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The conclusion is that the psychologist should know how to differentiate the need to use each distinct research method when facing specific requirements to understand consumers based not only on pre-established methodological rules from theory, but also based on guidance from professional practice. Keywords : Consumer behavior; Consumer psychology; Consumption; Behavioral economics. All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Author: Leona M. In This Original Research Research purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the principles underlying transformative consumer research, including how it differs from traditional research methods and pointing out some established research areas in this field.

Motivation for the study: Apart from pointing to a lack of literature, this article highlights the relevance of this approach for emerging countries by investigating the principles and practices embedded in transformative consumer research.

It provides some indication of how an investigation of these areas may contribute to enhancing the relevance of consumer research to its various stakeholders. Research design, approach and method: The author used a literature review to conduct the study. Main findings: It appears that consumer research currently lacks external and internal relevance. A transformative consumer-research approach may address some of the fundamental problems in the way consumer psychologists plan and conduct their research, contributing to this lack of relevance.

Some approaches appear particularly suited to transformative consumer research, including revelatory, incendiary, policy, participatory and coalition research. Despite ascribing different terms to this trend, the views of the above two authors with regard to this phenomenon largely correspond. Local communities have been especially shocked at the attitude of wastefulness reflected in this destructive behaviour Jones, Mkhwanazi further explains that youths taking part in pexing are often from environments that do not support such expensive destructive consumption, including often being from low-income families and having their parents disapprove of their conduct if they knew.

The media coverage generated public interest in what is driving pexing and the consequences for the people involved Mkhwanazi, When the media called upon academics to explain this trend, some initial views were offered, but no empirical research on the subject has been published to date Jones, ; Mkhwanazi, It is evident from the above that consumers interact with products in complex ways.

Existing theories and approaches to consumer research, however, may not sufficiently explain emerging trends in consumer behaviour. Mick, Pettigrew, Pechmann and Ozanne a , for instance, point to the urgent need for applied research that incorporates rich theories and methodological rigour and that add to an understanding of the negative influences of consumption and alleviate them and lead to an understanding of and build on the positive influences of consumption.

Mick et al. A number of changes in society indicate the need for consumer research that closely focuses on well-being, including the impact of consumption on the global natural environment, acute economic imbalances that create political and social tensions, thus jeopardising peace and security, and the escalating household debt and widespread addictions to a range of consumer products and activities. The abovementioned societal changes are probably experienced in varying degrees globally.

In addition to these societal changes, consumers from developing countries may face constraints in their choices which are not addressed in traditional models of consumer decision-making. Since their findings reflect the life spheres of participants that, typically, are WEIRD, they often do not reflect the largest part of the human population.

Incorporating these principles and processes should enhance the relevance of consumer research in general. Consumer-culture theory CCT is briefly discussed since it would typically provide an understanding of conspicuous consumption. An introduction to transformative consumer research concludes the section. It, amongst others, became more inclusive since a larger base of researchers and a broader range of institutions contribute to top journals than before. Despite this positive state of affairs, Pham warns that consumer research currently lacks internal and external relevance.

Research findings often do not offer sufficient relevance and impact for external stakeholders such as businesses, policy makers and consumers as well as for internal stakeholders, including other consumer researchers and social scientists. Limited range of topics covered in consumer behaviour Pham believes that the restricted range of topics typically studied in consumer behaviour constrains consumer research severely.

He Pham, , p.

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It is often presented as a sequence of stages that starts when consumers develop a desire for a product or service that they believe may satisfy their needs. After taking part in a number of possible processes to acquire the product or service, consumers use and consume the purchased item. The process concludes when consumers dispose of the particular product or service. Research design. The key principles underlying transformative consumer research served as guidelines for building the key arguments.

Research method Given the aims of this article, the author chose a literature review as research strategy. This enabled her to provide a theoretical substantiation for how transformative consumer research may add to the array of research approaches that could enhance the relevance of consumer research in South Africa. To advance such collective understanding, a researcher needs to understand what has been done before.

A literature review assists in positioning existing literature in a broader scholarly and historical context. The literature review identifies what still needs to be learned and accomplished. It enables the author to summarise existing literature and to integrate it in a way that generates a new perspective.

The author sourced information by mainly focusing on the concepts of transformative consumer research, consumer vulnerability and consumer well-being. The author searched a wide range of publications to ensure that adequate data supported the conclusions she drew. She consulted both local and international literature but could not identify a substantial amount of locally published literature on transformative consumer research. The contributors to this publication represent several disciplines from universities and institutions globally particularly some of the most knowledgeable and distinguished consumer researchers , and it covers a wide spectrum of the prevalent problems and opportunities regarding consumer behaviour that are associated with various dimensions of well-being Mick et al.

Gathering the data The author gathered data specifically to meet the objectives of this article. Keywords contained in this article were the instruments for gathering the data.

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These key phrases included, in order of importance, transformative consumer research, consumer vulnerability, consumer well-being and higher education and South Africa. The author then evaluated the body of literature for inclusion in this article. She evaluated it against the general principles of transformative consumer research.

In addition, she closely examined the research articles in terms of their relevance for adding new knowledge to the field of consumer research in South Africa. As a final step, the author integrated the data to present a substantiated argument for considering the role of transformative consumer research in enhancing the relevance of consumer research in South Africa. Analysis of the data Consistent with her approach to collecting data, the author analysed the data in terms of the value that the themes she identified may add to an understanding of the contribution of transformative consumer research to enhance the relevance of consumer research in a developing-country context.

The author evaluated the data she gathered against the principles of transformative consumer research to determine how much each of the themes could contribute to an understanding of the unique qualities of this field. Presentation of the data The data is presented in four sections: The first section entails the core commitments of transformative consumer research. This section is mainly based on the views of four of the most prolific researchers in the field of transformative consumer research and the editors of the most comprehensive publication about transformative consumer research to date, namely Mick, Pettigrew, Pechmann and Ozanne see Mick et al.

The second section investigates how transformative consumer research differs from traditional research since the issues investigated in transformative consumer research tend to be broader than those customarily investigated in consumer research. The third section provides a brief overview of some of the areas investigated in transformative consumer research and indicate their relevance to South African conditions.

Finally, the last section briefly offers suggestions for incorporating transformative consumer research into higher-education curricula.


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All in all, the goals of transformative consumer research are to promote, guide and cultivate a new generation of consumer research on well-being that is conceptually rich, methodologically sound and has practical significance. Incorporating transformative consumer research into traditional research approaches should improve the internal and external relevance of consumer research in the context of a developing country. Some of the suggestions that he offers for alleviating these fundamental problems in current consumer research indeed may be embedded in a transformative consumer-research approach as pointed out below.

Pham suggests extending the scope of consumer research beyond purchase behaviour. All in all, transformative consumer research typically widens the range of problems investigated as well as the stakeholders reached Crocket et al. Pham recommends that consumer researchers should adopt a broader set of theoretical perspectives and focus less intently on identifying what he terms unique, micro-level explanations.

Enhancing the relevance of consumer research requires an acknowledgement that there may be multiple explanations for a particular phenomenon, even at different levels. Yadav , for instance, advises that, in light of the complexity of transformative consumer-research issues, it is essential to develop new theories and to investigate their significance in consumer research.

Pham suggests that consumer psychologists should expand their epistemology by diverging from the traditional theory-driven path in consumer research and considering alternative approaches such as inductive research and field-theory validations. Corresponding to this suggestion, transformative consumer research does not prescribe a particular paradigm, theory or method unless the focus, challenges, intended audience and uses of a research study are evident. The aim of consumer research would therefore not necessarily be to identify universally accepted principles but rather to determine the applicability of theories in particular consumption contexts.

A trend contributing to this fundamental problem in consumer research is that student samples are often used to investigate the experiences of consumers in general, which is regarded as debatable. Pham suggests investigating the real-life behaviour of real consumers in, for instance, field studies. A broader range of consumers from a variety of socioeconomic conditions and markets should be sampled.

SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

It is evident that a transformative consumer-research approach, amongst others, offers the possibility for investigating the consumption experiences and well-being of consumers who are not typically reflected in existing consumer research, especially those from developing countries. Limitations of the study One of the core commitments of transformative consumer research is to emanate from the ACR and encourage paradigm diversity. The author believes that, although South African researchers can learn from the traditions of the ACR, they do not necessarily have to be members of the ACR to set a transformative consumer-research agenda.

The organisation of transformative consumer research would be an important initial step in this country and would enable researchers who support this approach to collaborate and sustain relevant research. Researchers who want to follow this route may therefore face a number of hurdles such as limited funding and promotion opportunities.

Crockett et al. In the light of widespread public concern over current social, economic and political issues, sound, evidence-based ideas and findings would make a valuable contribution. However, I particularly want to encourage and publish research of the following kinds:. During the next several months I will also be considering and planning some new developments at the journal to increase its intellectual benefits.

Two of these come under the rubric of reviews and reflections. The first would involve invited essays by leading consumer scholars on new books that have had a significant impact on their current thinking and research.

Methodological perspectives on consumer research

The second would involve invited essays by distinguished researchers who have not published before in JCR, but whose pioneering work in their respective fields e. They will summarize their past and present work as it relates to theoretical and substantive knowledge of consumer behavior, and propose valuable directions for future research.

Lecture 8 - Consumer Market Research Methods

Among other positive outcomes, both forms of these invited essays should have the salutary effect of enlarging the circle of interactions and insights among all consumer researchers. Details about the submission of new or revised manuscripts, as the transition of the editorial office is finalized, will appear in the front pages of the June issue of JCR. In the meantime, I must acknowledge that it is an immense honor and responsibility to be entrusted with the editorship of the Journal of Consumer Research.

Edited by Hans-W. Micklitz, Anne-Lise Sibony and Fabrizio Esposito

We all owe considerable gratitude to Bob Burnkrant and the prior editors for their legacies of leadership and scholarship at JCR. I also have appreciated their helpful advice as the journal prepares to move to a new editorial home. I am inspired by the opportunity to make a contribution to the field of consumer behavior and to be a part of the rich heritage of our esteemed journal.

Frank, Ronald E.