Standing out From the Crowd: Niche Product Choice as a Form of Conspicuous Consumption

Tobias Schaefers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Design/methodology/approach – Based on survey data that combines self-report scales and actual purchase decisions, the effects of different dimensions of conspicuous consumption on niche product choice are investigated using binary logistic regression.
Findings – Choosing niche products over mass market products is mainly influenced by differentiation tendencies. Moreover, consumers use niche products to strengthen their role as opinion leaders. Choice of mass market products, on the other hand, is influenced by assimilation tendencies. In contrast to common assumptions, status-seeking consumers are more likely to choose a mass market alternative over niche products.Research limitations/implications – Based on the conceptualization of niche markets, this study reveals that niche products are a means for consumers to distinguish themselves. Limitations include the focus on a single product domain and country. Future research should replicate the study for other types of niche products and in other cultural settings.Practical implications – Niche firms should explicitly consider the social effects of conspicuous consumption as a key driver of demand. Specifically, the unique nature of a niche product should be highlighted and recognizable to increase the acceptance among potential customers. Moreover, instead of focussing the status of niche products, marketing activities should address opinion leaders’ desire to maintain their standing among the social group by providing in-depth information and enhanced customer experience.
Originality/value – This paper addresses the call for a conceptual definition of niche markets. Moreover, while previous work focussed on the company perspective, this study allows for an improved understanding of consumer behaviour with regard to niche markets.
Purpose – This paper aims to define the niche market concept and to investigate the extent to which purchasing niche products represents a form of conspicuous consumption. Consumers increasingly seek products that differ from the mainstream, and companies regard niche markets as a promising opportunity beyond saturated mass markets.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number9/10
Pages (from-to)1805-1827
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Conspicuous consumption
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Logistic regression
  • Niche marketing

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