Consumers become more involved with brands because of what they say about them rather than what they can do for them.As consumers interact with other members of society, they learn through the responses of other people the symbolic meanings of products and brands. Their buying, giving and consuming of brands facilitates communication between people. Example: Blue jeans symbolize informality and youth
Consumers construct and make sense of the world through interpreting brands as symbols of success or symbols of being masculine for example. This creates meaning for the consumer in so far as the brands they buy reflect their inner self identity, their sense of self and who they want everyone to know them as. This is where the keeping up with the Joneses kicks in!
If a person believes one thing about a product or service and then subsequently hears contrary views from their friends about the business, they will be much more influenced by their friends views. So remember you must in fact influence groups of people as well as individuals in your marketing campaigns.
To be part of a particular social group, a person doesn’t just need to adhere to the groups attitudes and beliefs but also to reflect these attitudes and belief through displaying the right sorts of brands.
In order to understand the power of marketing, you should consider how design and visual representations displayed in your marketing messages are important in conveying meaning to your customers, especially in the service sector where no tangible product is available.
Visual representations also have the advantage of avoiding the logical examinations to which verbal expressions are subjected and are therefore more likely to be accepted. Example: Customers are less likely to challenge the symbolic freshness of Green Giant’s vegetables than the verbal claim stating that canned vegetables are fresh.
Some Marketers have capitalized on the added value of symbolism, that is meanings and values over and above the functional element of the product or service. Symbolism is sought by people in all walks of life to help them better understand their environment. Different brands of cars succeed because they enable drivers to say something about who they are. We may buy different brands of ties, such as yves saint Laurent as opposed to Hermes, not just for their aesthetic design, but to enhance self-esteem
Consumers perceive brands in very personal ways and attach their own values to them. Research clearly shows that even though competing firms are striving to portray unique values for their brands, the symbolic interpretation of each brand varies by type of person. Different people ascribe different meanings to the same product. This challenges the assumption among marketers that the brands symbolic meaning is the same among all the target market.
In order to cope with the numerous social roles we play in life, brands are invaluable in helping set the scene for the people we are with. As such, they help individuals join new groups more easily. New members at a golf club interpret the social information inherent in the brands owned by others and then select the right brand to communicate symbolically the right sort of message about themselves. When playing golf, smart trousers may be seen as necessary to communicate the social role, but to play with a particular group of people it may be important to have the right brand as well. The symbolic meaning of the brand is defined by the group of people using it and varies according to the different social settings.
Brands can be used as a means of communication, enabling people to convey messages about themselves and to facilitate expressive gestures. Using a Platinum or Gold visa card rather than the standard visa card, enables the owner to say more about themselves to their friends when paying for a meal in a restaurant. Giving black magic chocolates for instance, says something about a sophisticated relationship between two people. After Eights imply an aspiration for a grand and gracious lifestyle.