It’s no secret that some people buy things in the hopes of feeling better about themselves, but it is less clear whether people can bond emotionally with things that are similar to those with things. people.
With the help of colleagues at Arizona State University, marketing professor Naomi Mandel reviewed the existing research on how consumers deal with what is called “self-mismatch.”
“It’s the difference between your real self and your ideal self or the difference between where you are and where you want to be,” she says.
During the pandemic, many people want to be with their loved ones – and cannot. Mandel said consumers who feel socially isolated often buy nostalgic items.
“Because these products give them a sense of continuity and remind them of the good old days when they felt included with their family and friends,” she said.
This is an example of what Mandel calls “compensatory consumption,” consuming something as a means of dealing with self-discordance.
“If you’re feeling socially threatened, you might buy a self-help book to try, you know, mend your relationships,” she says. “Or you could do something symbolic, so maybe you could buy something that’s really trending and popular right now to feel more accepted, more included. Or you can do something more fluid, so that you can buy exercise equipment and work out at home as a way to strengthen your fitness, you know, which keeps you from being threatened by the dimension. of social connection.
Mandel said the chances of linking with items depends on the reasons people buy them. And that can backfire on you. Rather than boosting your self-esteem, buying something you can’t afford can remind you that you’re not as rich as others.
Escape is another example of compensatory consumption. Watching TV shows, reading, overeating and drinking are all common activities.
“There is a huge potential to use this information and these strategies on social media and I think to some extent that is already happening … I don’t think they are. [marketers] using it to the extent that they could use those strategies, ”Mandel said.
She and Assistant Marketing Professor Monika Lisjack, with help from graduate student Qin Wang, wrote an article titled “Compensatory Routes to Object Attachment” which was published in the journal Current Opinion in Psychology. They are currently conducting a cross-cultural study on Facebook to examine the differences between consumers in the United States, Asia and Latin America.