If I don’t have it, is it still me?: an exploration into the relationship between access-based consumption and identity

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

It has been well-recognized in Marketing literature that possessions serve as a visible representation of one’s identity. Similarly, tastes in music, books, and movies are also an outward signal of one’s identity. Both possessions and music taste serve as instruments of self-expression and group affiliation. The relationship between products, consumption, and identity has always been researched with the focus on material objects owned by the consumer. However, recent years have seen a marked change in consumption practices involving both the mode of consumption and the form in which products are consumed. Access-based consumption, or consumption without ownership, is rapidly overtaking purchase as a popular mode of consumption. Additionally, technological developments in the 21st century have led to the existence of books, music, movies, even personal memorabilia, in a digital, dematerialized form. The availability of services provided by firms such as Spotify, Pandora, or Netflix, compounds the issue as they provide content which exists in a digital form and can only be consumed in an access-based format. Set in the context of consumption of access-based music providing services such as Spotify or Pandora, this dissertation serves two main objectives. First, we explore the drivers of consumers’ attitude towards non-ownership/access-based consumption of non-material/digital content by identifying consumer characteristics that lead to a positive attitude towards access-based consumption of digital music. Secondly, we aim to investigate the role of identity forming aspects of such consumption in the relationship between consumers’ characteristics, their attitude towards access-based consumption, and social and market implications of these relationships as evidenced by consumers’ post-purchase reactions towards these services and their intent to continue using these services. Using social identity theory (SIT) as a background, we use both qualitative data and empirical analysis to conduct this research.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation