Silvia is a doctoral student in the Marketing Unit at the Harvard Business School.
Her research investigates how consumers use products, brands, and time to express who they are and signal status. For example, one of her papers explores the conditions under which nonconforming behaviors, such as wearing red sneakers in a professional context or entering a luxury boutique wearing gym clothing, lead to inferences of higher status and competence in the eyes of others.
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.
Brand Tourists: How Non-Core Users Enhance the Brand Image by Eliciting Pride
This research examines how core consumers of selective brands react when non-core users obtain access to the brand. Contrary to the view that non-core users and downward brand extensions pose a threat to the brand, this work investigates the conditions under which these non-core users enhance rather than dilute the brand image. A distinction between two types of non-core users based on how they are perceived by current users of core products is introduced: "brand immigrants" who claim to be part of the in-group of core users of the brand and "brand tourists" who do not claim any membership status to the brand community. A series of studies shows that core consumers respond positively to non-core users when they are perceived as brand tourists. The brand tourism effect is mediated by core users' pride and moderated by brand patriotism and selectiveness of the brand.
Keywords: Consumer Behavior;
Brands and Branding;
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;
How 'Brand Tourists' Can Grow Sales
The article discusses how exclusive brands can increase their sales by moving "downmarket" without diminishing their prestige or alienating existing customers. The authors suggest various ways to cater to new, non-core customers in a way that differentiates the newcomers from a brand's core clientele. Examples are cited for apparel-maker Lululemon, fashion label Prada, and jeweler Bulgari.
The Surprising Benefits of Nonconformity
Keywords: Status and Position;
'Be Careless with That!' Availability of Product Upgrades Increases Cavalier Behavior Toward Possessions
Consumers are often faced with the opportunity to purchase a new, enhanced product (e.g., a new phone), even though the device they currently own is still fully functional. We propose that consumers act more recklessly with their current products and are less concerned about losing or damaging them when in the presence of appealing product upgrades. Careless behaviors and cognitions toward currently owned products stem from a desire to justify the attainment of upgrades without appearing wasteful. A series of studies with actual owners of a wide array of durable goods and evidence from a real-world dataset of lost Apple iPhones demonstrate how the availability of product upgrades increases cavalier behavior toward possessions. These patterns are moderated by motivation to attain the upgrade, such that consumers who are particularly interested in upgrading will be more careless with owned products relative to individuals who are less interested in upgrading. Moreover, we demonstrate that product neglect in the presence of upgrades can occur without explicit, careless intentions. Finally, theoretical and managerial implications of these findings are discussed.
Conspicuous Consumption of Time: When Busyness at Work and Lack of Leisure Time Become a Status Symbol
This research examines the conspicuous spending of time. In contrast to the theory of the leisure class (Veblen 1899/2007), we propose that exhibiting busyness at work and lack of leisure time can signal high status and portray an aspirational image in the eyes of others. These positive inferences in response to busyness at work are mediated by perceived "scarcity" of the busy individual and are considerably weakened in the absence of agency over the decision to be busy. Moreover, we explore cross-cultural differences (U.S. vs. Europe) in response to busyness at work and demonstrate a reversal of the effect, whereby busyness leads to lower rather than higher inferences of status in the eyes of Europeans. We demonstrate a nuanced kind of conspicuous consumption that operates by shifting the focus from the preciousness and scarcity of goods, to the preciousness and scarcity of individuals.
Bellezza, Silvia, Anat Keinan, and Neeru Paharia. "Conspicuous Consumption of Time: When Busyness at Work and Lack of Leisure Time Become a Status Symbol." White Paper Series, March 2014. View Details
Temporal Profiles of Instant Utility during Anticipation and Recall
Baucells, Manel, and Silvia Bellezza. "Temporal Profiles of Instant Utility during Anticipation and Recall." White Paper Series, October 2013. View Details