What makes things cool

Topics: Divergence, Mores, Cool Pages: 22 (17329 words) Published: October 19, 2014
Journal of Consumer Research, Inc.

What Makes Things Cool? How Autonomy Influences Perceived Coolness Author(s): Caleb Warren and Margaret C. Campbell
Source: Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 41, No. 2 (August 2014), pp. 543-563 Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/676680 .
Accessed: 12/09/2014 11:20
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

.
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

.

The University of Chicago Press and Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of Consumer Research.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 193.170.62.66 on Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:20:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

What Makes Things Cool? How Autonomy
Influences Perceived Coolness
CALEB WARREN
MARGARET C. CAMPBELL
Despite assertions that coolness sells products, little is known about what leads consumers to perceive brands as cool. This research uses an experimental approach to examine the empirical relationship between consumers’ inferences of autonomy and perceived coolness. Six studies find that behaviors expressing autonomy increase perceived coolness, but only when the autonomy seems appropriate. Autonomy seems appropriate, and hence increases perceptions of coolness, when a behavior diverges from a norm considered unnecessary or illegitimate, when the autonomy is bounded (i.e., deviations are small or occasional rather than large or perpetual), and when the consumer views social norms as being overly repressive. A final experiment further supports the connection between autonomy and coolness and illustrates that coolness is distinct from liking by showing that whether a consumer has a goal to express autonomy moderates preference for cool brands.

T

keters. Second, it is not clear exactly what, in addition to being desirable, makes things cool.
In six experiments we demonstrate that consumers perceive cultural objects, including brands and people, to be cool when they infer that the object is autonomous (i.e.,
pursues its own motivations irrespective of the norms and
expectations of others) in an appropriate way. Consumers
infer that a brand (or person) is autonomous when its behaviors diverge from the norm. Autonomy seems appropriate, and thus leads to perceptions of coolness, when a divergent behavior is perceived to be at least as effective

or valuable as the normative behavior, it diverges from a
norm that is not considered legitimate, and divergence is
bounded rather than extreme. Moreover, consumers with
countercultural values, who are more critical of societal institutions and more likely to consider norm divergence appropriate than those without countercultural values, tend to perceive a relatively higher level of autonomy cool. We

further show that although cool brands are typically desired, coolness and desirability are not the same thing, as consumers prefer cool brands only when they want to stand out rather than fit in.

he marketplace values cool brands. A cool image
helped solidify Harley Davidson’s status as an iconic
brand (Holt 2004), rejuvenate sales of Pabst Blue Ribbon
(Walker 2003), and vault Apple into the ranking of “the best global brand” of 2013 (Interbrand 2014). Coolness excites
consumers, adds symbolic currency to products, and drives
consumer trends (Frank 1997; Gladwell 1997; Heath and
Potter 2004; Leland 2004). Kerner and Pressman (2007, xii)
write, “our society is consumed with the...

References: Aggarwal, Pankaj, and Ann L. McGill (2007), “Is That Car Smiling
at Me? Schema Congruity as a Basis for Evaluating Anthropomorphized Products,” Journal of Consumer Research, 34
Allison, Anne (2009), “The Cool Brand, Affective Activism and
Japanese Youth,” Theory, Culture and Society, 26 (March),
Amabile, Teresa M. (1982), “Social Psychology of Creativity: A
Consensual Assessment Technique,” Journal of Personality
Ariely, Dan, and Jonathan Levav (2000), “Sequential Choice in
Group Settings: Taking the Road Less Traveled and Less Enjoyed,” Journal of Consumer Research, 27 (December), 279–
Aronson, Elliot (2008), The Social Animal, New York: Worth.
Belk, Russell W., Kelly Tian, and Heli Paavola (2010), “Consuming Cool: Behind the Unemotional Mask,” in Research in
Consumers Behavior, Vol .12, ed
Bellezza, Silvia, Francesca Gino, and Anat Keinan (2014), “The
Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from
Berger, Jonah (2008), “Identity Signaling, Social Influence, and
Social Contagion,” in Peer Influence Processes among Youth,
Berger, Jonah, and Chip Heath (2007), “Where Consumers Diverge
from Others: Identity Signaling and Product Domains,” Journal of Consumer Research, 34 (August), 121–34.
Bird, Sarah, and Alan Tapp (2008), “Societal Marketing and the
Meaning of Cool,” Social Marketing Quarterly, 14 (March),
Blanton, Hart, and Charlene Christie (2003), “Deviance Regulation: A Theory of Action and Identity,” Review of General
Psychology, 7 (June), 115–49.
Brewer, Marilynn B. (1991), “The Social Self: On Being the Same
and Different at the Same Time,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17 (October), 475–82.
Brooks, David (2000), Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class
and How They Got There, New York: Simon & Schuster.
Burroughs, James E., and David Glen Mick (2004), “Exploring
Antecedents and Consequences of Consumer Creativity in a
Campbell, Margaret C., and Ronald C. Goodstein (2001), “The
Moderating Effect of Perceived Risk on Consumers’ Evaluations of Product Incongruity: Preference for the Norm,” Journal of Consumer Research, 28 (December), 439–49.
Cialdini, Robert B., Raymond R. Reno, and Carl A. Kallgren
(1990), “A Focus Theory of Normative Conduct: Recycling
the Concept of Norms to Reduce Littering in Public Places,”
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58 (6), 1015–
Cialdini, Robert B., and Melanie R. Trost (1998), “Social Influence:
Social Norms, Conformity and Compliance,” in The Handbook of Social Psychology, Vols
Connor, Marlene K. (1995), What Is Cool? Understanding Black
Manhood in America, New York: Crown.
Danesi, Marcel (1994), Cool: The Signs and Meanings of Adolescence, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Dar-Nimrod, Ilan, I. G. Hansen, T. Proulx, and D. R. Lehman
(2012), “Coolness: An Empirical Investigation,” Journal of
Fehr, Ernst, and Urs Fischbacher (2003), “The Nature of Human
Altruism,” Nature, 425 (October), 785–91.
Florida, Richard (2002), “Bohemia and Economic Geography,”
Journal of Economic Geography, 2 (1), 55–71.
Frank, Thomas (1997), The Conquest of Cool: Business Culture,
Counterculture, and the Rise of Hip Consumerism, Chicago:
Giesler, Markus (2008), “Conflict and Compromise: Drama in Marketplace Evolution,” Journal of Consumer Research, 34
(April), 739–53.
Gladwell, Malcolm (1997), “The Coolhunt,” New Yorker, March
17, 78–87.
Grossman, Lev (2003), “The Quest for Cool,” Time, September 8,
162.
Gurrieri, Lauren Kate (2009), “Cool Brands: A Discursive Identity
Approach,” in ANZMAC 2009: Sustainable Management and
Heath, Joseph, and Andrew Potter (2004), Nation of Rebels:
Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture, New York:
Hebdige, Dick (1979), Subculture, the Meaning of Style, London:
Methuen.
Hebdige, Dick, and Andrew Potter (2008), “A Critical Reframing
of Subcultural Cool and Consumption,” in European Advances in Consumer Research, Vol
Hobbes, Thomas (1651/1991), Leviathan, New York: Cambridge
University Press.
Hogan, Patrick Colm (2001), The Culture of Conformism: Understanding Social Consent, Durham, NC: Duke University
Press.
Hollander, E. P. (1958), “Conformity, Status, and Idiosyncrasy
Credit,” Psychological Review, 65 (March), 117–27.
Holt, Douglas B. (2004), How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding, Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Interbrand (2014), “Best Global Brands of 2013,” http://www.inter
brand.com/en/best-global-brands/2013/top-100-list-view.aspx.
Jhang, Ji Hoon, Susan Jung Grant, and Margaret C. Campbell
(2012), “Get It? Got It
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • WHAT MAKES A GOOD LIFE Essay
  • What Makes the Things They Carried a Story Essay
  • What Makes It Cool? Essay
  • Things to Make Life Better Essay
  • Essay on What Makes You What You Are
  • Essay on What is assessment and what makes it good?
  • what is cool Essay
  • What Were the Things They Carried Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free