International Journal of Consumer Studies
Recomposition and levelling of consumption expenditures across four economic shocks in Russia, 1994–2014
The authors examine the changes in the level and composition of consumption expenditures and their associations with household per capita incomes across the four different economic shocks that Russia has experienced since 1994. Data were collected from a nationally representative annual panel survey of households between 1994 and 2014, supplemented by the Federal State Statistics Service source. Four hypotheses on the relationship between per capita income and consumption, the composition of cutbacks, a levelling of expenditures among income groups, and the stability of the pattern of consumer response to economic shocks are proposed. The data demonstrate that consumption expenditures on food, non-food, and services decreased together with per capita income during the four economic shocks. Only a few examples of significant smoothing effects were found. All income groups recomposed their expenditures to maintain consumption of necessities. The high-income group reduced a higher proportion of expenditures on food and services, implying that economic shocks produce a temporary levelling effect on the living standards of different income groups. A relatively stable pattern of consumer responses to economic shocks was revealed, despite these shocks’ divergence; this pattern implies a temporary economization and simplification of expenditures with a fast return to pre-crisis spending once the crisis is over.
Consumption, crisis, and coping strategies of lower class families in Brazil: A sociological account
Extant research on the dispositional dimensions of coping strategies emphasizes the personality determinants behind the different ways through which individuals seek to tolerate, minimize, and overcome stressful situations. We offer a sociological complement to this perspective. To do so, we conducted a qualitative inquiry of Brazilian new middle-class consumers who are facing the current economic crisis after having experienced more than a decade of expansion in consumption. We identify five sets of coping strategies through which consumers minimize the effects of the crisis and remain invested in consumer culture. We also demonstrate how such strategies are differently informed by dispositional elements that stem from primary and secondary socializations. We contribute to a sociological account of the shaping of the cognitive, emotional, and social resources individuals deploy to cope with the crisis as well as with an empirical account of the lived effects of current Brazilian crisis.
Beyond the market—New practices of supply in times of crisis: The example community-supported agriculture
The discourses and material consequences of the crisis dynamics of capitalist societies increasingly spawn practices of production and supply that are situated outside capitalist market logic. One example of such an alternative practice is Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), a social innovation that is comprehensively analyzed here in the German context. Applying the concept of social innovation, the authors carried out a standardized survey, semi-structured interviews and a discourse analysis of CSA farms in Germany. This paper identifies the (international) crisis discourses to which Community-Supported Agriculture is a reaction, and the motivations of CSA members are outlined. Innovative facets of CSA such as solidarity, de-commodification, and prosuming are identified. It becomes apparent that Community-Supported Agriculture is not a homogeneous phenomenon, but can be differentiated into various types ? sociopolitical, spiritual-communal, and pragmatic-economic - which differ in respect of how they express (social) innovation as well as in their attitudes to crises.
In this article we aim to increase understanding of which social factors are central when looking at de-ownership orientation (DOO), collaborative consumption attitudes (CCA) and collaborative consumption intentions (CCI). In addition, we analyze how DOO, CCA and CCI are linked to each other. We scrutinize DOO, CCA and CCI in Finland during a period of economic crisis. Our results show that DOO is rather evenly spread across the socio-demographic groups, and that CCA is at a much higher level than CCI among the respondents. CCA is less impacted by factors that originate from a consumer's social and economic conditions. The studied concepts are found to be closely associated: with the increase in DOO, the propensity for CCI and CCA to increase also grows. However, DOO has a stronger effect on CCA than on CCI. Of studied socio-economic features, age clearly has the strongest effects on each studied factor. The younger age cohorts have more positive attitudes towards collaborative consumption than others. In terms of employment status the groups that are the most positive towards collaborative consumption are those staying at home on parental leave, whereas the retired, entrepreneurs (for CCI) and unemployed (for CCA) have the least inclination towards collaborative consumption. Thus, economic crisis can be seen as working against the development of the sharing economy and collaborative consumption, or at least it could create social divisions between groups who take part in it.
Crises, especially economic crises are an immanent element of modern market societies. While some research has been devoted to understanding the consequences of such crises on consumption, a systematic integrative approach to this problem is still missing. In this editorial we develop an encompassing model for the study of crises and consumption, to identify and connect the different elements important for understanding and explaining the relationship. Thereafter we present the papers of this special issue and discuss their contributions, based on the proposed framework. Suggestions for future research conclude the editorial.
Resilient practices of consumption in times of crisis—Biographical interviews with members of vulnerable households in Germany
This article analyzes the impact of different consumption patterns that are used to counteract economic hardship and to mitigate the effects of such hardship in times of crisis in Germany. We focus on resilient socioeconomic practices, such as the development of formal or informal practices of consumption, production, and saving. We develop a critical approach of social resilience that is combined with the idea of a bricolage (Levi-Strauss, 1962) of “mixed economy” practices (Malcolmson, 1988). This is done by demonstrating the relevance of preconditions for resilient practices. Based on an analysis of in-depth biographical interviews, two main types of resilient consumption practices and strategies of those who experience economic hardship are identified. First, saving, as the predominant practice, includes buying low-priced items at discount stores, taking advantage of the offerings of charity organisations, and reducing expenditures overall. Second, home production consists of subsistence farming or do-it-yourself activities for personal use or bartering. In this context, particular attention is paid to the reactivation of traditional noncommodified practices, such as the nonmonetary (mutual) exchange of goods and services within social networks, and the reactivation of previously undervalued knowledge that results in new spheres of production. We conclude by discussing the relevance of preconditions and consequences—as well as the demands and personal costs—of the resilient practices used.
Major economic crises create financial and normative stressors, affecting consumers long after economies technically leave recession. Consumer adaptations to these stressors challenge researchers’ and marketers’ assumptions of well-established concepts and theories, notably consumer price consciousness (CPC). We examine this pivotal marketing construct within the domains of stress and coping during times of economic turbulence. In this paper, the authors develop and test a conceptual model, then present implications for consumer researchers, brand marketers, and retailers. The model focuses on the relationships between changing CPC and major economic and normative stressors, respectively financial well-being and frugality norms. To inform opportunities for specific interventions, we identify mediating roles of consumer anticipated guilt, financial fear, and smart shopper self-perception. SEM and mediation analysis test this model, based on a national survey of 1202 UK consumers. The results identify stressors that influence changing CPC, following fundamental shifts in consumer psychology and behaviour since recession. Each antecedent of CPC presents opportunities for marketers and retailers to defend or adapt brands to the challenges and opportunities presented by more price conscious consumers.
Effectively designed complaint handling systems play a key role in enabling vulnerable consumers to complain and obtain redress. This article examines current research into consumer vulnerability, highlighting its multidimensional and expansive nature. Contemporary understandings of consumer vulnerability recognise that the interaction between a wide range of market and consumer characteristics can combine to place any individual at risk of vulnerability. While this broad definition of consumer vulnerability reflects the complex reality of consumers' experiences, it poses a key challenge for designers of complaint handling systems: how can they identify and respond to an issue which can potentially affect everyone?
Drawing on current research and practice in the UK and Australia, the article analyses the impact of consumer vulnerability on third party dispute resolution schemes and considers the role these complaint handling organisations can play in supporting their complainants. Third party complaint handling organisations, including a range of Alternative Dispute Resolution services such as ombudsman organisations, can play a key role in increasing access to justice for vulnerable consumer groups and provide specific assistance for individual complainants during the process.
It is an opportune time to review whether the needs of consumers at risk of vulnerability are being met within complaint processes and the extent to which third party complaint handlers support those who are most vulnerable to seek redress. Empowering vulnerable consumers to complain presents specific challenges. The article discusses the application of a new model of consumer dispute system design to show how complaint handling organisations can meet the needs of the most vulnerable consumers throughout the process. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This paper discusses findings of a study that investigated income, savings and consumption patterns of low income people, and critical factors that influence the use of microcredit- a form of small instant loans targeted for low income people- for household income and consumption smoothing. The sample of the study consisted of households from low income communities living in a lower-middle income country- Sri Lanka. It was found that microcredit borrowers were using the loans for purposes that can be identified as income and consumption smoothing, which is beyond the ideas and intended practice of microcredit. The findings suggests that the consequences of using microcredit for income and consumption smoothing could be costly for households and the society at large. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Participants in this pilot study are asked to rank their perceptions of food waste by choosing between pairs of four types of foods of equal weight: chicken, cheese, bread and peas. We examine whether these perceptions are consistent for proportionally different weights and whether they are linked to the perceived cost of the items. The subjects (n=106) who are students are randomly assigned to one of three information treatments: a control, a food waste video, or the text of the food waste video. We find that the subjects have very accurate perceptions of the environmental impacts of food waste and the relative wastefulness of different food groups. These perceptions are not related to cooking skills or frequency. We find that the perceptions are consistent for proportionally different weights of food: 25g and 50g. We also find that the perceptions are linked to participants' assessments of the relative prices of the foods. However, while the participants have somewhat accurate estimates of the relative prices, they vastly overestimate the actual prices of foods. This implies that more accurate information about the true prices could actually decrease their perceptions of the wastefulness of throwing out food. Given that the participants had highly accurate perceptions of the environmental impacts of food waste and the relative wastefulness of animal versus plant products, we found no significant increase in overall accuracy of perceptions due to information treatment, except for bread, for those who saw the food waste video. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Information on the climate impact of a food product has practically not been communicated in Germany, even though it could provide important acknowledgement of producers' actions in low-carbon production. So far, carbon labelling has predominantly been discussed without taking into account German consumers' opinions (proven by empirical data) on this issue, even though involving the consumer in the considerations of a Carbon Label is essential for its success. Especially the question, if information on the product carbon footprint is a considerable factor within the search process of a purchase decision, was of special interest in this work.
To answer these questions, we analyzed consumers' information-seeking behavior using an information display matrix (IDM) experiment with 232 participants. The IDM is a process tracing technique which allows to track the information search in a buying process.
Our results show that basically the place of origin is the most important criterion for the purchase decision, followed by price and production method (conventional/organic). In contrast, the sustainability information (i.e., carbon footprint and water consumption) are at a low level of importance.
Comparing two locally produced products with the help of a multinominal logistic regression (MLR)-model, it seems that the group of consumers preferring organic products is influenced in the purchase decision by the carbon footprint information.
In summary it can be stated that although some people may be basically interested in carbon labelling of fresh food, the purchase decision would probably be hardly influenced by a carbon label on vegetables at present. The majority of people are more concerned about factors like origin and price so that Carbon Labelling would only be a viable option for a small group of consumers.. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Jingle Bells or ‘Green’ Bells? The Impact of Socially Responsible Consumption Principles upon Consumer Behavior at Christmas Time
Socially responsible consumption (SRC) behaviors have progressed over the last few years and appear to show signs of a lasting trend. Situations of atypical consumption such as Christmas time, however, raise an important and as of yet unexplored question: What are the influences of unusual situations upon the relationship between people's socially responsible profile and their socially responsible purchase intentions? The objective of this article is thus to use the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) and environment-based variables, called “atmospherics”, to answer to this question. A Web survey on a total sample of 301 Canadian consumers, shows that people's past SRC behaviors are positively related to their socially responsible purchase intentions in unusual situations. Moreover the atmosphere of the place consumers are situated in has a negative moderating influence upon this relationship. This result is explained by a change in people's attitude towards SRC. However, this negative moderating effect of atmosphere is contained and constrained by social desirability in the form of subjective norms on SRC and the level of behavioural control consumers perceive. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This study investigates the relationship between consumers' sustainable consumption behavior and both gender and generation-related individual differences in a sample of Turkish consumers. 393 participants from different generations and gender took part in the study. To measure sustainable consumption behavior, we used four-dimensional Sustainable Consumption Behavior scale. The results showed that generation is associated with unneeded consumption as a dimension of sustainable consumption behavior. Consumers who are Baby Boomers found to have the highest level of unneeded consumption behavior while Gen-Zers have fewest. Additionally, data supported the association between gender and sustainable consumption behavior. Women showed a higher level of sustainable consumption behavior both in overall behavior and tendency to reuse products. Taken together, the findings suggest that gender and generation of consumers can differentiate sustainable consumption behavior. The implications of these findings, as well as the limitations and future directions, are also discussed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Changes in demographics and availability of global clothing brands have brought several changes in Indian apparel industry. Green or organic clothing brands are becoming popular among Indians and likely to contribute to the revenues of apparel sector. Global and national apparel manufacturers have introduced organic clothing lines to cater to ecological conscious consumers. The purpose of this research was to examine the effect of consumer susceptibility to interpersonal influence (CSII), past green behaviour, green peer influence, and green apparel knowledge on Indian youth's green apparel buying behaviour. A mix of convenience and random sampling was used for data collection. The sample (n = 981) comprised of youth of age group 18-24 years. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypothesized relationships. Findings suggest that past green behaviour influenced green apparel buying behaviour. Green peer influence and green apparel knowledge had no impact on green apparel buying behaviour. Moreover, CSII had no influence on green apparel buying behaviour. The findings differ from earlier studies that suggest influence of social norms and peer group had an effect on green buying behaviour. Practical implications of the present study are discussed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Communicating Social Support during Crises at the Farmers' Market: A Social Exchange Approach to Understanding Customer-Farmer Communal Relationships
This ethnographic research explores how the social support developed between customers and farmers at a farmers' market creates an overall culture of community support that bolsters farmers' viability during times of crisis and ensures that consumers will have access to healthy, high quality local food. This includes the ways customers provide a general culture of support for local farmers, as well as specific acts of support during times of crisis. It also examines the ways farmers support customers through specialized services and assistance with personal issues. This work draws on theory from the social support, social exchange, and social resilience literature to interpret the results. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Cultural Orientations and Environmental Sustainability in Households: A Comparative Analysis of Hispanics and Non-Hispanic Whites in the U.S.
This paper explores the effect of cultural orientations on the sustainable household behaviors of Hispanic immigrants and non-Hispanic Whites in the U.S. A model is tested in which the personal-level cultural orientations of interdependence-independence determine consumers' environmental value and concern, which in turn, affect sustainable behaviors (recycling, water, electricity and energy conservation). Results from a sample of 338 Hispanic immigrants and 249 non-Hispanic Whites indicate that interdependence predicts environmental values among non-Hispanic Whites. For the Hispanic sample, neither interdependence nor independence predict environmental value. In both samples, environmental value is positively associated with environmental concern, which is positively related to sustainable behaviors. The relationships between environmental concern and all four behaviors are relatively weaker among Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic Whites, suggesting that immigrants have not yet fully embraced mainstream American pro-environmental ideals and practices. Our study sheds light on cultural differences regarding environmental values and concerns, and implies theoretical and practical recommendations for marketers in the U.S. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Low socio economic stratum (SES) consumers face constrains that engender creativity as they try to solve consumption problems using the scant products and services available by repurposing such products. This research investigates mechanisms by which hope and integral emotions interact with SES to influence consumer creativity. Experiments with low and high SES participants in an emerging economy show that when hope is enhanced, positive integral emotions are directed to creativity by all consumers, but when hope is diminished, positive integral emotions are not consistently directed to creativity. SES exerts a moderating role when hope is diminished, and only high SES participants are able to cope with the absence of hope by redirecting dominance feelings to creativity. Results suggest that increasing hope among low SES consumers can enhance their creativity, and that hope can be enhanced through actions undertaken by companies and public organizations. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Rethinking prices during an economic crisis: Calculation as a new mode of consumer behavior in Russia
Using qualitative data, this study explores Russians' reactions to increases in consumer prices caused by the current economic crisis. The financial turbulence has reinforced doubts about the fairness of market prices and the overall legitimacy of the market order in Russia. Suspicion and cynicism about the State and seller behavior become the main mode of price perception, encouraging proactive, calculating price behavior. Respondents' narratives reveal that proactive price behavior is considered to be a sign of social competence, financial independence, and high cognitive capacity Proactive pricing behavior allows consumers to use their purchasing power for resistance to market injustice and social insecurity and to increase personal chances for sustainability. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Food labeling is a population-based approach to health education that enables consumers to make better choices by providing information at the point of purchase. This study aimed to assess the food label usage and understanding and factors affecting them among Lebanese supermarket shoppers. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 748 supermarket shoppers in Lebanon between December 2013 and February 2014 using a pre-coded structured questionnaire. Twenty nine point three per cent of the shoppers check the food labels every time they buy a food product and 15.7% never do it. Shoppers who do not read food labels identified the long time needed in reading them as top reason (34.9%), while 9.8% answered that they do not understand them. Fifty five point four per cent of the surveyed shoppers read the food labels at the supermarkets. Forty four point four per cent of participants agreed that reading food labels is very important, while 30.3% read the food labels depending on the purchased product. Nineteen point four per cent of participants complained that food labels contain too much information and 13.8% claimed that food labels are difficult to understand. Sixty point three per cent think that food labels have helped people in changing their eating habits, while health and nutrition claims affected the product selection among 59.8% of participants. The food label knowledge score average was 63.1%. Older, obese shoppers having kids, suffering from chronic illness or allergies, following a specific diet and residing in big cities scored significantly (p<0.05) higher. The low knowledge score necessitates the nutrition education on how to read and use the food labels. Groceries would be the perfect place to reach out mass consumers. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This paper explores sustainability-related choices about buildings by analyzing how consumers rated the relative importance of various attributes of conventional and green buildings. It also analyzes how consumers judge environmental and health-oriented improvements in green buildings. Unlike previous studies, this research applied conjoint analysis to explore the green building market at the consumer's level by regarding green buildings as non-durable green products and services. We used a survey to gather consumer preferences about several green building hotel models which partly applied green energy, modern wood structures, and improved indoor environmental quality (IEQ). In total, 341 consumers participated the survey in two of China's largest cities: Beijing and Shanghai. The results revealed that green energy was the most preferred attribute of green buildings, exerting an even stronger overall effect on consumer choice than price. Afterwards, we identified distinct consumer segments and determined the background characteristics of each segment based on the similarities in the preferences for each attribute. The largest consumer segment, consisting of younger consumers, ranked green energy as the most important criterion. However, an improved indoor environmental quality was generally not highly ranked, and individuals in the consumer segment, which included more older and female consumers, were more likely to reject modern wood structures. The results also revealed that higher-income individuals were most concerned with price, and consumers with higher levels of education were willing to pay more to support green buildings. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.