Business Administration Seminar: Peeter Verlegh

15-01-2018 van 14:30 tot 16:30
classroom Jos Van Acker, third floor, campus Tweekerken, building Hoveniersberg, Tweekerkenstraat 2, 9000 Gent
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Prof. dr. Iris Vermeir
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We would like to invite you for the Business Administration Seminar by Prof. dr. Peeter Verlegh (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands) on the topic of How consumers use brands to show off on (visual) social media’.


The past few years have seen a significant shift of the social media landscape towards the visual. This trend is illustrated by the rapid rise of platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Youtube, which are characterized by an emphasis on the creation and sharing of visual information. Although much research has been devoted to social media use, thus far, few studies have specifically addressed this trend. Social media are ideal platforms for self-presentation and convey a favorable impression of the self to others, as the information one shares online is easier to control and curate than the information one reveals during interpersonal interactions. Images seem particularly popular for self-presentation purposes. Nascent research on the topic indeed suggests that individuals tend to carefully construct, select, and edit the images they share on social media.

Prior research suggests that the effects of self-presentation activities may be regarded as “bragging” and (therefore) disliked by others. As a result, such efforts may in fact be counterproductive. The question that remains unanswered, however, is: when, or under what conditions are social media posts about brands interpreted as bragging, and how do they influence impression formation online? Drawing on the literatures on self-presentation and conspicuous consumption, the present research aims to answer these questions. We look at this phenomenon from both the sharer and audience perspective.

We conduct four studies using diverse methodologies. First, we use content analysis of actual Instagram posts to investigate how consumers construct brand related posts in social media, and what visual cues they use to self-present, and how these are perceived by observers/the audience. Next, we conduct several experimental studies to assess the impact on the audience’s evaluations of the sharer. Our study will focus on the type of brands posted on social media, arguing that high status brands are more likely to be used for self-presentation purposes, and that posts about such brands are more likely to contain visual self-presentation cues. In addition, we examine the audience’s reactions to such posts, testing the premise that the presence of high status brands, as well as the presence of self-presentation cues in posts are interpreted by the audience as signs that the sharer is trying to impress others. In line with prior research on self-presentation and conspicuous consumption, we show that such post characteristics trigger perceptions of bragging, and negatively affect the audience’s evaluation of the sharer.

Short Biography

Peeter Verlegh is Professor of Marketing and the Head of the Marketing Department at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He holds a PhD (2001) in Marketing from Wageningen University, and an MSc in Food Science from the same university. Peeter studies social and cultural influences on consumers and their responses to marketing communications, with a focus on the interactions among consumers (i.e., word of mouth and social media), and an emphasis on findings that can be translated to practical implications for business and society. He studies these phenomena from a psychological perspective, and mostly relies on experimental research and (occasionally) survey data. He published his research in international journals such as Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science and International Journal of Research in Marketing.