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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

The (im)possible Whopper Phenomenon: How Fringe Products Move to the Mainstream

Published: May 27, 2020


Ivana Beveridge, University of Houston; Betsy Gelb, University of Houston


product mainstreaming; nonconforming; counter-normative


We explore how products move from the fringes to the mainstream of consumption, analyzing yoga and plant-based burgers. We explore their commonalities and differences, including results from qualitative interviews with consumers of each. Preliminary findings suggest that products can evolve from counter-normative to widely acceptable when consumers enjoy the products more than the idea of nonconformity. Nonetheless, at that point, previous nonconformity may still matter: Consumers may consider a product as mainstream, but may like the fact that others do not, or they may associate the product with nonconforming, even though it no longer is.