Abstract

The social context of new product adoption behavior is a key aspect of the diffusion of innovations. Yet little is known about the process by which social contextual factors influence individual adoption decisions. This research develops and tests a model of the effects of perceived consumption visibility and superordinate group influence on new product intention formation. A structural equation model is used in an experimental design to provide a comprehensive view of variable interdependencies and to incorporate measurement error. Key findings indicate that (1) perceived visibility of consumption significantly affects consumers' predictions of normative outcomes (i.e., social approval from referents) and (2) superordinate group influence has a direct effect on consumers' perceptions of consumption visibility and expectations of both personal (i.e., intrinsically valued product benefits) and normative outcomes from early adoption. The results have important implications for understanding the role of consumption symbols as mechanisms for social differentiation and integration.

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