Fauna, Foraging and Shopping Motives

Derek N. Hassay, University of Manitoba
Malcolm C. Smith, University of Manitoba
[ to cite ]:
Derek N. Hassay and Malcolm C. Smith (1996) ,"Fauna, Foraging and Shopping Motives", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, eds. Kim P. Corfman and John G. Lynch Jr., Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 510-515.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 23, 1996      Pages 510-515


Derek N. Hassay, University of Manitoba

Malcolm C. Smith, University of Manitoba


In response to criticisms concerning the reliablity and validity of metaphors, projective techniques, and other indirect research methodologies Nash (1963) commented, "[metaphor] has a legitimate place in the development of theory, and undue caution may, in fact, hinder the free exploration of underdeveloped areas of knowledge" (p.336). Alternatively, Holbrook and Hirschman (1982) claimed that the "exploration of consumption as conscious experience must be rigorous and scientific, but the methodology should include introspective reports, rather than relying exclusively on overt behavioral measures" (p.132). Recognizing the potential value of indirect methodologies to marketing theory, a number of researchers have called for a revival of methodological development in this area (Bellenger, Bernhardt and Goldstucker 1976; Dichter 1986; Levy 1985; Zikmund 1982). However, it has been suggested that these methodologies must first be demystified (Levy 1985) and subsequently updated to improve methodological validity and reliability (Bellenger et al. 1976).

This paper addresses both of these recommendations by developing a more theoretically grounded projective technique. In addition, the concurrent validity of this particular methodology will be tested by applying it to the study of shopping styles. The paper begins with overviews of projective techniques and metaphors in marketing. Next, the methodological underpinnings of the Apperceptive Analogue Test are presented followed by an application of this technique to the study of motivation-based shopping styles. Finally, implications for marketers and directions for future research are discussed.


In general, a projective test refers to any indirect methodology in which a subject is presented with an ambiguous stimulus and subsequently asked to "make sense of it" (Haire 1950). Projective techniques are most commonly classified into five categories according to the nature of the response task as follows: association, construction, completion, choice or ordering, and expression (Lindzey and Thorpe 1968). For example, the nature of the stimulus and the response are different for each of these projective instruments: Rohrschach inkblot test, Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), sentence completion and word association tests. However, these techniques are similarly capable of tapping (sub)unconscious aspects of behavior, and eliciting profuse and/or rich responses (Levy 1985, Rook 1988). For example, Rook (1988) suggested that projective methods enable respondents to fantasize and therefore "express both conscious and unconscious wishes and allow their psychological impulses fuller expression" (p. 251).

Dichter (1986) stated that, "marketers are frequently involved in appealing to real or desired self images" (p.160) and that the existence of these self images can be tested with projective tests. Furthermore, Rook (1987) claimed that projective techniques could be used where subjects are "either unable or unwilling to recall or sort out their feelings" (p.197). In addition, the ambiguous stimuli used in projective methods liberate subjects from the confines of bounded, rational, or cooperative responses (Day 1989) thus decreasing the potential for demand artifacts.

Despite the advantages associated with these techniques, they are not without their detractors. For example, Yoell (1974) criticized projectives sugggesting "that they are misunderstood, misapplied, pre-scientific, and the results are often misused" (in Bellenger et al. 1976, p. 38). In general, criticism of projective research has focused on the reliance on subjective interpretation of the projected response.

In marketing, these methods have been criticized because they do not offer managerial prescriptions. However, Haire's (1950) celebrated shopping list study used a projective instrument to uncover latent attitudes towards instant coffee that were found to be an impediment to purchase (i.e., an excuse). Haire (1950), found that the excuses provided valuable clues toward reducing buying resistance, and one need only look to the volume of instant coffee sales to refute the argument that projectives do not offer managerial prescriptions.

Levy (1985), indicated that the use of these techniques has declined since the 1950s and much of this research is of a proprietary nature and, consequently, little is known about the actual techniques used. It is not surprising then that discussions of projective methods in academic literature are predominantly descriptive, with overviews of various forms of projective tests commonplace (Bellenger et al. 1976; Day 1989; Levy 1985). It is believed that what is required is a more rigorous examination of projective techniques such as Rook's (1988) discussion of the TAT.

Similar to Rook (1988), this paper concentrates on one category of projective techniques known as construction techniques. Although cursory the following discussion provides a sufficient introduction to construction methods to provide the conceptual groundwork for subsequent development of the Apperceptive Analogue Test (AAT).

Construction Techniques

In an overview of construction techiques, Lindzey (1961) indicated that, as a group, these methodologies require the subject to "engage in complex, cognitive activities that go far beyond mere association" (p.67). The focus of such techniques is on the response generated by the subject rather than the behavior associated with its production. The most widely recognized construction instrument is the TAT (Murray 1943), which uses a series of picture cards to elicit stories from respondents. It has been suggested that the TAT is the most often used projective technique in market research (Bellenger et. al 1976). However, Rook (1988) cautioned that this assertion may be incorrect since little is known about the use of projectives in contemporary marketing research.

Lindzey (1961), suggested that construction techniques (e.g., the TAT) are most appropriately applied to content issues of personality, and that construction techniques evoke a profusion of responses sensitive to both (un)conscious factors and situational determinants (Lindzey 1961). As a result, construction techniques are especially useful when a holistic research approach is desired; when the relationship of attitudes, behavior and personality to an issue are examined simultaneously.

Despite the benefits associated with construction techniques, they have been criticized because they lack a consistent, objective method of scoring subject responses and are reliant upon the interpretive skills of the researcher. Consequently, their relibility and validity has been questioned along with other projective instruments (Kassarjian 1974). In response to these contentions, Levy (1985) stated:

...projectives make it possible for people to express themselves more fully, more subtly, perhaps even to represent themselves more fairly. When that happens, the methods do achieve greater validity than methods whose reliability seems more comforting. (p.80)


Discovering the similitude between concrete objects and abstract marketing phenomena may partially solve many of the puzzles we have to solve. (Zikmund 1982, p.76)

In an overview of metaphoric thought in psychology, Nash (1963) suggested that metaphors serve various roles in science. First and foremost, metaphor is used to facilitate theory-related communication; by vivifying abstract concepts, metaphor makes theories more palatable and often more parsimonious. Metaphors have also been instrumental in the generation and elaboration of theories. Furthermore, Zikmund (1982) examined the use of metaphor in marketing theory and concluded that metaphors are a legitimate methodology for the development of theory.

Despite the contributions of metaphoric theory, it is widely criticized (Nash 1963; Zikmund 1982). First, metaphors are analogues for phenomena and, as such, are incapable of providing "perfect" explanations for these phenomena and, therefore, the reality of the phenomena being studied must not be lost to the fiction of the metaphor. Secondly, the metaphor must be bounded within a specific context. The architect of the metaphor must delineate those aspects of the phenomena being explained by the metaphor. This contextualization serves to shield the phenomena from over-application of the metaphor and in the process the dilution of its theoretical value.

Metaphors have been used in a variety of contexts in marketing. For example Hunt and Menon (1995) demonstrated the prevalence of warfare, game, organism and marriage metaphors in marketing strategy. In consumer behavior the use of animal metaphors are prolific in both academic literature and common speech. For example, recreational shopping has been characterized as a "hunt" driven by the pursuit of bargains (Bloch, Ridgway and Nelson 1991). Furthermore, Belk (1982) likened the collective behavior of humans to animals storing food for winter, while Rook (1987) described the buying impulse as "animal-like." Alternatively, consumers have been described as "empty-nesters" and their recent focus on home has been described as "burrowing" and "coccooning". The robustness of the animal metaphor is further illustrated by references to the shopping environment as a "zoo," "sea" or "jungle" and consumer behavior at a sale is often likened to a "stampede." A particularly rich application of the animal metaphor is found in Katovich and Diamond's (1986) account of the selling of time-share properties in which the clients are described as "lambs coming into the slaughter."

Research has also demonstrated that consumers use metaphors to animate their purchase behavior. For example, consumers have stated that products "jump out," "strike," "follow," "stare," and "hit" them (Rook 1987; Thompson, Locander, and Pollio 1990). Similarly, marketers use metaphors to create effective sales messages and as Boozer, Wyld and Grant (1991) stated, "listening carefully for evidence of these metaphors provides the basis for `talking the customer's language" (p. 62). An especially graphic portrayal of the consumer animal is Samsonite's classic advertising campaign featuring a gorilla abusing pieces of their luggage.

Animal metaphors have also been used in marketing research in free association exercises to vivify inanimate objects such as products or companies (Bellenger et al. 1976; Day 1989; Dichter 1986; Levy 1985). The purpose of such exercises is to elicit more apperceptive insights into consumers attitudes towards a brand or organization.


The current paper develops a projective-type methodology which has not been previously discussed in marketing literature relevant to projective techniques (e.g., Day 1989; Levy 1985; Rook 1988). In addition, this methodology does not appear to be subsumed by the five traditional classifications of projective techniques (association, construction, completion, choice or ordering, and expressive). This methodology is refered to hereafter as the Apperceptive Analogue Test (AAT), a label which is apropos given its methodological foundations.

In essence, the AAT is rooted in the two aforementioned research methodologies: construction-type projective techniques and metaphor. These two methodologies are similar in that they permit a more phenomenological or holistic interpretation of affect, cognitions, and behavior. The need for such methodologies is expounded by Holbrook and Hirschman (1982) who stated, "the conventional approach to consumer research addresses only a small fraction of the phenomenological data that compose the entire experience of consumption" (p.147). Furthermore, Holbrook and Hirschman proposed that methodological developments in consumer research should focus on the exploration of these phenomenological aspects of consumption.

Specifically, the AAT is a form of projective technique that utilizes a metaphoric projective stimulus. This apperceptive process requires subjects to explore elements of a latent phenomenon by projecting their feelings, emotions, attitudes and behaviors upon this stimulus. What differentiates the AAT from techniques such as free association, is the nature of the projective stimulus which is used to evoke the apperceptive response; it is rooted in a metaphor common to the phenomenon being examined. Therefore, both the product of the projective technique (as is the case with construction techniques) and the projective stimulus itself are important. In essence, the subject is being asked to vivify and validate/discredit a metaphoric theory in an indirect manner.

The metaphoric stimulus or analogue is an essential element of the AAT because metaphors often provide more parsimonious (not necessarily more accurate, reliable, or valid) descriptions of a given phenomenon. Consequently, it is believed that the analogue provides a more provocative and meaningful stimulus for the subject, thus facilitating the apperceptive process. Consequently, the AAT is appropriate to the holistic study of human behavior in general, and therefore is appropriate to the study of consumer behavior.


Most classification attempts are only ways of combating the fear of chaos. Once every respondent and consumer has been neatly pigeon-holed we feel safe. (Dichter 1986, p.162)

The test of any research instrument is its ability to provide either more insightful or more parsimonious explanation to a research question. Therefore, it was necessary to apply the AAT to a well-developed and still active area of research to examine its concurrent validity. Given the fact that projective techniques had there basis in motivation research (Levy 1985) it was decided to apply the AAT to an area of consumer behavior primarily concerned with motives: shopping styles.

It was also necessary to examine an area of research to which metaphoric theories had been applied or for which metaphors were available. Consequently, it was believed that the animal metaphor was sufficiently represented in consumer behavior to provide an appropriate stimulus for the current application. However, it should be noted that while the animal metaphor has been used previously in the study of consumer behavior, this study presents a novel application of the animal metaphor. Specifically, this study uses the animal analogue as the projective stimulus for the AAT in an examination of general shopping motives; whereby individuals liken their shopping behavior to that of animals. Boozer et al. (1991) distinguished metaphor from simile by stating that, "simile makes comparisons explicit by using the words like or as whereas with metaphor, the comparison is implicit" (p.61). However, as no evidence exists to suggest that individuals react differently to metaphor or simile no such distinction is made in this paper.

Consumer Shopping Typologies

Numerous consumer typologies have been published in marketing journals since Stone's (1954) demarcation of consumer types (for a review see Westbrook and Black 1985). The majority of these studies segment consumers according to lifestyles and, as such, are not specifically focused on shopping (Darden and Ashton 1974; Darden and Reynolds 1971; Moschis 1976). Furthermore, these studies suffer sample and product limitations which hamper generalizability. For example, only Belenger and Korgaonkar (1980) used a gender representative sample in the development of their typology.

With the exception of Tauber (1972), the preponderance of consumer typology studies have adopted a survey methodology with a factor/cluster analytic approach to categorize the consumer types. Yet, the internal consistency of the alpha coefficients reported in many of these studies is unacceptable based on the minimum value of .70 recommended by Nunnally (1978). Furthermore, Durvasula, Lysonski and Andrews (1993) cautioned that these direct research instruments are culturally-bound and require cross-cultural validation.

In his exploratory study, Tauber (1972) found that securing a purchase was not the only motive for shopping, and subsequently identified 11 shopping motives, many of which were not directly related to purchasing. Despite the importance of Tauber's study, its value has not been fully realized by subsequent consumer typology research as only Westbrook and Black (1985) and Sproles and Kendall (1986) have incorporated recreational-based motives for shopping in their typologies.

Researchers have recently begun to examine areas such as: hedonic consumption (Hirschman and Holbrook 1982; Langrehr 1991), shopping as recreation (Bellenger and Korgaonkar 1980; Bloch, Ridgway, and Nelson 1991) and browsing behavior (Bloch and Richins 1983; Jarboe and McDaniel 1987). Researchers have also begun to examine aspects of consumption that are distinct from buying such as possessing and collecting (Belk 1982).

Although, these studies have made significant inroads into specific aspects of the experiential aspects of consumption, they have been conducted in isolation and lack an integrative framework. Metaphorically, we have been unable to experience the forest for the trees. The AAT is believed to be an appropriate methodology for the examination of shopping motives because it offers insights into latent as well as manifest motives. Thus, the AAT should provide a more holistic description of shopping motives one that taps both the hedonic and utilitarian shopping motives. Finally, the AAT offers a more generalizable methodology because it can be easily translated and is not culturally-bound.


Participants in the study (n=76) were undergraduate business students in a mid-Western Canadian university. However, 11 responses were found to be incomplete and were excluded from subsequent analysis, leaving a sample of 32 males and 33 females. The sample ranged in age from 18-41 yrs, with a mean of 21.8 (s.d.=4.3).


The AAT was self-administered and participants were provided with two pages to construct a written protocol in response to the following:

We would like you to think of about an animal that best describes you as a consumer. For example, think of the one (1) animal that most closely resembles you (i.e, where, when, and why you shop, who you shop with, etc.) and then in the space provided explain what it is about your behavior that makes this animal an appropriate metaphor.


The AAT was true to its projective foundations as demonstrated by the profusion (response length 17-396 words) and richness of the responses generated by the technique. The following is presented as illustrative of the type of response generated.

The reason I chose a hawk is basically the speed and grace in which my shopping is done. I glide through the mall and when I see what I want I dive in and 'attack' it. To extend this metaphor the trip to the mall is short and to the point. Just as a hawk swoops down and kills its prey, I see the item and grab it. (M 20)

The first observation made by the authors was the diversity and often disparate behaviors elicited by the same animal stimulus. For example, cats were seen as friendly and easy-going by some and finicky, fussy and antisocial by others. This finding illustrates the degree to which the person's experience influences their stimulus selection, and to some extent revealed respondents knowledge about the animal kingdom. Consequently, no attempt was made to compare various species, or to group respondents according to the selected animal. Additionally, a few respondents failed to identify the particular animal stimulus and yet provided elaborate descriptions of their shopping behaviors, by avoiding species-level analyses these respondents were maintained.

The responses were content-analysed for emergent themes which provided dimensions for the subsequent development of a typology of shopping styles. Although numerous motives, attitudes, and life styles were evident in the responses, these were subsumed by two general themes: purchase timing (Postponed/Delayed Purchase - Immediate Purchase) and shopping impetus (Opportunity Recognition - Need Recognition). The purchase timing dimension emerged from responses relating to the desired/required outcome from the shopping trip. For example, some respondents indicated that they would purchase for immediate consumption regardless of need or product desireability. Alternatively, other respondents reported shopping for future consumption or indicated that they would delay purchase to wait for the "right" product.

The shopping impetus dimension more directly addresses the motivation for the respondents shopping behavior. For example, respondents variously indicated that they were motivated to go shopping because of situational factors such as sales, or more utilitarian motives such as product need. Interestingly, the anchors for this second dimension are similar to those identified by Bloch et al. (1991) as worthy of further study.



Next, these purchase timing and shopping impetus themes were used to categorize subjects into various shopping styles. Initially, the authors separated responses into the four cells of the matrix created by these two dimensions. However, it became apparent that such a categorization was too simplistic and failed to accurately reflect the typology of shopping styles described by the responses. Consequently, the authors were able to collaboratively identify two additional shopping styles. The six shopping styles which emerged and their relationship to the purchase timing and shopping impetus dimensions are illustrated in Figure 1. These six shopping styles are described in the following sections along with the distribution of respondents associated with each shopping style. The styles were labeled in a manner which remains true to the animal metaphor and is intuitively appealing, providing a richness of imagery and description which escapes previous typologies.

Chameleons [10.8%] explicitly indicated that their shopping styles were situation-specific (cougar F 39) or constantly changing (chameleon F 23). For example, one respondent indicated that they have many "moods and personalities" which impact their shopping style (cat F 21). These respondents also suggested that their shopping was dependent on product type (cat F 20), shopping impetus (human M 20), and purchase task (chameleon F 23) suggesting that their behaviors cross the four dimensions illustrated in Figure 1.

Collectors/Gatherers [9.2%] were characterized by their propensity to stock pile needed products (camels M 19, 23; F 21) and were motivated to purchase quantities which would alleviate the need for shopping. However, this stockpiling was apparently driven by two distinct motives: 1) to save money (chipmunk M 20; fox M 22) and 2) a general distaste for shopping (camel M 23). These shoppers also provided detailed accounts of the "sly" techniques they use to insure that they receive the best price such as taking advantage of retailer price guarantees (fox M 22). Finally, a number of these respondents indicated concerns with their susceptibility to marketing efforts. Thus, they may postpone shopping to avoid the sin of temptation.

Foragers [24.6%] are very "particular" (cheetah M 21; raccoon F 23) and pursue a desired product with relentless tenacity (tiger M 20; cat F 20). As Table 2 indicates the foragers bridge the purchase timing dimension as they will delay purchasing to find the "perfect" item. However, they are motivated by the need for a product and thus are motivated only to purchase that item (deer F 20). Due to their unwillingness to satisfice, these respondents also report that they are willing to search extensively and that they are not loyal to any particular retailer (horse F 22). Finally, the single-mindedness of these shoppers was further portrayed by their preference to shop alone (cat F 41).

Hibernants [9.2%] were characterized by their indifference towards shopping. They described themselves as "lazy" (lion, M 36), and "slow" (bear M 21; slug M 19) and were generally disinterested in shopping. However, these individuals indicated they were not frugal and could be quite "aggressive" (bear M 21) with respect to spending money. The hibernants spending patterns are opportunistic rather than need driven, as evidenced by their willingness to forego even required purchases. These shoppers stated that they postponed shopping for financial (squirrel F 20), mood (cat F 18) and fastidious (slug M 19) reasons.

Predators [24.6%] are almost primal in their need to consume. Their shopping is purposive and well-planned to achieve one goal - the attainment of a need satisfying item. Consequently, these respondents all but universally refer to the importance of "speed" in their shopping (cheetah M 19). Subjects explained that pre-shopping planning (snapping turtle M 21) and shopping alone (lioness F 20) facilitated quick hunting trips. These shoppers reported territorial behavior (wolf M 20) and frequent retail establishments where they are assured of success (swan F 28). These hasty trips were a response to a genuine distaste for shopping (Eagle M 19) and consequently some of these shoppers reported to be less discerning (wolf F 24).

Scavengers [21.5%] are motivated by the opportunity to shop rather than a particular product need. Scavengers indicate that they "love" shopping (cat F 22), enjoy "window shopping" (hamster F 19), and are often motivated to shop because of a sale (rabbit F 19). These respondents viewed shopping as a form of "entertainment" (kangaroo F 19), yet indicated a preference for shopping alone to avoid being hurried (panther F 25). The scavengers reported that their purchases were often "impulsive" (tiger F 22) as indicated by statements that they "pounce" (eagle F 19) upon any item that "catches their eye" (eagle M 24). This behavior is rooted in the belief that the item might be unavailable if the purchase is postponed (monkey F 19). Thus, scavengers are opportunists reporting that they are more concerned with an item's style or "uniqueness" (cat F 22) than its price (panther F 25).


The typology of consumer shopping styles generated with the AAT mirrors many of the styles identified by previous researchers, thus demonstrating its concurrent validity. For example, the scavengers are similar to Westbrook and Black's (1985) "shopping process-involved" or Sproles and Kendall's (1986) "recreational" consumers. However, the responses generated by the AAT provided insights into shopping behavior that were not addressed by previous research instruments. For example, the two dimensions of shopping motivation: shopping impetus and purchase timing identified were not incorporated in the seven dimensions of shopping motivation identified by Westbrook and Black (1985). However, the puchase timing dimension is particularly interesting in light of McDonald's (1994) research on consumer time perception segments. It is suggested that these two dimensions offer a more parsimonious view of shopping behavior and as such represent a significant contribution to theory development.

Although the generalizability of the shopping typology developed here is hampered by the student sample, it should be noted that this sample is gender representative unlike many of it predecessors. Furthermore, the AAT developed typology offers several advantages over previous typologies. First of all, the AAT is simple to administer and its methodology transcends culture, gender, and age-related boundaries thus facilitating cross-population shopping styles comparisons.

In addition, the shopping styles typology offers a number of managerial and research implications. First of all, marketers should consider the service and atmospheric needs of the various shopping styles and then determine which segments are most attractive to them. Additionally, researchers will find the typology presented here useful as a framework with which to study various elements of consumer behavior. For example, the responses generated by the AAT suggest that these shopping segments will differ in their patronage behaviors, use of retail services, and receptivity to marketing promotions. Future research could focus on testing these assumptions.

To test the generalizability of the typology the authors have begun a program of research using cross-population as well as cross-cultural samples with the AAT. In addition, the authors have begun research into the consistency of shopping styles across different product categories.

Projective techniques are characterized by the profusion and richness of responses they evoke, and the AAT was found to follow this tradition. In addition, the AAT was viewed positively by the respondents many of whom indicated that the exercise was "fun" and "thought-provoking." Lofland (1971), indicated that researchers can be reasonably confident of a constructed typology when respondents are able to recognize themselves in its dimensions. In this regard, our faith in the AAT was buoyed by comments such: "I never knew how well I could be compared to a cat when it comes to shopping" (F 22).

However, every precaution must be made to insure that the selected analogue stimulus does not contaminate or influence the content analysis or subsequent construction of the typology. As previously discussed, metaphors are intuitively appealing and as such can dominate the phenomena they are meant to describe. Consequently, researchers using the AAT must constantly remind themselves that the analogue stimulus is simply an instrument to evoke an apperceptive response and that it has no "life" of its own. To illustrate, identical animal analogues were categorized differently because the motives, attitudes, and/or behaviors elicited were distinct.

Due to its projective nature, the AAT is more likely to uncover subtle culture, gender, and age-related nuances in consumer behavior than more direct methods. The AAT is also flexible as illustrated by the fact that verbal, rather than, written protocols could be used where literacy is a concern. Finally, researchers should find the AAT a useful approach to the study of a variety of holistic/experiential phenomena in marketing, especially in marketing strategy which is ripe with metaphoric content. In this regard we defer to Levy (1985, p.81) who stated:

Projectives do require the "nerve of interpretation," but the reliability will increase with our willingness to try, and to keep trying until we share the methods as familiar tools among the rest in our research quiver.


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