Religion blocks consumerism

In another odd experiment, it seems as if religious people are less susceptible to buying things according to their brand, which to secularists is often a means of enhancing status and self-worth:

Prof. Ron Shachar of Tel Aviv University’s Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration says that a consumer’s religiosity has a large impact on his likelihood for choosing particular brands. Comsumers who are deeply religious are less likely to display an explicit preference for a particular brand, while more secular populations are more prone to define their self-worth through loyalty to corporate brands instead of religious denominations.

This research, in collaboration with Duke University and New York University scientists, recently appeared in the journal Marketing Science.

There is considerable statistical evidence that consumers buy particular brands to express who they are to the outside world, Prof. Shachar says. From clothing choices to cultural events, people communicate their personalities and values through their purchases.

Prof. Shachar and his fellow researchers decided to study the relationship between religiosity and brand reliance. . . .

Researchers discovered that those participants who wrote about their religion prior to the shopping experience were less likely to pick national brands when it came to products linked to appearance or self-expression — specifically, products which reflected status, such as fashion accessories and items of clothing. For people who weren’t deeply religious, corporate logos often took the place of religious symbols like a crucifix or Star of David, providing feelings of self-worth and well-being. According to Prof. Shachar, two additonal lab experiments done by this research team have demonstrated that like religiousity, consumers use brands to express their sense of self-worth.

via American Friends of Tel Aviv University: Shopping Religiously.

I suppose this simply proves that religious people are not as “worldly.”  It also suggests how pathetic it is to be “worldly,” having to turn to corporate logos as a substitute for religious symbols.

HT:  <a href=”http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/007649.html”>Future Pundit</a>

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Or maybe it means people who are likely to be religious are less likely to feel the need to pay to be a walking advertisement. I mean really you want me to pay $40+ for a shirt with your logo on it? When, I can go to Target or Walmart and pay $10 for a shirt with no logo on it. I have one exception to the rule, shirts with my alma mater’s logo on it, but I have to admit it is hard to find Aggie gear in northern Illinois.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Or maybe it means people who are likely to be religious are less likely to feel the need to pay to be a walking advertisement. I mean really you want me to pay $40+ for a shirt with your logo on it? When, I can go to Target or Walmart and pay $10 for a shirt with no logo on it. I have one exception to the rule, shirts with my alma mater’s logo on it, but I have to admit it is hard to find Aggie gear in northern Illinois.

  • Tom Hering

    Years ago, I watched a documentary (can’t track it down yet) that showed how the best people in marketing got together for a conference shortly after the end of WWII, and one of them declared, “We will persuade Americans to substitute going shopping for going to church. We will make consumerism a religion – the thing that gives life meaning.” Or words to that effect.

  • Tom Hering

    Years ago, I watched a documentary (can’t track it down yet) that showed how the best people in marketing got together for a conference shortly after the end of WWII, and one of them declared, “We will persuade Americans to substitute going shopping for going to church. We will make consumerism a religion – the thing that gives life meaning.” Or words to that effect.

  • Louis

    A more anthropological explanation would be that brand loyalty in consumerism is a (rather feeble) attempt at tribalism, an impulse all of us belonging to the species Homo Sapiens have. Religious people by default already have a tribal affiliation.

    Since the study used a generic “religious” qualification, I’m don’t think one should go much beyond that explanation.

  • Louis

    A more anthropological explanation would be that brand loyalty in consumerism is a (rather feeble) attempt at tribalism, an impulse all of us belonging to the species Homo Sapiens have. Religious people by default already have a tribal affiliation.

    Since the study used a generic “religious” qualification, I’m don’t think one should go much beyond that explanation.

  • Tom Hering

    Louis, look up the PBS Frontline episode called “The Persuaders” online. Marketers have actually studied religious cults, as well as fans of various kinds, to find out what makes people loyal to something. The conclusion: creating a sense of belonging, community, and shared experience is what contemporary marketing should be all about. And it is.

  • Tom Hering

    Louis, look up the PBS Frontline episode called “The Persuaders” online. Marketers have actually studied religious cults, as well as fans of various kinds, to find out what makes people loyal to something. The conclusion: creating a sense of belonging, community, and shared experience is what contemporary marketing should be all about. And it is.

  • WebMonk

    From what I can tell of the study (details are sketchy and I can’t find access to the actual study itself), it sounds like it says that strongly religious people (or at least those who are freshly reminded of their religious views by indicating them shortly before shopping) don’t buy national name brands as frequently.

    I’m not sure I take it quite as far as the articles take the study – religious people may be just as likely to buy themed stuff, but just not the national brands version of themes.

    Also, I’m not sure that “religion blocks consumerism” is quite accurate as it appears that the religious people bought just as much stuff (I don’t see any info stating otherwise, anyway) but just weren’t buying the name brand stuff. Religion didn’t block it so much as it shifted their consumerism into a slightly different expression.

  • WebMonk

    From what I can tell of the study (details are sketchy and I can’t find access to the actual study itself), it sounds like it says that strongly religious people (or at least those who are freshly reminded of their religious views by indicating them shortly before shopping) don’t buy national name brands as frequently.

    I’m not sure I take it quite as far as the articles take the study – religious people may be just as likely to buy themed stuff, but just not the national brands version of themes.

    Also, I’m not sure that “religion blocks consumerism” is quite accurate as it appears that the religious people bought just as much stuff (I don’t see any info stating otherwise, anyway) but just weren’t buying the name brand stuff. Religion didn’t block it so much as it shifted their consumerism into a slightly different expression.

  • Tom Hering

    And then there’s the way contemporary churches sell themselves to consumers of Christianity. Same deal: create a sense of belonging, community, and shared experience. Truth is secondary – perhaps less than secondary.

  • Tom Hering

    And then there’s the way contemporary churches sell themselves to consumers of Christianity. Same deal: create a sense of belonging, community, and shared experience. Truth is secondary – perhaps less than secondary.

  • trotk

    Of course, it could be that the rich are less religious than the poor, and it certainly probable that the rich buy more name brand merchandise than the poor.

  • trotk

    Of course, it could be that the rich are less religious than the poor, and it certainly probable that the rich buy more name brand merchandise than the poor.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m with WebMonk (@5) on this one. “Religion blocks consumerism” vs. “a consumer’s religiosity has a large impact on his likelihood for choosing particular brands”. Quite a difference there.

    Also, good point, Tom (@6).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m with WebMonk (@5) on this one. “Religion blocks consumerism” vs. “a consumer’s religiosity has a large impact on his likelihood for choosing particular brands”. Quite a difference there.

    Also, good point, Tom (@6).

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I’m surprised that no one has yet mentioned “Jesus Junk” with which (regrettably) too many Christians fill their homes.

    I hope that the study can really be taken at face value, but (see my comment right above) I have to indulge some skepticism, too.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I’m surprised that no one has yet mentioned “Jesus Junk” with which (regrettably) too many Christians fill their homes.

    I hope that the study can really be taken at face value, but (see my comment right above) I have to indulge some skepticism, too.

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