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PhD Program

PhD Thesis Defence, Sukhyun Kim, Marketing

Congratulations to Dr Sukhyun Kim,  Marketing specialization, who successfully defended his thesis at HEC Paris, on July 19, 2019. Sukhyun  will join a Korean Tech startup "Superbloke" as Chief Marketing Officer (South Korea).

Sukhuyn Kim, HEC PhD Marketing

Thesis Topic: The Effect of Consumer Identity on Marketing Strategy

Supervisor: Professor  L.J Shrum, HEC Paris


In this dissertation, I examine the influence of consumer identity (e.g., materialism, self-construal) on marketing strategies of firms. The first essay explores how materialistic consumers can be nudged to behave prosocially by leveraging their status-seeking motivations in the context of luxury consumption. Firms are under increasing pressure to engage in cause-related marketing (CRM) campaigns that link the brand to a charitable cause. However, such campaigns may pose problems for luxury brands because the target market—materialistic consumers—are more extrinsically motivated, less generous, and less concerned with prosocial causes, than non-materialistic  consumers. The first essay proposes that certain types of CRM campaigns will be more successful than others by leveraging the motivations of materialistic consumers for buying luxury products. I show that materialists’ willingness to engage in CRM depends on the type of campaign: product-linked (brand linked to a cause through limited-edition products) or donation-linked (direct donations to a charitable cause). Materialists are more willing to engage in product-linked than donation-linked campaigns, whereas non-materialists show the opposite pattern, and these effects are driven by the status-signaling qualities that luxury products convey for materialists: the effects are eliminated for value brands and when materialists’ need for status is momentarily satiated. The second essay investigates how and why individualistic consumers (vs. collectivistic consumers), prefer digitally mediated social interaction such as posting on social network platforms (e.g., Facebook), playing social network games (e.g., FarmVille), or watching live streaming video platforms (e.g., Twitch). Social interaction is a fundamental social behavior based on evolutionary underpinnings that fulfills one’s need to belong. However, desire for social interaction can differ based on individual characteristics. Individualists, who see themselves as independent, autonomous, and distinct from the group, are known to perceive higher costs for social interaction necessary for maintaining their relationships than are collectivists. In Essay 2, I show that individualistic consumers have a greater preference for digitally mediated social interaction than collectivistic consumers, but that this effect is moderated by social interaction costs. I further show that perceived face-to-face social interaction costs explain the underlying process of this effect. The two essays contribute to the literature on self-identity. Essay 1 and 3 focus on materialism and Essay 2 focuses on self-construal. The research findings inform marketing practice in the fields of luxury goods, social media, and gaming industries. This dissertation provides insights into how firms in these industries should consider consumers’ self-identity in adopting new marketing strategies.