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Cranfield Researchers Publish Work on Social Identity and the Marketplace


A team of Cranfield School of Management researchers  published telling information on why social identity is so important in the marketplace. Dr. Emma Macdonald and Professor Hugh Wilson, along with former PhD student Guy Champniss, have this article published published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR).

Their article explores how social identities guide people’s behaviour at any given moment. Dr. Macdonald commented: “Over the past five years, we have been studying how social identity shapes customers’ behaviour, working with organisations in sectors as diverse as consumer packaged goods, retail, professional services, and philanthropy. We know that companies can subtly influence which social identities customers will tap into and can even foster new identities altogether with very little effort.”

Professor Wilson added: “People are highly social animals, belonging to many social groups, each with a distinct identity. You can have an identity as a Catholic, a Jew, or a Hindu; as an American or a Russian; as a professor or a musician; and so on. People don’t identify with all their groups at the same time, of course.”

The article reveals how much our social identity depends on context, such as who’s around us and what’s being told to us. Through a series of experiments, the authors show just how easy it can be to make consumers switch identities and even to give them new ones.

Click here to learn more and read the article.

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