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EnvyTheory and Research$
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Richard Smith

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327953.001.0001

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Marketing and Envy

Marketing and Envy

(p.211) 12 Marketing and Envy

Russell W. Belk

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on ways in which marketers promote or use envy to sell products. Marketing strategies often take advantage of envy in order to create desires in consumers to obtain products associated with admired or envied sources. Sometimes the strategies are explicit through the use of celebrity models linked to a product; the resulting envy or the imagined self as the owner of the product spurring purchasing desires. Other strategies rely on a generalized other represented by what “most people” do. There are interesting shifts between envy avoidance to envy provocation, both historically and with increasing contemporary urbanization. The chapter reviews theory and research related to such topics as well as interesting cultural variations in marketing practices that make use of envy. The analysis addresses a number of conceptual issues important to understanding envy. Many instances of envy in marketing seem to argue for preserving the notion of benign envy as a legitimate category of envy, for example. In this benign sense, envy seems more something to be provoked rather than avoided.

Keywords:   envy, marketers, advertising, marketing strategies

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