BE515 Consumer Behaviour
Due Date: Monday 20th of February at 9 a.m.
2,000 words (Max)
Consumption has become an activity laden in symbolic meaning in contemporary consumer culture (Belk 1988, 2010). Working with the symbolic meanings associated with consumption (McCracken 1986),
contemporary consumers use consumption as a means of creating and maintaining a sense of identity (Wattanasuwan 2005). Investigations of consumption communities, ranging from Apple enthusiasts
(Belk and Tumbat 2005) to Harley Davidson owners (Schouten and McAlexander 1995), have demonstrated that consumption is often a key driver in the creation and maintenance of social links in
consumer culture. In this regard, investigations of consumption communities can yield significant insights into the way that people consume.
You are tasked with researching a consumption community of your choice, from within the domain of sports and leisure. For example, you may choose to research Arsenal supporters, James Bond
enthusiasts or Harry Potter fanatics using their relevant community pages on Facebook, Twitter or any other relevant social media network. For the purposes of this assignment, you must use
netnographic research techniques (see Kozinets Readings below). Your efforts should be directed towards uncovering insights into the consumption cultures that exists within the community. You
should focus on obtaining insights in relation to the consumption patterns of individuals (and groups of individuals) within the community.
Primary data must be integrated into your case study to substantiate your insights. To achieve a high mark, you must demonstrate an appreciation of relevant theory, by developing your insights in
relation to this module’s required reading. You should adopt standard EBS formatting procedures and complete a bibliography that includes references of all material used in the assignment.
To guide your research endeavours, the following research questions are suggested:
What role does consumption play in the creation of this consumption community?
How do community members use consumption to create their identities?
What symbolic meanings are associated with this consumption community?
How would you define the consumption community in relation to the literature (subculture of consumption, brand community, neo-tribe, brand cult etc.)?
Please pick the questions that seem most relevant to your investigations and focus on depth of analysis rather than breath.
Marks will be awarded on the basis of how the assignment meets the following criteria (all criteria carry equal marks):
Uniqueness and presentation of the overall assignment
Insights produced in the assignment
Demonstrated appreciation and integration of relevant literature
Useful readings for this assignment:
Belk, Russell W., and Gülnur Tumbat. “The cult of Macintosh.” Consumption markets & culture 8.3 (2005): 205-217.
Canniford, Robin. “A typology of consumption communities.” Research in consumer behavior 13 (2011): 57-75.
Cova, Bernard. “Community and consumption: Towards a definition of the “linking value” of product or services.” European journal of marketing 31.3/4 (1997): 297-316.
Cova, Bernard, Robert Kozinets, and Avi Shankar. Consumer tribes. Routledge, 2012.
de Burgh-Woodman, Hélène, and Jan Brace-Govan. “We do not live to buy: Why subcultures are different from brand communities and the meaning for marketing discourse.” International Journal of
sociology and social Policy 27.5/6 (2007): 193-207.
Schouten, John W., and James H. McAlexander. “Subcultures of consumption: An ethnography of the new bikers.” Journal of consumer research (1995): 43-61.
Kozinets, Robert V. “” I Want to Believe”: A Nethnography of the’X-Philes’ Subculture of Consumption.” Advances in consumer research 24 (1997): 470-475.
Kozinets, Robert V. “The field behind the screen: using netnography for marketing research in online communities.” Journal of marketing research 39.1 (2002): 61-72.
Kozinets, R. V. (2010). Netnography. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..
Muniz Jr, Albert M., and Thomas C. O’guinn. “Brand community.” Journal of consumer research 27.4 (2001): 412-432.
Muniz, A. M., & Schau, H. J. (2005). Religiosity in the abandoned Apple Newton brand community. Journal of consumer research, 31(4), 737-747.
Notes and Advice
– You will be expected to draw upon library readings (e.g. academic and trade journals or databases) beyond your suggested readings to support your answer.
– This means that if you make a point about something it should be backed up with a citation from a good reference that shows how prior research or some other secondary source suggests that
your point is a valid one.
– Students who do this intelligently, and from a broad a range of (ideally academic) sources as possible, will have the opportunity to gain a high mark, rather than just passing the module.
– Make sure you read your Undergraduate Handbook carefully on issues of submission, deadlines, extensions, case study writing, referencing and plagiarism.
– By ‘case study’ we mean a discursive report, with a brief introduction, and then the main part (broken down into sub-sections), and conclusion.
– In the introduction, you should set out your main themes and intentions, i.e. tell us briefly what your report will be doing.
– Break down your arguments into smaller parts with sub-headings in order to focus your writing, as well as the concentration of the reader.
– In the short conclusion, briefly summarise your main points and the essence of your case study.
– Always try to put yourself in the position of a critical reader, ask yourself how s/he would react to your case study, how s/he would understand it, be persuaded by it.
– ALL material used should be referenced appropriately. This includes material derived from websites or corporate brochures. Information on referencing is available in your Handbook;
arguments need to be supported with relevant evidence. Avoid over-generalizations that can ignore complex and detailed debates.