Author Archive: mashenz

Bags and fetish. A little bit more about our irrationalism

I like bags. Really. I’m kind of indifferent to clothes, but bags…Sometimes bags are pieces of art.

Модные сумки на осень зиму 2012 2013

Роскошные клатчи осень зима 2012 2013

If you thing that a bag is only about a bag, you are seriously mistaken. Bag is a status; bag is a part of consumer’s personality. The most fashionable people do know that you may wear and combine any kinds of clothes, but expensive and beautiful bags and shoes really matter. Why do people buy bags which price is 3-fold higher than their month salary? Let’s sort things out.

Why the costliness is so important? Why high price equal high quality in the brains of customers. One of the most exciting studies, conducted by Baba Shiv, Hilke Plassamann, John O’Doherty and Antonio Rangel, was indented to discover how our brain responds to the factor of the price. Participants were asked to evaluate ‘different’ wines priced from 5 dollars to 90 dollars, while their brain activity was registered. When the brain activity from different price levels was compared, it was found that the activation of the media orbitofrontal cortex was higher when the wine was more expensive. The most interesting thing about this experiment is that it was the same wine that subjects tasted (An interview with Baba Shiv, Kardes et al., 2011).

At the lecture we discussed famous Pepsi paradox. Briefly, when brand information is introduced people tend to prefer Coke over Pepsi, although Pepsi is slightly sweeter and in blind test preferences divided into 50\50. So brand occurs to be more important in terms of the decision-making process rather than particular qualities of a product…Even when we are not aware of its effect on our behavior.

Hence brand of the product and its price are crucial for the perceived value of a product, our strong loyalty and attachment to the objects we buy, even though we do not actually need them and\or the price is inadequately high. There is another important side of the fetishism.

I was actually very surprised when I found out that Karl Marx in his famous economical work ‘Capital. Vol. 1’ explains his idea of commodity fetishism. The important point is that Marx’s interpretation of the term ‘fetishism’ is wider that it’s commonly known. Marx tells us that we make a fetish of the commodity by attributing characteristics of its own. That is to say, we take it as an independent and self-sufficient object. Marx emphasizes the ‘as if’ moment. It consists in the idea that when we consume we behave as if we do not know what we know, for example that it might not be the best choice or that this product is harmful for our health and\or for the environment etc (Marx, 1976).

Back to our bags, most purchasers of the Birkin bag act as they don’t know that a baby crocodile was killed just to make this fancy bag, not for survival. We actually all aware of the sweatshop conditions in which many things in a fashion market are produced, but we fell no regret while buying and wearing them.

So, would you change your opinion about one of those nice luxury bags you put an eye on?
If you are not too much environmentally-caring, the answer is obvious for me. =)


Marx, K. (1976). Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. 1, trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin.

Kardes F., Cline T., Cronley M. (2011). Consumer behavior: Science and Practice. International edition: South-Western, Cengage Learning

This is the last blog… Merry Christmas!


Analysing the brand – Kinder surprise!

Oh yes… Kinder Surprise – one of the main attributes of 90-s  generation, in my opinion. Actually recently I recalled my childhood and understood that a considerable part of my memory is occupied with my favourite sweets and related nice stuff I enjoyed. The impact of brands we were exposed in our childhood is huge and continues influencing our decisions ever when we are adults…

This product for introduced in Germany in 1974 and then became very popular not only in Germany, but all over the world. According to, ‘Since its launch, nearly 30 billion eggs have been sold all over the world with more than 8,000 different surprises!’.

The idea of a chocolate egg with a capsule and a toy inside it is so genius and simple at the same time. From my point of view, it’s not very obvious, but the main reason of Kinder Surprise’s success consists in the shape of this product. Of course, the first assumption: this particular form tells us that the item is not empty, there is something inside it, because it is associated with a real bird egg (or other types of eggs). The next idea is at the more philosophical level: in most cultures an egg is considered to be the symbol of life cycle, fertility, rebirth, nature and our planet.

But let’s turn back to our down-to-earth  issues. I’m going to discuss Kinder Surprise using the tool which is broadly-know within marketers –  Customer-Based Brand Equity Pyramid (Keller, 1993).

The first step is identification who you are as a brand. The salience for Kinder is a combination of fun & real jam. The next step performed in blocks ‘performance’ and ‘imagery’ is describing what you are, what are your meanings.  For Kinder performance consists in several characteristics:  high quality milk chocolate (black on the surface & white inside), small toys that ‘are designed and developed with safety in mind, rigorously observing international regulations as well as extra safety criteria voluntarily adopted by the Ferrero Group’, suitable as a present both on a special occasions or without any occasion. Imagery for Kinder may be the following: friendly, funny, ‘mini Christmas’ on an ordinary day, may be perceived as a reward. The third step is answering a question ‘what are you?’. This question is covered by blocks ‘judgements” and ‘feelings’. With regard to Kidder Surprise judgements might be hight quality and credibility. In terms of feelings, we may say that Kinder is all about joy, warmth and…surprise. The final stage is to identify ‘resonance’ block – specific relationships being built between consumers and the brand. Concerning Kinder Surprise, these relationships are very firm and may be specified with such characteristics as loyalty, attachment, community and engagement. This is a top of the pyramid so every aspect of a particular brand finally must work on this top, because establishing strong relations with a brand in the most important aim of all marketing activities around a brand!

What about you? Are you still attached to Kinder eggs?

Keller, K.L. (1993). Conceptualising, measuring and managing customer-based brand equity. Journal of Marketing. 57(1), 1-22 p.

Sweet heart

Today I would like to talk about exploiting the theme of relationships in advertising. I consider 3 main aspects about this type of advertisements: 1) motivation, 2) emotions, 3) values.

The basic theory used by marketers that comes to my mind is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1970). The level of love/belonging is well involved in the kind of commercials I’m discussing in this post. The motivation to be loved and accepted as who you are can be satisfied in different aspects such as family, friendship, personal relationship, including sexual intimacy ect. Thus, advertisements are also made to appeal to these different areas of relationships.

Furthermore, one of the crucial aspects of such adverts is creating special mood, triggering positive emotions associated with warmth and safety in close interpersonal communication. In a successful case the bind is to be built between emotions of a prospective consumer being exposed to a particular commercial and a product that is advertised. So this link is very important in making brand relationship between a brand and a consumer (Kardes et al., 2011).  Consumer feelings is one of the basic ‘stones’ in the Customer-based Brand Equity Pyramid (Keller, 2007). No brad can be developed without respect to this psychological function.

The impact of adverts portraying relationships and positioning the brad as one that in a similar sort of relationships with costumers  is very strong not only because of motivational and emotional aspects mentioned before, but also due to appealing to so called terminal values such as true friendship, family security, mature love (Pollay, 1983).

I have selected several adverts devoted to different kinds of relationships. Here they are.

This one is my favourite. It’s about close relations within the family and it makes us think that the product – Volkswagen Polo – provides us with the safety we got in our family.

This a a funny advert by Vodafone that deals with relationships in a couple:

This one is about relationships of two sisters:

This advert deals with friendship:

Here is extremely nice advert about life-long love:

A little bit sad, but beautiful advert about care of a brother towards his sister:

  1. Kardes F., Cline T., Cronley M. (2011). Consumer behavior: Science and Practice. International edition: South-Western, Cengage Learning
  2. Keller K. L. (2007). Strategic brand management: building, measuring, and managing brand equity, 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall
  3. Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and personality. NY: Harper
  4. Pollay, R. W. (1983). Measuring the cultural values manifest in advertising. Current issues in Advertising, 6:71-92

big problems


When I started thinking about plus-size culture, I realised that there is another niche that is actually important too. As long as I belong to this category of consumers, I understand all their problems and the market situation around this specific niche.

The Built-in Bra Issue

Here is a film about physical & psychological troubles women with big breasts face. It’s long, but you can watch it, if you are particularly in this problem fro psychological point of view. It is based on the stories of tree girls, comments of psychologiest are being provided throughout this documentary film.

Yes, big bust is really an obstacle to look nice, because it is not easy to find right clothes that fit you well. Sometimes a shirt is okay on your breast, but loose on your waist. The other problem is choosing bras. Nowadays things have been changing and it is easier to find nice bras for big boobs. Anyway, the wide choice is not available everywhere.

Interestingly, most of those retailers who sell clothes for big busted women operate on-line. Unfortunately, not all of them have a wide range of clothes. Usually they are pretty very boring. Sometimes busty consumers have nothing to do, but just to buy something that more or less fits. My message is that the fashion industry has to put more attention to it and develop ‘big bust friendly’ field.

Let’s have a look at what have been already done to satisfy needs of women with big breasts. I am going to discuss two companies as examples of making business based on the need of millions consumers to dress big breasts nicely.

The first company that grabbed my attention was Pepperberry.


The firm was launched in 2011. Their philosophy consists in a simple phrase: ‘Clothes designed for your boobs in mind’. Pepperberry emphasises that it is very important for women to feel good-looking and confident in their shape. It is said they provide clothes that perfectly accommodate big boobs. It is highlighted  that with Pepperberry you don’t need to bother about the style and compromise while choosing between style and fitting well. They have a simple guide for shopping at their website. The sizes available are 8-18, so it’s not about plus-size, but about big bust. While ordering a dress you select options: curvy, really curvy, super curvy.

Peperberry also has a style service in order to help girls to find the right clothes that make them feel good. I find their dresses nice, but there is lack of variety so far.

Another company that seems to be interesting to me in terms of offering ‘special’ products is Miss Fit.

It was created in 2008 by Nikki Hesford. She asserts that her the success is in finding a niche within the niche  That means that she decided to concentrate on selling underwear for busted women, even though some other types of clothes are also presented on the website. The Big Bra Bar. com quickly became popular. Nikki is convinced that selling on-line is the best way for a niche product to gain popularity. The mechanism is the following: when you don’t know where to find something, you turn to the internet. That is why it is important for niche retailers to place their products in a space where people are searching for them!

To end… here is the person who inspired me to write up this post:







Gorgeous consumers


Today I would like to talk about plus-size culture.  It may be noticed that curvy shapes are still not perceived enough beautiful by everyone. The discussion around non-standard (or maybe just not thin) bodies is going on in some media.

Let’s watch this video about an article in Plus-size Model magazine:

For many years since fashion was created plus-size consumers had been ignored. The situating has been changing as companies finally understood that this is a huge market and selling things to curvy women is a really profitable business!

This is my favourite commercial advertising plus-size clothes, which, by the way, was banned for ‘being too sexy’ to show it at TV peak hours:

As a matter of fact, the number of Plus-size stores is growing. The top UK on-line stores are ASOS curve, Dorothy Perkins,  Evans, Simply Be, New Look Inspire ect.

Recently I wrote an article asserting that nowadays we have a boom of plus-size business. In this article plus-size business in discussed on the example of a new chain of stores called ‘Fashion to figure’ opened in USA. It provides clothes for women with 12-26 size. The fist thing that grabs my attention – from 12! I am 14-16 and it is yet considered to be non-standard, while it’s the average size among women… That shows that a current ‘standard’ store does not satisfy needs of the majority of women! Anyway, the idea is really simple, but at the same time great. The main message of  ‘Fashion to figure’ CEO is that they make women feel pretty and confident about their appearance regardless of their size. Source:

However, there is still lack of options for plus-size women, especially outside USA and Western Europe. As I am from Russia, I decided to conduct a small survey in the most popular Russian network I placed two questions in a group ‘Full happiness’ where all the issues regarding life of a curvy woman are discussed. Finally, I got 78 responses for the first question and 49 for the second one. Both questions were closed, several options were given. The first question was the following: In your opinion, where are most of all adverts about plus size products placed? Have a look at the results.

According to the diagram, participants believe that plus-size commercials are concentrated in the internet. On the other hand, many people think that these adverts are primarily showed in special plus-size media. It can be said that there is only one plus-size media in Russia and it is not well-known due to the lack of advertising. Other three options got very low responses.

The next question was the following: In your opinion, how widespread is plus-size advertising? The results on this question are shown below.

The majority of participants are convinced that plus-size advertising is rare. Interestingly,  some of participants, although being members of plus-size community, have never faced with such adverts. Only 1 of 49 people, who answered this question, feels that there is enough advertisements on this topic.

Retailers of plus-size products make their way in the fashion industry, but it takes years to create plus-size culture in a country…

To be continued.





Diet paranoia in advertising and the problem of fat-phobia

As it can be seen, TV and magazines often contain advertisements about losing weight by means of ‘super slim’ pills or other ‘natural’ prodats. Interestingly, they usually promise we will get slim without any exercise and changes in diet. ‘Magic’ indeed:


Today I would like to concentrate on a specific  aspect of a considerable part of female consumers – fat phobia that is caused by the image of ‘ideal’ body portrayed in mass media. Research done by M. Onden-Lim and J. R. Grisham (2012) shows that there is a significant link between this kind of concern about ‘right’ body and suppresion of appearance-ralated pictures. That is to say the more a person is anxious about the way he/she looks like, the more negative feelings that person tend to get when being faced with intrusive picuters showing appearance (Onden-Lim &  Grisham, 2012).

For many women fat-phobia begins at the very young age…Recently I found the article that tells a story of a mother, who is keen on controlling everuthing her seven year old dauther eats:
It is mostly about teaching a child to think about how she looks rather than how to take care about her health. Fat-phobia obsession is a serious problem that do not allow many women to live fully and enjoy their lives.

Here is another material on fat-phobia that a young girl has:

Not only for children, but also for adults it is very pretty important to be accepted by society and a particular culture they live in.  It was proved that negative social feedback influences our self-dissatisfaction about a body (Byely et al., 2000; McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2005). People with weight over than the avarage are explicitly or implicitly considered not to be enough attractive and successful. According to  BBC broadcaster Amy Lame, ‘Discrimination, bias and just plain rudeness is directed towards a group of people who are too often regarded as stupid, lazy, ugly and ultimately responsible for their overweight state’ (source:

In my opinion this problem mostly deals with neurotic society supported by advertisements produced by this society.

There is a strong reason to stop for a while and think about who you are as a person, not as a body. To make an attempt to think independently. To look into people’s souls, not on how they look like. To think ‘healthy’, not ‘skinny’. We are all consumers in this world, but is it right to look at ourselves as products and consider other people the same way?…





The effect of the selling beauty. Figures and a piece of science.

I would like to continue the discussion taken part in my previous post, where I mostly presented my vision of the problem. Today I’m going to give some information about airbrushing and then turn to some research findings on the ‘ideal body’ issue.

According to the Advertising Association,
76% of women want to see images that are natural,
84%  believe that is not acceptable to edit the way models look at adverts and
48% are less likely to trust campaigns where airbrushing is used.

Have a look at this clip on airbrushing and specifically banned Lancom campaign:

You can find more extra information on this banned campaign in BBC website by following this link:

Now I want to concentrate on the ‘ideal body’ problem.

The images of glamorous slender girls we are exposed to every day affect our cognitive system are make changes in our body-schema. With regard to research conducted by Legenbauer et al. (2008), participants with eating disorders (ED) evaluated themselves as much heavier than participants from the control group, even though the BMI did not differ between those groups. What is more, after watching adverts showing female appearance the ED group’s chosen ideal got thinner and significantly underweight. It was also proved that commercials containing ‘ideal’ pictures trigger not only distortion of body schema and self-dissatisfaction, but also ‘self-destructive’ behaviour, leading, for example, to eating disorders (Legenbauer et al., 2008).

There is an interesting approach named ‘third person effect'(TPE) consisting in that women’s idea of what is ‘ideal’ body is influenced by their beliefs how men are affected by media representation of female beauty. This concept put attention on   ‘perceived media effects on others relative to self’ (Choi et al., 2008, 148 p.).  The idea of this concept: 1) we think other people are more influenced by mass media than we are; 2) this belief leads to behavioural outcome (Choi et al., 2008). It was shown that the women’s prototype of attractive female figure is thinner than men’s actual preference (Fallon & Rozin, 1985; Demarest & Allen, 2000; cited by Choi et al., 2008).

The body dissatisfaction in many cases leads to depression. There are some findings showing the bind between depression and eating disorders. According to McCarthy:

(1) depression is more prevalent in women than in men; the female to male ratio is
typically reported as 2 : 1 (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1987);
(2) this sex ratio first appears at puberty; before
puberty depression is twice as common in boys, after puberty it is twice as common in girls (Rutter
et al., 1986);
(3) this sex ratio is only reported in western societies; it is not reported in rural,
non-modern societies (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1987);
(4) the rate of depression has been increasing,
especially among young females (Klerman, 1988);
(5) the age of onset for depression is younger
in the present generation than for older generations (Klerman, 1988).
Four of these trends are parallel to trends in eating disorders:
(1) the majority (95%) of eating
disorder patients are female (DSM III R, 1987);
(2) eating disorders emerge at puberty (DSM III
R, 1987);
(3) eating disorders are present in western countries and absent in non-western countries
(Garner and Garfinkel, 1980);
(4) the incidence of eating disorders has risen over the past 20 yr
(Silverstein et al., 1986)’ (McCarthy, 1990, p. 205).

So there is some reason to think about it in a more serious way. While the media representation of beaty is not going to be change, we face such severe problems…

To be continued…




What is the price for the beauty? Cruel games we are involved in

  • Overall discomfort
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sociophobia
  • Distorted body schema
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • …Want more?

What do all these things have in common? They are all effects of the idealization of the female beauty in the media sphere. Let’s watch this clip showing the process of creating a glamorous face in adverts:

It is obvious that those charming images we see on the streets, on the pages of  magazines and on TV are products of a huge professional team that includes make-up artists, hairstylist, photographers, designers and editors. But this knowledge does not belittles the effect on women’s mentality that urges them 1) to buy ‘beauty’ items and  2) to feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied in their own body. 

I am aware of I am not the first who discusses this problem. However, I am convinced that business still has not realised all the seriousness of the damage it may do.

The mechanism that causes psychological problems of the female consumers is quite simple. We are bombarded with lots of advertising messages every day. Specifically, those relating to the beauty industry basically say to us, ‘Look at this pretty model. You do not look like her, but you may approximate to her if you buy this product’,  ‘Come on. Get more beautiful by making purchase”. No money no honey. In my opinion, this phrase is completely about beauty industry. What’s more in most cases this paradigm eliminates the idea of the initial personal beauty that is given to everyone and establishes market relationships that push women not only to buy cosmetics and ‘beauty’ pills, but also go for the radical measures like plastic surgery. Advertisers work closely with magazines that have a preference for ‘perfect’ faces as well as for slim bodies. Analysis of several articles about eating disorders in popular magazines done by Kurz and Whitehead (2008) highlights the fact that anorexia, even though showed as non-healthy, perceived much more desirable than obesity. That means that thinness is more successful in fitting the social market (!) criteria of the ‘real’ femininity than corpulence. 

I want to stop here for today and continue to talk about this issue next time. =) In the following post I am going to give concrete figures and more thoughts on this topic.

P.S. To anticipate some comments  I’d like to give a well-known exemption.

Dove is an example (but the only famous one) of an attempt to exploit the image of the real natural beauty in advertising campaign. Here is pro-age advert:

Offensive advertisments. Does the problem exist?

Recently I got interested in the effects, specifically abusive, that are caused by lots of advertising campaigns.

Particularly, I am really anxious about the issue of portrayal women in adverts inducing negative self-esteem, lack of confidence and more serious problems such as depression, sociopathy and anorexia.

In this post I would like to concentrate on the overall questions: ‘How do actually consumers feel about so-called ‘insulting’ adverts?’ and ‘Why do organisations use abusive images in their advertisements?’.

Anti-smoking advert
NHS campaign against smoking

Do you feel comfortable looking at the advert above? I bet you do not.

Tom de Castella, BBS news journalist, discusses the results of the survey conducted by Adverting Standard Authority (  It was discovered by ASA that many participants, who took part in research, stated that the content of charity adverts is overdiligent in trying to make people feel guilty, that is to say it puts a strain on them. According to ASA, International aid, animal welfare and child protection are considered to be the most stressful themes in the area of charity. With regard to ASA the shocking approach that used by majority of charities has some  risks attached, because people would rather turn off something that makes them feel too uncomfortable than watch it. The answer from the side of advertising industry is the following. Claire Beale, the editor of advertising magazine Campaign believes that charities

‘have to make a small amount of money go a long way in a cluttered media environment. They have to make sure that in the one or two times that people see the ad, it registers. Hence you need to create a shocking or stand-out image.’

Concerning social adverting, I found an advert that, in my opinion, makes you feel sad and encourages to think broadly about smoking, but doesn not offend you. What do you think about it? Here it is:

Although adverts for charity campaigns may have ‘an excuse’ for their actions, some commercial advertisements are not less abusive.

In this sphere most of the debates concentrate on the question of sex and nudity. However, the ASA survey shows that attitudes are changing. One of the explanations of this tolerance towards ‘sexy’ ads is that nowadays sexual materials are accessible in the internet. In general, participants agree that nudity is acceptable in case it is used wisely. The example of  ‘unacceptable’ advertising is Antonio Federici campaign that performed scenes involving priests and nuns that contained both sex and religious context.

Two priests embracing
Fedirici’s advert

There is no doubt that such adverts are very memorable. But haven’t they gone too far? What is your view on that problem?

To be continued… Next time I am going to concentrate on the idealization of the female beauty in advertising and its consequences.

=) And the funny advert to end:

Hello world!

Hello everybody!