Consumers as four-faced creatures: looking at food consumption from the perspective of contemporary consumers

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    49 Citations (Scopus)


    One would believe that with the increasing importance attached to consumers in contemporary affluent societies, the difficulty to understand today's `butterfly¿ or `unmanageable¿ consumers seems to double simultaneously. Modern consumers defy traditional segmentation by age, gender or income. Classical criteria to distinguish different homogeneous groups of consumers with corresponding behavioral intentions and patterns, have lost much of their explanatory power. Hence, the behaviour of the inhabitants of modern consumer society can no longer be understood by `straight¿ and measurable segmentation criteria only. In order to meet the complexities of modern consumer behaviour, it is suggested that we need to improve our understanding of socio-cultural and socio-psychological influences on consumer choices. Such are awarded to be supplementary to socio-demographic (e.g. age, gender) or socio-economic (e.g. income, occupation) criteria, which are traditionally used in consumer studies. Our contribution to this quest for new perspectives, in which consumption is both seen as an economic/materialistic and a socio-cultural/attitudinal phenomenon, is called the consumer images approach. The underpinnings of this approach are the dimensions materialism/nonmaterialism and individualism/collectivism. Based on these two dimensions, four consumer images are distinguished in a four-quadrantic continuum. This implies that consumer images are not another set of taxonomies to `box in¿ consumers. The consumer images approach is in tune with lines of thought in the recent renaissance of the sociology of consumption. To illustrate this, a presentation of the multifaceted consumer will be given that is interlarded with quotations from several new studies on contemporary consumerism which give evidence of the current vitality of scholarly interest in consumption
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)32-39
    Number of pages8
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • Consumer culture
    • Consumer typologies
    • Food consumption
    • Socio-cultural determinants
    • Sociology of consumption


    Dive into the research topics of 'Consumers as four-faced creatures: looking at food consumption from the perspective of contemporary consumers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this