The coming out of the "new consumer"
AbstractThe postmodern paradigm based on a cultural and a symbolic perspective in marketing and consumer behaviour research emerges from the criticism of the utilitarian logic that has prevailed in the research community in marketing and led researchers to view the consumer as an individual essentially rational; an idea that fits with the "homo economicus" philosophy. As shown by Bergadaà (2006), researchers engaged in this path consider that the role of marketing in the contemporary society has an ultimate aim to establish social bonds, which requires the mobilization of a cultural base and a specific set of values. In order to go beyond the dominant utilitarian logic so far utilized in consumer behaviour research, the Consumer Culture Theory CCT established by Arnould and Thompson since 2005 in the leading International Journal JCR (Journal of Consumer Research), is presented as a new revolution in the studies focusing on the consumer behaviour and the consumption field. The CCT states that the individual behaves and consumes in an autotelic and a symbolic way (Csikszentmihalyi, 2005) within a temporal frame, living his action as a personal experience or as a shared game (Holt, 1995). Consequently, the consumer behaviour can't be understood without taking into account all the dimensions of his consumption such as: ideological, social, cultural, symbolic and experiential consumption in its context (Arnould and Thompson, 2005). From a theoretical perspective, new marketing concepts have emerged with the changing of the consumer status in the postmodern context that highlights the shift of power from sellers to buyers and the coming out of the "new consumer". The objective of this paper is to provide an overview of the research based on the Consumer Culture Theory that will help us to understand the new forms of the consumption experiences. This will provide us with a conceptual framework to define the new status of the consumer in the marketing literature and therefore understand the paradigm of the "new consumer". Indeed, we can notice in the recent research in the consumption field the evolution of the consumer representations in the consumer behaviour literature since the consolidation of the multidisciplinary approach based on CCT. This article reviews the extensive, multidisciplinary body of literature relating to consumer behaviour studies. It draws upon this diversity of research to show the scope of this fascinating area and to identify areas of commonality within and between different research studies. The key outputs of this paper showed that the main behaviours of the "new consumer" might be defined according to eight categories: (1) experiential and hedonic behaviour (Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982; Hetzel, 2002; Cova and Cova, 2004), (2) digital and competent behaviour (Batat, 2008), (3) paradoxical behaviour (Decrop, 2008), (4) responsible, and ethic behaviour (Özçaglar-Toulouse, 2005; 2009), (5) co-production and participative behaviour (Vargo and Lusch, 2008; Bonnemaizon and Batat, 2010), (6) resistant behaviour (Batat, 2009; Roux, 2004), (7) consumer empowerment (Denegri-Knott et al., 2006), which is a direct consequence of the use of Internet and Web 2.0 to search information, and the last characteristic of the new consumer behaviour is (8) do-it-yourself behaviour (Hetzel, 1996; Marion, 2003). These concepts mainly derived from the CCT philosophy highlight the transformation of the consumer status: from a passive role to an increasingly active role within his consumption experiences. The coming out of the new consumer who is viewed as co-creator of value has opened up discussion and stimulated new ways of thinking around a number of theoretical aspects and related managerial implications. Therefore, the idea of putting the new consumer to work is at the heart of the company's policy and strategy.
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Date of creation: 05 May 2011
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Postmodernism; new consumer; Marketing; Consumer behaviour;
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-06-18 (All new papers)
- NEP-HME-2011-06-18 (Heterodox Microeconomics)
- NEP-MKT-2011-06-18 (Marketing)
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