Whether or not we’re willing to admit it, most people’s favorite topic is themselves. There are millions of personality quizzes on the Internet people use to learn about themselves every day. Some of them are more serious than others. Which Harry Potter character a person most resembles probably doesn’t have a great impact on their self-perception or shopping habits.
What about the multi-billion dollar self-help industry in the United States? Americans are clearly trying to dig deeper and have a greater understanding about what makes them tick. At some point, all of us have asked, “Who am I?”
A recent study at Duke University demonstrated self-discovery and the question, “Who am I?”, can have a significant impact on individual shopping habits.
As silly as many of the commercials on TV seem these days, their strategies are surprisingly scientific. Advertisers are discovering that despite our best efforts to learn more about ourselves, we don’t always make the best use of our "self discoveries."
Often, our personality traits can lead us down different shopping paths. The Duke study found some people actively incorporate self discoveries to shop smarter. These types of personalities use their discoveries to shop smarter and tend to be more team oriented, preferring to fit in as part of a group. At the same time, a significant number of people thirst to learn more about themselves, but would rather reject that information than use it to their advantage.
Why the Rejection?
Early colonists in the United States broke from British rule with the Declaration of Independence. These days we continue to keep that spirit alive with buildings like Freedom Hall or the Freedom Tower. While Americans try to embody the spirit of freedom and independence, these qualities can be what causes us to reject our own self discoveries.
We love to hear about ourselves, but many find self-discovery is limiting. We've grown up in a world that places emphasis on the importance of being an individual. When this is applied to shopping habits, people continue to exercise their independence. For example, when a group of study participants were told they were brand conscious in a first test, they were more likely to select generic products in a second test. Even if they preferred the brand name products, participants rejected them to show they weren't so easily definable.
So Who Am I?
Despite our desire to learn about ourselves, Americans can be stuck with the proverbial devil on our shoulder. Even if we know what the best choice might be, there’s that independent voice telling us to go in the opposite direction. While the back and forth may be playing out on a scale that we don’t realize, we can start to think about why we’re making the shopping decisions we do. Before blazing a new trail, take some time to consider the path that got you there in the first place.
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