Sharing: The need for identity and acceptance

13 03 2009

Thanks to one of my classes at school, I have recently started doing research on the concept of sharing. The idea is to understand the implications of – how consumers react to sharing (under various circumstances) – to product development. Although the process isn’t complete yet, I have already found some very interesting data.

For example, I can already see the influence of societal constructs in a consumer’s openness to share products/services. Most Canadians are very proud of their health care system as they believe that its for the larger good of society. This belief or schema allows consumers to accept the system, even though they may not be utilizing it as much as, say… their neighbour might. A similar schema helps explain why music listeners still continue to download and share music illegally. 

A lot of psychologists attribute such behaviour to consumers’ need for identity. People are always looking to belong and to identify themselves with a certain culture or community etc. The health care system for example plays a big role in helping Canadian’s distinguish themselves from their rather “individualistic” southern neighbours. By refusing to pay money to gain access to music, illegal downloaders distinguish themselves from prominent ‘pop’ culture and identify themselves with a rebelliious, anti-establishment commuity. 

So what does all this mean to a marketer? If she (a marketer) can understand the societal framework within which her product would fit/fall, then marketing that product would become much easier. A great example of campaigns that use such insight is the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty”, where an understanding of societal pressure on womens’ grooming helped Dove successfully reach its target audience. 

This process has become an immesely successful learning exercise for me and I plan to pursue this study over the next many months. So, look for more interesting insight on this issue in the coming months. Also, give me a shout if you feel like chatting about this over some pints.





One response

18 03 2009

Really liked your write-up.
I think another good example (from India) is Unilever’s “Fair and Lovely” fairness cream, which has been doing really well in terms of revenue as well as market share, because it targets the Indian cultural attitude towards light skin.

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