People have relationship with brands not only because of what they offer with their product or service, but also how being a part of that brand makes them feel. Brands that have strong personalities are the ones that capitalize on this. Whether this is the fun, playful, young-hearted Disney brand, or the macho, competitive, manly brand of UFC. People feel they have the personality traits of the brand they are using or affiliating themselves with.
This was confirmed once again with a study from the Journal of Consumer Research (see this article for more details). In the study, participants were asked to walk a mall with the bright pink shopping bag of Victoria Secret. The control group was given a plain pink bag of a similar style. People with the Victoria Secret bag reported to feel more feminine, glamorous, and good-looking. In another study, people reported feeling more intelligent and like leaders when they used a pen with MIT engraving.
This verifies what we already knew. What was a new discovery is that the personality adoption effect was greatest people who believe that their personality cannot be changed through their own self improvement efforts. People who believe that they have some control over their personality traits do not report personality changes from brands.
People who feel their personality flexible would not see the need to use brands to augment their personality. These people wouldn’t see the value in fashion; they would feel that their attire would not have an effect on how they are perceived. They believe that if they want to change how they are perceived, they will work to change their personalities.
It is a strange paradox: people who feel their personality is more fixed actually more flexible. But people with brands augmenting their personality probably feel like they are being perceived as having the brands personality traits, not as if their personalities actually have changed. People who feel their personality is fixed would be more exercised at using brands to change their personality or the perception of their personality at least.
You may think this is tricking people who feel bad about their personal into buying products to feel better about themselves. Quite the opposite. The marketing to brand something with certain personality trait is adding value to the product itself. Helping people express themselves or feel better is an admirable goal.
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