The Post-Affluence Consumer: Consumer Decision Processes Revisited

Franco M. Nicosia, University of California, Berkeley
ABSTRACT - Consumers behave in a social and economic environment. During the long period of industrialization, a number of paradigms emerged as useful devices to describe, predict, and even explain consumer decision processes. The domain --i.e., variables and their interactions--posited by such paradigms were similar; for some of us, they were "equivalent" (e.g., the domain of the neo-classical household is equivalent to that postulated in S-R or Watsonian work, and, making appropriate changes in time-ordering, both are equivalent to a Skinnerian domain).
[ to cite ]:
Franco M. Nicosia (1986) ,"The Post-Affluence Consumer: Consumer Decision Processes Revisited", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 13, eds. Richard J. Lutz, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 509.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 13, 1986      Page 509

THE POST-AFFLUENCE CONSUMER: CONSUMER DECISION PROCESSES REVISITED

Franco M. Nicosia, University of California, Berkeley

ABSTRACT -

Consumers behave in a social and economic environment. During the long period of industrialization, a number of paradigms emerged as useful devices to describe, predict, and even explain consumer decision processes. The domain --i.e., variables and their interactions--posited by such paradigms were similar; for some of us, they were "equivalent" (e.g., the domain of the neo-classical household is equivalent to that postulated in S-R or Watsonian work, and, making appropriate changes in time-ordering, both are equivalent to a Skinnerian domain).

The fruits produced by industrialization efforts began to be harvested, and, by the 'fifties, consumers were learning how to behave in an affluent environment. The change from a pre-affluent to an affluent consumer revealed some limitations of the previous domain and called for new conceptualizations. New paradigms began to be proposed from the 'fifties on.

For several years, some of us have become tangibly aware of, and in fact often frustrated with, an increasing number of limitations in the prevailing conceptualizations of decision processes by affluent consumers--e.g., paradigms ranging from the known comprehensive "models" of behavior (including my own), through the "Fishbeinization" era and the information processing period, and the period of structural "estimation" equations.

The prevailing domains today reflect the ways increasing numbers of consumers in Western societies began to experience affluence, and the ways the private and public sectors reacted to the emerging affluent consumer. Yet, especially for problems facing corporate managers and public policy makers since the early 'seventies, these prevailing domains (e.g., the roles of attitude toward a class of brands, etc.) do not capture the new mechanisms that guide the behavior of post-affluence consumers.

By trial and error, I have put together a number of quasi-propositions describing consumer decision processes in a new domain. This domain drastically differs from those that have been reasonable and often useful for the study of affluent consumers.

Although the traditional conceptualizations may be still relevant for the study of brand choices, such choices are themselves guided by consumer decision processes that concern choice of activities, allocation of time to activities, and changes in the institutions (e.g., family, place of work, place of worship, and "schools") where pre-purchase and, above all, postpurchase activities occur. For the purposes of modeling the birth and behavior of the post-affluent consumer, long-term changes in the technologies affecting the structure and function of the work, and then family, institutions are considered to be the exogenous variable driving this new, or revisited, consumer decision process.

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