What's your personal brand?

Why do we WANT stuff?

Posted on: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Category: Uncategorized (67)

by Rhys Blyth & Emily Kucukalic

Jean-Paul Sartre’s basis of philosophy was to look at who we are.  He focused on authenticity and individuality, rather than conformity.  He said that the reason we want ‘stuff’ is to enlarge our sense of self.  That we know who we are by observing what we have.

In branding terms, this is the extended self. Belk (1988) identified possessions as being a major contributor to and reflection of our identities. These are the ‘things’ that we attach to our authentic (who I really am) and cultural (reason for me) selves to show others the ‘me’ that we want them to see.

But then, why do we buy things we don’t need?

This is due to the Diderot Effect. Created by Grant McCracken in 1988, the term is named after the French philosopher Denis Diderot, who first described the effect in the mid 1700’s. The Diderot effect suggests that the things we buy will integrate with our perceived identity, therefore be complementary to how we represent ourselves.  However, at the introduction of a new possession that is different from our current possessions can lead to out of control consumption.

Gifted a beautiful scarlet dressing gown, Diderot described  – “Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown” – the plunge into debt due to his growing dissatisfaction with older, more tawdry possessions that did not live up to the elegance of the new garment. Soon, all of his possessions were replaced with newer ones that aligned with the dressing gown leading to Diderot becoming a slave to his new gown, when he was a master of the old one.

As people, our natural tendency is to consume more. However, we can combat or reduce the flow of unquestioned consumption through filling our lives with the optimal amount of things. We do not need to necessarily buy less, but we can buy smarter. Buy things that match our sense of self – think about the ‘costume’ of your personal brand.  Stay true to that, and you will never go wrong!

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