Meaningfulness and the Significance of Things: An Exploration of Meaningful Consumer-Object Relations

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Sammanfattning

Contemporary consumer culture is characterized by unprecedented abundance and the constantly increasing accessibility of consumer goods. However, research suggests that the rationalization of consumption and production underlying these achievements may in some cases undermine consumers’ ability to form meaningful relationships with consumer objects. Although this has provoked discussions on the character of meaningful consumer-object relations, the conceptualization of meaningfulness in marketing and consumer research remains surprisingly underdeveloped.

This thesis aims to refine our understanding of meaningful consumer-object relations. With the help of three qualitative studies focused on vinyl and craft beer consumption, it finds that the significance consumers ascribe to consumer objects is contingent on the degree to which their interactions within a context of consumption help them make sense of their environment and their role in it.

The first study identifies four engaging characteristics generated by the material culture underlying vinyl consumption. These characteristics strengthen consumers’ sense of having a purpose and something to aim for by facilitating a high degree of consumer engagement. The second study introduces the concept of cultural profile to conceptualize the focal features of craft beer consumption that make it appear relatable to consumers. This relatability helps consumers make sense of their environment as it enables them to contextualize the consumer objects that to a large extent constitute it. The third study discusses the managerial implications of consumers’ desire for engaging and relatable consumption.

By exploring consumers’ interactions with consumer objects and the broader contexts in which they are embedded, this thesis reveals that the disposition of a context of consumption toward generating meaning that consumers regard as meaningful is contingent on the material culture and institutional logic underlying the context. This implies that contextual aspects, such as values, norms, social practices, and our material surroundings, mediate consumers’ relationships with their objects of consumption and the significance they ascribe to these objects.

This thesis provides the conceptual foundation for a more structured and coherent discussion on the character of meaningful consumer-object relations. It contributes to the marketing and consumer research literature by providing a refined conceptualization of such relations and a comprehensive understanding of how they take shape and how companies can support their formation. Such an understanding helps companies improve their relationships with their customers by enabling them to develop and contextualize their market offerings in ways that encourage consumers to commit to these offerings in the long term.
OriginalspråkEngelska
KvalifikationDoktor i filosofi
Handledare
  • Heinonen, Kristina, Handledare
  • Holmlund-Rytkönen, Maria, Handledare
Tilldelningsdatum20.09.2022
UtgivningsortHelsinki
Förlag
Tryckta ISBN978-952-232-468-9
Elektroniska ISBN978-952-232-469-6
StatusPublicerad - 2022
MoE-publikationstypG5 Doktorsavhandling (artikel)

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  • 512 Företagsekonomi

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