New Year, New You? Really?

by Justin Healy
New Years Resolutions

What do you resolve to do more of or less of in 2022?

As we emerge from our Christmas Slumber fewer than 1 in 3 Americans will make a New Year’s resolution (Source: CBS) down from over half two years ago while in the UK the rate is still high at 54%; with Health (25%) being the most popular type of resolution.

Why do we make resolutions? What do they say about us and how we perceive ourselves as well as how we would like to be perceived? What is the human need?

As humans, we thrive on variety.  We need change as much as we might resist it. We love holidays as it’s “somewhere different”. Two weeks later we love coming home as it’s “familiar”. We crave new brand experiences but at times of doubt we are reassured by the nostalgia of safe brand choices. As we crave variety, we try to create slightly newer versions of ourselves each year – maybe we’ll walk every day; or learn the guitar or perhaps we’ll just call our parents more often (that’s a goody – if you’re still lucky enough to have your parents, do this).

Either way we are, in marketing terms, engaging with and attempting to modify our extended self-concept. Russel Belk, the distinguished Market professor whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting describes this phenomenon as thus

The extended self consists of self plus possessions and is that part of self-identity which is defined by possessions including gifts, money, body-parts, monuments, and places “(Belk 1988).

So, when you pick up a Gretsch guitar you are saying “I see myself as creative and musical”. When you buy Gym+Coffee tracksuit bottoms you are saying “I am part of the healthy tribe” and when you call your Mum you…well maybe that’s different, that’s just you being decent.

I’m acutely aware as I type this that there is a Garmin strapped to my wrist measuring my every step and heartbeat (328 steps so far today / resting heartbeat 77 – it’s early!) so I know I have made my own resolutions or as I like to call them promises. I’m hoping the fitness tracker will help make me fit and I suppose I want people to think I’m the type of guy that likes to track his fitness.

Whatever your choices over the next few weeks you will encounter brands trying to help you be a better you. They are leveraging the innate human desire for control of one’s destiny and from a marketing point of view they are enabling you to conjure your own extended self.

Choose well because every brand choice is revealing your true self (and don’t forget to call your Mum!).


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