The hypothesis driving this exploration is that people in the same social circles tend to wear the same brands.
We see brands as symbols that embody a set of values – brand as culture. That said, it would make sense that friends — people who share similar values — would be attracted to the same brands. However, this was an exploration of culture and not of peer pressure or conformity.
What we discovered was that people were unaware of the similarities in brand choices between themselves and their peers until these similarities were called out. "My brother turned me onto Nike," said one of our participants, unaware that the dynamic she described supported our hypothesis.
Peer groups also shared the pop culture icons from whom they picked up their brand cues; friends looked at the same movies, music and athletes in making their brand decisions.
Our conclusion: While not necessarily a conscious effort, the values that peers share are expressed in the brand choices they make.