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

Texas nurse stricken with Ebola: young and caring

Members of the Protect HazMat team prepare to enter the apartment of the health worker who was infected with the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas October 13, 2014.

Read More »

Boston patient does not appear to have Ebola, hospital says

1 of 5. Ambulance workers wearing protective gear load a patient with possible Ebola symptons into the back of an ambulance at the Harvard Vanguard facility in Braintree, Massachusetts October 12, 2014 in this still image from video.

Read More »

Texas health worker becomes first person to contract Ebola in U.S.

1 of 4. A metal barrel containing contaminated belongings of a health worker at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who has contracted Ebola is in front of the health worker's residence in Dallas, Texas, October 12, 2014.

Read More »

Conjoined twin Texas babies to take first step to separation surgery

1 of 3. Conjoined twins Knatalye Hope Mata (front) and Adeline Faith Mata are pictured at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston in this July 25, 2014 handout photo obtained by Reuters October 9, 2014.

Read More »

New Jersey officials order 'symptom-less' NBC News crew into Ebola quarantine

Members of an NBC News crew who worked with a cameraman who contracted Ebola in Liberia have been quarantined, New Jersey health officials said on Saturday.

Read More »

U.S. military faces new kind of threat with Ebola

1 of 3. A soldier goes through the decontamination process with U.S. Army soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), who are earmarked for the fight against Ebola, take part in training before their deployment to West Africa, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky October 9, 2014.

Read More »

Las Vegas sounds false alarm as global Ebola fears spread

A commercial plane was briefly quarantined on a Las Vegas airport tarmac on Friday, sending airline shares down as worldwide fears increased that Ebola could spread outside West Africa, where it has killed more than 4,000 people.

Read More »

U.S. begins enhanced Ebola screening program at New York's JFK airport

A video journalist films a sign asking patients to inform staff if they have fever, cough, trouble breathing, rash, vomiting or diarrhea symptoms and have recently traveled internationally or have had contact with someone who recently traveled internationally at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York October 8, 2014.

Read More »

U.S. Republican Senator still undecided on Ebola funding increase

Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) (C) talks to media after departing a closed hearing on Iraq and Afghanistan in Washington July 8, 2014.

Read More »

Fears grow in United States over Ebola's spread outside West Africa

A sign asks patients to inform staff if they have fever, cough, trouble breathing, rash, vomiting or diarrhea symptoms and have recently traveled internationally or have had contact with someone who recently traveled internationally at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York October 8, 2014.

Read More »

Ebola patient dies in Texas; five U.S. airports to screen for fever

The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States died on Wednesday, underscoring questions about the quality of care he received, and the government ordered five airports to start screening passengers from West Africa for fever.

Read More »

Obamacare website likely ready for record-breaking traffic: official

A man looks over the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) signup page on the HealthCare.gov website in New York in this October 2, 2013 photo illustration.

Read More »

Real Time Analytics