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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gucci or Coach? National and International Purchases of Self-Identity



Why did you just buy that Chevrolet and the matching Levi jeans to go with it? What we buy is an expression of who are and the way in which we view ourselves. New research helps highlight the concept of national or global self-identities on consumer purchasing behavior. The reasons why we purchase certain products and services is an expression of who we are as a person and the way we view ourselves in the national or global context.

Personality traits of consumers often influence their perception and willingness to purchase certain national or global orientated products. The association is  because personality traits shape people’s worldviews and ideological attitudes (Sibley and Duckitt, 2009). How people view the world has a natural influence on their purchasing behaviors as they seek self-identification through the obtainment of products.

Understanding people’s perceptions of themselves within their environments is helpful for understanding how to develop advertisements that appeal to their target demographic. A stronger understanding of international markets is gained from analyzing both the external international marketing environment and the internal characteristics of personality and collective identity of target consumers (Myers, Sen and Alexandrov, 2010). It is this combination of personality, identity, and product appeal that makes a huge difference in consumer choice.

People often identify themselves with local or international groups of people. In an attempt to create consistency of beliefs and attitudes, they begin to develop purchasing behaviors that confirm their self-identity and associations. People often develop attitudes and behaviors that support their concept of self (Zhang and Khare, 2009) and this manifests itself in the products or services they are willing to spend their money on to support their understandings.

Local people with national identities will often prefer products from national markets that reinforce the validity of their beliefs. Those with identities that are more global will purchase products from international brands that reflect their beliefs. As the world globalizes and people begin to change the way they view themselves the products they are willing to purchase will also change. What we are buying is a reflection on our collective beliefs.

Let us look at an example that highlights this concept. Watching people you will find some have a natural preference for high priced products (i.e. Gucci or similar knock off) while others are more interested the eclectic nature of their purchases (homespun or handmade). The person who only buys expensive products, regardless of quality, is seeking identification as someone special while a person who purchases eclectic products is more orientated toward self-expression.

Research conducted by Westjohn, Singh, and Magnusson (2012) conducted at three mid-western universities uses upper level business undergraduates to understand how local or global self-identities impacted purchasing behaviors. A usable 205 responses from American citizens were used in the study. Each participant filled out first a personality survey and then a few days later a survey on national or international identities. 

Results:
-Openness of experience is associated with global identification while agreeableness is open to national identification.

-National identification on the Local Consumer Culture Positioning (LCCP) is greater than Global Consumer Culture Positioning (GCCP).

-Extroversion was negatively associated with GCCP.

Analysis:
The study helps to shed some important light on the concepts of national and global identity. Consumers still have a preference for national advertisement over global advertisement because they see themselves within this context. It also helps to understand how purchasing behavior is really more about self-validation and creating external behaviors through purchasing that are consistent with internal beliefs. In essence, all purchasing is an extension of self which means that all products, services, and operational activities should be in alignment with the national and global market to have the greatest consumer appeal. 

Westjohn, S., Singh, N. & Magnusson, P. (2012). Responsiveness to global and local consumer cultural positioning: A personality and collective identity perspective. Journal of International Marketing, 20 (1).

Sibley, C. & Duckitt, J. (2009). Big-five personality, social worldviews, and ideological attitudes: further tests of a dual process cognitive-motivational model. Journal of Social Psychology, 149 (5).

Myers, S., Sen, S. & Alexandrov, A. (2010). The moderating effective of personality traits on attitudes toward advertisements: a contingency framework. Management & Marketing, 5 (3).

Zhang, Y. & Khare, A. (2009). The impact of accessible identities on the evaluation of global values local products. Journal of Consumer Research, 36 (3).
Gucci or Coach? National and International Purchases of Self-Identity

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