- The purpose of the present study was to investigate value perceptions and consumption behaviors of sneakerheads who are mixed-role resellers of sneakers. “Sneakerhead” is a term given to those who collect and wear sneakers with a vast amount of effort and resources (Semmelhack, Garcia, Lepri, Willis, & Hatfield, 2015). “Mixed-role resellers” is a term given to individuals who collect, use, and resell consumer goods (Chu & Liao, 2007). Traditional consumer behavior frameworks mostly focus on behaviors surrounding pre-acquisition, purchase, and use of goods initially purchased by the consumer for his or her own use (Boyd & McConocha, 1996). These frameworks do not necessarily explain behaviors surrounding goods initially purchased with the intention to resell to others, such as researching predicted resale value during pre-acquisition, using controversial methods to obtain products during acquisition, and taking special measure to keep a product in pristine condition. While the resale market has expanded due to internet and social media, resale behavior has not drawn much attention from researchers. To address this gap, the author took a qualitative approach to gain an understanding of value perception and behaviors when consumers purchase goods with the intention to resell. The three research questions are:
1) What factors into mixed-role reseller sneakerheads’ perception of a sneaker’s value?
2) What behaviors are exhibited by mixed-role reseller sneakerheads during pre-acquisition, acquisition, physical possession, and resale of the sneakers they intend to resell; what motivates these behaviors?
3) What do mixed-role reseller sneakerheads like and dislike about the sneaker resale market?
A total of 25 in-depth interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide. Interviewees were recruited through posts on sneakerhead community websites and snowball sampling. To qualify for participation in the study, interviewees needed to fit the description of a sneakerhead and a mixed-role reseller of sneakers.
Results show how the interviewees evaluate the value of sneakers they intend to resell, what behaviors interviewees exhibit during the pre-acquisition, acquisition, physical possession, and disposition stages pertaining to sneakers they intend to resell, and how the interviewees felt about the resale market in general. First, data show that sneakers can hold monetary, emotional, functional, and/or social value. Most discussion about sneaker value centered on monetary value. Findings show that interviewees’ perceptions of monetary value were influenced by sneaker model rarity, celebrity endorsement of sneakers, collaboration between brands and celebrities, retro marketing, and sneaker condition. Second, the interviewees who purchased sneakers with resale intention demonstrated behaviors that are noteworthy in various stages of the Inventory Ownership Cycle (IOC) (Boyd & McConocha, 1996). When interviewees considered purchasing sneakers they intended to resale, they did an extensive information search prior to purchase to predict resale price, purchased multiple pairs with controversial methods (e.g., using bots and back-dooring), did not wear or carefully wore the sneakers, utilized various resale channel (e.g., eBay, social media, and mobile applications), and took measures to minimize physical and financial risks of reselling. Third, data show that while interviewees often had both positive and negative affects towards the resale market, they tended to have more negative affects towards resellers who used controversial methods to acquire sneakers. However, the interviewees seemed to accept these negative aspects of the resale market and said nothing can be done to change it.
This study has implications for both researchers and business practitioners. For researchers in consumer behavior, this study provides insight into how resale intention can influence behaviors throughout the IOC (Boyd & McConocha, 1996). For business practitioners, findings from this study call attention to the need to consider consumers who purchase for personal use and consumers who purchase for resale as different market segments. It also calls out the need for brand managers to preserve this unique consumer culture and reduce negative outcomes caused by reselling.
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