Purpose: This study aims to integrate and extend existing approaches from self-identity literature by examining the underexplored aspects of online private self-disclosure. The study first explores the experiential value co-created when consumers voluntarily self-disclose on public platforms. Second, it sheds light on what motivates such consumers to disclose private self-images and experiences, thus giving up some degree of privacy on an unrestricted platform. Design/methodology/approach: This study conducted 65 laddering interviews and observed the profiles of ten consumers, who actively posted self-images on Instagram, through a netnographic study. Then, this study implemented a means-ends chain analysis on interview data. Findings: This study found that online private self-disclosure can involve a co-created experiential value that consists of consumers’ self-affirmation, affective belief and emotional connection. These value components derive from three higher-order psychological consequences – empowerment, buffering offline inadequacy of self-worth and engagement – and four functional consequences – opportunity to learn, online control, self-brand authenticity and impression management. Implications: Operationally, this study proposes that Instagram could be configured and synched with other social networking sites to provide a more complete representation of the online self. Using algorithms that simultaneously pull from other social networking sites can emotionally connect consumers to a more relevant and gratifying personalized experience. Additionally, managers could leverage the findings to tailor supporting tools to transfer consumers’ private self-disclosure skills learned during online communication into their offline settings. Originality: This research contributes to the extant marketing literature by providing insights into how consumers can use private self-disclosure to co-create experiential value, an emerging concept in modern marketing that is key to attaining satisfied and loyal consumers. This study shows that, even in anonymous online settings, consumers are willing to self-disclose and progress to stable intimate exchanges of disclosure by breaking their inner repression and becoming more comfortable with releasing their desires in an emotional exchange.
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- Experiential value
- Means-ends chain analysis
- Private identity
- Social networking sites