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Observers infer consumers’ values and personality from their consumption behaviors. Recent literature highlights the benefits of minority consumption, typically by comparing several qualitatively different options. In seven studies (total N=1,555; one pre-registered), the current research instead compares inferences derived from the acquisition of the same products, framed as either bought by a numerical minority or a numerical majority, which eliminates any potentially different associations of the majority and minority options. Majority consumers (i.e., who purchase products bought by a large majority) are perceived as more competent – but not warmer - than minority consumers. This positive effect of majority consumption on purchasers’ perceived competence is mediated by expected product quality, such that the majority options appear to be of higher quality than minority options, which prompts the more favorable competence inferences about buyers. This effect persists for functional products, but not for hedonic products. The data and materials for all studies are available at osf.io/u6zmn/.
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