I would like to share with you an experience I had during the process of purchasing a car, an experience like no other I had felt before, an experience where I began to loose site of myself and become someone different. Let me start off by saying that before I actually decided to buy a car of my own, I had no interest in cars what so ever, I mean seriously a less than zero…fall asleep at the mention level of engagement. But what I found was that when it came to buying a car for myself, I was obsessed. It was all I could think about, day in day out I would just sit in front of the computer searching Gumtree, Carsguide, Trading Post and every site in between.
Why was I so obsessed? I mean it was just a car to get me from A to B, but at the time it was so much more. This was my very first car, an expression of who I was as a person, a symbol of my individuality, maturity and freedom. I couldn’t just get any car I had to get the one that was right for me and although I hate to admit it the greatest concern at the top of my list was appearance. Not just the car but the way I appeared owning it. I wasn’t in the market for a car I was in the market for a statement.
The desire for self worth is known as an Ego or Self Esteem need and the desire for the recognition, respect and admiration of others is a Social need (Lantos 2010). These were the needs I put first when looking for my car.
According to Abraham Maslow there are 5 types of needs that operate in a hierarchical order. Physiological needs (e.g. hunger, thirst) come first, followed by Security needs, Social needs, Self-esteem needs and finally Self-actualization needs (Fred van Raaij, Wandwossen 1978).
“The purchase display and use of goods communicates symbolic meaning to the individual and to others” (Sirgy 1982, p.287). The way in which we give a product symbolic meaning is through the process of Personality Branding.
Brand Personality is a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name. A brand personality is something to which the consumer can relate, and an effective brand will increase its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits. This is the added-value that a brand gains, aside from its functional benefits (Monger 2012).
In my car search I knew from the get go that there were certain brands I didn’t want to buy because I attributed them with personalities that differed from the image I wanted to create for myself. In the end I bought an Audi because the brand to me symbolized prestige and sophistication as well as quality. And although after the purchase I once again don’t give cars a second thought, I still love my Audi.
Egotistical need officially satisfied >:)
Fred van Raaij, W & Wandwossen, K 1978 ,’Motivation-Need Theories and Consumer Behavior’, Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 5, pp. 590-595.
Lantos, G 2010, Consumer Behavior in Action: Real Life Applications for Marketing Managers, M.E. Sharpe, New York.