Aug 13, 2019

How Crucial Is A Consumer's Self-Concept In Advertising?

Is an audience’s self-concept affecting how brands should target their demographics?

  • Understanding the influences that contribute to a consumer’s purchase is increasingly valuable for marketers.
  • By definition, self-concept is the way a consumer perceives themselves, and marketers have noticed the study of behavioural marketing is the key to recognising why customers are more inclined to buy a certain product or service.

Why does brand perception matter?

Brand perception encompasses how customers are treated by a company, how they feel about its marketing, and how their friends and family view it. If a brand has a positive perception, then its consumers are more inclined towards it and more likely to choose it over competitors. But, if a brand has a negative perception, its consumers will be more likely to turn to competitors and feel encouraged to share negative sentiment concerning that brand.

Why does self-concept matter?

Self-concept, otherwise known as self-perception, is the way a consumer views themselves. In the world of marketing, this is crucial for a brand to consider as it allows them to see how their image, product, and service can alter this perception.

Generally, consumers will feel more drawn to brands that reinforce their vision of themselves, for example sophisticated, intelligent, or attractive - which contributes to the success of behaviour marketing. 

"Across four studies, behaviourally targeted ads lead consumers to make adjustments to their self-perceptions to match the implied label; these self-perceptions then impact behaviour including purchase intentions for the advertised product and other behaviours related to the implied label." Oxford Academic

Therefore, when a consumer is targeted by ads which imply something about who they are, or who they believe they are, they are more likely to try and live up to the label and as a result, buy into the product or service.

What impact can behavioural marketing have?

Behavioural marketing is a strategy whereby consumers are targeted based on their behaviours and actions instead of their demographic, occupation, or other less personalised metrics. This has proven successful as brands will be reaching consumers based on genuine interests they have shown. Brands that make the most of this opportunity will always win, as their marketing will be more targeted and personalised, providing consumers with exactly what they want.

Another key benefit studies have found, is that targeting consumers based on their behaviour can also alter that consumers’ perception of themselves, which can lead to more conversions. In a nutshell, when a consumer sees an ad that is targeted towards them by implying something about who they are, they will feel encouraged to adopt those values.

So what?

CLICKON Social Labs conducted two polls, questioning in total 251 participants from two different age groups, to investigate further into self-concept and the part it plays towards effective advertising. 

Which gender and which age group see their level of intelligence closest to the benchmark?

What could be the reason behind their potentially inflated self-concept?

How Intelligent Do You Think You Are

Males vs. Females

Across all four intelligence percentiles, the men show significantly higher results than the women. This figure almost doubles for men across the first three categories. 

10% of males aged 25 and above believe that they are in the top 1%, whereas just 1% of women of the same age believe they fit into this group. This is similarly noted in the top 5% category - 24% of men across both age groups believe they form the top 5%, but the figures for women are less than half the men. 

The key takeaway point for this, regardless of gender, is that both groups believe they are smarter than the benchmark. So, as a marketer, there is no need to alter advertising strategies to what a brand believes this audience is capable of. They should be treated as though they are in the top 5%, or 25%, because that’s where they think they are, and this self-concept will reflect on their perception of a brand.

18-24 yrs vs. 25+ yrs

Across the percentiles, the difference between male age groups does not vary when determining which intelligence category they fall into. However, for women there is a more notable difference in the top 50% group, that shows 73% of 18-24 year-old women compared to 55% of 25+ year-olds as having high self-perceptions. This is the biggest gap across both genders and age groups in every percentile.

A trend is evident across each percentile, as the majority of 25+ year-olds are slightly closer to the benchmark in view of their intelligence. A reason for this could, quite simply, be down to an increase in experience with age, and an overall understanding of their place in intellectual percentiles.

These insights are important for marketers because, when combined with behaviour marketing, it can allow them to interpret how their audiences’ self-concept maps onto their brand and what affects their perception of a brand.

Consumers will be attracted to brands that reinforce their self-concept, for example, high intelligence. A clear route forward is to cater to this vision - advertise in line with the audiences’ belief that they are in the top 5% intellectually, even if in an objective assessment, they are (only just) in the top 50%.