Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

David Cotter




social, consumption, consumers, brands


An individual’s social position shapes taste culture as it pertains to fashion and branding. The purpose of this research is to develop more knowledge on who or what social factors are driving consumer’s perception of the brands they want, or don’t want to buy. The perspective of consumption seems to transcend self-interest alone and this thesis aims to analyze the extension of that transcendence. Brands are not merely relating to consumers through a relationship of functional need, but also interfere and are driven by social relationships between consumers. There is evidence that suggest that consumers might interact with brands that closely mirror their social interactions, but do consumers change the way they interact with brands because of their perception of other consumers, and how does one’s socioeconomic status influence this? The first chapter in this thesis defines what a ‘brand’ is and then analyzes six well-known theoretical perspectives in attempt to define what the social factors driving consumer consumption habits are. The second, third and fourth chapters contain empirical observations which discuss the methods, trends and relationships drawn from a quantitative survey of the women from Union College, Schenectady aged 18-23. The women are asked 80 questions about their socioeconomic status, purchasing preferences, and consumption orientations. The observations are used to determine what theoretical perspectives influence the consumption of branded clothing. The fifth and final chapter of this thesis contains conclusions and discussions, shaped from the analyses, as well as implications of these results and future suggestions for marketers in 2015. The results of the analysis were that socioeconomic status and consumption orientations affect consumption patterns. A woman’s taste is a function of social orientation and can be explained by theories of social comparison, conspicuous consumption, imitation, social closure, and the distinction of capital defined in chapter one.