Identity bias in marketing: the powerful influence of self-perception on consumer behavior

What your customer believes about themselves determines the likelihood of them buying your product or service. Consumers are more likely to purchase products or services that align with their self-concept, values, and beliefs. There is a psychological barrier to cross when your product or service is out of alignment with your client’s identity. As an example, if your target believes that they can do it alone, it is only if this belief changes that they will accept help and support. This identity bias also plays a big role in fashion, if someone believes a brand does not represent who they are, it is near impossible to get them to purchase.


1. If your product aligns with your customer’s identity they are much more likely to buy! People tend to make choices that reinforce their self-image and maintain consistency in their beliefs. As a result, their purchasing decisions are influenced by how well a product or service aligns with their identity.

2. Identify and align with your customer’s identity: To effectively market and sell products or services, businesses need to identify their target audience’s key characteristics and values, ensuring their offerings align with those aspects. This alignment can increase the likelihood of generating interest and converting potential customers.

3. When a product or service does not resonate with a person’s self-concept, they are less likely to make a purchase. It is easier to find the right client than to change the wrong client’s mind. This is a mistake many marketers and business owners make; it is home to a graveyard of wasted advertising dollars.

4. Individuals may hold conflicting beliefs about themselves: Align your product or service with one belief without activating the opposing belief. As an example, someone may identify as health-conscious and would never be caught eating fast food, however, they may also consider themselves to be people that value their time. You may need to say something like; slowly cooked, quickly served healthy and nutritious soup. You are still emphasizing that they will be served quickly but the food is no longer a fast-food. You have maintained both their identity biases, efficient & health-conscious, Fresh Kitchen is a brand that has done this effectively.

4. Consumers buy products that align and reinforce their self-image: Emphasize how your offerings can support customers’ aspirations and values. The more aligned, the better.

5. Understand and appeal to specific identity-based customer segments: Do this by tailoring messages, imagery, and channels to better resonate with the target audience.

6. Create stronger connections to your brand: common beliefs and ideals can foster loyalty and long-term relationships. By demonstrating a commitment to these shared values, businesses can differentiate themselves and forge deeper connections with their audience.

7. Address Shifts in Identity: People’s identities can evolve over time, and marketers need to adapt their strategies accordingly. Monitoring changes in customer behavior, preferences, and demographics can help businesses stay relevant and maintain strong connections with their audience. Note: Identity shifts often happen when people step into a new role, for example, the role of husband or wife, mother or father. These shift points are often overlooked and can be critical moments for marketers.

Understanding your customer is a core concept of customer-centric marketing and it is worth investing time in as it makes your marketing much more effective.

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