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Consumers recall ads that match their self-concept

June 16, 2011 - Washington

A new study has found consumers' memory is linked to a specific group.

It says consumers recall ads better when they think about the groups they belong to.

"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," said authors Kathryn R. Mercurio, UCLA, and Mark Forehand, University of Washington, Seattle.

Consumers identify with many different demographic groups, such as race, gender, or age. They also identify with family role groups (mother, father, sister), or occupational groups such as lawyer, teacher, or politician.

And they sometimes identify with brand consumption groups such as Mac, Harley Davidson and Facebook.

Although consumers identify with a large set of groups, at any given time they only think about a small set of them, called the active self-concept.

Advertising often includes information or images that encourage consumers to think about groups they belong to, and research has demonstrated that consumers temporarily prefer brands that target those specific groups.

The authors also found that thinking about one's group membership influences memory for advertising.

"Specifically, when a consumer views advertising while they are also thinking about one of their group memberships they unconsciously connect the new information to the group membership in memory," according to the authors.

Later, when those consumers think about that group membership, they are more likely to remember the information they learned earlier.

The study appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research.


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