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Abstract

The goal of the study is to understand the role of social norm in purchase decisions where demand is revealed in the form of multiple-discreteness. Consumers are socially engaged in various activities through the expectation from others in their community. Actions or decisions are likely to reflect this influence. This implicit or explicit social norm is revealed as the rules, regulations, and standards that are understood, shared, endorsed, and expected by group members. When consumers’ decisions are in distance from the norm, they come to face discomfort such as shame, guilt, embarrassment, and anxiety. These pressure act as a constraint as opposed to utility in their decision making.
In this study, the effect of social norms on consumer demand is captured via multiple constraint model where constraints are not only from budget equation but also from psychological burden induced by the deviation from the norm. The posterior distributions of model parameters were estimated via conjoint study allowing for heterogeneity via hierarchical Bayesian framework. Individual characteristics such as age, gender and work experience are also used as covariates for capturing the observed heterogeneity. The empirical results show the role of social norm as constraint in consumers’ utility maximization. The proposed model accounting for social constraint outperforms the standard budget constraint-only model in terms of model fit. It is found that people with longer job experience tend to be more robust and resistant to the deviation from the norm. Incorporating social norm into the utility model allows for another means to disentangle the reason for no-purchase as ‘not preferred’ and ‘not able to buy’.

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