Purpose: One of the major concerns in the emerging phenomenon of collaborative consumption (CC) is the issue of contamination (i.e. feeling “grossed out” when sharing items with others). Guided by the law of contagion and the consumer contamination effect theory, this research investigated the ways in which companies can manipulate in order to reduce the negative contamination when renting or purchasing used fashion items from others. Specifically, this research examines this issue of contamination through the ownership type of the shared goods (e.g. corporate-ownership or B2C exchange, and consumer-ownership or C2C exchange) and its effect on consumers' CC intentions in two distinct sharing contexts (i.e. rental and secondhand purchase). Design/methodology/approach: A total of 181 American female consumers were assigned to an experimental CC scenario, and their rental/secondhand purchase intentions were compared through ANCOVA analysis. Findings: In both rental and secondhand purchase contexts, consumers displayed greater intentions to shop in B2C setting (i.e. corporate-ownership) with no direct contact with the previous owner, than in C2C setting (i.e. consumer-ownership) with a greater association with the previous owner and the shared items. Such inclination was more prevalent when purchasing a shirt than a handbag, suggesting that consumers feel more grossed out when there is greater physical contact with the shared item. Originality/value: The findings of the study suggest a possible solution to alleviate the contamination effect, and the discovery of the degree of contact as a moderator provides new insight into contamination research.
- Collaborative consumption
- Consumer contamination effect
- Fashion sharing