Pregnancy, Babies, Parenting News & Tips

Low Self-Esteem Consumers: When Does Standing Out Help You Fit In?

By Staff Reporter / Aug 20, 2013 06:25 PM EDT
  • Low Self-Esteem Consumers: When Does Standing Out Help You Fit In?
  • (Photo : Flickr) Low Self-Esteem Consumers: When Does Standing Out Help You Fit In?

Consumers who buy brands to stand out may actually be trying to fit in, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Our research suggests that seeking differentiation via brands may actually be another tactic to achieve belongingness," write authors Sara Loughran Dommer (Georgia Institute of Technology), Vanitha Swaminathan (University of Pittsburgh), and Rohini Ahluwalia (University of Minnesota).

Like Us on Facebook

The authors explored how and why consumers use brands to stand out within a group. For example, certain brands can help consumers feel like they belong, like a college tennis player who wears Nike to display allegiance to her team. But consumers also use brands to distinguish themselves. The same player might also wear Lacoste to feel superior to her team or Converse to show her distinctive personality.

In a series of studies, the authors found that consumers with low self-esteem work extra hard to distinguish themselves within a group when they feel excluded. They do this by seeking brands that create distinction from typical members of the group based on personality, taste, traits, etc. However, when consumers with low self-esteem feel included, they still seek to distinguish themselves by seeking brands that confer status or demonstrate superiority to others in the group.

Companies often celebrate individuality in their advertising slogans-for example, "Think Different" (Apple), "Off the Wall" (Vans), and "Unlike Any Other" (Mercedes-Benz). According to the authors, companies can utilize strategies to help consumers feel like they fit in. "Brand names that address consumers' belongingness needs by creating brand communities and engaging in social media (e.g., a Facebook page) may satiate consumers' need for belongingness while also counterintuitively enhancing certain consumers' (i.e., low self-esteem consumers) desire to differentiate," the authors write.

"Companies should understand how their efforts may affect consumer belongingness or differentiation needs and how branding strategies based on differentiation can appeal to various types of consumers," the authors conclude.

Provided by University of Chicago Press Journals

Let nature play a role in climate adaptation, experts urge: TRFN

Delegates take notes during a plenary session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima December 13, 2014.

Read More »

U.N. talks agree building blocks for new-style climate deal in 2015

Delegates listen as COP 20 President and Peru's Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal makes an announcement during a plenary session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima December 12, 2014.

Read More »

Paris climate summit faces tougher job after modest Lima deal

Delegates talk during a break at a plenary session of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in Lima December 12, 2014.

Read More »

Fractures are major cause of older women’s hospitalizations

Fractures are major cause of older women’s hospitalizations

Read More »

Cost of not supporting breastfeeding may be millions

Cost of not supporting breastfeeding may be millions

Read More »

Taking HIV prevention pill may not encourage risky sex: U.S. study

Taking HIV prevention pill may not encourage risky sex: U.S. study

Read More »

Sony hacking highlights challenge to CEO Hirai's 'One Sony' vision

An entrance gate to Sony Pictures Entertainment at the Sony Pictures lot is pictured in Culver City, California April 14, 2013.

Read More »

Amazon workers strike in Germany as Christmas orders peak

A Verdi union scarf is seen outside the Amazon logistics centre in Graben near Augsburg December 15, 2014.

Read More »

U.S. faces tough questions in Apple e-books antitrust appeal

A general view of an Apple store in the Manhattan borough of New York September 7, 2014.

Read More »

Ebola toll in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia reaches 6,583: WHO

Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) prepare to bring food to patients kept in an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun July 20, 2014.

Read More »

Shock treatment: what's missing from Sierra Leone's Ebola response

World Health Organization (WHO) Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward gestures during a news conference on the WHO response and challenges to control the Ebola outbreak at the United Nations in Geneva December 1, 2014.

Read More »

Top court rejects Arizona appeal over abortion drug law

People wait in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington November 10, 2014.

Read More »

Real Time Analytics