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Today I want to touch on Identity and consumption of Drink. I’ll probably go back to this at a later stage, but here’s what I’ve got for you so far.

One key assumption in consumer behaviour is that we choose to consume in order to bolster, shape and ‘wear’ our identity.

But I love so many different types and brands of alcoholic drink.. does that mean I have some sort of split personality disorder?

Perhaps its more about the role’s identities you are playing at the time…..For me that might include my many roles: as a woman, as an unique individual, as a friend of men, a friend of women, as a couple, as a person belonging to a class/social status, or ‘cultural butterfly’.

I have been noticing this in advertising recently. Especially with beer and cider ads. Take the recent Strongbow Adverts: ‘Final Push’ and ‘Tall Order’.

The first is all about the many groups of men, identified by their trade, who make up Britain -united under the banner of heroic working-class men. Its appealing to masculinity, working class unity and national pride.

The second follows much in the same vein: heroic teamwork, pride in real labour, and a sense of a goal – the refreshing cider being the prize, shared with like-minded people, who are ‘on the same side’.

The sentiment of work hard, play hard comes to mind. Sometimes Identity is actually shaped by what it is not: Strongbow Spoof

This spoof ad demonstrated the public feeling, and a connection with the age we’re living in: a people subjected to an economic recession that most of us hold the bankers responsible for, through irresponsible gambling with our money, which has hit the working classes disproportionally.

So this spoof really is saying: we are hard working men, and by the way this identity does not include bankers (portrayed as stuffy upper-class, old white men).

An alternative spoof would have been a woman enjoying the drink -but apart from political correctness issues, this ad has chosen to highlight the working class aspect of the identity rather than gender.

So I guess where I’m going with this point is there can be a whole bundle of characteristics that contribute to an identity of a brand -to identify with- and there is a hierarchy of those characteristics: first a hard grafter/working class, then a man, then a friend, then a Brit….this list probably goes on.

So my thoughts on my identity and my choice of drink? I find, as a woman, I quite often have a reaction of surprise from male friends when I order a pint of beer. To be honest, I revel in this 🙂 “good”, I think, “maybe you’ve learnt something new about me”. And, hopefully (I say to  myself) this isn’t the reason why I’ve come to love the stuff: that I don’t drink it to surprise people or add depth to my character -but drink it because I purely am an ale fan. I’ve given beer a go, and found there’s a whole wealth of tasty variety out there to go enjoy. Especially in a beer garden on a hot summers day :p

Infact, thinking about other social senarios, I might choose to bring a bottle of wine or order one on a night out -because I prefer to share something with friends. 

You could say this is my desire to be a sociable person, my identity as a friend -especially sharing with girls. But if beers were sold in the same way -by a large bottle- perhaps I might do the same? We certainly I’ll choose wine to fit in with my girl friends -girls always seem to like wine, and not even consider beer/cider….. why is this?

Definitely something to do with gender identities. No matter what girls say about not enjoying the taste of beer. Beer has so many different tastes/qualities/types -how could you put a blanket no-go-zone on that!?

More about drinking communities and identity to follow in future xxxx