Module #5: Gender Roles and Marketing | Michael Solomon | Skillshare

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Module #5: Gender Roles and Marketing

teacher avatar Michael Solomon, Expert on Consumer Behavior

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (48m)
    • 1. Introduction to Gender Identity and Marketing

    • 2. 5

    • 3. 5

    • 4. 5

    • 5. 5

    • 6. 5

    • 7. 5

    • 8. 5

    • 9. 5

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About This Class

Gender identity is an important component of a consumer’s self-concept. People often conform to their culture’s expectations about how those of their gender should act, dress, or speak; we refer to these sets of expectations as sex roles. Of course, these guidelines change over time, and they differ radically across societies.  Recently an Italian man  filed a complaint about his wife with the police, leading the 40-year-old woman to face the formal charge of “mistreatment of the family.” He accused his wife of “bad management of domestic affairs” after two years of neglect, including an unwillingness to cook and clean.American husbands, do not try this at home!  In this module, we'll look at how the messages our society sends us about gender identity exert a very powerful impact on many buying decisions. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Michael Solomon

Expert on Consumer Behavior


Hello, I'm Michael.  Here's some background about me and what I do:

Michael “wrote the book” on understanding consumers. Literally. Hundreds of thousands of business students have learned about Marketing from his 30+ books including Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having, and Being -- the most widely used book on the subject in the world.

 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 and footwear (Calvin Klein, Levi Strauss, Under Armour, Timberland), financial services and e-commerce (eBay, Progressive), CPG (Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s), retailing (H&M), sports (CrossFit, Philadelphia Eagles), manufacturing (DuPont... See full profile

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1. Introduction to Gender Identity and Marketing: Hi, it's Michael Solomon, and this module is number five. In my course on why we buy, this module focuses on gender identity, which is a specific but very, very important component of self identity, which we talked about more generally in module number four. But here in this module, we're gonna take a deep dive into gender identity because so many products and services are related to our quest as members of a society to define ourselves and express ourselves according to the type of gender identity that we desire and, frankly, the messages that our society sends us about what it means to be gender. So in the traditional sense, of course, we have a dichotomy between male and female, masculine and feminine. Today, of course, the conversation is much more fluid, to say the least, and many consumers are exploring various other alternatives to traditional definitions of gender. They're looking at gender. Maura's a fluid kind of thing where they might take parts of masculinity or femininity and and combined them together in very unique ways. But however they're doing that, we know that this concept of gender is front and center to many, many product choices that we make. And so some of those are obvious cosmetics and clothing, even home furnishings and interior design. But but many others as well, such as the cars we drive, the furniture that we buy, the places that we like to go on vacation, the restaurants that we eat at on and on and on. Many of these things are, in one way or another related to gender identity. So in this module, number five, I'm gonna take a deeper dive into this very important and and fascinating and ever changing aspect of consumer behavior. So enjoy this module on gender identity and sex roles. 2. 5: in this module, we're going to look specifically at gender roles. We talked quite a bit in the last module about the idea of identity, and we discussed the notion that each of us actually possesses a number of different identities. However, I made the point that some of those identities arm or central to our self concept than are others. And there's no doubt that gender identity is a very important component of a consumer self concept so important that it's worth devoting an entire module just toe looking a little more at how society's expectations of what it means to be a male or female directly impact . Many. Many purchase decisions gender, identity and again, society's expectations about that identity are often mirrored very, very vividly in the advertising that we see in different cultures that includes depictions of men and women. For example, the Indian government banned a TV spot for Axe men's deodorant. The spot shows a man who turns into a walking chocolate figurine after he sprays himself with the brands Dark Temptation deodorant. As he walks through the city, women throw themselves at him as they lick him and bite off various parts of his body. Although the same ad played in Argentina and Europe without any problem, traditional Indian culture doesn't approve of such blatant imagery. So as I've said, gender identity is a very important component of a consumer self concept. People often conform to their cultures. Expectations about how those of their gender should act, dress or speak. We refer to these sets of expectations as sex roles. It's not clear to what extent gender differences are innate rather than culturally shaped. But there certainly evident in many consumption situations. Consider the gender differences that market researchers observe when they compare the food preferences of men to those of women. Women eat more fruit. Men are more likely to eat meat. As one food writer put it. Boy food doesn't grow. It is hunted or killed. Indeed, consumers do tend to view meat as a masculine product. In one case, a company that sells soy Patties found that men viewed the food as feminine, so the solution was to add artificial grill marks on the Patties to make them look more like cuts of meat. The sex is also differ quite a bit in the quantities of food they eat when researchers. At her, she discovered that women eat smaller amounts of candy. They created a white chocolate confection called Hugs, one of the most successful food introductions of all time. In contrast, a man in a Burger King Whopper ad ditches his date at a fancy restaurant, complaining that he is quote too hungry to settle for chick food. Pumped up on whoppers, a swelling mob of men shake their fists, punch one another, toss a van off a bridge and sing. I will eat this meat until my any turns into an Audi, and I am hungry. I am incorrigible. I am man. When students write reviews of faculty members on the popular website rate, my professors, they use different words. Depending on whether the professor is male or female. Women professors usually come out on the losing end of these reviews. In a study that examined 14 million reviews on the site, positive words like smart and genius are much more likely to describe males than females across 25 different disciplines. Other items that fit female stereotypes pop up in reviews of female professors, including bossy, strict and demanding as well as nurturing women are also much more likely to be called out by the fashion police. When students use terms such as frumpy to describe them, Children pick up on the concept of gender identity at an earlier age than researchers previously believed by as young as age one. In some cases, by the age of three, most US Children categorize driving a truck as masculine and cooking and cleaning as feminine. Even characters that cartoons portray as helpless are more likely to wear frilly or ruffle dresses. Many commercial sources, in addition to parents and friends, provide lessons in gender socialisation for both boys and girls. Marketers tend to reinforce cultural expectations regarding the correct way for boys and girls or men and women to look and act. Many societies expect males to pursue a gentle goals, which stress self assertion and mastery over different tasks. In contrast, they expect females to pursue communal goals, which emphasized harmony, group welfare and nurturing. However, unlike mail nous and femaleness, masculinity and femininity are not biological characteristics. A behavior that one culture considers to be masculine might get a different response In another. For example, the norm in the United States is that male friends avoid touching each other except in safe situations such as on the football field. In some Latin and European cultures, however, it is common for men to hug and kiss one another as a form of greeting. Note that even this norm continues to evolve as American teenagers of both sexes adopt the new fad of hugging as a standard form of greeting, sometimes accompanied by the high five or the fist bump and male friends encouraged by the MTV show of the same name. Feel free to talk about having a bromance or affection between straight male friends. Let's take a quick pop quiz to get things started. Solving a difficult puzzle is a an a gent IQ goal. Be a gender bending problem. See a communal goal or D a gender socialisation vehicle. If you chose a a gent ical, you're off to a good start in this module. The take away here is that gender identity is defined by society, and sex roles change over time. Expectations regarding how to be a good male or female are of great concern to consumers, and their purchase decisions will reflect this 3. 5: products. Drive and mirror. AH, cultures, gender role expectations At a given point in time, let's take a look at another classic commercial, this one from the 19 eighties that gives us a nice picture of society's gender role expectations. At that time, I'd like to meet you little bet you're hoping for a hug. And while I've got to offer his sensitivity, intelligence and charm, I'm drinking milk. For the next couple seasons. I'll be working out milks about the best thing I could drink right now to help me. Don't strong arms, powerful legs and a broad chest. But all my work is done. Will you love me just for my body? I don't live with that milk. It does a body good. Obviously, many products are intimately associated with one gender or the other, especially if they linked to a culture's definition of what is sexually appealing. That's the results of a recent French study shouldn't be too surprising. In a series of field experiments, men were more likely to complete a survey or pick up a dropped glove. If a female Confederate wore high heels rather than flats. The higher the hell, the greater the likelihood of cooperation. As you might guess, this relationship did not hold for female subjects. A popular book once proclaimed, Riel Men don't eat quiche. In addition to key, SH marketers promote many sex typed products. The's reflect stereotypical masculine or feminine attributes, and consumers associate them with one gender or another. For example, the E Pad fem is Quote the world's first tablet, made exclusively for women. It comes preloaded with a pink background and a number of APS related to yoga, grocery shopping, weight loss and cooking. Let's focus specifically on female sex roles, and then we'll take a quick look at men's sex roles. In the 1949 movie Adam's Rib, Katharine Hepburn played a stylish and competent lawyer. This film was one of the first to show that a woman can have a successful career and still be happily married. Today. The evolution of a new managerial class of women has forced marketers to change their traditional assumptions about women as they target this important market. Still, it's premature to proclaim the death of traditional sex role stereotypes. This is certainly true in Islamic countries that require women to be completely covered in public and that prohibit them from working as sales peoples in stores open to the public, even if that store sells female intimate apparel. The recent controversy in France over the wearing of the so called burkini is a nice reflection of this tension in sex role expectations, especially as we move across cultures and subcultures. Let's look briefly at male sex roles on how they're depicted in advertising. Ah, European ad for designer Dolce and Gabbana depicts a group of sweaty men and tight jeans who surround a woman wearing spike heels who is pinned to the ground. Other ads featuring longtime household products spokes character Mr Clean claim that Onley , a strongman, is powerful enough to tackle dirt. To promote the Dr Pepper 10 drink, the company sent a mobile man cave to US cities. The trailer parked in what the company called testosterone zones, such as ball fields or car shows, where it gave men a place, toe, watch TV and play video games. The accompanying advertising campaign featured a muscled commando type who totes a space age weapon. Hey, ladies, enjoying the film? He asked. Course not, because this is our movie and Dr Pepper, 10 is our soda cultures. Stereotype of the ideal mail is a tough, aggressive, muscular man who enjoys manly sports. When global entrepreneur and CEO of Virgin Airlines Richard Branson lost a racing bet to the owner of AirAsia, his sentence was to dress as a female flight attendant for the winners airline. The winner gloated, I'm looking forward to him sucking up to me as a stewardess. A study that tracked advertising in eight male oriented magazines with primarily male readerships that range from Maxim to Golf Digest reported that most contained many ads that can contribute to hyper masculinity due to heavy emphasis on violence, dangerousness and callous attitudes toward women and sex. Just as for women, however, the true story is more complicated than just being a man's man. Indeed, scholars of masculine ism study the male image and the complex cultural meanings of masculinity. Like women, men received mixed messages about how they're supposed to behave and feel. Let's take a look at a commercial for Chevrolets guys night out campaign. The commercial depicts a new dads night out with friends where they wind up watching his toddler singalong CD. Yeah, we're fine. What? It's the all new Chevy Cruze with a nine speaker premium sound system for whatever you're into these days. One study examined how American men pursue masculine identities through there everyday consumption, the researchers suggests that men try to make sense out of three different models of masculinity that they call the breadwinner the rebel and the man of action hero. On the one hand, the breadwinner model draws from the American myth of success and celebrates respectability , civic virtues, pursuit of material success and organized achievement. The rebel model, on the other hand, emphasises rebellion, independence, adventure and potency. The Man of Action Hero is a synthesis that draws from the best of the other two models. Androgyny refers to the possession of both masculine and feminine traits. Researchers make a distinction between sex typed people who are stereotypically masculine or feminine. An androgynous people whose orientation isn't is clearly defined. Clearly, the normality of sex typed behaviors varies across cultures. For example, although acceptance of homosexuality varies in Asian cultures, it doesn't occur to most Asians to assume that a man with some feminine qualities is necessarily gay. A survey of Korean consumers found that more than 2/3 of men and over half of women younger than the age of 40. We're living self described androgynous lifestyles. Some companies that sell exclusively to one gender may therefore decide to test the waters with the other SEC when they promote gender bending products. These air traditionally sex typed items that are adapted to the opposite gender, such as the recent profusion of merchants that sell pink guns for women. Here are some other gender benders Old Spice has had a lot of luck with selling the their fragrance to females. Another is Rubbermaid, which introduced a line of grooming tools specifically for men, including tweezers and clippers. As a manager explained, most men don't want to go to what we call the pink aisle of the store to get tweezers and clippers that are made for women. They want products that look masculine and are made for their specific grooming needs. Our definitions of gender continued to evolve as a global third gender movement picks up steam. United Colors of Benetton caused a stir when its product campaign included Leah T, a transsexual Brazilian model. The take away here is that to truly understand your customers, you may need to learn more about how they think about their gender and their sexual identity. Offering new products that are in sync with these definitions can provide you with a really competitive advantage. 4. 5: Obviously, our physical appearance is a huge part of gender identity. The way we think about our bodies and the way our culture tells us we should think is a key component of self esteem. Body image refers to a consumer's subjective evaluation of his or her physical self. Our evaluations don't necessarily correspond to what those around us see. A man may think of himself as being more muscular than he really is, or a woman may feel she appears fatter than is actually the case. Whether these perceptions are accurate is almost a moot point as our body insecurities weigh us down. Whether they're justified or not, there's that self fulfilling prophecy cropping up again, just like we discussed in the last module. Unfortunately, some marketers exploit consumers tendencies to distort their body images. When they prey on our insecurities about appearance, they try to create a gap between the real and the ideal physical Selves and consequently motivated person to purchase products and services that he thinks will narrow that gap. Like it or not, there are huge benefits in our society for people who are physically attractive. Beautiful people dot com is an online dating site that allows Onley attractive people to join. You have to have your photo approved by members before you can become part of the site. Now it's expanding its service to employers who want to hire good looking staff, one of the sites managers explains. Attractive people tend to make a better first impression on clients when more business and earn more. He might be right. One study reported that on average, an American worker who was among the bottom 1/7 in looks as assessed by randomly chosen observers earned 10 to 15% less per year than a similar worker whose looks were assessed in the top 1/3 a lifetime difference. In a typical case of about $230,000 it pays to be attractive. Our satisfaction with the physical image we present others depends on how closely we think the image corresponds to the ideal. Our culture values, an ideal of beauty, is a particular model or exemplar of appearance. Ideals of beauty, for both men and women may include physical features for example, a well rounded dairy air for women or a well defined six pack for men as well as clothing styles cosmetics, hairstyles, skin tone such as pale versus tan and body type. Petite, athletic, voluptuous and so on. Our desires to match up to these ideals. For better or worse, drive a lot of our purchase decisions. A study asked men and women to create a composite of favorite celebrities features. The photo you see here includes the most popular women's responses. Regardless of our physical features, the way we package our bodies still varies enormously, and that's where marketers come in. Advertising and other forms of mass media play a significant role in determining which forms of beauty we consider desirable. At any point in time, an ideal of beauty functions as a sort of cultural yardstick. Consumers compare themselves to some standard, often one that the fashion media advocated that time, and they're dissatisfied with their appearance To the extent that they don't match up to it , this may lower their own self esteem or in some cases, possibly diminish the effectiveness of an ad because of negative feelings. Ah, highly attractive model arouses 5. 5: Although beauty may only be skin deep throughout history, women have worked very hard to attain it. They've starved themselves, painfully bound, their feet, inserted plates into their lips, spend countless hours under hair dryers in front of mirrors and beneath tanning lights, and opted for breast reduction or enlargement operations. We characterized periods of history by a specific look or ideal of beauty. Often these relate to broader cultural happenings, such as today's emphasis on fitness and toned bodies. Ah, look at us. History reveals a succession of dominant ideals. For example, in sharp contrast to today's emphasis on health and vigor in the early 18 hundreds, it was fashionable to appear delicate to the point of looking ill. The poet John Keats described the ideal woman of that time as quote a milk white lamb that bleeds for man's protection. Other past looks include the voluptuous, lusty woman that Lillian Russell made popular, the athletic Gibson girl of the 18 nineties and the small, boyish flapper of the 19 twenties, exemplified by the silent movie actress Clara Bow. Marilyn Monroe died in 1962 but she represents a cultural ideal of beauty that persists to this day In much of the 19th century, the desirable waistline for US women was 18 inches. I circumference that required the use. Of course, it's pulled so tight that they routinely caused headaches, fainting spells and possibly even the uterine and spinal disorders that were common among women at the time. Although modern women are not quite as straight laced, many still endure such indignities as high heels, body waxing I lifts and liposuction. In addition to the millions that women spend on cosmetics, clothing, health clubs and fashion magazines, these practices remind us that, rightly or wrongly, the desire to conform to current standards of beauty is alive and well. Mattel's Barbie doll has come under fire for many years, from feminists for promoting a very unrealistic standard of beauty. And the company has actually made some dramatic changes to the doll in very recent years. What you see here is a project that was done by a college student. She took a traditional Barbie doll and extrapolated the measurements to a regular sized woman. And you can see here that Barbie's body measurements, if she came to life as a real life human, are not exactly realistic as we've seen the ideal body type of Western women changes over time. Check out Portrait's of models from several 100 years ago by BOTTICELLI and others to appreciate by just how much these changes periodically cause us to redefine sexual dime or FIC markers those aspects of the body that distinguished between the sexes. The first part of the 19 nineties saw the emergence of the controversial wafer look in which successful models most notably Kate Moss, had bodies that resembled those of young boys using heights and weights from winners of the Miss America pageant. Nutrition experts concluded that many beauty queens were in the undernourished range. In the 19 twenties, beauty contestants had a body mass index in the range now considered normal. That is 20 to 25. Since then, an increasing number of winners have had indexes under 18.5, which is the World Health Organization standard for under nutrition 6. 5: some people exaggerate the connection between self esteem and appearance to such an extent that they sacrificed their health to attain what they consider to be a desirable body image . Women in particular, tend to pick up messages from the media that the quality of their bodies reflects their self worth. So it's not surprising that most, though certainly not all major body image distortions occur among females. These psychological disorders caused the patient to believe that his or her body literally is bigger or smaller than others. See it. Of course, the pendulum is always moving as cultural changes modify the ideals of beauty that are dominant at any point in time. In late 2014 Kim Kardashians supposedly broke the Internet when many thousands of people clicked on a link to see a revealing photo of her large and allegedly photo shop enhanced back side on the cover of Paper magazine. Ah hit music video by Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea called Booty, helped to drive the trend toward, shall we say, a more pronounced female silhouette. It's not surprising that standards of changing, because the typical woman's body is no longer as petite as it used to be the most commonly purchased. Dressed today is a size 14. It was a size eight in 1985. The size and shape of the average U. S. Consumer today is dramatically different from what it was 60 years ago. Essentially, the fashion industry is selling clothing to super thin women who don't exist. At least not many of them do. The US government estimates the 2/3 of American adults are overweight or obese. Nevertheless, apparel company still developed clothing lines based on a 1941 military study that sets sizing standards based on a small sample of mostly white, young and presumably physically fit female soldiers. Indeed, even the sizes we wear send messages about body ideals. Clothing manufacturers often offer vanity sizing where they deliberately assigned smaller sizes. Two garments. Women prefer to buy the smaller size. Even if the label is inaccurate. Those who have low self esteem related to appearance think of themselves more positively and believe they are thinner when they were vanity sizes. However, the growing popularity of so called full figured women such as Oprah, Queen Latifah and Rosie O'Donnell, and plus size spokesmodels such as M also has helped to improve the self esteem of larger women. For several years, Dove's campaign for Real Beauty has drawn attention to unrealistic beauty ideals as it features women with in perfect bodies in its advertising. One ad, Red, Let's face it, firming the thighs of a size eight supermodel wouldn't have been much of a challenge. You know, Labour initiated the campaign after its research showed that many women didn't believe its products worked because the women who used them in its ads didn't look realistic. When the company asked over 3000 women around the world to describe their looks, most some themselves up as average or natural Onley, 2% called themselves beautiful. 7. 5: Let's switch gears and talk briefly about ideals of male beauty. It's hard not to notice that many business leaders and celebrities recently have sprouted a lot of facial hair. Beards were a no no for over a century. In the early to mid 18 hundreds, people commonly associated them with Socialists and others on the margins of society. Frederick Angles, who co authored the Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx, one, sponsored a mustache evening to taunt the clean shaven members of the boardwalk class. Then, in the latter part of the century, the so called Beard movement came into fashion as the Gold Rush and the Civil War made shaving optional and some rebelled against a world of so called women faced men as robber barons like full bearded Jay Gould and Andrew Carnegie flouted their million's beards now became linked to capitalists. The pendulum swung yet again, however, as workers rebellions evoked images of bearded men committing violent acts against their bosses. King Gillette invented the safety razor in 1901 and the clean shaven look was back. But now the pendulum has moved again. Google's co founder Sergey Brin, Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and Mark Ben Off, the billionaire founder and chief executive of salesforce dot com, All sport prominent facial hair. As this brief history of facial here illustrates, a society's ideals of beauty for men changes well. Who could confuse Justin Bieber with Johnny Depp? Male ideas involved length of hair, musculature and, of course, clothing styles and accessories. Anyone for a mercy or man bag? We distinguish among ideals of beauty for men in terms of facial features, musculature and facial hair. In fact, one national survey that asked both men and women to comment on male aspects of appearance found that the dominant standard of beauty for men is a strongly masculine muscle body. The women tend to prefer men with less muscle mass than men themselves strive to attain. Advertisers appear to have the males ideal in mind. A study of men who appear in advertisements found that most sports the strong and muscular physique of the male stereotype. More than 40% of boys in middle school and high school say they exercise regularly in order to increase muscle mass. Perhaps more troubling, 38% say they use protein supplements, and nearly 6% admit they have experimented with steroids. The take away is that your customers are constantly trying to calculate their self worth by comparing their bodies to yardsticks that society provides. They rely on brands they trust to help them achieve reasonable goals. 8. 5: in the final part of this module. Let's take a quick look at how consumers modify their faces and bodies to achieve a variety of social goals and perhaps identify some opportunities for you to participate in this process. We know that the modification of appearance is a work in progress, and it goes without saying that many industries are involved in this process, ranging from medical tourism, where people go to other countries to get plastic surgery to, of course, the cosmetics industry. Let's review some of the major reasons why consumers both today and throughout history have chosen to decorate and in some cases, to mutilate their bodies. One is to separate group members from non members. So, for example, the chin took a Native American tribe press the head of a newborn between two boards for a year, which permanently altered its shape. In our society, teens go out of their way to adopt distinctive hair and clothing styles that will separate them from adults. So it's common in many cultures around the world for boys who are coming of age to somehow alter their appearance to signify that they're in the process of making a transition from boyhood to adulthood. In our society, we asked people to wear rings that also indicate, for example, whether they're married or single. Another function is to place the person in a gender category, As we've been discussing in this module, the CI Quran, native Americans of South America insert a ring of beads in a boy's lip to enlarge it. Western women wear lipstick to enhance their femininity. At the turn of the 20th century, small lips were fashionable because they represented women's submissive role at that time. Today, big red lips are provocative and perhaps indicate a more aggressive sexuality. So, for example, the had Aggies Native Americans of North America, where feather ornaments that indicate how many men they have killed in battle. In our society, some people wear glasses with clear lenses, even though they don't have eye problems to enhance their perceived status. Yet another reason is to indicate desired social conduct. The soya of South America we're ear ornaments to emphasize the importance their culture places on listening and obedience in Western society. Some gay men may wear an earring in the left or right ear to signal what role submissive or dominant, they prefer in a relationship. And finally, another motivation is to provide a sense of security. Consumers often wear lucky charms and amulets or rabbits feet to protect them from the evil eye. Today, some modern women were a muggers whistle around their necks for a similar reason. Take away here is that consumers have accepted tattoos and other forms of body ornamentation as fairly mainstream expressions. In fact, there are many opportunities to enlist your loyal customers as walking billboards for your brand, even if it's just in the form of a temporary tattoo. 9. 5: this concludes module number five on gender roles. So let's quickly review the main points that we talked about in this module. First, we noted that gender identity is a very important component of a consumer self concept, and we saw that products both drive and mirror ah, cultures, gender role expectations. At a given point in time, we discussed the idea of body image, and we saw that the way we think about our bodies and in particular, the way our culture tells us we should think is a key component of self esteem. And finally, we looked at how consumers routinely modify their faces and bodies to achieve a variety of social goals. And I noted that this urge to modify one's appearance does indeed offer some interesting marketing opportunities for brands that want to become part of that process. Our next module, number six, will focus on attitudes and persuasion. How do people come to learn about products and feel about products? And how can marketers try to change their minds if necessary?