It has long been known that one's identity, is born out of one's life experience and is a critical component in how we interact with the world.
Banister and Hogg, (2004) (cited in Hamilton and Hassan, 2010) stated that consumers will use products to display and communicate a desired identity. Heath and Scott (cited by Hosnay and Martin ,2012) stated that consumers will buy products and brands that they feel possess an image that is similar to that of their own self-image.
I will reflect on five items which I have bought or wish to purchase and seek to explain how each is significant to my self-identity and image.
The first item is an Apple MacBook Pro laptop. A laptop is an expensive purchase for my situation, therefore I began maximizing on my choices and researched the alternatives available. “An objective of the decision-making process is to evaluate alternatives and eliminate them until the most potential candidate is left.” (Nissinen, 2013)
I decided on an evoked set of brands that I was already familiar with, Apple, HP, ACER and Lenovo. From these four brands, I narrowed it down to two brands that I would consider buying from. These two brands, Apple and HP, were my considered set.
In choosing from these two brands, I had to gather information that would fulfill my functional needs. These functional needs gave me the necessary information about each laptop's utility and applications. Therefore, increasing my knowledge and avoiding any risk of choosing the wrong laptop for my needs. High involvement decisions often include a lot of effort and take a long time for the consumer to decide what to buy. I would therefore conclude that there was high involvement during my decision process in purchasing the laptop.
My laptop purchase fulfilled my innovative needs and in turn enhanced my perception of my actual self as an early adaptor of technology and style.
The second item is the consideration of purchase of a YSL bag. Leibenstein (1950) (cited in Kastanakis and Balabanis, 2012) describes that a luxury product's popularity signifies both a prestigious and must-have product within various consumer segments because of the value they receive from the interaction with other consumers. This item will represent the attributes of my social self, which is someone who understands and appreciates luxury fashion.
As discussed by Homans and Stigler (Cited in Branchik and Shaw 2015) decision-makers will attempt to maximize on the value received from an exchange, through an assessment of what they could be gaining from any other alternatives. The bag is expensive, and it would be an item I will purchase infrequently. A lot of thought has to go into the purchasing decision, which therefore represents another example of the use of high involvement if purchased.
For me, a YSL bag will be an investment as the bag is of high quality and it can be used for a long time. However, I would only purchase the bag after an accomplishment (such as receiving my master's degree). Therefore, the bag would be seen as a reward for my hard work which Silverstein, Fiske and Tsai (cited by Truong and McColl, 2011) argue that the motivation for a luxury purchase may come from the desire of a self-rewarding experience.
The third item is a pair of Nike Airforce sneakers. I have an interest in these sneakers because one of my favourite artists, Jorja Smith, has done a collaboration with Nike on these shoes. The source credibility theory can be used to explain my immediate interest in these sneakers. The source credibility theory as discussed by Hovland, Janis and Kelly (cited in Umeogo, 2012) stated that a source that presents itself as credible is more likely to persuade an individual. Jorja Smith is seen as a credible source to me, because of her popularity as an artist and a social media influencer. I also find her to be an expert and trust worthy on fashion related topics.
Sirgy states (cited in Xue and Phelps, 2013) that the more the consumer's self-concept fits together with a particular product, the higher the chance of the consumer being motivated to purchase that product. Purchasing these sneakers will represent the attributes of my actual self, which is someone whose style is relaxed and casual, much like my personality.
The fourth item is the Tom Ford, Jasmine Rouge perfume. Arndt's 2004 research in consumer behavior (cited in Truong and McColl, 2011), suggests that the acquiring goods can flatter a person's ego therefore improving improve self-esteem. Mick and Demoss (cited in Truong and McColl, 2011) state that giving gifts to oneself can maintain and improve one's self-worth which is important to self-esteem. These two theories can be used to explain my interest in purchasing the Tom Ford brand of the perfume. This product has an is of high quality and has an alluring smell, therefore it is sure to attract positive compliments which in turn will enlarge my self-esteem.
The fifth item is a pair of Levi jeans. Low involvement purchase decisions usually do not require much effort or thought for the consumer. Therefore, when purchasing this item there would be low involvement in my decision process. The item is not as expensive as the previously stated items and I would purchase this brand of jeans more frequently.
Schiffman and Kanuk (2000) (Upamannyu, Mathur and Bhakar, 2014) explored that there is a higher chance that consumers will purchase brands that have personalities that closely match their own self-image and self-expression. Dittmar states (cited in Phau and Lo, 2004) that clothes can have a symbolic meaning for consumers as it relates to expressing their self-identity. Which can be seen with my interest in this brand. The casual and relaxed personality of the Levi jeans is similar to that of my actual self.
Levy (cited by Hosnay and Martin, 2012) concluded that consumers buy products because of what they can do for them and what the mean. The items I chose to purchase or have already bought are seen as high quality and are very popular among my peers. Therefore my interest in these items directly relate and can attribute to both my actual self and social self, which is someone who is up to date with the current trends of society however while expressing their individuality.
Branchik, B. and Shaw, E. (2015). Net Transaction Value: A Model of High- Involvement Decision-Making in Buyer Choice Behavior. Atlantic Marketing Journal, [online] 4(2).
Hamilton, K. and Hassan, L. (2010). Self‐concept, emotions and consumer coping. European Journal of Marketing, 44(7/8), pp.1101-1120.
Hosany, S. and Martin, D. (2012). Self-image congruence in consumer behavior. Journal of Business Research, 65(5), pp.685-691.
Kastanakis, M. and Balabanis, G. (2012). Between the mass and the class: Antecedents of the “bandwagon” luxury consumption behavior. Journal of Business Research, 65(10), pp.1399-1407.
Nissinen, N. (2013). An Approach to Construct Criteria for Evaluating Alternatives in Decision-Making. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, [online] 7(8), pp.2291 - 2293.
Phau, I. and Lo, C. (2004). Profiling fashion innovators. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 8(4), pp.399-411.
Truong, Y. and McColl, R. (2011). Intrinsic motivations, self-esteem, and luxury goods consumption. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 18(6), pp.555-561.
Umeogu, B. (2012). Source Credibility: A Philosophical Analysis. Open Journal of Philosophy, 02(02), pp.112-115.
Upamannyu, N., Mathur, G. and Bhakar, S. (2014). The Connection between Self concept (Actual self Congruence & Ideal Self congruence) on Brand Preferences. International Journal of Management Excellence, 3(1), p.308.
Xue, F. and Phelps, J. (2013). Self-Concept, Product Involvement, and Responses to Self-Congruent Advertising. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 34(1), pp.1-20.
...(download the rest of the essay above)