for Study 4 was chosen such that only US residents who had annual household income less than $40,000 could participate in the study. The selection criteria for Study 5 was chosen such that only US residents who had 95% approval rate on mTurk and did not use virtual private network (Winter et al., 2019) could participate in the study.