Hidden consumers in marketing – the neglect of consumers with scarce resources in affluent societies

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Abstract:

Research in marketing has neglected economic scarcity in affluent societies, with a few exceptions. Many affluent states are today facing financial difficulties and a global belief in the market as self-regulating, and in de-regulation have led to a focus on consumer agency. This has also contributed to a widening gap regarding opportunities to consume in affluent societies. The purpose of this article is to bring attention to the importance of considering economic scarcity in affluent societies among marketers in studies on consumption by using theoretical concepts from welfare studies such as inclusion and exclusion, participation and inequality. Researchers who ignore the consequences of the lower strata in the income hierarchy disregard the complexity of consumption. It is argued that regardless of income, we are all consumers, but with different opportunities and abilities. The hegemony of free choice needs to be challenged.

Keywords: CONSUMPTION; INCLUSION/EXCLUSION; PARTICIPATION; SOCIAL COMPARISON; WELFARE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/026725709X471578

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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