Working Consumer:the next step in Marketing Theory?

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Having familiarized ourselves bit with consumer culture discussions and its rationales, I came across and found the arguments presented by Bernard Cova and Danielle Dalli to be informative and relevance to our discussion about societal consuming habits and resulting implication. I found their analysis of the relationship between consumer and the corporation to be quiet interesting, in a sense that, the interaction between the latter and the former help sustain consumer culture, irrespective of minor problems that might occur in the course of the relationship. They talked about complicity of the consumer in the creation of identity, so that  it is not just the corporation that is dictating re-arrangement in the relationship, but that consumer may be engaging actively without knowing it. However, they seem to be suggesting that corporation are very good in adapting and adjusting their image, by way of marketing strategy, such that consumer become clueless about various ways in which they have been used by companies to create identity. To substantiate their argument, they gave an example in which they argued that consumers might “resist the market, may refuse to consume or, at other times, indicate refusal by consuming in a different way”, but yet the act of resistance may be viewed as transformative and used by corporation as opportunity to improve and revitalize itself. The suggestion seems to be that, since corporation are in the business of courting customers and profit-making, it is fitting that they would turn any kind of consumer protest or boycott into something they could use to make them even more better in the future by re-designing new needs and wants in order that they re-establish the loyalty lost or threatened by boycott or resistance. They further noted that” Indeed, this resistance to traditional marketing practices explains consumers’ willingness to participate in the market process, even if it is in critical and transformative ways”. Basicall what  they are suggesting is that, consumers by enganging the corporation in the act of boycott, they become uncounscious participants in the re-creation of corporate products and corporate image, thanks to the consumer criticism and resistance. They describe this encounter as interraction between customer and companies, arguing that “in all of these cases, consumers create circumstance to which companies can/must respond, thereby allowing all parties to participate in the market process and contributing to generation of market value”. 

Much like what we have learn from the assigned reading and the lectures, these authors also talked about the internalization of the brand name by some consumers and the likely re-arrangement of their conduct accordingly. I guess this would be the case where one’s desire for ownership of product from certain brand became an unbreakable habits and unrestrained compulsion that they feel they have to get that product. This will have been the result of successful construction of consumer’s wants and needs, as per class lectures. By the time these needs and wants take the form of addiction, it become entanglement from which rescuing oneself is difficult, to the satisfaction of the supplying corporation.  This form of addiction, though mild in comparison to addiction in other context, might proof consumer’s implicit acceptance to have values and identities created for them by corporation. I like the example that they gave in apparent attempt to illustrate this form of addiction, in which they point out in their writing that “what is emerging is tribal brand culture where the brand are selected by the consumers based on the attitude and in-depth, sometimes expert, knowledge about the authenticity of a product, and where these brand become ultimate expression of self”. This is obviously a clear confirmation of what our consumer society looks like today. Considering for example, a purchase by consumer certain article of clothing design and worn by certain rappers. Within Hip-hop community, the fact of wearing that style and possessing that kind of clothing might draw some benefit from it, and that may translate into self-importance and satisfaction, even though people in heavy metal lifestyle might find hip-hop counterparts distasteful and would never adopt hip-hop lifestyle and its clothing. At the end of the day, all these diversity can still be manage by clothing firms through consumer engineering and shrewd marketing i.e. the same company that makes hip-hop clothing line might be the same one that make heavy metal style of clothing and may derive benefit from supplying these two lifestyle without having to be involved in consumer’s justification for why their respective style is better.

You may also check the rest of the other ones below:

1) Bernard Cova and Danielle Dalli(2009).” Working  Consumers: The next Steps in Marketting Theory”(publisher) Marketting Theory, 315 – 339

2) Jonathan E. Schroeder and S. Pongsakornrungsilp(2011).” Understanding value Co-creation in a Co-consuming Brand community” (publisher) Marketing Theory, 303 – 324:

3) Detlev Zwick et. al. (2008)” Putting Consumers to work: Co-creation and new marketing govern-mentality”(publisher) Journal of Consumer Culture”:

I will send the second Article possibly before Friday.

Richard Lokeya


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