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Ultra-high-net-worth individuals: self-presentation and luxury consumption on Instagram

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journal contribution
posted on 15.09.2021, 15:43 by Nina MichaelidouNina Michaelidou, George Christodoulides, Caterina Presi
Limited research has examined the segment of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs). This study aims to explore how this segment self-presents with regard to luxury on Instagram.

We use a qualitative research approach to content-analyze 815 publicly available photos on Instagram. The analytical approach involves multiple stages and yields three key themes.

Through Instagram images, UHNWIs engage in inconspicuous consumption via subtle displays of luxury possessions and more cues that indicate luxury experiences, power and social connections. The results further identify four dimensions of self-presentation in luxury consumption on social media: ostentatious, humble, revealed and hidden.

Research limitations/implications
The study adopts an inductive approach to identify themes related to UHNWIs’ self-presentation on Instagram. Other research could adopt a quantitative approach to identify drivers of the various themes. In addition, the unit of analysis was the photo posted by the UHNWI rather than the UHNWI himself or herself. Further research might explicitly consider the overall profile of each UHNWI and their holistic approach to posting with a view to developing a typology of UHNWIs based on the way they self-present and portray their luxury consumption.

Practical implications
Luxury marketers should focus on inconspicuous products and experiences that allow the UHNWIs to decelerate and spend time with their loved ones, access rare experiences and demonstrate power via their networks.

We extend prior research on self-presentation on Instagram. The authors focus on UHNWIs, a neglected yet significant segment of the luxury market.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

Published in

European Journal of Marketing


Emerald Publishing Limited


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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© Emerald Publishing Limited

Publisher statement

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal European Journal of Marketing and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1108/ejm-11-2020-0853. This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact permissions@emerald.com.

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Dr Nina Michaelidou. Deposit date: 10 September 2021