‘Display
Value’
The Psychology 

of Conspicuous
Consumption
1
Dr Paul Marsden
Consumer Psychologist
@marsattacks
Looks matter. We choose brands because they look good
- signalling functional, emotional and aesthetic appeal
2
A good looking product will sell more, to more people,
for more margin - looking good is good business
3
Looks also matter because we often choose brands
because they make us look good
4
Choosing brands because they make us look good is
what is meant by ‘conspicuous consumption’
5
Traditionally, conspicuous consumption is about the public
display of economic wealth and elevated social status
6
HIERARC...
A modern variation of conspicuous consumption is
‘conspicuous compassion’ - public displays of charity
7
Why do we do it? Why do we need to display our
brands - and causes - publicly?
8
Psychologists believe conspicuous consumption is part of
‘impression management’ - self-managing our public image
9
Impression management through self-presentation
matters because people judge us by how we look
10
salary
looks
Frieze, Ire...
And we also judge ourselves by how we look
11
Vision is our dominant sense so visual impressions,
especially first impressions, matter
12
So like a peacock tail that displays good genetic traits,
we use brands to visually display our own positive traits
13
So what can brands do to harness this ‘display value’ of
brands - displaying our positive traits with brands?
14
First we need to double-down on brand design, we’ll only
help people look good if our brand looks good
15
Then, we need to think beyond the functional value and
emotional value of our brands, and add in ‘display value’
16
FUNCTI...
The psychology of ‘display behaviour’ can help here - and
yes, it’s all about… sex
17
Evolution has hardwired the reward centres of our mind to
reward behaviour that appeals to potential mates
18
And that means looking good - by visually enhancing
displays of ‘sexual fitness’ - youth, symmetry, proportions
19
So brands that amplify natural displays of sexual
attractiveness will have a natural appeal
20
Curiously, we may use premium brands to stop ‘mate
poaching’ - seen as gifts, they imply a committed partner
21
But brands not in this ‘extended sex industry’ also have
two BIG display opportunities
22
First, there’s the opportunity to understand the changing
status of ‘social status’ - a key part of sexual display
23
Our brains reward us for displaying social status because
status signals rank and resource - a social aphrodisiac
24
So one smart ‘display value’ strategy is to become a new
status brand - signalling alpha status within a target group
25
Secondly, sexual display is also about signalling our core
personality traits - to attract (and retain) compatible mates
26
So brands with a clear brand personality based on one of
the five CRESS brand personality dimensions will appeal
27
RUGGEDN...
A more effective way to deliver ‘display value’ may be to
build brand personality around core human personality traits
28
...
Brands built with a human personality will have more appeal
because they help us display our own personality traits
29
So to wrap up with a simple take-out - the big opportunity
in branding is not function or emotion - it’s display!
30
Thanks - for more practical marketing psychology see
digitalintelligencetoday.com
31
Dr Paul Marsden
Consumer Psychologist...
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A short presentation on branding opportunities from the psychology of conspicuous consumption. How to optimise the 'display value' of your brand

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Display Value - The Psychology of Conspicuous Consumption

  1. 1. ‘Display Value’ The Psychology 
 of Conspicuous Consumption 1 Dr Paul Marsden Consumer Psychologist @marsattacks
  2. 2. Looks matter. We choose brands because they look good - signalling functional, emotional and aesthetic appeal 2
  3. 3. A good looking product will sell more, to more people, for more margin - looking good is good business 3
  4. 4. Looks also matter because we often choose brands because they make us look good 4
  5. 5. Choosing brands because they make us look good is what is meant by ‘conspicuous consumption’ 5
  6. 6. Traditionally, conspicuous consumption is about the public display of economic wealth and elevated social status 6 HIERARCHY OF DESIGN NEEDS UTILITY SAFETY COMFORT DISPLAY Source: Adapted from Crilly, N., Moultrie, J., & Clarkson, P. J. (2004) Seeing things: consumer response to the visual domain in product design. Design Studies, 25(6), 547–577
  7. 7. A modern variation of conspicuous consumption is ‘conspicuous compassion’ - public displays of charity 7
  8. 8. Why do we do it? Why do we need to display our brands - and causes - publicly? 8
  9. 9. Psychologists believe conspicuous consumption is part of ‘impression management’ - self-managing our public image 9
  10. 10. Impression management through self-presentation matters because people judge us by how we look 10 salary looks Frieze, Irene Hanson, Josephine E. Olson, and June Russell. 
 "Attractiveness and Income for Men and Women in Management1." Journal of Applied Social Psychology 21.13 (1991): 1039-1057.
  11. 11. And we also judge ourselves by how we look 11
  12. 12. Vision is our dominant sense so visual impressions, especially first impressions, matter 12
  13. 13. So like a peacock tail that displays good genetic traits, we use brands to visually display our own positive traits 13
  14. 14. So what can brands do to harness this ‘display value’ of brands - displaying our positive traits with brands? 14
  15. 15. First we need to double-down on brand design, we’ll only help people look good if our brand looks good 15
  16. 16. Then, we need to think beyond the functional value and emotional value of our brands, and add in ‘display value’ 16 FUNCTIONAL EMOTIONAL DISPLAY
  17. 17. The psychology of ‘display behaviour’ can help here - and yes, it’s all about… sex 17
  18. 18. Evolution has hardwired the reward centres of our mind to reward behaviour that appeals to potential mates 18
  19. 19. And that means looking good - by visually enhancing displays of ‘sexual fitness’ - youth, symmetry, proportions 19
  20. 20. So brands that amplify natural displays of sexual attractiveness will have a natural appeal 20
  21. 21. Curiously, we may use premium brands to stop ‘mate poaching’ - seen as gifts, they imply a committed partner 21
  22. 22. But brands not in this ‘extended sex industry’ also have two BIG display opportunities 22
  23. 23. First, there’s the opportunity to understand the changing status of ‘social status’ - a key part of sexual display 23
  24. 24. Our brains reward us for displaying social status because status signals rank and resource - a social aphrodisiac 24
  25. 25. So one smart ‘display value’ strategy is to become a new status brand - signalling alpha status within a target group 25
  26. 26. Secondly, sexual display is also about signalling our core personality traits - to attract (and retain) compatible mates 26
  27. 27. So brands with a clear brand personality based on one of the five CRESS brand personality dimensions will appeal 27 RUGGEDNESSCOMPETENCE SINCERITY SOPHISTICATIONEXCITEMENT BRAND PERSONALITY Source: J. Josko Brakus, Bernd H. Schmitt, & Lia Zarantonello (2009) Brand Experience: What Is It? How Is It Measured? Does It Affect Loyalty - Journal of Marketing ol. 73 (May), 52–68
  28. 28. A more effective way to deliver ‘display value’ may be to build brand personality around core human personality traits 28 CONSCIENTIOUSNESSOPENNESS AGREEABLENESS NEUROTICISMEXTRAVERSION HUMAN PERSONALITY OCEAN TRAIT TATTOO 
 i128-O80-C41-E63-A73-N1 Inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious (Mini vs. Buick?) Careful/dependable vs. easy-going/ careless (Honda vs. Jeep?) Outgoing/energetic vs. quiet/calm (BMW vs. Lexus?) Friendly/cooperative vs. formal/driven (Acura vs. Mercedes?) Sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident (Volvo vs. Porsche?) O C E A N
  29. 29. Brands built with a human personality will have more appeal because they help us display our own personality traits 29
  30. 30. So to wrap up with a simple take-out - the big opportunity in branding is not function or emotion - it’s display! 30
  31. 31. Thanks - for more practical marketing psychology see digitalintelligencetoday.com 31 Dr Paul Marsden Consumer Psychologist @marsattacks
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