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New research suggests our unconscious self-beliefs influence what we value in luxury items, and that rather than targeting particular kinds of consumers, marketers should shape our self-beliefs to fit with their brand.
Once upon a time, only the very wealthy could afford luxury items, but in this age of diffusion lines, fast fashion and social media influencers, luxury brands can feel as ubiquitous as blue jeans – one of fashion's many paradoxes, says luxury marketing expert Dr Yuri Seo.
Research - Others - Reasons - People - Luxury
Research by him and others reveals the reasons why people buy luxury items are many and varied: to signal social status, for escapism, self-transformation and investment, among others.
"Different consumers view luxury differently, and even the same consumer can view it differently in different situations," says Dr Seo, a senior lecturer in Marketing at the University of Auckland Business School.
Consumers - Understanding - Luxury - Concept - Luxury
"Consumers no longer have a strong, clear understanding of what luxury is, and because the concept of luxury is fuzzy, marketers can shape consumers' thinking about it."
Seo and his co-researchers, JaeHwan Kwon from Baylor University in Texas, and Dongwoo Ko from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, wondered if the key to this mercurial nature lay in the way consumers' self-theories interact with luxury brand values.
Body - Evidence - Psychology - Way - Choices
A growing body of evidence from psychology shows the way we think about ourselves affects our choices as consumers. People hold unconscious beliefs about the malleability of their personality, morals, intelligence and other personal traits. These self-theories are "implicit" – we can't easily put them into words, but they show through in our attitudes and behaviour.
Two distinct self-theories have been identified. People who hold the "entity theory" believe their personal traits are relatively fixed, and so they cannot improve or change themselves through their own efforts. "Incremental theorists" believe their characteristics are relatively malleable; they can change themselves if...
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