Dr Robert Kreuzbauer
Robert Kreuzbauer obtained his PhD in Marketing from the University of Innsbruck in Austria. Before joining Surrey Business School in December 2016 he worked at Nanyang Business School, Singapore and at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Before working in academia he worked as a brand consultant and consumer researcher for one of the largest European industrial design firms. He published his research in leading academic journals such as the Journal of The Royal Society - Interface, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, the Journal of Product Innovation Management, Current Directions in Psychological Science.
He taught a variety of marketing, branding, product innovation, and strategy-related courses on various levels (BA, MBA, MsTech, MEng, PhD) at universities such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Copenhagen Business School, or Bocconi University Milan. Nanyang Business School nominated him as best business school teacher of the year and at the University of Illinois he was on the list of teachers that were rated as excellent.
He presented his research to multinational corporations such as BMW, Swarovski and GlaxoSmithKline. His findings were discussed by various public media outlets such as the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), the Austrian Press Agency (APA) and Weekendavisen.
My research currently focuses on the theoretical and empirical examination of product innovation and on consumer's judgment of value towards products and brands. My most recent research projects examine psychological and cultural evolutionary mechanisms of valuation of luxury products, fashion products and how production procedures (e.g., automation vs. handmade) affect product authenticity.
Consumer Shopping Behaviour (UG)
Experimental Methods (PhD)
Faculty Ethics Chair
Although the strategic importance of design for creating strong brands has been known for some time, studies on marketing have neglected to investigate the relationship between design and brand. On the basis of sign- and cognitive-scientific theories, Robert Kreuzbauer develops an approach to explain the influence of design on brand perception and the storage of brand knowledge. He integrates the latest theories on form perception and cognitive knowledge representation and shows how salient product form attributes (brand identifiers) shape the entire brand. The author also presents a detailed discussion of diverse methods for identifying salient brand design attributes.
Variations in acquiescence and extremity pose substantial threats to the validity of cross-cultural research that relies on survey methods. Individual and cultural correlates of response styles when using 2 contrasting types of response mode were investigated, drawing on data from 55 cultural groups across 33 nations. Using 7 dimensions of self-other relatedness that have often been confounded within the broader distinction between independence and interdependence, our analysis yields more specific understandings of both individual- and culture-level variations in response style. When using a Likert-scale response format, acquiescence is strongest among individuals seeing themselves as similar to others, and where cultural models of selfhood favour harmony, similarity with others and receptiveness to influence. However, when using Schwartz's (2007) portrait-comparison response procedure, acquiescence is strongest among individuals seeing themselves as self-reliant but also connected to others, and where cultural models of selfhood favour self-reliance and self-consistency. Extreme responding varies less between the two types of response modes, and is most prevalent among individuals seeing themselves as self-reliant, and in cultures favouring self-reliance. As both types of response mode elicit distinctive styles of response, it remains important to estimate and control for style effects to ensure valid comparisons.
Although global brands entering local markets often use localized communication (i.e., incorporation of local cultural elements in their marketing communications), the fundamental question of when and why the local community would react favorably to this strategy is still not fully answered. This research draws on the communication accommodation theory to address this question. Results from four studies show that local consumers evaluate a global brand less positively when it incorporates high-symbolic (vs. low-symbolic) local cultural elements in its marketing communication. Notably, the positive effect of culturally polite communication on consumers’ evaluations of a global brand occurs only in the local market, but not when the communication occurs in another market. Moreover, localization efforts by a global brand result in a strong localness perception, which has a positive effect on brand evaluation. Indeed, a strong localness perception of the global brand could even overshadow the need for culturally polite communication
There has been ample criticism of the individualism – collectivism distinction in both consumer and cross-cultural psychology. Recent research (Brewer & Chen, 2007) for instance has argued that there is a conceptual confusion about the meaning of ingroups that constitute the target of collectivism. Whereas all societies must meet primary needs for both individual and social identity, it is argued that individuals from Easterner societies define their collective identity in form of a depersonalized social category (group collectivism) while Westerners rely on a network of interpersonal relationships (relational collectivism). We tested this new framework in a consumer context. In two experimental studies we provide empirical evidence that Easterners make consumption choices that satisfy belongingness through relational collectivism whereas Westerners prefer aspects of group collectivism.
Our specific purpose in this paper is to explore households’ negotiation practices as they co-create a key ritual artifact of the holiday—the Christmas tree. We find that four distinct pairs of tensions can shape consumers’ co-creation of the Christmas tree: aesthetics vs. tradition, inclusiveness vs. risk, family fantasy vs. family reality, and authenticity vs. convenience. We identify and interpret the negotiation strategies that emerge as consumers seek to resolve these sets of tensions.
Economists have proposed that signaling one’s social identity can increase a person’s subjective utility or happiness. However, there is little cross-cultural research on this relationship. The present research fills this knowledge gap. Using relational identity signaling as an illustration, in two studies, the authors showed that relative to European Americans, Asians (Chinese and Indians) value the relational self more and have relatively high intention to signal their relational identities publicly. Furthermore, for Asians, relational identity signaling is accompanied by higher life satisfaction (the cognitive component of happiness) only when the assimilation motive is salient. In contrast, for European Americans, a positive relationship between relational identity signaling and life satisfaction emerges only when the differentiation motive is salient. These findings suggest that relational identity signaling can confer utility to both Asians and European Americans. Moreover, whether relational identity signaling would increase life satisfaction in a certain culture is a joint function of what the normative practice is in the culture and the motivation to seek social connection of the self to or differentiation of it from others.
Markus and Kitayama’s (1991) theory of independent and interdependent self-construals had a major influence on social, personality, and developmental psychology by highlighting the role of culture in psychological processes. However, research has relied excessively on contrasts between North American and East Asian samples, and commonly used self-report measures of independence and interdependence frequently fail to show predicted cultural differences. We revisited the conceptualization and measurement of independent and interdependent self-construals in 2 large-scale multinational surveys, using improved methods for cross-cultural research. We developed (Study 1: N = 2924 students in 16 nations) and validated across cultures (Study 2: N = 7279 adults from 55 cultural groups in 33 nations) a new 7-dimensional model of self-reported ways of being independent or interdependent. Patterns of global variation support some of Markus and Kitayama’s predictions, but a simple contrast between independence and interdependence does not adequately capture the diverse models of selfhood that prevail in different world regions. Cultural groups emphasize different ways of being both independent and interdependent, depending on individualism-collectivism, national socioeconomic development, and religious heritage. Our 7-dimensional model will allow future researchers to test more accurately the implications of cultural models of selfhood for psychological processes in diverse ecocultural contexts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Authenticity is a central concern in the evaluation of cultural products. But why do people judge some cultural products as more authentic than others? We provide a psychological explanation centered on the judgment of authenticity as a ‘truth-seeking’ process. Observers evaluate whether the perceivable features of the cultural product truthfully capture cultural knowledge, as well as the inferred agency control and intentionality of the producer as a conveyer of cultural knowledge. We argue that while no cultural product is inherently authentic, individuals rely on the same psychological processes when judging cultural products’ authenticity. We discuss how our approach applies to any cultural product, including art, architecture, cuisine, tourism and sports.
Beliefs about personhood are understood to be a defining feature of individualism-collectivism (I-C), but they have been insufficiently explored, given the emphasis of research on values and self-construals. We propose the construct of contextualism, referring to beliefs about the importance of context in understanding people, as a facet of cultural collectivism. A brief measure was developed and refined across 19 nations (Study 1: N = 5,241), showing good psychometric properties for cross-cultural use and correlating well at the nation level with other supposed facets and indicators of I-C. In Study 2 (N = 8,652), nation-level contextualism predicted ingroup favoritism, corruption, and differential trust of ingroup and outgroup members, while controlling for other facets of I-C, across 35 nations. We conclude that contextualism is an important part of cultural collectivism. This highlights the importance of beliefs alongside values and self-representations and contributes to a wider understanding of cultural processes.
To date, consumer research has devoted no attention to the consumer behavior of refugees in industrialized countries. This article summarizes research investigating the experiences of young refugees in a western country and the coping strategies they develop in consumer behavior in order to deal with the new situation of living in an affluent society. Another part of the study focuses on “sacred” possessions and on the question of whether they have a significant meaning for the adolescent refugees and for what reasons. The research was conducted in a shelter for adolescent refugees and was based chiefly on ethnographic fieldwork, collage techniques and long interviews, especially making use of male informants from Africa and Asia.
The choice between novelty and familiarity when introducing a redesigned product is a crucial decision. A look into the processes of object perception reveals that novelty and similarity/familiarity are not two poles of the same dimension. Instead it is possible that consumers can perceive new products as both novel from and similar to a former product. Based on the 4-stage model of object perception this paper provides an explanation of how specific visual design stimuli (line and surface) affect brand recognition and novelty perception. Results from experimental studies are presented.
This research presents a series of studies, which show that luxury goods do neither signal power nor prestige when they are used in the context where ones status is attacked. Instead we demonstrate that showing a counter-signal, that is, the exact opposite from a luxury good (e.g. cheap and shabby clothes) can enhance a person’s perceived prestige if the signal is used as a response to when the person’s social status has been attacked. Our research helps to shed some light onto the partially conflicting findings that past research has been revealed about contents of signaling of luxury good.
This article explains how embodied cognition and perceptual symbol systems enable product designers to influence consumers by communicating key perceptual features through subtle changes in product design elements. In this way, managers can change perceptual design elements to support line extension strategies. More specifically, design changes can be used as a tool to help evolve consumer perceptions of a product's uses and brand category membership. The role of perceptual symbols in product design is illustrated by a well-known off-road motorbike brand that planned to extend into the street motorbike segment. In order to facilitate consumer acceptance of a street motorbike from this off-road brand, the firm gradually introduced models containing an increasing number of elements of street motorbikes over a period of several years. The authors use this example to show how typical design elements of the target product category can be effectively integrated with design elements of the current product category by simply modifying key characteristics of product-shape attributes. This process is further tested in an experiment, where motorbike models differing slightly in key product features (e.g., product shape) were rated on their resemblance to street or off-road motorbikes. The results show a strong effect of these design changes on brand-category membership. Managerial implications of this approach and future research directions are discussed.
Symbolic material objects such as art or certain artifacts (e.g., fine pottery, jewelry) share one common element: The combination of generating an expression, and the materialization of this expression in the object. This explains why people place a much greater value on handmade over machine-made objects, and originals over duplicates. We show that this mechanism occurs when a material object’s symbolic property is salient and when the creator (artist or craftsman) is perceived to have agency control over the 1-to-1 materialized expression in the object. Coactivation of these 2 factors causes the object to be perceived as having high value because it is seen as the embodied representation of the creator’s unique personal expression. In 6 experiments, subjects rated objects in various object categories, which varied on the type of object property (symbolic, functional, aesthetic), the production procedure (handmade, machine-made, analog, digital) and the origin of the symbolic information (person or software). The studies showed that the proposed mechanism applies to symbolic, but not to functional or aesthetic material objects. Furthermore, they show that this specific form of symbolic object valuation could not be explained by various other related psychological theories (e.g., uniqueness, scarcity, physical touching, creative performance). Our research provides a universal framework that identifies a core mechanism for explaining judgments of value for one of our most uniquely human symbolic object categories.
The authors propose a theoretical framework for the perceptual processing of information picked up from product design elements (such as product form) and its influence on consumers' conceptual knowledge and categorization of brands. The proposed theory of consumer knowledge and brand categorization draws from the ecological approach to visual perception, principles of object recognition by components in perceptual psychology, and the emerging perception-based theory of cognition as a perceptual symbol system. The authors describe four bases of brand categorization derived from product design information, provide examples of each, review empirical findings, and discuss implications for consumer research and new product design.
Art objects differ from other objects as they are intentionally created to embody a producer’s (i.e. artist’s) expression. Hence art objects are social objects whose appeal and value is largely determined by the strategic interaction between the artist and the audience. I discuss several aspects how strategic interaction can affect an art object’s perceived value and aesthetic appeal.
There has been a growing interest in the psychology of money (e.g., Rick, Cryder, & Loewenstein, 2008; Vohs, Mead, & Goode, 2006). In the target article, Zhou and Gao (this issue) offer a refreshing perspective on money and social support, maintaining that money and social support are substitutes of each other for alle viating pain. In a comprehensive review of the extant research literature, these authors found clear evidence for their view. Specifically, they found that (a) antici pation of pain heightens the desire for social support as well as the desire for money, (b) reminding people of social support and money can alleviate pain, and (c) so cial exclusion and monetary loss can cause pain. Zhou and Gao's innovative analysis suggests that money is not just a metric of utility attached to the goods and ser vices it can buy. Instead, money itself carries hedonic values through its (perceived) analgesic capability. In this commentary, we will expand Zhou and Gao's analysis by relating it to basic economic principles. We argue that because money and social support are sub stitutable analgesics, an individual's desire for them in concrete situations can be predicted from the shape of indifference curves relating the desirability of money and social support and the relative efficiency of pursu ing wealth and social support with limited resources. This psycho-economic analysis highlights the eco nomic rationality of optimizing the sedative utility or soothing comfort of money and social support. It orga nizes Zhou and Gao's ideas into a set of parsimonious and elegant propositions and brings out some broader implications that are not apparent in Zhou and Gao's theoretical narrative. In the last section of this com mentary, we go beyond optimization of soothing com fort and consider the value or utility people attach to identity signaling in materialistic consumption.
This chapter reviews how globalization can promote exclusionary reactions to imported products and foreign brands. Exclusionary reactions are emotional, reflexive responses evoked by perceived threats to the integrity of one’s heritage cultural identity. These reactions sometimes lead to xenophobic behaviors. Consumers on the receiving end of the global culture may be concerned that globalization will ultimately lead to homogenization of cultures via global hegemony. Fear of global culture’s hegemonic influence on the local culture often takes the form of contamination anxiety—the worry that imported technology will contaminate the local culture. Such contamination fear is responsible for some of the hostile reactions to global businesses, which are often perceived to be agents of global hegemony. The chapter concludes by discussing how these exclusionary reactions may be ameliorated.
This research demonstrates that consumers’ pursuit of social-identity goals is a dynamic process continuously shaped by their product interactions. We show that the mere act of being handed a brand can satisfy a salient distinctiveness-(connectedness) need, and results in a reduced likelihood of expressing this need in a subsequent social-task.
We posit that consumer support for consumeristic philanthropy arises in part from the need to signal one‘s status through brand consumption. Findings from a survey of American consumers and two experiments show that status signaling mediates the relationship and that more materialistic consumers assign greater value this status signaling.
This paper reports results from a new research direction called Postconsumption Motivation which tries to study motivational effects after basic social needs have been satisfied through consumption. Based on the theory of optimal distinctiveness we demonstrate that consumers who consume a brand that allows them to satisfy their need for distinctiveness, have an increased desire for being connected to other people. We believe that research in Postconsumption Motivation can help to better understand consumption as a continuing process that does not stop after a need has been satisfied. Our results are based on two strong experimental tests and also provide an explanation for the underlying theoretical framework of this process.
This article discusses the role of embodiment in judgment and choice to (a) attain clarity on conceptual and methodological issues by presenting a literature review of prior empirical research on embodiment, (b) gain an integrative view on the topic of embodiment in judgment and choice by proposing somatic marker theory as a unifying conceptual framework for bridging cognition and affect in terms of embodiment, and (c) discuss and clarify ideas and directions for further research on the topic.
Human symbol systems such as art and fashion styles emerge from complex social processes that govern the continuous re-organization of modern societies. They provide a signalling scheme that allows members of an elite to distinguish themselves from the rest of society. Efforts to understand the dynamics of art and fashion cycles have been placed on ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ theories. According to ‘top-down’ theories, elite members signal their superior status by introducing new symbols (e.g. fashion styles), which are adopted by low-status groups. In response to this adoption, elite members would need to introduce new symbols to signal their status. According to many ‘bottom-up’ theories, style cycles evolve from lower classes and follow an essentially random pattern. We propose an alternative explanation based on counter-dominance signalling (CDS). In CDS, elite members want others to imitate their symbols; changes only occur when outsider groups successfully challenge the elite by introducing signals that contrast those endorsed by the elite. We investigate these mechanisms using a dynamic network approach on data containing almost 8 million music albums released between 1956 and 2015. The network systematically quantifies artistic similarities of competing musical styles and their changes over time. We formulate empirical tests for whether new symbols are introduced by current elite members (top-down), randomness (bottom-up) or by peripheral groups through counter-dominance signals. We find clear evidence that CDS drives changes in musical styles. This provides a quantitative, completely data-driven answer to a century-old debate about the nature of the underlying social dynamics of fashion cycles.