Silvia is a fifth year doctoral student in the Marketing Unit at the Harvard Business School.
Her research investigates how consumers use products and brands to express identity and to signal status. For example, one of her projects explores the conditions under which nonconforming behaviors, such as wearing red sneakers in a professional context, lead to inferences of higher status in the eyes of others. In another project, she analyzes intergroup dynamics in the domain of exclusive brands and demonstrates the positive effects of non-core users of the brand, the “brand tourism effect.” Silvia’s other related research interests include the consequences of product ownership and counterfeit goods.
Prior to coming to Harvard, she worked for five years in the marketing departments of Danone and L.V.M.H. Silvia earned her B.A. with honors in Economics from LUISS University in Italy and her MBA from IESE Business School in Spain.
The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals of Nonconformity
We examine how people react to nonconforming behaviors, such as entering a luxury boutique wearing gym clothes rather than an elegant outfit or wearing red sneakers in a professional setting. Nonconforming behaviors, as costly and visible signals, can act as a particular form of conspicuous consumption and lead to positive inferences of status and competence in the eyes of others. A series of studies demonstrates that people confer higher status and competence to nonconforming rather than conforming individuals. These positive inferences derived from signals of nonconformity are mediated by perceived autonomy and moderated by individual differences in need for uniqueness in the observers. We identify boundary conditions and demonstrate that the positive inferences disappear when the observer is unfamiliar with the environment, when the nonconforming behavior is depicted as unintentional, and in the absence of expected norms and shared standards of formal conduct.
Keywords: consumer behavior;
Bellezza, Silvia, Francesca Gino, and Anat Keinan. "The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals of Nonconformity." Journal of Consumer Research