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The Meaning of Emotional Confidence

Emotional confidence is the ability to establish and maintain self-awareness, relationship management, social awareness, and self-management (Sharma, 2013). Self-awareness is about being aware of one’s abilities, likes and dislikes, and feelings while relationship management is about the ability to interact with people. Social awareness entails efforts geared towards understanding people as well as their expectations. On the other hand, people who are good at self-management are able to prepare well for challenges and to deal with failure.

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            People who are self-aware are able to understand their own strengths and weaknesses as well as the emotional experiences through because of those strengths and weaknesses (Ladhari, 2009). Such people refrain from comparing themselves with others but rather value themselves in the knowledge that their emotional experiences may not necessarily coincide with those of any other individual at any given time. They understand that there is no such thing as a bad emotional experience or a good emotional experience; to such people, each emotional experience should be treated with the idiosyncrasy that it deserves. At the same time, self-awareness enables people to prepare well for challenges and to accept failure, thereby boosting self-confidence. Ladhari (2009) also emphasizes the importance of emotional satisfaction, which is a critical component of service experience in diverse settings. Ladhari (2009) gives the example of hotel service experience, where emotional satisfaction is a major predictor of diverse behavioral intentions, including loyalty and willingness to pay more for the same service.

            Self-management is also a critical component of emotional confidence (Sharma, 2013). Individuals who are good at self-management believe that the best will happen to them. They also believe that whatever happens will be for the best. Such a personality attribute best describes people who believe that self-confidence does not come because one has an answer to every answer but rather because one is prepared for every question. Self-management is about preparing a mental image based on events that are actually about to happen with a view to prepare for all possible outcomes. It is also about visualizing success and managing one’s stress level.

            People with emotional confidence also perform fairly well in terms of social awareness. In this regard, they understand others by appreciating their circumstances, feelings, and expectations. This appreciation informs their behavior and attitudes towards these people, with the focus being on the need to fulfill their expectations. This aspect of emotional confidence gives people the strength to oppose an idea whenever it is necessary by providing an explanation in a manner that does not trigger conflicts or ill-feeling. At the same time, meeting relatives, friends, family members, and acquaintances people with emotional confidence an opportunity to engage in interactions that can help them release stress while at the same time boosting their confidence even more.

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            Emotional confidence is also about the ability to express one’s feelings without suppressing them, particularly if they are positive emotions (Çelik, 2011). This is an important activity in every relationship-building endeavor. Failure to express positive emotions and instead of suppressing them in a manner that leads to irritation and stress is a sign of lack of emotional confidence. Such stressful situations usually end up decreasing one’s self-confidence.

            Debate on the meaning of emotional confidence is ongoing, and various views have been expressed in consumer research and marketing literature (Yüksel, 2007). It is possible for one to pinpoint similarities as well as differences in the views being expressed as well as the conceptual positions being taken today. For instance, there is a consensus among consumer research specialists that emotional confidence has an impact on consumer decision making (Kidwell, Hardesty & Childers, 2008). Kidwell, Hardesty, and Childers (2008) use the term “emotional calibration” to describe the concept of emotional confidence; emotionally calibrated customers are said to make decisions whose effects are predictive beyond cognitive ability. Based on this argument, saying that a person is emotionally calibrated is synonymous with saying that he or she is emotionally confident.

Illouz (2009) emphasizes the role of emotions in the so-called “sociology of consumption”. According to Illouz (2009), emotions have a critical role to play in people’s consumption behavior. For example, consumption is sometimes used as a way of building and maintaining a certain identity. For this reason, one may expect a consumer who lacks emotional confidence to spend a lot of money on certain items in the hope that this will help him or her builds an identity of an emotionally confident person. In this regard, it seems that emotions and consumption exist in the context of an intricate relationship. This implies that through and through, consumers’ desires tend to be volatile, and this volatility is best exemplified through aspects of emotions and desires.

Illouz’s (2009) core argument is that emotional confidence plays a critical role in determining consumer behavior.  Nwokah and Ahiauzu (2009) share this view although their analysis is inclined towards aspects of marketing as opposed to consumption. According to Nwokah and Ahiauzu (2009), emotional confidence, which is a subset of emotional intelligence, greatly influences marketing effectiveness. Illouz (2009) also shares the same view with Nwokah and Ahiauzu (2009) in regard to the influence of culture on emotional confidence. Both scholars agree that the emotional disposition of an individual is to a certain extent influenced by cultural context.

The Case of Emotional Confidence in the Context of Shopping Centers and Traditional Retailing Areas in Turkey

            It is common for researchers to focus on specific countries as case studies in their analysis of emotional confidence and its impact on consumer behavior. This paper focuses on the case of Turkey, and the emphasis is on the country’s shopping centers and traditional retailing areas. An analysis of studies that examine the issue of emotional confidence in the context of Turkey’s shopping centers and traditional retailing areas can facilitate efforts to merge theoretical and practical aspects of this debate.

            Turkey is famous for its unique cultural practices that predispose its citizens to correspondingly unique shopping practices and consumer behavior. One way in which this phenomenon can be understood is to examine the role of emotional confidence. Although a definite trend can be observed in regards to buying behavior, individual differences among consumers cannot be ignored. One of the ways in which these differences manifest themselves is through compulsive buying behavior (Ergin, 2010).  Compulsive buying behavior is in itself a dysfunctional attribute, meaning that it signifies failure in certain respects on the part of the affected consumers (Koran et al., 2006). Ergin (2010) states that this is a common problem among Turkish consumers, and is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to keep purchasing products and services.

            Ergin (2010) points out that the level of emotional confidence plays an important role in determining whether a Turkish consumer is likely to fall victim to this undesirable behavior, whether he is shopping in the country’s modern shopping centers or traditional retailing areas. Two factors that may predispose Turkish consumers to compulsive buying behavior are anxiety and depression. These two factors denote a lack of emotional confidence on the part of the affected consumers. Based on the thoroughness of Ergin’s (2010) study, (a sample of 314 respondents was used and data was analyzed using regression analysis) it seems that impulsive buying is a serious problem in Turkey. Meanwhile, a significant finding was that there are marked differences between the level of emotional confidence of women and that of men. This translates into differences between the two genders in terms of the pervasiveness of the problem of compulsive buying behavior. As expected, the factors of age and anxiety were correlated to compulsive buying behavior.

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            The literature on emotional confidence in the Turkish context has also been used to explain dynamics relating to the level of satisfaction among Turkish consumers. These changes in the level of satisfaction are mostly applicable to the country’s shopping centers and retail chains as opposed to traditional retailing areas. This observation has triggered efforts by operators of shopping areas to concentrate on the idea of value-based and consumer-oriented marketing (Akpinar, Gul & Gulcan, 2008). It has also forced business operators in the country to switch from traditional to modern marketing approaches. The issue of emotional confidence is at the heart of all these efforts because it greatly influences the purchase decisions that Turkish consumers ultimately make.

Aspects of emotional confidence influence not just compulsive buying behavior and customer satisfaction in Turkey but also branding of retail stores as well as experiential marketing (Gürbüz, 2008; Bati & Atici, 2007). Regarding customer satisfaction, Gürbüz (2008) observes that the brand name of a store name in Turkey evokes emotional responses relating to service quality as well as customer satisfaction. This denotes the critical role that branding plays in determining the emotional responses of consumers as well as the long-term process of developing store loyalty. However, these findings may not be generalized to the entire country because the model that was used was tested on just three retail stores in one Turkish city. Regarding experiential marketing, Bati & Atici (2007) view emotional confidence as a core component of current practices in relation to consumer attitudes and behaviors. An important point worth emphasizing is that Bati & Atici (2007) identify the brand experience as a crucial determinant of emotional confidence among Turkish consumers both in modern shopping centers and traditional retailing areas.

Conclusion

            Emotional confidence is an important construct in marketing and consumer research. It sheds light on why consumers behave in the way that they do. This paper has examined the meaning of this concept before highlighting its usage in the operations of shopping centers and traditional retailing areas in Turkey. This approach is highly informative because it brings into perspective a point of intersection between marketing theory and practice. This paper defined emotional confidence as the ability to establish and maintain self-awareness, relationship management, social awareness, and self-management. In the Turkish context, the most important issues that arose in the analysis of this theoretical concept include compulsive buying, customer satisfaction, and experiential marketing.

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