Consumers’ identities and compartmentalisation tendencies in alcohol consumption
Journal of Marketing Management
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This longitudinal study explored how consumers justify their alcohol consumption by compartmentalising or integrating their various drinking identities (i.e. description of one’s drinking behaviours and extent to which these are part of person’s overall identity). Thirty-one participants were interviewed twice. The findings revealed that identities are continuously altered/created according to context and social interactions. Consumers’ movement between social fields generated different perceptions of what constitutes ‘healthy’ drinking, leading to displays of different identities. After interviewees compared their alcohol consumption perceptions with results from an online 14-day alcohol tracker, some consumers reported a ‘newly perceived’ drinking identity and displayed integration tendencies. Others denied their consumption results and continued to exhibit compartmentalised identities, justified by various social selves, roles and responsibilities. Social marketing and policy recommendations are discussed.