Shopping can evoke all sorts of emotions for consumers. Depending on the consumer’s personality it can affect their experiences within a positive or negative manner. This can, in turn, affect their self-esteem and confidence within shopping experiences, more deeply than businesses may recognise.
Solomon et al (2019) discusses how the terms ‘self-concept’ and ‘self-esteem’ are interrelated.
‘Self-concept’ is defined as “the beliefs a person holds about their own attributes and how they evaluate these qualities” (Solomon et al, 2019)
And ‘self-esteem’ is the “positivity of a person’s self-concept” (Solomon et al, 2019).
Self-esteem is a massive concern for individuals of all ages, businesses need to be able to recognise these concerns within their target markets and market accordingly as it can massively affect consumer behaviour. McNeil (2018) discusses how self-esteem is one of the major motivational drivers and it can control how an individual acts and motivate both short-and long-term goals. This can also affect whether a consumer will shop your brand or go elsewhere if they feel more included.
An issue attached to this line of thinking is the fine line between the ethical and unethical marketing campaigns relating to how to address self-esteem issues. In recent years, particularly since the rise of social media, this has become a more frequent and highly-debated topic of how to handle self-esteem within marketing.
The fashion industry is one that deals with those fine line of societies self-esteem issues constantly. There is an on-going battle that each brand must learn how to navigate around to remain a a positive or even neutral brand amongst all of the concerns placed around their campaigns and image as a whole.
Social media enables consumers to “regularly express themselves in a variety of ways. Selfie-postings are the new tool for self-presentation” (Pounders, Kowalczyk & Stowers, 2016), consumers will be highly influenced by the models and ad campaigns they see, if they do not feel they fit the image they are less likely to take part in this social movement, therefore affecting their self-esteem.
Forever 21 has had many concerns about their negative marketing campaigns towards promoting the ‘perfect’ image and affecting younger girls self-esteem in a very harmful way. They have being accused of increasing the ‘social comparison’ issues within younger demographics.
Forever 21 being an American company was being called out for ignoring recent stats that show the average American woman is no longer a size 14, but a 16, and even though this is the case, plus size women only make up 2% of the images that we see in the media. This was one of the biggest drawbacks for society, the brand seeming insensitive to changing societal look.
“Social media platform can cause social comparison amongst consumers…including attractiveness” (Wai & Osman, 2019) this strongly plays into consumers self-esteem within the comparison aspects of society.
According to Solomon et al (2018), social comparison occurs when individuals compare themselves to others, as a way to help stabilise their self-esteem and confidence, however it often backfires as people will negatively see themselves if they do not match what is shown within the media.
source: (you can’t compare apples and oranges…but they are both great!)
They were constantly shown slim women who were made to be the ideal person, and women who did not fit this size, felt as if they couldn’t even walk into the store as there would be no chance of them finding clothes that fit. This hurt the brand reputation, with many people calling them out, telling them to update their campaigns and embrace diversity more.
Forever 21 heard the complaints and critics and introduced ‘Forever 21 Plus’, a line for bigger women, in hopes they would feel comfortable enough to shop there. They recognised how important it is to acknowledge the self-esteem of consumers and thought expanding the brand to be more inclusive would help their perception and brand reputation by changing their narrative to promote a more positive self-esteem image for viewers. This has been a success for the brand, with many consumers thanking them for finally recognising the need for change.
This follows a strong trend of fashion brands recognising how powerful a ‘self-image’ campaign can be for consumers. Those who feel represented within those campaigns are more motivated to shop from those brands, FINISH
Fashion brands in particular hold a strong influence over a consumers self-esteem the recognition for this is important and can help a brand be placed more positively within society and can assist in breaking down stereotypes and build up confidence of their consumers and bring in a new market base for them.
The advert below shows the inclusive nature of the brands newest campaigns and how they are embracing and respecting the needs of consumer’s self-esteem.
(2018) “Fashion and women’s self-concept: a typology for self-fashioning using clothing”, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, Vol. 22 Issue: 1, pp.82-98, https://doi.org/10.1108/JFMM-09-2016-0077
(2016) “Insight into the motivation of selfie postings: impression management and self-esteem”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 50 Issue: 9/10, pp.1879-1892, https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-07-2015-0502
Solomon. M, Russell-Bennett, R. and Previte, J (2018) Consumer Behaviour, Australian Edition, 4th Ed., Pearson
Wai, L. K., & Osman, S. (2019). The Influence of Self-esteem in the Relationship of Social
Media Usage and Conspicuous Consumption. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Socal Sciences, 9(2), 335–352