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Consumer Self-concept As A Key Concept That Influences Consumer Brand Perceptions

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With the growth of marketing in the lives of people, attention now is being paid to the various negative as well as positive effects of this field. In the 21st century, marketing has become an indispensable mode of communication with potential customers. The importance of consumer centered marketing is growing steadily as brands have started to rely heavily on media for various marketing objectives such as increasing sales, creating knowledge and awareness in the market etc.. As a result, this field continues to grow and evolve. Advertising and marketing in general seems to play a very important role in shaping the ever changing norms of society both nationally and globally.

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Media advertisements, in particular, is playing a more crucial role in young people’s socio-economic development and well-being. With the growing influence of marketing, self-concept is of particular interest because consumers use the symbolic properties of brands as a means of defining and expressing themselves.

The image of a brand established by marketers is understood and articulated by individual customers and by the society. To take advantage of this, brands are giving consumers a way to project socially accredited meanings of their self. This knowledge of how brands use self-expression has led to people to question the relationship between a brand’s image that marketers project, through advertising and other promotional activities, and a consumer’s self-concept.

Recent studies are showing that consumer self-concept is a key concept that influences consumer brand perceptions. Evidence has suggested that the self-concept effects various brand-related outcomes, such as brand loyalty, brand love or emotional brand attachment and so on.

Through our research and conversations with our research’s target age group, we have found that even though in written surveys they do always admit to the fact that advertisements heavily influence their consumption behavior, we have found that consumers do tend to get influenced by marketing. Most of the time this is because consumers don’t understand the various new ways that marketer have changed their tactics. Consumers normally only consider traditional forms of advertisements to be the only way of marketing.

However, these days a new trend has started, social media and YouTube. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat along with YouTube has become a major way for advertisement. Marketers seek out popular figures in these platform to use them as spokesperson for their brands. For example, Pathao, a popular brand now in Bangladesh, used Salman Muqtadir, a well-known YouTuber to promote Pathao’s parcel services in one of his videos, when talking to some of our interviewees we found that they only started using Pathao, whether for food delivery, rides or parcels, they only used it when they saw someone famous that they knew was using them.

Just as consumers start trusting a brand enough to use it because of marketing stunts, similarly consumers’ concept of self gets influenced by the various marketing tactics that they see around them. For our research, 33 people were surveyed between the age group of 13 and 28. Amongst them, only 5 were between 13 and 20, and the rest were aged between 21 and 28. We found that people in the ages between 13 and 20 were more prone to buying a product after an advertisement even if they don’t think it’s a necessity, but those in the age group of between 21 and 28 were more sensible in their buying decisions and said they were unlikely to buy a product simply because of an advertisement.

Among all the 33 respondents, whether they have ever regretted buying a product after seeing an advertisements, the highest number of people responded sometimes, with the least saying never. According to the responses, above 63% get influenced by an advertisement because of features while only 16% because of the brand itself. On a scale of 1 to 5, most respondents, around 48% were neutral when questioned how often they can relate to the situation in advertisements and 27.3% said that they could completely relate. Above 63% respondents said yes when asked if they have ever believed that their problems can be solved by using the products shown in the advertisements. The highest percentage of respondents chose number 4 on a scale of 1 to 5, when asked whether peer pressure influence their buying decision.

The survey results show that, marketing of any form has a more profound effect on younger minds, but with age, people tend to look more for quality and features. While younger minds might be able to relate to situations shown to influence them in advertisements, with age people learn to look for more tangible things.

Young people are exposed to many imageries and adverts for various products and services every day. It has become an expression of the society of which everyone is a part, and it is a mirror-image for all practical purposes and has a tremendous influence on the social, cultural and moral values of the youth. This fact can be proved by analyzing how advertisements have influenced people’s body image. The links between advertising and body image cannot be overlooked. Even though a vast majority of these effects are on females, there is certainly growing effects on males as well.

One of the most popular evidences of advertising on people’s self-concept can be verified by the surge in Fair and Lovely’s popularity in the early 2000s and even now. When it was first launched, it showed that dark women faced failure whether in job, marriage or popularity but as soon as they became fairer by using the product, success in all forms came after them. This caused many young girls and women across South East Asia to strive towards fairer looking skin, thinking that they are too dark, for society’s standard. To tackle that, recently Meril has launched a campaign that “fresh is beautiful”, this campaign has spread to gain positive attention as it has led to people having a more positive image of self. Advertisements effects on people goes both ways, negative and positive. It becomes a moral dilemma for marketers to decide whether to promote positive image or sell their brand.

In spite of Dove’s countless efforts to show “real” women in their commercials, it is still painfully obvious that their ad campaigns only show women and men as physically “perfect,” with very thin women and very physically fit men. The only time we see “ordinary” people are when they are used as a comparison to the fit models, or they are used in a humorous way. Moreover, even an advertisement for perfume or cologne usually contains a male or female model, or a movie star. Or else they show an average man or woman getting attention from model like humans after using the advertised product.

Unfortunately, this is because studies have proved again and again, that people respond better to images of aspiration, someone they want to be like. With advertisements such as these they get the message that either they will become like the person in the advertisements or they can attract these kinds of people.

In many cases, commercials act as aspirations, people have been found to be inclined to feeling better about their own bodies or actions, when these are aligned with the broadcasted advertising image. Taking advantage of this, advertisements show scenarios which echo the inner needs of today’s customers. Advertising, being a widely accepted promotional tool, has begun to build not only brand images but also consumer minds. When these standards are the outcomes of television role models, advertisements have additionally the ability to shape characters and develop groups.

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