The impact of branding on low-income adolescents: A vicious cycle?



This study examines the impact of consumerism and consumer culture on low-income British adolescents. Specifically, it investigates the effects of branding and advertising on the formation of selfconcept clarity (SCC) and consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence (CSII). A comparative study was conducted between two groups, low- and high-income teenagers, assessing SCC and CSII by means of quantitative scales. It was found that low-income teenagers are less clear in their self-concept and are more susceptible to interpersonal influence than their high-income counterparts. A significant negative correlation between the two scales revealed that the less clear one's self-concept is, the more susceptible one is to interpersonal influence. It is proposed that an inability to “keep up” with the latest fashion trends (due to restricted consumption opportunities) may result in a damaged self-concept among low-income teenagers, which leads to heightened susceptibility to consumption pressures and hence heightens the negative socio-psychological impacts of living in poverty. The results of the study are reviewed in terms of branding, advertising, and consumer behavior and a proposed conceptual model of branding's impact on low-income teenagers is presented as a “vicious cycle.” © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.