We are what we buy and we are what we don’t buy. It’s crazy to think that we can be better or worse by a brand/product from a big corporation-or even a little one person business. Am I cool because I have an iphone or ….. a refurbed model that’s 3 years old. As most of the people on this world struggle (and lose) to have one nutritionally balanced meal a day, we in the consumer culture worry about what the stuff we have says about us. We wear our clothes and have our gadgets and pretend that they tell something of who we are. They are just things …. an iphone or any phone says you have enough money to buy it (or put on a credit card). Everything else about a phone is subjective, an opinion that’s as valid as … well an opposite opinion.
All of this came to mind after reading an article called “Identity and Dissociative Influence”, in the ever exciting Journal of Consumer Research. Through a series of studies, researchers found that people are only motivated to avoid products related to “disassociative reference groups” – that is, groups with which the consumer seeks to avoid association. So hip young people avoid things that they think old un-hip people want or have. People, through marketing, a whole schema associated with the product and group.
I also just read a book review of “Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are”, on salon. Very interesting.