It’s a Mall World After All
On Marketplace Melodies, Consumer Cantatas and Shopping Serenades
- Anti-alliteratives, those who consider alliteracy akin to illiteracy, are free to depart at this point. Those of you that remain can consider themselves lucky, because an earlier draft of the sentence contained many more anti-anti-anti- alliterations. Strictly speaking, of course, alliteration only refers to initial consonant sounds, not vowels, as in this case. But then you already knew that. Just testing. Actually, alliteration is a very interesting literary device, in that anyone with literary pretensions, however amateur, feels obliged to alliterate like it’s going out of fashion. Many, indeed, wish it would, myself included. However, the strange thing I find about alliteration is that, although I’m prone to indulge in it (now and then, once in a while, on occasion…), I recoil from it in other people’s writing. It’s so pretentious, so ostentatious, so look-ma-no-hands of marketing poetics. Alliteration, in many ways, is the signifier of non-literal literary discourse. Lest you misunderstand, I’m not for a moment suggesting that my alliteration is better or more stylish than yours (because I can do it ‘properly’ and you can’t, as it were).1 On the contrary, I am well aware that my alliterative extrusions are likely to be just as irritating to others as theirs are to me. The vital difference, however, is that mine are deliberately designed to drive readers to distraction. There’s a method in my madness, as you shall doubtless discover in due course. There is, there is, there is!
- What’ll they franchise next, for fuck’s sake? I can see it now: Auschwitz R Us, Belsen U Like, McDauchau, the Black Hole of Calcutta (branches in London, Paris, Milan, New York, Rio, Tokyo…).
- Now I know what they mean by “spanking the plankton”! Seriously though, in the course of researching this erudite and nothing if not learned volume, I have immersed myself in matters maritime. Well, okay, I’ve read a couple of books on whales and whaling. You may be interested to hear – though you probably aren’t – that no-one knows exactly what the ‘songs’ of the Humpbacks mean. It could be something totally banal: ‘Shift your ass, buster!’, ‘What’s a narwhal like you doing in a place like this?’, ‘The killers have moved in next door, there goes the neighbourhood’. But the metaphor is once again applicable, because we are in a broadly similar state of ignorance concerning the negative side, the hate-to-shop side, of consumer behaviour. Humpbacks, moreover, often catch their prey by deception, whereby they dive deep under a shoal of herring, or whatever, exhaling all the while. A cone of bubbles rises through the water, which the piscine saps misperceive as a solid barrier and, hence, refuse to break through it. Having trapped the shoal, the Humpback swims up through the ‘bubble net’, jaws agape and appetite primed for yummy, bite-sized chunks of fresh seafood. The parallels between deceptive marketers and shoals of hapless shoppers are almost too obvious to mention.
- All you ageing Led Zeppelin fans out there might just remember “nobody’s fault but mine”. At one stage, I was going to give all the chapters a musical flavour, in keeping with the title of the book. But because I’d already used that approach in Postmodern Marketing Two, I thought better of it. Yeah, I know I could have used seafaring allusions instead but there is a limit!
- Beyond Goods and Evil: The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Shopping
- Brown, S., Postmodern Marketing Two: Telling Tales (London, International Thomson Business Press, 1998), pp.220-1. Available from all good second-hand bookstores, remainder bins and dumpsters everywhere.
- Brown, S., 1998, op cit, pp. 218-9. Still available.
- Brown, S., 1998, op cit, p.223. For God’s sake, take the hint!
- Nietzsche, F., Twilight of the Idols, or How to Philosophise With a Hammer (Cambridge, Hackett Publishing, 1997, original 1889), trans. R. Polt.
- Yeah, I know Morris Holbrook has written about the agonies of aeronautics before, but there’s still plenty of (air) mileage in it, if you ask me. What’s more, Morris’s essay was primarily about standing in line at airports, as far as I recall. No, I’m not going to check it to make sure. That’s too much like proper scholarship for my liking. Anyway, you can check the citation yourself, if you’re that fussy. It’s somewhere in Hirschman, E.C. and Holbrook, M.B., Postmodern Consumer Research: The Study of Consumption as Text (Newbury Park, Sage, 1992). Try not to laugh when you read their postmodern ‘prayer.’ I ask you...
- You know, I’m convinced that endlessly-circulating box is a plant. There’s nothing in it. It’s put there by the airport authorities to make the paranoid psychopaths among us think there’s someone worse off than ourselves, that some poor sap is still stuck on the plane or is heading homewards while his precious possessions are rotating on the carousel. Who do they think they’re kidding? Actually, have you noticed how it’s often a strangely shaped object, or badly packed, or a pair of skis, or a kid’s buggy? This is designed to make us think, “gee, these odd objects managed to make it okay, my perfectly ordinary suitcases are sure to get through safely”. Don’t fall for it. The truth is that some baggage handler is doing a fandango on your suitcases on the other side of the rubber slats or riffling through them or peeking through a secret spyhole until you walk disconsolately off to find the missing baggage desk, which is sure to be unmanned at that time of night. Then they send it through. You might think I’m exaggerating but in Schipol Airport the urinal stalls have a bluebottle decal painted close to the drain, as targets to help reduce spillage, I guess. (The cigarette butts in my local may be plastic and perform a similar function, not that I’m planning to check.) Airport designers think of everything, believe me. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
- If you insist, however, the relevant material is contained in: Brown, S., Retail Location: A Micro-Scale Perspective (Aldershot, Avebury, 1992). Not recommended, though if you want to spoil someone’s Christmas, I understand a few copies are still available. Quite a few.
- Hutcheon, L., Irony’s Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony (New York, Routledge, 1994). I’d recommend you read it cover to cover but you’d only surmise I was being ironic. Wouldn’t you?
- Baudrillard, J., Simulacra and Simulation (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1994), trans. S.F. Glaser. See also his Simulations (New York, Semiotext(e), 1983), trans. P.Foss, P. Patton and P. Beitchman. The former is the ‘real’ version of JB’s 1981 text, published presumably to make us think the latter is a fake.
- Adair, G., The Postmodernist Always Rings Twice (London, Fourth Estate, 1992). Well, I think that’s what he said. It was something to do with cloth caps anyway. Better check, I suppose, ’cos Gilbert gets a bit miffed if he’s not cited properly. I speak from personal experience.
- I have waxed lyrical on my cybershortcomings elsewhere, but I’ll spare you the cite. Yeah, I know ‘lyrical’ is gilding the lily a bit, but if you can’t gild the lily in your own footnotes, where can you gild it? What the hell does gild the lily mean, come to think of it? When was the last time you gilded a lily, let alone a marigold? Don’t they sell such things ready-gilded, these days? There must be a franchise opportunity in there somewhere. Please make the royalties payable to my Swiss bank account. As if...
Tales From the Crypt of Consumption: Shopping Sturm und Drang
- Yes, indeedy! Break out the bunting. Where’s the tickertape when you need it?
- See for example, Bocock, R., Consumption (London, Routledge, 1993); Corrigan, P. The Sociology of Consumption: An Introduction (London, Sage, 1997); Campbell, C. and Falk, P., The Shopping Experience (London, Sage, 1997).
- Brown, S., 1998, op cit, p.70. Do I really have to say anything?
- As you may have guessed, I don’t have very much time for sociologists and I very much doubt if they have very much time for me. My name does not call down the sociological aeons, nor does it resonate through the corridors of sociological power, nor is it mentioned in the same breath as Emile excuse-me-while-I-slit-my-throat Durkheim, Georg show-me-the-money Simmel, Max don’t-fence-me-in Weber or Anthony never-knowingly-understood Giddens. Sociologists, on the whole, are a mephitic mob of middle-aged teenage rebels, who pine for the days when they needed Head and Shoulders, feign undying support for some sad, second division football team and whose credentials of cool comprise misshapen corduroy jackets with leatherette elbow patches and a life subscription to Loaded (sorry, New Left Review). Desperate as sociologists per se undoubtedly are, however, sociologists of consumption are particularly vile. They do, admittedly, write quite well, which is more than can be said for shopping anthropologists, such as the extremely long-winded Danny Miller (the joke about the joke at the Trinidadian wedding wasn’t funny the first time, let alone the sixth), but their general attitude towards consumers comprises a winning combination of arrogance and disdain. Known among the consumer research cognoscenti as Condescending Bastards R Us, they seem to hold shoppers at arm’s length, whilst pinching their nose between thumb and forefinger, even though they secretly love mooching about in shopping malls (which they conveniently re-define as ‘praxis’). As a rule, moreover, they regard consumers as either unenlightened dupes, caught in the maleficent web of multi-national capital, or – stop laughing at the back – the last authentic guerilla movement, the Red Brigade of post-industrial society, the Sandanistas of shopping. They make economists look like horny-handed pragmatists. And that’s saying something!
- I discuss various matrix-forging procedures in “Devaluing Value: The Apophatic Ethic and the Spirit of Postmodern Consumption”, in M. Holbrook, ed., Consumer Value (London, Routledge, 1999), in press. Pretentious title, eh? True, I’ve been even more pretentious in the past but it’s certainly up there with the best of them. Actually, the title that really makes me cringe – and it takes a lot to make me cringe – is my “Wind in the Wallows”. Most I can live with and some I’m quite proud of (“No Representation Without Taxation”, for example), but the windy one was a serious mistake. Oh well, these things happen when you mix with literary types.
- Mind you, did anyone ever actually think they did? They did? Really? Jesus wept! On the role of creative artists, see Rorty, R., Contingency, Irony and Solidarity (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989).
It doesn’t have to be columnists, essayists, newspapermen and suchlike, let it be said. The cineasts amongst you may be familiar with the little-known art-house movie, Lethal Weapon Four. As you’ll no doubt recall, it contains the most incredibly insightful discussion of cell-phone etiquette. Viz:
Lee Butters’ (Chris Rock) phone rings.
Lee: Hello . . . . hello. Shit! Fuck them phones man. You get a call they cut you off, you make a call they cut you off. What’s the point?
Leo Getz (Joe Pesci): Ya know what they’re doing kid? They fuck you with cell phones! That’s what it is. They’re fucking you with the cell phone. They know when you get cut off. You know why? Heh? Because when you call back - which they know you’re gonna do - they charge you for that first minute at the higher rate.
Lee: If you’re lucky enough to be able to call back, because the three-hour battery you’ve got only lasts for twenty fuckin minutes.
Leo: Or what if you’re behind a fuckin hill or some shit?
Lee: Or if you’re in a damn tunnel or some shit man. And they keep makin them smaller. You know why they keep makin them smaller? So we can lose them. Why? So we have to buy more phones. I never lost my mothers phone. Takes ya two hours to make a damn long distance call, dudududu four dudududu five, dududu . . . . Oh, I messed up, hang up, gotta do it again, dudududu four, dudududu five. I never lost my Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit phone.
Leo: And how about the fuckin scammers, these idiots, they get your phone number, and then they make calls. . . .
Lee: Oh somebody took my number and they called Afghanistan. Afghanistan! I don’t know nobody in Afghanistan. I don’t know what fuckin Afghanistan looks like, and even if I did I would not talk to that Afghan-head for three hours. I won’t talk to my Daddy for three hours.
Leo: They fuck you! They fuck you! They fuck you with the cell phones! Hey, you know what happens when you go to a drive-through. They get you. . .
Leo’s phone rings.
Okay, okay, I know cell-phone consumption isn’t shopping-specific, but you see my point.
- Meades, J….
- Bryson, B…..
- Coren, A….
- No, it isn’t what you think. The sex ’n’ shopping stuff comes later! Synecdoche is a figure of speech where the part stands for the whole, just the way the brand name ‘Hoover’ stands for vacuum cleaners as a whole, ‘Coke’ stands for colas and ‘Kotler’ stands for a certain approach to marketing scholarship. Yes, he is a brand name. I mean, the guy wrote High Visibility, let’s not forget.
- Brown, S. and Reid, R., ‘Shoppers on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Composition, Chronicle and Confabulation in Consumer Research’, in S. Brown and D. Turley, eds, Consumer Research: Postcards from the Edge (London, Routledge, 1997), pp. 79-149.
- Look, if you won’t take my word for it, check out Hirschman, E.C., ed., Interpretive Consumer Research (Provo: Association for Consumer Research, 1989). I too have occasionally commented on such issues but, as you know, my natural modesty requires me to resist excessive self-citation. Makes you go blind, you know. Now, where did I leave my guide dog?
Here’s Another Fine Dress You’ve got me Into
- Stone, G.P., ‘City Shoppers and Urban Identification: Observations on the Social Psychology of Urban Life’, American Journal of Sociology, 60, 1, 1954, pp. 36-45.
- Tauber, E.M., ‘Why do People Shop?’, Journal of Marketing, 36, 1, 1972, pp. 46-59.
- Frankly, I reckon that children comprise the single most successful marketing invention since the Big Mac and were put on this earth solely to keep the commercial wheels turning. God is undoubtedly a marketing man.
- Triple mixed metaphor there. No, don’t thank me, it’s a gift, I can’t control it!
- Kotler, P., ‘Behavioural Models for Analysing Buyers’, Journal of Marketing, 29, October, 1965, pp. 37-45.
- What’s the collective term for nebulae, as a matter of interest? Necklace? pride? flock? swarm?, armada? bevy? family? I think we should be told.
- Brown and Reid, op cit. Vince also does a decent summary of the literature in, Wayne-Mitchell, V. and Bates, L., ‘UK Consumer Decision-Making Styles’, Journal of Marketing Management, 14, April, 1998, pp. 199-225. You’ll be hearing more about my mate Vince later on in this chapter.
- For a useful summary of this literature see, Solomon, M.R. and Englis, B., ‘Breaking out of the Box: Is Lifestyle a Construct or a Construction?’, in Brown, S. and Turley, D., eds, Consumer Research: Postcards from the Edge (London, Routledge, 1997), pp. 322-49. That Postcards seems like a pretty good volume, I’m sure you agree. If it weren’t for the obvious conflict of interest, I’d recommend it to you. I would. Really. Genuinely. Honest. Trust me!
- Sorry, I almost forgot, they usually chuck in something about ‘managerial implications’ but we can safely ignore that as a hollow textual ritual. I mean, get real! Most managers don’t know our journals exist, let alone read them. As for acting on our recommendations, talk sense!
- Lesser, J.A. and Hughes, M.A., ‘Towards a Typology of Shoppers’, Business Horizons, 29, 6, 1986, pp. 56-62.
- Cullen, C.W., ‘Shopping as Entertainment: Implications for the Shopping Centre Manager’, University of Stirling, Institute for Retail Studies Working Paper.
- Kirk-Smith, M. and Mak, E., ‘A Consumer Typology for the UK Financial Services Market’, in Whitelock, J., ed., Marketing in the New Europe and Beyond (Salford, MEG Annual Conference Proceedings, 1992), pp. 267-76.
- At this juncture, I feel obliged to refer to my legendary lost paper, ‘The Elephant’s Tale: Who the Hell are These Guys and Why do They Keep Feeling me Up?’, which I mentioned in ssshhh, you know where. Since you ask, I really did write the paper and I had it accepted for a conference. Unfortunately, I was faced with a choice between California and Stockholm in the middle of winter (tough one!) and had to pass on the presentation. So now you know. Bet you’re sorry you asked. You did ask, didn’t you?
- So, let’s get this clear, men in the 1950s didn’t do any shopping at all? They just went to work while little wifey wandered down to the department store, spent lots of money on the frivolous things that frivolous wifey’s spend lots of money on, and duly returned to the white-picket fenced suburban duplex in time for her hungry husband’s reappearance. Oh, t’was bliss to be alive, eh?
- You know how journalists talk about ‘slow’ news days? Well, I reckon the marketing journals have been slow for the past forty years.
- See East, R. et al, ‘Decision Making and Habit in Shopping Times’, European Journal of Marketing, 28, 4, 1994, pp. 56-71. Love your stuff Robert, but really! (Actually, I was one of the referees on that paper, so I suppose I bear some of the responsibility – whoops, secrets of the review process accidentally revealed. Shock, horror. The academy will collapse around our ears if this keeps up.)
- On the contrary, aversively inclined consumers have been recognised from the very outset and broadly equivalent categories appear to turn up in almost every exercise, albeit with different typological labels sometimes attached (inactive, uninvolved, indifferent, apathetic and so on). In many surveys, indeed, the apathetic shopper or equivalent is the single largest group of respondents. Some 17% of Stone’s original sample were deemed ‘apathetic’, for instance.
- There’s a touch of Derrida’s ‘metaphysics of presence’ in there, as well. Check out Brown and Reid, op cit, why don’t you? Postcards is a bargain, believe me. Cute cover too.
- At least, that’s what the sociologists tell us and sociologists are always right in these matters, it goes without saying. See Chapter 2 note 4 above, in case you’ve forgotten.
- Thompson, C.J., ‘Caring Consumers: Gendered Consumption Meanings and the Juggling Lifestyle’, Journal of Consumer Research, 22, March, 1996, pp. 388-407.
- For example, Hirschman, 1989, op cit; Hirschman and Holbrook, 1992, op cit.
- Holbrook, M.B., Consumer Research: Introspective Essays on the Study of Consumption, (Thousand Oaks, Sage, 1995).
- Beth’s always good value on dark side issues; see, Hirschman, E.C. ‘The Day I Almost Died: A Consumer Researcher Learns Some Lessons From a Traumatic Experience’, in Hirschman, E.C., ed., Research in Consumer Behaviour, Vol. 4, (Greenwich, JAI Press, 1990), pp. 109-23; ‘Secular Mortality and the Dark Side of Consumer Behavior: Or, How Semiotics Saved my Life’, in Holman, R.H. and Solomon, M.H., eds, Advances in Consumer Research Volume XVIII, (Provo, Association for Consumer Research, 1991), pp.1-4; ‘The Consciousness of Addiction: Toward a General Theory of Compulsive Consumption’, Journal of Consumer Research, 19, September, 1992, pp. 155-79.
- There’s a huge literature in this area. Consumer researchers are hopelessly addicted to addictive consumption, if you ask me. They refuse to confess to it though. Figures. See O’Guinn, T. and Faber, R.J., ‘Compulsive Buying: A Phenomenological Exploration’, Journal of Consumer Research, 16, September, 1989, pp. 147-57; d’Astous, A., ‘An Inquiry Into the Compulsive Side of “Normal” Consumers’, Journal of Consumer Policy, 13, 1, 1990, pp.15-31; Elliott, R., ‘Addictive Consumption: Function and Fragmentation in Postmodernity’, Journal of Consumer Policy, 17, 2, 1994, pp. 157-79.
- Again a big literature, ably summarised by Belk, R.W., ‘Studies in the New Consumer Behaviour’, in Miller, D., Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies (London, Routledge, 1995), pp. 58-95.
- See Hogg, M.K. ‘Anti-Constellations: Exploring the Impact of Negation on Consumption’, Journal of Marketing Management, 14, April, 1998, pp. 133-58.
- Just as it is the anthropologist’s fate to be forever associated with a particular tribal group – Malinowski with Trobrianders, Evans-Prichard with the Nuer, Firth with Tokopians, and so on – so too consumer researchers in the post-Stone tradition are know for their singular typological contribution (Convenience = Stevenson and Willett; Recreational = Bellenger and Korgaonkar; Freudian = old what’s his name). Hmmmm, can I live with being dubbed the ‘Sexy Shopper’ person? What do you think?
- Now, now, everything comes to those who wait...
- You’re not going to believe this, amigos, but I swear it is true. I concocted this stuff and nonsense about astrology in August 1997, only to discover that my old pal, Vince Wayne-Mitchell, had published a study of shopping horoscopes back in Britain. Vince, of course, is a proper academic and he really did conduct a mammoth survey of the relationship between star signs and shopping behaviours. But it’s spooky, to say the least, to think that we were simultaneously working on the same idea (well he was working, I was amusing myself, as usual) whilst residing on opposite sides of the world. Wonder what star sign he is...
Notes From the Underground Car Park
- For an excellent review of the chequered history of introspection, see Lyons, W.E., The Disappearance of Introspection (Cambridge, MIT Press, 1986).
- Lyons op cit, p. 24.
- Lyons, ibid, p.30.
- The character of consciousness has latterly taken off as a research topic and a voluminous literature is now available. The main issues are summarised in Dennett, D., Consciousness Explained (Boston, Little Brown, 1991) and Block, N.J. et al, The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates (Boston, MIT Press, 1997) is a useful, not to say bulky, reader. For a more philosophically slanted treatment of introspection itself, see Shoemaker, S. The First-Person Perspective and Other Essays (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996.
- Brown, 1998, op cit. I assume you’ve bought your copy by now. You better have. I’ll be asking questions later.
- Auster, P., The Red Notebook and Other Writings (London, Faber and Faber, 1995).
- The remarkable career of that well-known marketing man and sometime poet, Arthur Rimbaud, is discussed by – you’ll never guess – Brown, S. “Tore Down à la Rimbaud: Illuminating the Marketing Imaginary”, in Stephen Brown et al, eds, Romancing the Market (London, Routledge, 1998), pp. 22-40.
- Biographies and their discontents are cogently dealt with in Baron, S.H. and Pletsch, C. Introspection in Biography (Hillsdale, NJ, The Analytic Press, 1985). Also useful are: Lloyd, G., Being in Time: Selves and Narrators in Philosophy and Literature (London, Routledge, 1993); Shapiro, K.J., Bodily Reflective Modes: A Phenomenological Method for Psychology (Durham, Duke University Press, 1985).
- The post-poststructuralist turn in contemporary literary theory is discussed in most lit-crit. primers. The best (and funniest) introduction is still Eagleton, T., Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford, Blackwell, 1996), second edition.
- The term was coined by Diane Freedman, who has latterly written an autobiographical critique of autobiographical criticism. See Freedman et al, The Intimate Critique: Autobiographical Literary Criticism (Durham, Duke University Press, 1993) and Freedman, D., ‘Autobiographical literary criticism as the new bell-letrism: personal experience’, in Veeser, H.A., ed, Confessions of the Critics (New York, Routledge, 1996), pp. 3-16.
- Reluctant though I am to mention this -- but only because of the horrible title, rest assured -- the debate is summarised in Brown, S. ‘The Wind in the Wallows: Literary Theory, Autobiographical Criticism and Subjective Personal Introspection’, in Alba, J.W. and Hutchinson, W., eds, Advances in Consumer Research Vol. XXV (Provo, Association for Consumer Research, 1998), pp. 25-30.
- Simpson, D., The Academic Postmodern and the Rule of Literature: A Report on Half-Knowledge (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1995), p.24.
- Veeser, H.A., ed, Confessions of the Critics (New York, Routledge, 1996).
- On irony see Hutcheon, op cit., and Rose, M.A., Parody: Ancient, Modern and Post-modern (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993). A recent analysis of reflexivity and its place in consumer research is contained in, Thompson, C.J., Stern, B.B. and Arnould, E.J, ‘Writing the Differences: Poststructuralist Pluralism, Retextualisation, and the Construction of Reflexive Ethnographic Narratives in Consumption and Market Research’, Consumption, Markets and Culture, 2, 2, 1998, pp.105-60. Also useful are: Lawson, H., Reflexivity: the Postmodern Predicament (London, Hutchinson, 1985) and Steier, F., ed., Research and Reflexivity (London, Sage, 1991).
- Okay, then, you asked for it. Question: what rank is Postmodern Marketing Two on amazon.com’s best-seller list? Answer: # 565,200, as of August 1998. In with a bullet or what? I understand they have 565,2001 volumes in stock. Guess what’s propping up the pile? Got it in one. Postmodern Marketing.
- There’s a surprisingly extensive empirical literature on introspection. See for example, Hirschman, E.C., 1990, op cit; Hirschman, E.C., 1991, op cit; Holbrook, M.B., ‘I’m Hip: An Autobiographical Account of Some Musical Consumption Experiences’, in R.J. Lutz, ed., Advances in Consumer Research Volume XIII (Provo, Association for Consumer Research, 1986), pp. 614-18; Holbrook, M.B., ‘An Audiovisual Inventory of Some Fanatic Consumer Behaviour: The 25-cent Tour of a Jazz Collector’s Home’, in Wallendorf, M. and Anderson, P.F., eds, Advances in Consumer Research, Volume XIV (Provo, Association for Consumer Research, 1987), pp. 144-9; Lehmann, D.R., ‘Pumping Iron III: An Examination of Compulsive Lifting’, in Wallendorf, M. and Anderson, P.F., eds, Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. XIV, (Provo, Association for Consumer Research, 1987) pp. 129-35; Pollay, R.W., 1987, ‘The History of Advertising Archives: Confessions of a Professional Pac-Rat’, in Wallendorf, M. and Anderson, P.F., eds, Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. XIV (Provo, Association for Consumer Research, 1987), pp.136-9; Reid, R. and Brown, S., ‘I Hate Shopping! An Introspective Perspective’, International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 24, 4, 1995, pp. 4-16; Rose, D. ‘Active Ingredients’ in Sherry, J.F., Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior (Thousand Oaks, Sage, 1995), pp. 51-85.
- Wallendorf, M. and Brucks, M., ‘Introspection in Consumer Research: Implementation and Implications’, Journal of Consumer Research, 20, December, 1993, pp. 339-59.
- Ibid, p.356.
- Sherry, J.F., ‘Keeping the Monkeys Away From the Typewriters: An Anthropologist’s View of the Consumer Behavior Odyssey’ in Wallendorf, M. and Anderson, P.F., eds, Advances in Consumer Research Vol. XIV, Provo, Association for Consumer Research, 1987), pp. 370-3.
- Sherry, J.F. ‘Review of Consumption and Marketing: Macro Dimensions by R.W. Belk, N. Dholakia and A. Venkatesh, Journal of Macromarketing, 16, 2, 1996, pp. 107-8.
- Kahle, L.R., ‘Review of Consumption and Marketing: Macro Dimensions by R.W. Belk, N. Dholakia and A. Venkatesh, Journal of Marketing Research, 34, 3, 1997, p.417.
- Wallendorf, M., ‘Breaking Out of Boxes: Creativity, Community and Culture’, in Brucks, M. and MacInnis, D.J., eds, Advances in Consumer Research Vol. XXIV, (Provo, Association for Consumer Research, 1997), 9-11.
- Gould, S.J., ‘The Self-manipulation of my Pervasive, Perceived Vital Energy Through Product Use: An Introspective-Praxis Perspective’ Journal of Consumer Research, 18, September, 1991, pp. 194-207; Gould, S.J., ‘Researcher Introspection as a Method in Consumer Research: Applications, Issues and Implications’, Journal of Consumer Research, 21, March, 1995, pp. 719-22; Holbrook, M.B. ‘Romanticism, Introspection and the Roots of Experiential Consumption: Morris the Epicurean’, in Belk, R.W., Dholakia, N. and Venkatesh, A., Consumption and Marketing: Macro Dimensions (Cincinnati, South-Western, 1996), pp. 20-82.
- Levy, S.J., ‘Stalking the Amphisbaena’, Journal of Consumer Research, 23, December, 1996, pp. 163-76.
- Brown S. and Reid, R., 1997, op cit.
- Brown, S., ‘The Wind in the Wallows’, 1998, op cit. Excuse me while I throw up.
- Kahle, op cit.
- Belk, R.W., ‘Art Versus Science as Ways of Generating Knowledge About Materialism’, in Brinberg, D. and Lutz, R.J., eds, Perspectives on Methodology in Consumer Research (New York, Springer-Verlag, 1986), pp. 3-36.
- Andreski, S., Social Sciences as Sorcery (London, Andre Deutsch, 1972), p.21.
- Campbell, C., ‘Romanticism, Consumption and Introspection: Some Comments on Professor Holbrook’s Paper’, in Belk, R.W., Dholakia, N. and Venkatesh, A., eds, Consumption and Marketing: Macro Dimensions (Cincinnati: South-Western, 1996), p. 100.
- Steiner, G., Real Presences: Is There Anything in What we Say? (London, Faber and Faber, 1989), p.12.
- What the hell, one more for the road: see the various essays by himself in Brown, S. et al, eds, Romancing the Market (London, Routledge, 1998).
Men are From Marks, Women are From Versace
- In this regard, it is hardly surprising that historians, sociologists, anthropologists etc. completely ignore the contributions of marketing and consumer researchers. Why do the latter get so upset about this entirely predictable state of affairs? I hardly need to include the Kinglsey Amis reference, do I? Lucky Jim, but then you already knew that, didn’t you?
- Bill Wells covers some of these issues in, ‘Discovery Orientated Consumer Research’, Journal of Consumer Research, 19, March, 1993, pp. 489-504.
- There were 105 of them in all, 53% female, ages ranged from 20-43, with a mean of 22.1. They were asked to write personal essays about any aspect of their shopping behaviour. These varied considerably in length, from approximately 750 words to over 6000 (average 2100).
The Love That Dare not Speak its Brand Name
- Garnder, D., ‘Mood States and Consumer Behaviour: A Critical Review’, Journal of Consumer Research, 12, December, 1985, pp. 281-300; Snodgrass, J., Russell, J. and Ward, L., ‘Planning, Mood and Place-liking’, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 8, 3, 1988, pp. 209-22.
- Iyer, E.S., ‘Unplanned Purchasing: Knowledge of Shopping Environment and Time Pressure’, Journal of Retailing, 64, Spring, 1989, pp. 40-57; Park, C.W., Iyer, E.S. and Smith, D.C., ‘The Effects of Situational Factors on In-store Grocery Shopping Behaviour’, Journal of Consumer Research,15, March, 1989, pp. 422-33.
- McGrath, M.A. and Otnes, C., ‘Unacquainted Influencers: The Role of Strangers in the Retail Setting’, Journal of Business Research 32, 4, 1995, pp. 261-72.
- Eroglu, S.A. and Machleit, K.A., ‘An Empirical Study of Retail Crowding: Antecedents and Consequences’, Journal of Retailing, 66, Summer, 1990, pp. 201-21.
- Olsen, B., ‘Brand Loyalty and Consumption Patterns: The Lineage Factor’, in Sherry, J.F., ed, Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior (Thousand Oaks, Sage, 1995), pp. 245-81.
- Fischer, E. and Arnold, S.J., ‘More Than a Labor of Love: Gender Roles and Christmas Gift Shopping’, Journal of Consumer Research, 17, December, 1990, pp. 33-45.
- Some men, after all, shop like women (buysexuals), some women shop like men (cross-shoppers) and some are a bit of both (hmmm, hermarkrodites possibly?).
Will the Real Hyperreal Please Stand Up?
- Sherry, J.F., McGrath, M.A. and Levy, S.J., ‘The Dark Side of the Gift’, Journal of Business Research, 28, 2, 1993, pp. 225-44.
Generally speaking, I’ve tried to resist the temptation to include additional excepts in the Notes. However, I think this ‘straw breaking the camel’s back’ aspect of shopping is so important that I’m going to include another, just to give you an idea of how horrendous the experience can become as the little irritations and frustrations inexorably pile up:
I popped across the road to Dorothy Perkins because my eye spotted a red dress in the window. All I could think of was, “That could be my dress and doesn’t it look nice”. So I went inside and it was so warm, so I unzipped my coat and opened my cardigan. The heat was very uncomfortable to be in. I walked around the shop and then I spotted THEEE dress. I held it up against me, and oh, how long it was. It was made of satin at the top and the rest of the dress was made of polyester. It was the colour red, it had a split in the back and it was fitted, it was just perfect in my eyes. I tried it on and it looked really nice on me, it fitted me perfectly, this was a dress I wanted. I wanted it so badly I purchased it without my mum, so I know from that that this dress was the one, and I had the perfect shoes to wear with it. So I purchased the dress and I was home by lunchtime, that was pretty good for me. I had no choices, and I saw the dress I wanted and bought it.
I came home and showed it to the girls I live with and they too loved it and thought it was perfect for the occasion. Everything had turned out so well, so I hung it up outside my wardrobe, where I could keep looking at it. I was so chuffed with myself concerning this fine purchase I had made all on my own. I sat down to a little work and kept admiring my dress and then I spotted a stain on the bottom left hand seam of the dress. It looked as if someone had stood on it. The mark was not big but I had noticed it, my dreams were shattered because it had to go back. I phoned my mum thinking to myself that will be the last time that I will purchase anything without my mum. She too advised me t take it back and we had planned to go to Lisburn that Saturday to get books. My mum said that she would phone Dorothy Perkins in Lisburn to see if they had the same dress in my size. My mum phoned me back and they did have a dress and it had been left over for me, so everything was fine again, but I had to leave this dress back to Coleraine that same day, what a nuisance. I explained to them about the dress and everything was fine, they refunded my money.
The following day my mum and me set off to Lisburn early that morning and the traffic was really bad on the M1, but when we got to Lisburn the car parks were all full and we had to wait in a queue for half an hour, I was so bored and fed up already. The only thing stopping me from going home was getting my red dress. We finally got into the car park and the wee man told us to park in the disabled car space. I wasn’t too happy about that, but I had been told it was okay. So off we set up the main street. My mum pulled me into all of these shops to see if there was anything nicer I could see for the dinner, but no, my heart was set on this fine RED dress. So it was lunchtime before we got to Dorothy Perkins, and once again the heat hit me. I went to the customer service desk and explained that I had a dress left over, so she went and got the dress and my mum wanted to see it one me, so that is what I did, but as I was putting it on, I felt it to be quite big, so I looked at the label and it was the correct size. I thought to myself “I can’t have lost so much weight in the past day to make this difference”. I came out to show mum and the first thing she said to me was, “Sarah, that is far too big on you”. I couldn’t understand it, once again the trouble began, now what was I going to do. My mum then marched through the shop picking dresses that she would see as appropriate, but she had no idea about the type of dress I had pictured in my mind and this dream was turning into a nightmare. The dresses she was making me try on were not me and more important they were not red. My mum knew that I was becoming very unsettled and kept on saying, “Could we take this red dress in at the seams, mummy?” but no, that wasn’t going to work. A sales assistant had overheard our conversation and came to give us some assistance. Once again I had to explain everything and I was getting very tired of doing this, but she had an answer to why the dress was too big. The dress in Lisburn which I was trying on was the second delivery of those dresses and the manufacturers had decided to make each size a little bigger because they had had complaints that the dresses were too small a fitting. That explained a lot of things but it could only have happened to me. So the dress in Coleraine must have been in the first delivery. I thought to myself what a stupid thing to do. What was I going to do now? There were no more dresses in Lisburn. I was back to square one with no dress and a very sore head. My mum then spoke to the manageress to see if any of the other shops had this dress, but I was taking a risk because the chance of the dress being from the first delivery was very slim. The manageress was very helpful and I did appreciate this but I was just so fed up and the day was nearly over, how was I going to find anything now, just another day wasted. However the manageress phoned Coleraine and they still had the dress with the stain on it and if I wanted it they would keep it for me, but in the meantime Banbridge had phoned back to say that one of the red dresses in my size had been returned and did I want it left over. So many thinks were happening, so much hassle, so many decisions for my kind of liking. What was I going to do now? How would I get to Banbridge? It was too late to go now. The manageress then suggested that it was their Christmas dinner on Tuesday night. When I heard those words Christmas Dinner I felt like screaming. It was left that the manager from Banbridge would give it to Coleraine’s manager that night and I was to call for it on Wednesday. However, I was still not happy. I was grateful for what they were doing, but it had got beyond a joke, this was definitely a nightmare. On Wednesday I went to Coleraine with my hopes high but once again disaster had struck. The manageress had left my dress in the hotel from the night before. So by this stage I was angry, my dream was lying in a heap in a bag on a hotel floor and no one had bothered to do anything about it. Yes of course the manager was very sympathetic but my mind was working overtime at this stage and to say the least this dress was starting to give me a permanent headache. I was told to come back on Friday and hopefully the dress would have been returned. I wanted to go to the actual hotel and get the dress myself, but things would be getting out of control if I had done that. All I could think of was “Why didn’t I keep the first dress from the very beginning, my mum could have removed the stain, but then how was I supposed to know that the manufacturers had increased the sizes?”. I didn’t even know if this dress from Banbridge was going to be the right fit. Oh what a headache this had turned out to be.
Friday came and I couldn’t care less at this stage, nothing else could happen because everything that could possibly have happened has happened. However, to my surprise, both dresses were waiting for me, the dress from Banbridge which was in a heap and the other dress with stain. I rushed to the changing rooms and tried the Banbridge dress on first and once again it was too big. All of this for nothing. Nothing could shock me anymore. I tried on the other dress and it was perfect on me. All the satisfaction and excitement had returned from when I first tried the dress on. I didn’t care about the stain, I was buying this dress and nothing was going to stop me now, stain or no stain. I had tried my very best but I was meant to have this dress with the stain. Therefore in the end I was finally going as the LADY IN RED.
- That’s right, Star Trek Four is the one about the humpback whales. Hey, what else do you expect? Just in case there are any Trekkies out there; yes, I know the proper title of the movie is Voyage Home: Star Trek IV. You’ll have to do a lot better than that if you want to catch me out...
- Brown and Reid, 1997, op cit, p.139.
- How, as a matter of interest, are metaphors put to death? Electrocuted? Guillotined? Hung, drawn and quartered? Buried alive? Are there protests against capital letter punishment? Can the statement governor commute the sentence or engineer an escape clause? Do certified linguists give them the last writes? I think we should be told.
- Marx was right, don’t you know! On the relationship between sex ’n’ shopping see: Belk, R.W., Ger, G. and Askegaard, S., ‘Consumer Desire in Three Cultures: Results From Projective Research’, in Brucks, M. and MacInnis, D.J., eds, Advances in Consumer Research, Vol XXIV, (Provo, Association for Consumer Research, 1997), pp. 24-8; Brown, S., ‘Sex ’n’ Shopping: Consumption Behaviour in the Scruples Novels of Judith Krantz’, in Belk, R.W., ed., Research in Consumer Behaviour, Vol. 7 (Greenwich: JAI Press, 1997), pp.1-54; Deighton, J. and Grayson, K., ‘Marketing and Seduction: Building Exchange Relationships by Managing Social Consensus’, Journal of Consumer Research, 21, March, 1995, pp. 660-76; Sherry, J.F, McGrath, M.A. and Levy, S.J., ‘Modanic Giving: Anatomy of Gifts Given to the Self’, in Sherry, J.F., ed., Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior, (Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1995), pp. 399-432.
Beyond the Displeasure Principle: Consumption and its Discontents
- Kover, A.J., ‘The Sublime and Consumer Behavior: Consumption as Defense Against the Infinite’, Consumption, Markets and Culture, 2, 1, 1998, pp. 57-99
- Ibid, p. 82.
- The literature on the ‘sacred’ side of shopping is voluminous, to say the least. Key contributions include: Belk, R.W., Wallendorf, M. and Sherry, J.F., eds, ‘The Sacred and Profane in Consumer Behavior: Theodicy on the Odyssey’, Journal of Consumer Research, 16, June, 1989, pp. 1-38; Hirschman, E.C., ‘Primitive Aspects on Consumption in Modern American Society’, Journal of Consumer Research, 12, September, 1985, pp. 142-54; Jhally, S., ‘Advertising as Religion: The Dialectic of Technology and Magic’, in Angus, I. and Jhally, S., eds, Cultural Politics in Contemporary America (New York, Routledge, 1989), pp. 217-29; LaBarbara, P.A., ‘Consumer Behavior and Born-Again Christianity’, in Sheth, J.N. and Hirschman, E.C., eds, Research in Consumer Behavior Vol. 2 (Greenwich, JAI Press, 1989), pp. 193-222; McDannell, C., Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America (New Haven, Yale University press, 1995).
- See Hutcheon, 1994, op cit. Her earlier work is pertinent too. Check out: Hutcheon, L., A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction (London, Routledge, 1988) and The Politics of Postmodernism (London, Routledge, 1989).
- Baudrillard, J., Cool Memories II (Cambridge, Polity, 1996), trans. C. Turner, p.34 .
- First mentioned by Urry, as far as I know. See Urry, J., The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies (London, Sage, 1990).
- Made in the New Hebrides from guava. No, I’m not going to explain it to you.
Yeah, I know I promised not to include additional excepts in the notes but this one is so incredible, I’m going to break my own rule. Hell, if I can’t break them, who can? Get a hold of this:
I’d purchased a woolen top some months ago from a mother/daughter owned independent clothing store named ‘Dreams.’ (I’ve since re-christened it ‘Nightmares.’) On returning home, I tried the top on, only to discover that about three inches of the bottom hadn’t been stitched at all. I’d already taken off the price tag, but I still had my receipt, so the following day I tried (‘tried’ being the operative word) to exchange the top. Very pleasantly, I explained my grievance to the daughter, who grabbed the top and buried her nose in it, presumably to check if I had worn it for any length of time. Quite aside from being a little embarrassed, I felt my face burn with rage. She then demanded the price tag, so I explained that I had fully intended to keep the garment, and discarded the tag before I discovered that the top was faulty. ‘Anyway,’ I went on, ‘I’ve kept my receipt, and surely that’s more important than the price tag.’ The ignorant creature insisted that both she and her mother considered the price tag as proof of purchase, not the receipt. Either she was having a seriously off-day or was simply demonstrating an overwhelming lack of grey matter. Regardless of either, I completely lost my temper. I pointedly told her that, by law, I was entitled to a full refund, and she couldn’t make up her own rules about what was proof of purchase and what wasn’t. By this stage, I was on a roll, and began quoting sections from the 1979 Sale of Goods Act about merchantable quality. Okay, I admit I was getting a little carried away, but it was a completely provoked attack. The creature became somewhat flustered, and told me to come back the following day to discuss the matter with her mother, but told me to expect the same reply. On returning the next day with a serious attitude in tow, the mother did not give me the same reply – she almost fell over herself trying to make amends for her daughter’s behaviour. She asked if I would like an exchange or a refund. Spotting her daughter hovering by the changing rooms, I replied: ‘Well, I was happy to settle for another top, but on account of your daughter’s rudeness, I’ll just have the refund, thank you very much.’ I left the shop with the biggest grin on my face. I love getting the upper hand with smug sales assistants.
- If you’re interested in the gaze, have a look at, Brennan, T. and Jay, M., eds, Vision in Context: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Sight (London, Routledge, 1996); as well as Jay, M., Downcast Eyes; The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth Century French Thought (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1994). A recent application of this to consumer research is found in Schroeder, J.E., ‘Consuming Representation: A Visual Approach to Consumer Research’, in Stern, B.B., ed., Representing Consumers: Voices Views and Visions (London, Routledge, 1998), pp. 193-230.
- Very Foucauldian, I’m sure you agree. Where’s Jeremy Bentham when you need him?
American p: Utah kin to me
- For a discussion of Wacko Walt’s take on Baudelaire’s flaneur see: Buck-Morss, S., The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (Cambridge, MIT Press, 1989).
- Take a bow Pauline Maclaran.
- Stephen Brown, take a bow (and arrow?)
- Some of these are referred to in Brown and Reid, 1997, op cit.
- Campbell, C., The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism (Oxford, Blackwell, 1987).
- Brown, S., ‘What’s Love Got to do With It?: Sex, Shopping and Subjective Personal Introspection’, in Brown, S. et al, eds, Romancing the Market (London, Routledge, 1998), pp. 137-71.
- I can even begin to start citing the psychological literature. However, decent introductory overviews are found in Mitchell, S.A. and Black, M.J., Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychological Thought (New York, BasicBooks, 1995); Elliott, A., Psychoanalytic Theory: An Introduction (Oxford, Blackwell, 1994); and Storr, A. and Stevens, A., Freud and Jung: A Dual Introduction (New York, Barnes and Noble, 1998). On psychological literary criticism see Wright, E., Psychological Criticism: A Reappraisal (New York, Routledge, 1998) and Vice, S., ed., Psychological Criticism: A Reader (Cambridge, Polity, 1996).
- Yes, it’s that book again. Postmodern Marketing Two: Telling Tales, in case you’d forgotten. Okay, okay, this is the last time I mention it, I promise.
- Well, all right then, supply chain management contains a longeur or two. Now, that’s what I call understatement!
- Brown, S. ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Marketing: A Neo-romantic, Counter-revolutionary Recapitulation’, in Brown, S., et al, eds, Romancing the Market (London, Routledge, 1998), pp. 255-77.
- Arnould, E.J. and Price, L.L., ‘River Magic: Extraordinary Experience and the Extended Service Encounter’, Journal of Consumer Research, 20, June, 1993, pp.24-45; Schouten, J.W. and McAlexander, J.H., ‘Subcultures of Consumption: An Ethnography of the New Bikers’, Journal of Consumer Research, 22, June, 1995, pp. 43-61; Holt, D., ‘How Consumers Consume: A Typology of Consumption Practices’, Journal of Consumer Research, 22, June, 1995, pp. 1-16.
- Van Maanen, J., ‘An End to Innocence: The Ethnography of Ethnography’, in van Maanen, ed., Representation in Ethnography (Thousand Oaks, Sage, 1995), pp. 1-35.
- My personal favourite of Morris’s is Holbrook, M.B., ‘Loving and Hating New York: Some Reflections on the Big Apple’, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 11, 4, 1994, pp. 381-5. Typical of Russ’s great-prelude-pity-about-the-rest is; Belk, R.W. ‘Hyperreality and Globalisation: Culture in the Age of Ronald McDonald’, Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 8, 3/4, 1996, pp. 23-37; Craig hits warp factor ten in Thompson, C.J. ‘Show Me the Deep Masculinity: Jerry Maguire’s Postmodernised Identity Crisis and the Romantic Revitalisation of Patriarchy (or the Mythopoetic Subtext of Relationship Marketing)’ in Brown, S. et al, eds, Romancing the Market (London, Routledge, 1998), pp. 56-73; Bob’s just brilliant full stop.
- Sherry, J.F., ‘The Soul of the Company Store: Nike Town Chicago and the Emplaced Brandscape’, in Sherry, J.F., ed., Servicescapes: The Concept of Place in Contemporary Markets (Chicago, NTC Publications, 1998), pp.109-46.
- Wallendorf, M., Lindsey-Mullikin, J. and Pimentel, R., ‘Gorilla Marketing: Customer Animation and Regional Embeddedness of a Toy Store Servicescape’, in Sherry, J.F., ed., Servicescapes: The Concept of Place in Contemporary Markets (Chicago, NTC Publications, 1998), pp. 151-98.
- Yeah, I know I promised but you should know better than to believe anything I say. This really is the last time, I swear it.
- That said, much of the other material could have been uncovered by the standard research toolkit.
- Except that one about the scanty panties. Obviously.
I hesitate to tell you this, ’cos I know you won’t believe me, but my American auto rental encounter didn’t quite end with the drive back into town. If you think back to chapter one, you’ll recall that three of the things I most hate about shopping are relocated merchandise, standing in line and paying by credit card. Well, when it came to settling my rental account some weeks later, I was requested to take the car to another location (they moved the goddamn building!), which took two hours of driving in heavy traffic to find; I had to stand in line for an eternity while the ass-holes ahead of me queried their fucking insurance disclaimers; and when I eventually got to the head of the queue my MasterCard corpsed, as the guillotine of my credit limit descended. What can I say?, except that I’m scarred for life. As you can probably tell.
You Don’t Have to be Mad to Shop Here but it Helps
- Happy day. Another ambition fulfilled. I’ve always wanted to put a footnote in a footnote and take it from there in a postmodern infinite regress. Anyway, I just what to elaborate slightly on this point re. my writing style, such as it is. The funny thing I find is that when people review my books they always feel obliged to review them in a parody of my ‘style’. In a way I suppose it’s flattering, in that if my style is distinctive enough to be parodied I must have a distinctive style to parody (hey, I’m a stylish writer!). Unfortunately, these parodies are utterly woeful, embarrassingly bad. The problem, then, is that I have to decide whether these people just can’t write very well or – and this is the really frightening one – they are in fact excellent parodies. Do I write as badly as that? Okay, I accept that trying to be ‘creative’ can be very hit and miss but if these parodies are even close I really ought to stop making a fool of myself. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do from now on. No more ‘literary’ nonsense for me. Straight down the line scholarship from now on.2 No problemo...
- Well maybe just a little bit of literary nonsense. I’m not really a straight and narrow kinda guy3.
- You see what I mean.4 It’s great isn’t it? Childish, I agree, but great all the same.
- I could go on like this for ever, you know.5 I could. I could. I could!
- Okay, then, I’ll leave it there. See you around, cetophiles.