A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that advertisements that remind consumers of the groups they belong to are remembered better than more general advertisements. Coauthors Kathryn R. Mercurio and Mark Forehand explored the way people process advertisements that evoke the groups with which they identify. “A key determinant of how much consumers remember from an ad is the connection between the ad content and the consumer’s own self-concept.”
Being a member of groups is not just a matter of social status; being a part of groups is crucial a person’s self-concept. Most people belong to a number of groups that make up the people they interact with on a regular basis, but they also belong to groups made up of people that they may never see and might not ever meet. For example, a person might think of herself as belonging to the group of people who have a rare disease, or of the group of people who love Shakespeare or ride Harleys. Most people also identify with demographic groups, occupational groups and family role groups.
However, some groups occupy a more prominent place in a person’s active self concept than others. For example, a mother with four preschool children might be almost constantly aware of the fact that she is a mother, but rarely think about the fact that she is also a granddaughter, or of Welsh ancestry.
Historically, advertisers have created advertisements that attempt to identify their products with the groups their target audiences belong to, either directly or indirectly. Past studies have shown that people are drawn to brands that tailor their advertisements to their groups, at least in the short term.
The new study, however, found that consumers actually find such advertisements more memorable. Linking products to group affiliations leads people to recall the products when they think about those groups. “Pragmatically, this suggests that advertisers should consider how consumers are likely to think about themselves when they are choosing products,” said Mercurio and Forehand.