Study: Your Self-Concept Influences Your Product Choices

product choice

Taste evaluation is not solely based on the objectivity of food, such as the biological and innate preferences for special flavors etc. Individual and cultural differences in food preferences illuminate the role of subjectivity in taste evaluation.

According to the self-congruity theory, consumers pick products that are congruent with their self-concepts, i.e. a collection of beliefs about themselves. They do so because they strive for consistency in beliefs and behaviors (read more about self-verification).

Products and self-concepts may influence each other reciprocally. This means that products have the potential to change self-concepts through a process of self-reflexivity. Self-reflexivity is influenced by cultural values, i.e. the values that the product symbolizes.

Taste evaluation will depend on how much you can identify yourself with the value that the products symbolizes. If your values are congruent with the values of the product, then the taste evaluation is likely to be positive, and as a result, one is more likely to purchase the product.

A study by Allen and colleagues (2008) examined the role of self-concepts in the taste evaluation of food and beverage. Here are two examples of how self-concepts influence taste evaluation:

“Participants preferred the taste of Perrier over Old Fashioned Seltzer when the two options were labeled; when the products were offered without labels, participants did not show a preference” (p. 294).

“Participants who supported the values symbolized by Pepsi (exciting life, enjoying life, social power, and social recognition) had a more favorable taste evaluation, attitude, and purchase intention when told they had tasted Pepsi than when they thought they had tasted the low price Woolworth cola.” (p. 302).

Image: Daniel E. Lee