Marketing and consumer research

An uneasy relationship

Authored by: Matthias Bode , Søren Askegaard

Routledge Handbook on Consumption

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138939387
eBook ISBN: 9781315675015
Adobe ISBN: 9781317380900


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The first thing to note, when addressing the relationship between marketing and consumer research, is that the link between promotional practices for advancing specific exchange processes and insight into the sociological (and psychological) factors guiding engagement in such social exchange processes can be found in market relations from the dawn of markets (Graeber, 2012). That the systematic relationship between understanding the population as consumers and usage of such knowledge for target marketing and advertising purposes has proliferated in scope and intensity and has become a significant social institution during the twentieth century, is also obvious (Trentmann, 2016). In short, it is beyond the scope of this short chapter to treat relations between marketing and consumer research as social practices. Instead, we have chosen to look at the relationship between marketing and consumer research as institutionalized academic disciplines. It should be noted right away that when we talk about “consumer research” in the following, we are referring to the consumer research organized mainly through the Association for Consumer Research (ACR) and predominantly working in marketing departments, since the nexus between marketing and consumer research is the topic of this chapter. The term consumer research underlines the distinctly individualized decision science approach that has dominated this discipline throughout the years, albeit with significant change over the last decades, mainly represented by the Consumer Culture Theory version of consumer research. The use of the term consumer research in this narrow sense by no means is an indication that research on consumers and consumption does not take place in other disciplines, as this volume is witnessing.

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