Consumer culture is constantlyevolving. In the last 30 years or so, society has experienced the fall incommunism and an apparent change in consumer behaviour regarding to productdesirability. A key theme that all 3 articles highlight is the concept ofproducts being embedded with valuable meanings (by marketers) in whichindividuals use to define and express their identity in society (self-concept).This essay will critically examine the consumer’s desire, consuming self, roleof subcultures and the global impact of consumer culture, as discussed byauthors Ger & Belk (1996), Zukin & Maguire (2004) and Ahuvia (2005).
A key theme that arises from theseauthors is the idea that consumer’s needs, wants and desires help in shape andconstruct an individual’s identity. Motivation happens when a need is activatedthat the consumer wishes to fulfil. The degree of motivation varies fordifferent individuals (gap between an individual’s current state and desiredstate). An individual’s needs are commonly classified into two main matters;Utilitarian and Hedonic (Ger & Belk, 1996; Zukin & Maguire, 2004).
Maslow’shierarchy of needs (1954), offers the view that consumers will need to followand fulfil the stages of the hierarchy (biogenic and psychogenic needs) inorder for a consumer to achieve self-actualisation, the highest ‘need’ in thetheory. On the contrary, academics have argued that Maslow’s view is simplisticand outdated. For example, a study of Romanian students was advised to notedown a list of products they most desired. The list created comprised a mix ofboth luxury items and basic supplies such as food and warm clothing. Thus,suggesting that Maslow’s view is one-dimensional and does not acknowledge thedifferent motivations or value a product has for different individuals,especially those living in less affluent countries with poor economic situations(Ger & Belk, 1996).