Celebrity Contagion and the Value of Objects

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Citation: Newman, George E., Diesendruck, Gil, Bloom, Paul (aug/2011) Celebrity Contagion and the Value of Objects. Journal of Consumer Research (Volume 38) (RSS)
DOI (original publisher): 10.1086/658999
Semantic Scholar (metadata): 10.1086/658999
Sci-Hub (fulltext): 10.1086/658999
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Celebrity Contagion and the Value of Objects
Download: http://www.jstor.org.proxy.library.georgetown.edu/stable/10.1086/658999


Celebrity items have always sold for much higher prices than similar regular items. This paper aims to understand why the willingness to pay is so high regular dysfunctional items once owned by popular or notorious figures. The article considers three factors that could explain this behavior: association with the person or experience, future market value of the item, and belief that immaterial qualities transfer through inanimate objects. Three experiments were performed to understand the drivers behind increased willingness-to-pay for these objects. The first experiment compares the three dimensions between celebrity-owned items and regular similar items. The second experiment depicts results of modifying the interaction level of the celebrity with the object and modifying the future market potential for the object. Experiment 3 manipulates sensitivity to contagion to determine consumers’ willingness-to-pay. Experiment 1 found that people want more interaction with items owned by positive figures and also consider the future market value while making buying decisions. Experiment 2 finds that increased contagion had opposite effects on purchase intent for positive and negative figures. Purchase intent rose with increased contagion for positive figures while the opposite is true for negative figures. Experiment 3 shows that actual purchase intent is also governed by who people consider as a negative (positive) figure. In summary, celebrity contagion and market demand are two important drivers for increased purchase intent for celebrity-owned items.