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We Really ARE What We Wear: How The Psychology of Fashion Influences Consumer Behavior

“We buy products because of what they mean, not because of what they do.”

That insight is crucial for any consumer-facing industry. Customers literally choose from thousands of options – and most of them have very little to do with functionality. However, that doesn’t make these decisions unimportant by any means. The selection of a watch, a bracelet, a pair of glasses or many other items reflects deep-seated values and beliefs about appearance and the consumer’s identity. We can think of the body as a canvas, where the shopper chooses from a “palette” of accessory items, apparel, footwear, cosmetics and other products to paint a picture s/he wants the world to see at a fixed moment in time. Fashion marketers need to dig deeper if they want to sync their offerings with what their customers seek.

We’ll look at some of the powerful cultural forces that drive fashion statements. Then we’ll focus on the individual consumer and her motivations to buy. We’ll examine some of the important factors that influence what that “self-portrait” looks like, including feelings about the body, peer pressure, celebrity endorsements and the messages our culture sends about what men and women need to look like. We’ll also consider how new technologies such as social media communities, wearable computing and augmented reality will color this picture in the near future.

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