Place as a site and item of consumption: An exploratory study

Simone Pettigrew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

While places are recognized as sites of consumption within the field of consumer behaviour, they have yet to be generally accepted as forms of consumption. This study investigates the idea of place as a consumption object by comparing conceptions of city and country within a cross-cultural sample. Thirty-six consumers living in the US, the UK and Australia were interviewed to explore their thoughts and feelings relating to the cities and countries in which they reside. The findings provide empirical support for key conceptualizations of place in the sociology literature and extend consumer behaviour theory to include considerations of the physical, social and cultural aspects of place that impact upon consumption. In addition, the findings portray places as entities that are assessed, selected and experienced in comparable ways to products.In their recent pioneering article on attachment, Kleine and Baker (2004) proposed a central role for the notion of place in consumer behaviour. They described places as sites and forms of consumption in their own right. This perspective had not been clearly articulated in the consumer behaviour literature previously, although Sherry (2000) highlighted the inextricable relationship between consumption and place and the potential role of consumer researchers in explicating this relationship. By comparison, place (and the related concept of space) has long been the focus of attention in disciplines such as sociology, philosophy, geography, economics and urban planning (Soja, 1989; Lefebvre, 1991; Urry, 1995). These disciplines can offer insight into the social and temporal aspects of place and how they combine to influence individuals' consumption-related cognitions and behaviours. A limitation of previous work, however, is the domination of conceptual theorizations and the scarcity of empirical evidence, an exception being some of Zukin's work which appears to use an ethnographic approach (Zukin, 1982, 2004). The outcome has been calls for empirical studies of place across disciplines to compliment existing theoretical analyses (Low, 1992; Urry, 1995; Sherry, 2000; Kleine and Baker, 2004).In the present study, consumers living in the US, the UK and Australia were interviewed to explore their thoughts and feelings relating to the cities and countries in which they reside.1 The findings provide support for the proposition that places can be assessed and experienced in comparable ways to products (Urry, 1995; Kleine and Baker, 2004).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-608
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Volume31
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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