UNDERSTANDING THE CONSUMER
The assignment is designed as a literature review. This means that you are to explore the topic area through a review of the literature related to the topic (i.e. what is known about the topic). The assignment topic area is:
Gender and consumer behaviour
Your review of the literature should be a focused discussion on some aspect of consumer behaviour as it relates to the general topic area. You should therefore select one topic on which to focus your discussion. For example, you could look the purchase of particular products (clothes, mobile phones etc.) and gender, participation in particular activities (leisure, music, online etc.) and gender, or you could look at aspects of gender and identity. These are just examples. It is up to you to select an appropriate focus for your discussion once you have searched the literature available.
The assignment is an individual piece of written work (2500 words) and should draw on a minimum of six journal articles. These articles must be from peer reviewed journals such as those below:
- Consumption, Markets and Culture
- Journal of Consumer Research
- Journal of Consumer Behaviour
- Marketing Theory
- Journal of Marketing
- Journal of Marketing Management
- Journal of Retailing
- European Journal of Marketing
You are required to use an essay format using paragraphs to structure your discussion. Please do not present your work in a report with paragraphs following headings/sub-headings. In this assignment you will be comparing and contrasting articles so do not deal with each article entirely separately. You may use direct quotations from the articles but only where it supports your discussion and each quotation should be correctly referenced in the text.
Please avoid merely describing the articles; where possible provide some criticism and evaluation of the material discussed in each article. In addition, where it may support your discussion, do include reference to other work. We are asking for an in-depth consideration of the articles of your choice. Your essay should be 1.15 or 1.5 spaced using 12pt text. When referring to your articles and any other literature please use the Harvard referencing system, details of this can be found in your student handbook. Your assignment should be approximately 2,500 words in length excluding your Reference List. Please state your word count either on your front page or at the end of your essay.
Suggested essay structure as below. You do not need to stick rigidly to this but it will give you an idea of what to cover. Also remember this is an essay not a report so do not use subheadings in the final essay (you may want to use them as you build up your essay though to help you to keep your discussion focused in each paragraph).
A very short background to the general topic (for example, why it is important to understand gender). A short introduction to your chosen topic/area of focus. For example, you might want to focus on a particular category of product (e.g. clothes) or a particular context (e.g. online). (Please note, these are just a couple of suggestions – there are many more – it is up to you to decide your topic/area of focus). Some discussion of the essay structure (for example, which subtopics will you explore? How will the discussion progress?). You may also want to identify what some of your key conclusions are (rather like an executive summary would in a commercial report).
- Series of subsections on your chosen topic
Identify a way to divide up discussion of your topic into a series of subtopics. You will not have an idea of how to do this until you have done a literature search in your chosen topic area. This might be achieved in several ways for example by looking at the different methodologies authors have used to explore the topic (i.e. qualitative such as interviews, focus groups versus quantitative such as surveys and experiments), or by looking at the different cultural contexts explored, or you may choose a mixture of approaches. Fundamentally however, it is important that you have a clear structure to your essay which is communicated to the reader in your introduction.
Typically students find this section the hardest to write. Here you summarise the main findings from the above discussion of your topic. You really just need to reinforce the most important points arising from your discussion. Repeat the essay structure and for each of your subtopics highlight the key views/findings. Also try then to take a position yourself on the topic, which views do you find particularly convincing or unconvincing? Finally if you can, identify some topics for further research that might expand on the findings from your review of the topic.
What we are testing in this assignment?
Your ability to do a literature search and identify key articles in a topic area. Remember – this assignment is a ‘literature review’, therefore work that does not refer to the literature (minimum of 6 academic journal articles) will not pass.
Your ability to summarise arguments/findings from journal articles in a coherent and structured manner.
Your ability to reference correctly, both correctly citing authors within your discussion, and constructing a detailed reference list at the end of your essay.
RECOMMENDED TEXTS FOR REFERENCING
The recommended texts for the course are:
Blythe, J. (2013), Consumer Behaviour. London: Sage.
Solomon, M., Bamossy, G., Askegaard, S. and Hogg, M. (2013) Consumer Behaviour. A European Perspective, (5th Edition). Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.
Other books highly recommended are:
Arnould, E., Price, L. and Zinkhan, G. (2005) Consumers (2nd Edition), Boston: McGraw Hill.
Blythe, J (2008) Consumer behaviour. London: Thomson Learning.
Baudrillard, J (2004) The Consumer Society: myths and structures. (2nd Ed). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Casey, E and Martens, L (eds.) (2007) Gender and Consumption: domestic cultures and the commercialisation of everyday life. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Chisnall, P (1994) Consumer Behaviour, (3rd Edition), Berkshire: McGraw Hill).
Desmond, J. (2003) Consuming Behaviour. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Dubois, B (2000) Understanding the Consumer: a European perspective. London: Prentice Hall.
Evans, M., Ahmad, J. and Foxall, G. (2009) Consumer Behaviour. (2nd Edition). Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
Featherstone, M. (2007) Consumer Culture and Postmodernism. (2nd Edition). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Foxall, G., Brown, S. and Goldsmith, R. (1998) Consumer Psychology for Marketing (2nd Edition). London: International Thomson Business Press.
Firat, A. Fuat and Dholakia, N. (1998) Consuming People: From Political Economy to theatres of consumption. London: Routledge.
Holbrook, M.B. (1995) Consumer Research: Introspective Essays on the Study of Consumption, Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Miller, D (2001) Consumption: Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences (four volume set) London: Routledge.
Parsons, E and Mclaren, P (eds) (2009) Contemporary Issues in Marketing and Consumer Behaviour. Oxford: Butterworth.
Schiffman, L., Hansen, H. and Kanuk, L. (2011) Consumer Behaviour: A European Outlook. (2nd Edition). Harlow: Prentice Hall.
Szmigin, I. and Piacentini, M. (2015) Consumer Behaviour, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Solomon, M. (2013) Consumer Behaviour: Buying, Having and Being, (10th Edition). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.
Statistical Office of the European Communities (2009) Consumers in Europe; facts and figures. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
Most Relevant Less Relevant
Advances in Consumer Research Journal of Marketing
Consumption, Markets and Culture Journal of Marketing Management
Journal of Consumer Research Journal of Retailing
Journal of Consumer Behaviour European Journal of Marketing
Marketing Theory Journal of Strategic Marketing
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Association for Consumer Research http://www.acrwebsite.org/
Consumer Behaviour (resource written by a US professor) http://www.consumerglobe.com/
Journal of Research for Consumers (click on academic articles) http://www.jrconsumers.com/
National Consumer Council http://www.ncc.org.uk/
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