Marketing to the Digital Self

Samantha Read

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePosterpeer-review


The internet has resulted in a fundamental shift in our theoretical understanding of identity construction. Just as painting or musical composition is seen as a route of self-expression through transference, from a contemporary psychoanalytic perspective, a screen can be viewed as a mirror to an individual’s self-concept; a second (digital) self rather than a digital tool. The digital self can be defined as encompassing both an individual’s perception of their true personality (the ‘actual self’) as well as the person they aspire to be (the ‘ideal’ self). In this way, technology does not create a digital version of the self, the digital self is created based on the user’s intentions to engage with the technology. In light of this, Belk updated his seminal theory of possessions and the extended self (1988) to acknowledge consumers’ use of digital possessions to extend their self-concept in a digital environment (2013; 2014; 2016). This presents brands with increased opportunities to connect with consumers through a medium which offers several avenues for self-extension. The research study focuses specifically on consumer engagement with branded Smartphone Applications to measure the effect of users’ self-concept on the continued usage of branded digital possessions. Initial findings from a quantitative questionnaire with UK based Smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 25 evidences the extent to which self-concept impacts on branded application usage intention, with the degree to which a consumer views brands being an important part of who they are (Sprott, 2009) being a considered mediating factor. The research findings contribute to this area of research by quantifying the relationships between Brand Engagement in Self Concept (BESC) and the role of branded digital possessions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2019
EventUoN Research Conference 2019 - University of Northampton, Northampton, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jun 201921 Jun 2019


ConferenceUoN Research Conference 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Marketing
  • Digital Self
  • Technology
  • Branded mobile apps
  • Consumer brand engagement
  • Mobile marketing communication
  • Self-concept


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