Brand Attachment: Analyzing Psychic Topographies to study consumer buying behaviour in the luxury market.

In one of his earliest psychic topographies, The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud divides the mind into Memory, the Unconscious and the Preconscious.1 He identified operations that connected perceptions to motor responses.

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Firstly, Mnemic or memory traces represent the most recent memories imprinted by the act of perceiving which assume multi-sensorial and are emotionally charged. Product perceptions can create memory traces that can assume an olfactory form and develop relevant emotions. The olfactory trace can eventually feed the Unsconscious with signifying material. The Preconscious on the other hand is a collection of cultural rules and regulations. Additionally, it provides data that facilitates memory recollection by the conscious which influences motor responses. The Interpretation of Dreams displays overlaps with the four out of the five experience dimensions stated by Schmidt(1999) which are sense, feel, think, act and relate (Brakus et al:2009). The ‘Relate Experiences’ add an additional layer related to brand attachment in the consumer purchase pathway in a social context. Hypothetically, during an act of purchase, existing memory traces could evoke emotions which could alter consumer decisions for instance, a perception which induces self-gratification could explain the customer’s impulsive buying behaviour.

According to Freud, all psychic activity is governed by the impulse to avoid unpleasant experiences. The mind constantly tries to replace unpleasant experiences that cause tension or excitement with pleasant experiences that can ease them. An interesting connection is noticed between the impulse to avoid displeasure and the desire for luxury. The word luxury has its roots in the Latin word ‘Luxus’ which essentially means sumptuous enjoyment. 2 It is quite evident that luxury brands create myths around the products that can trigger the perception of abundant enjoyment in the consumer which successfully enhances pleasure and influences the consumer to think about a desired lifestyle and eventually compels them to purchase the product. Additionally, the relate experience adds on to the pleasure in reference to a social group by upgrading the status of the consumer which can drive brand attachment.


  1. Silverman, K. (1983) The Subject of Semiotics.New York: Oxford University Press. pp.54-57.
  2. Ricca, M. and Robins, R., (2012) Meta-Luxury. UK: Pelgrave Macmillan.
  3. Image Source: Silverman, K. (1983) The Subject of Semiotics.New York: Oxford University Press. pp.55.
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