Johnson, Lennon and Rudd (2014) review of research on the social psychology of dress suggests that consumers search for self-product-image congruity and reject products with negative symbolic meaning. Rhee and Johnson (2012) found that adolescents’ purchase and use of clothing brands were those that were most similar to their actual self (i.e., this brand reflects who I am), followed by their social self (i.e., this brand reflects who I want others to think I am) and their desired self (i.e., this brand reflects who I want to be). Banister and Hogg’s (2004) interviews with adult consumers found that clothing could symbolize many meanings. However, their interviewees were more driven to avoid products with negative symbolic meaning than by purchasing products to achieve a positive image. One participant suggested that the former could be conscious, whereas the latter is subconscious. Empirical testing of this claim would be valuable.
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