Brand 'Personality' May Affect How Consumers See Themselves

THURSDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- Some consumer brands represent "personalities" that can change the way people feel about themselves -- especially if they think their own personal qualities are already set for life, according to new research.

"Using brands with appealing personalities can rub off on the way consumers see themselves, even if the brand is used for only a short time," University of Minnesota researchers Deborah Roedder John and Ji Kyung Park wrote in their report, which is scheduled to be published online in the Journal of Consumer Research.

One of the four studies they conducted found that women who carried a Victoria's Secret shopping bag in a local mall for an hour perceived themselves as more feminine, glamorous and good-looking compared with how women who carried a plain pink shopping bag saw themselves.

The women who were most affected by their connection with Victoria's Secret "believe their personal qualities are fixed and cannot be improved by their own efforts at self-improvement. Therefore, they look for ways to signal their positive qualities through other means, such as brands," the researchers explained in a news release from the journal's publisher.

Women least affected by carrying the Victoria's Secret bag believed their personal qualities were more flexible and could change for the better through self-improvement, the study authors noted.

In another study, some people felt more intelligent and more like leaders when they carried a pen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with an MIT logo, even after some were led to believe they performed badly on a math test.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Journal of Consumer Research, news release, June 21, 2010