January 17, 2019 / Insight

Exploring Identity

Navigating the space around identity is often an exploration of personal introspection and a negotiation of cultural narratives. As communities become more diverse, it is essential for brands to appeal to a wider demographic, and cater to consumers with a wealth of attributes.

Exploring identities mostly consists of looking at three essential elements: The roots of our heritage, who we are now, and our perception of a future self. Consumer research (Levy 1959; Sirgy 1982) has recognised for a long time that people consume in ways that are consistent with their sense of self.

Next month, the Barbican will exhibit Daria Martin and her exploration into her history with complex portraits of ‘Migration, loss and resilience’. This exploration of past can be assisted with Ancestry, a site that looks into your family history. Shows like ‘Who do you think you are?’ also tap into the desire to discover family ties. Beauty brands are also examining skin care heritage, with searches for witch-hazel increased by 305% over 2018. Historically used by witches to banish disease and negative emotion – a renewed interest in witch-hazel suggests an uptake for use of more traditional ingredient in 2019.

Present-time identity is a complex exploration.

With the amount of both physical and digital influence in our lives, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with options and lose your sense of self. Uptake in assisted meditation apps like Calm, Mend and Headspace provide a space to keep a calm mind. Appealing to its explorative interests of their consumers, clothing brand Free People, creates regular pop ups which delve into our personal psyche, and include ‘orgasmic workshops’ and ‘Positive intentions’ workshops.

Diversity is a growing and necessary expectation of brands. Forward thinking brands such as Fenty recognised a gap in the beauty market and produced 40 shades of foundation, capturing the attention of many underserved consumers. Beauty brands are now catching on, with Morphe adding 60 shades, Marc Jacobs adding shades, alongside Kat Von D. Fenty is still ahead of the curve, adding another 10 foundations and 50 concealers earlier this month.

Key Takeaways

  • In order for consumers to be able to identify with brands, they need to appeal to one of three elements, which are linked to building a person’s identity.
  • Helping someone understand their past can help connect a consumer to themself and associate connectedness with the brand.
  • Creating a calming space for self-exploration can help consumers invest in themselves and create a quiet space in a saturated world.
  • Being the first competitor to recognise a gap in the market immediately sustains a level of shared understanding between consumers. Diversity is necessary for brands to thrive, so brands should consider how they can create unique messages of inclusivity and identity.

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