The consumer's cache


Consumers stock, store and camouflage invisible brands in their households

It is well-known that Americans are exceptionally conspicuous consumers. From clothes to cars, what Americans buy inevitably speaks to who they are. Yet, an article in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research contends that consumers do not always want to show off their belongings. In fact, quite the opposite is true with regard to "invisible brands" or mundane household brands that simply blend into a personal or family environment. The research reveals that in the case of invisible brands, the most significant factor resides with the process of brand storage and even brand camouflage.

"This paper helps us to rethink how we as researchers look at consumers and their brands. The roles of the household and of everyday habits, as opposed to responses to the firm, reveal the hidden meaningfulness of brands to consumers. Consumers think in terms of their everyday lives and processes, not in terms of brands," writes Jennifer Chang Coupland (The Pennsylvania State University).

"This article examines those seemingly ordinary brands that are part of the lifestyle of the household. The data will suggest that the locus of meaning for such brands is not tied to identity nor to consumer-brand relationships, as traditionally assumed with brands, but instead to a household process."

This study offers a very unique perspective on American consumerism, which is often associated with a more demonstrative and self-defining consumerism rather than this primal method of stashing and blending possessions into one's environment. "Although other consumer-brand research focuses on heralded, heroic or important brands, this paper recognizes the value of the everyday brand that is mundane, simply 'there' and often goes unnoticed," explains Coupland.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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