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Like Daughter, Like Mother: The Consumer Doppelganger Effect

Like Daughter, Like Mother: The Consumer Doppelganger Effect

What the daughter does, the mother did. ~Jewish Proverb

This old Jewish proverb of unknown origins should likely be amended in light of some newly published research out of Temple University Fox School of Business. This new study reveals that teenage girls, those arbiters of cool consumer culture, hold a very strong influence, not just over one another, but over their own mothers and their consumer habits. These teenage girls passively, but often strongly, influence their mothers in their decisions on what to purchase; everything from makeup to skinny jeans, and mothers have more of a tendency to mimic their daughters’ consumer behavior, rather than vice versa. So, it is more like what the daughter does, the mother will also get around to doing.

“This finding provides initial support for the notion of reverse socialization and suggests that the impact adolescents have on their parents is much more profound than has been credited to them,” Dr. Ayalla A. Ruvio, lead author and an assistant professor of marketing, writes in a forthcoming Journal of Consumer Behavior article. This phenomenon has, along with making a lot of money on mothers who desire to have what their teenage daughters have, brought forth a new term: the consumer doppelganger effect. This is not exactly a pathology to be categorized, but more of a contemporary phenomenon that is likely a product of Gen X parents just not feeling all that old yet, and reflexively looking to their children for markers of style and verve that show a little more fun or dormant sexuality. According to the report, there is no word on whether there is corresponding effect with teenage boys and their fathers, but it would certainly be interesting to see how that was manifested if there were.

Would you say your children influence your consumption behavior (and I am not talking about compelling you to buy crap for them)? Is there anything worth noting about this so-called effect? Is it objectionable, or possibly something that forges a bond between mother and daughter? Have you witnessed such behavior in yourself, friends, or family members?

Related:
Are You Like Your Mother?
Do You Have an Emotional Bond with Brand Names?
How to Talk to Your Tween Girl – And Be Heard

Read more: Children, Conscious Consumer, Do Good, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

35 comments

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6:48AM PDT on Mar 11, 2013

Thanks.

2:37AM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

thanks for sharing.

12:40AM PST on Jan 27, 2012

thanks

6:33PM PST on Jan 26, 2012

thanks.

1:32PM PST on Jan 26, 2012

interesting. thanks.

3:17AM PDT on Aug 18, 2011

i have found that the teenagers these days are just copying the styles i was wearing 20 yrs ago. what goes around comes around

8:05PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

I'm a time travel fashion victom.I love long flowy things, blended colors, graceful draping fabrics, soft, silky ...but then I need to work in the garden and it's old baggy pants and loose shirts over sleeveless, strappy tops that I can catch a few rays in. My daughter is pretty conventional. likes sturdy good quality.I used to love going to the Reinisonce Fair just so I could make up colorful costumes to wear there.

5:20PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

Well, I grew up in a different era....my grand daughters have called me old as Jesus. In a fun way, nothing hateful. We laugh about it. But no I never copied my mom and she never copied me that I am aware of. I never saw my mom even at 94 dress like her mother who passed at 85.

I do however like wearing Jeans, T-shirts and flip-flops at 68.
My mom never wore flip flops, she did however like her jeans. Not so much a Tee fan though. She liked her front button down blouses and shirts. I think the jean thingy was from the fact that we were both raised on a farm and so we pretty much grew up wearing Jeans. Copy Cats? I would say no!

12:42PM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

"Influence" doesn't have to mean" copy".

9:32AM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

My daughter and I have our own styles ..she is aeropostale and I'm the Gap. No reason to try and compete I would look stupid running around with letters on my butt and Uggs. You can look fashionable for your age and keep up with trends without looking like a fool. She has definetly influenced me in the music category though.

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