Thursday, 22 January 2009
Mirror Mirror On The Wall
This week we looked at what marketers focus on, personality or self concept. Two key theorists, Mead (1934) and Goffman (1959) argue that self concept is based on experience, this is most definitely true. If we were to look at adults of my parent’s age, we see that it is less important what their self concept is, as they are far too busy in their social roles, as stated by Goffman (1959). Mead (1934) argues that self-concept is formed directly from social experience which is partially true in my opinion but I agree slightly more with Goffman (1959) who believed that self concept was the playing of social roles. (E.g. daughter, wife, mother, employee, manager) which add facets to our view of ourselves. There is of course, a fine line separating personality and self concept in most people’s opinions: ‘people are what they see themselves as’ (Bjorn 1989.) I definitely have to question this opinion. There is, as we see in Maslow’s theories, a seeming aspirational tendency in people and a misconstrued opinion of self. For example, when I was shopping last week, there was a girl having her makeup applied at a stand. She was of average height, brown hair and brown eyes and, in MY opinion, very average looking. She was telling the makeup artist she realised how beautiful she was and wanted to model professionally. This is a prime example of a correlated personality, truth and self concept. The girl obviously believed she was beautiful and was confident enough to display it. This is not the average teenage girl. The majority, even if stunning, have decided they are too fat, their hair is not long enough, not short enough or too dry, they are too white, too tanned, want curly hair or want straight hair. Why is this such a great thing for marketers? Well they take a product, such as conditioner and tell the girl she needs to use the product and then she can improve herself. This is of course, ridiculous. It is a known strategy in marketing principles that it is far easier to sell a product which plays on insecurities and offers an escape from this terrible problem. It is also obvious that with the girl I saw in the centre, no product could directly target consumers such as this girl; she does not aspire to be anyone but herself which shows herself concept to be a strong, positive one. When dove conducted their infamous self conceptual beauty campaign, they questioned thousand of girls on their self percept. Only five percent believed themselves to be beautiful. That is ridiculous. It is only in this world of celebrity obsession, CGI and extensive airbrushing that we have seen in immense increase in beauty product sales and eating disorders. What a shame. Why is it that this is so great for marketers? Well they can take the average girl and help her to aspire to be an unachievable image of perfection, they help to reduce the positivity of herself concept and knock her confidence and then help to boost her morale by selling her this amazing product. Does the product do the job? Obviously not, because if it did, we would all be walking around with perfect hair, teeth, clothes, bodies. Which we don’t. So how it is that sales are maintained, and even increasing? Because the targeted consumers do not think on this level, as argued in sales and decision theories. They buy for the rush following purchase. This will be a cycle and continually happen as long as there are insecure, young girls around.