The marketing of love: how attachment styles affect romantic consumption journeys

Martin Mende, Maura L. Scott, Aaron M. Garvey, Lisa E. Bolton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The experience of romantic love is closely interlocked with consumption journeys—yet how and why consumers engage in romantic consumption is not fully understood. This research emphasizes romantic consumption as a novel scholarly domain of theoretical and substantive richness due to its fundamental importance to nearly every consumer’s life and its considerable economic relevance. Specifically, we investigate how attachment styles influence romantic consumption across various contexts, from movies, books, and greeting cards to romantic gaming and online dating. Across six studies, we show that consumers with an avoidant attachment style are less likely to engage in romantic consumption, whereas consumers with anxious and fearful attachment styles are more favorable toward it and emulate the romantic consumption of consumers with a secure attachment style. We propose that this pattern is driven by the interaction between attachment avoidance and anxiety such that the negative effect of attachment avoidance is attenuated when attachment anxiety is high. These attachment style differences are mediated by a motive for emotional intimacy, suggesting that personal romantic consumption (e.g., reading a book) can serve as a surrogate to fulfill unmet relational needs. Notably, positioning products via types of romantic love serves as an important moderator: products positioned via companionate love are more appealing to securely attached consumers, products positioned via passionate love are more appealing to avoidant consumers, and anxious and fearful consumers find both equally appealing. Consistent with the notion of consumer-based strategy, we discuss how managers can leverage these insights in their segmentation, targeting, and positioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-273
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Academy of Marketing Science.


  • Attachment anxiety
  • Attachment avoidance
  • Attachment styles
  • Intimacy
  • Love
  • Romantic consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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