Negative and positive contamination in secondhand fashion consumption: does culture matter?

Naeun Lauren Kim, Byoungho Ellie Jin, Terry Haekyung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Despite the growing popularity of online secondhand platforms globally, there is a lack of studies exploring how consumers worldwide perceive contamination and the use of secondhand goods differently according to the culture. Based on the consumer contamination theory, this study aims to investigate the cultural differences of South Koreans and Americans by examining three variables (e.g. transaction type, ownership duration and physical attractiveness) related to consumers' perception of contamination and purchase intentions for a secondhand apparel item. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from 422 US and South Korean female consumers who were assigned to an experimental scenario, and their secondhand purchase intentions and perceived contamination were compared through independent t-tests and moderated regression analyses. Findings: Consumers' purchase intentions increased, and perceived contamination decreased when the transaction type was business-to-consumer (vs consumer-to-consumer), when the item had been owned for a shorter period of time and when the item was sold by an attractive seller. Such effect was more pronounced for South Korean consumers than the US consumers in the negative contamination contexts (i.e. transaction type, ownership duration), but not in the positive contamination context (i.e. attractiveness). Originality/value: The findings of the study add to the literature on consumer contamination theory through an examination of several negative and positive contamination factors in retail contexts and highlight the role of culture as a critical moderator.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1509-1530
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 12 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Contact
  • Contamination
  • Culture
  • Resale
  • Secondhand fashion
  • Uncertainty avoidance


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