Michael Solomon

Michael Solomon, PhD

Leading Marketing Researcher and Author on Why People Buy
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Program Descriptions

You Really ARE What You Wear!
How Fashion Influences Consumer Behavior – and Why Marketers Should Care

We buy products because of what they mean, not because of what they do.

That insight is crucial for every industry – whether a traditionally fashion-oriented business like apparel, or categories such as food, technology, financial services or travel. Customers often choose from hundreds of options – and most of them have very little to do with functionality.  Powerful fashion forces are operating, even if they’re not always obvious to the outside observer.

That doesn’t make these decisions trivial or mysterious.  A consumer’s selection of a car, a couch, a cosmetic, a cracker, a credit card, or a camisole reflects deep-seated values and beliefs about his or her identity.  We can think of each consumer as a blank canvas, where he or she chooses from a “palette” of apparel, home furnishings, cosmetics, electronic gadgets, food and beverages, travel destinations, universities, real estate, and many other products and services to paint a picture s/he wants the world to see at a fixed moment in time.  Fashion is too important a marketing concept to be left to fashion editors!

In this presentation, we’ll look at some of the powerful cultural and psychological forces that drive these “fashion statements”:

  • How insights from a range of social science disciplines can help us to understand fashion marketing, consumer behavior and the deep-seated needs that products satisfy.    
  • How our feelings about our bodies and the messages our culture sends about what it means to be a man or woman drive our choices in many product categories.
  • How the brands we buy influence how others think about us – and how we think about ourselves.
  • How a fashion trend starts, and how it spreads among members of a market.   
  • How evolving communications platforms such as social media communities and haul videos, and new technologies such as wearable computing and augmented reality, are changing the ways consumers select, use and talk about their favorite brands.

    Earthshaking Trends:
    What You Need To Know NOW About Keeping your Top Consumers
    For years, marketers put customers into tidy little boxes, such as age, income or gender groups. Consumers don’t like boxes! Fundamental categories that form the bedrock of marketing strategy and customer insights simply no longer exist. You need to understand the new landscape of consumer behavior before the earth shifts on its axis again.

    The top earthshaking trends that will dramatically change how you think about your customers:

  • How consumers plug into a “hive mind” that tells them what to buy
  • Why “offline” versus “online” marketing strategies are useless
  • How our bodies are product delivery platforms
  • Why yesterday’s customer is today’s subcontractor
  • How we play at work and work at play
  • Why your customers want to rent what you sell rather than own it

    The Young and the Restless:
    Capture the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Millennials
    U.S. Millennials spend $600 billion per year, but their choices change faster than Lady Gaga changes her outfits. How can you adapt to connect with these “always on” but always changing shoppers? We’ll dive in to key ways that Millennials think about products and stores, and we’ll identify emerging tech solutions that sync with young consumers' lifestyles. Discover best practices to develop brand loyalty with a notoriously fickle group. After this session you will understand:

  • How Millennials think
  • Why brands matter to them – and don’t
  • What you can learn from “World of Warcraft” and other online videogames
  • Why “haul videos” and other consumer-generated content will transform the way you think about customer insights
  • How cutting edge technologies like virtual reality will revolutionize the shopping experience

    A Moving Target
    When we try to figure out consumers, there’s only one thing we can count on: We can’t count on anything. Consumer behavior is a moving target, but understanding how “deep meanings” influence customers worldwide will improve your aim. In this session you will learn how to connect with the most diverse consumer base ever – Millennials, Third Genders, Omniculturals, Creatives, Mass Class and others worldwide. You will understand that:

  • Advertising is a mirror that reflects a culture’s hidden tensions and desires
  • Marketers succeed only when they seize the moment and sync their brands with the path of popular culture
  • A “global consumer culture” sways your customers no matter where in the world you sell
  • The forces of fashion rule all products (not just haute couture)
  • Colors, shapes and symbols send very different signals around the globe
  • “Fortress brands” succeed because they help us to perform primal rituals
  • Brands play a starring role in a culture’s myths that surface in movie and TV plots, holidays and even fairy tales.
  • Videos

    Biography Read more

    We buy what we are and we are what we buy.

    Michael Solomon “wrote the book” on understanding consumers. Literally. Hundreds of thousands of business students have learned about Marketing from his books including Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being -- the most widely used book on the subject in the world.

    Much in demand as a keynote speaker, Michael often is asked to provide briefings to global executive teams who want significant increases in their bottom line and who understand that’s accomplished by a deeper connection with their customers.

    Michael’s mantra: We don’t buy products because of what they do. We buy them because of what they mean. He advises global clients in leading industries such as apparel (Levi Strauss, Under Armour), financial services and e-commerce (eBay, Progressive), retailing (H&M), manufacturing (DuPont, PP&G) and transportation (BMW, United Airlines) on marketing strategies to make them more consumer-centric.

    He regularly appears on television shows including The Today Show, Good Morning America and CNN to comment on consumer issues, and he is frequently quoted in major media outlets such as The New York Times, USA Today, Adweek and Time.

    As a Professor of Marketing (in the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia) and an industry consultant, Michael combines cutting-edge academic theory with actionable real-world strategies. He helps managers get inside the heads of their customers so they can anticipate and satisfy their deepest and most pressing needs – today and tomorrow. An executive at Subaru said it best: “The man is a scholar who is current and street-wise.”

    Michael’s most requested keynote, “Earth Shaking Trends: What You Need To Know Now About Keeping Your Top Consumers,” will help you to reach – and engage – fickle customers. He will show you how to harness the power of collaborative consumption. He will inspire you to turn customers from pawns into partners as you develop new products and communications strategies. Michael also shares his insights about current issues and challenges in consumer behavior in his other speeches:

    • The Young and the Restless: Capturing the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Millennials
    • The Psychology of Fashion
    • The Future of Social Media and Shopping
    • Gamification and Other Ways to Energize Sleepy Customers (and Employees)

    Michael is passionate about the extraordinary world of the ordinary consumer. He brings humor and arresting visuals to his keynotes to show how everyday behaviors are much more meaningful than you thought – and an essential pathway to grabbing the attention and loyalty of your customers. The marketing guru Philip Kotler summed it up when he stated, “Solomon has the mind of a scientist and the writing flair of a journalist.”

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    The man is a scholar who is current and street-wise.” Joe Barstys, Manager, Customer Satisfaction.
    -- Subaru of America

    “Prof. Solomon…was able to make us think of new ways to use consumer behavior to frame our own activities…. He was able to inject humor to maintain attention yet did not deviate from the basic task at hand that was to educate and provoke thought.”
    --V.P. Marketing, U.S. Cellular

    “Michael’s session was our most popular segment of the day. He provided insight into the consumer of the future and how manufacturers and retailers need to think about adapting their marketing and go-to-market strategies to meet the changing consumer…. His presentation was engaging, relevant and thought-provoking.”
    --Senior Human Resources Manager, Procter and Gamble

    “…an enlightened resource on consumer motivations and shopping habits…. he brings forth new consumer insights that resonate with our diverse audience…. I highly recommend Mike Solomon as a speaker if you want your audience to be truly engaged as they learn about fresh, trend‐setting consumer insights that are impacting how marketers can use technology to better connect with today’s consumers.”
    --Market Engagement Manager, Microsoft Advertising