Understanding the Consumer brings together marketing theory and practice in a truly consumer-centric approach. It challenges the lip service usually paid to this concept and demonstrates that a fundamental understanding of the consumer is critical to the future of effective marketing. Drawing on cutting-edge developments in the literature it reconceptualizes how consumers respond and act in the marketplace with particular attention to: - relationships with suppliers, products and brands - their innovative, creative and resistant behaviour - the complexity and unpredictability of their consumption behaviour - their increasing need to get closer to production. The book challenges existing functionally driven marketing thinking and shows how a more holistic approach to the marketplace will drive better theory and practice. It combines a jargon-free approach to the subject with an illustration of the relevant theory using practical, topical examples from the marketplace as well as drawing on other business related disciplines including sociology and economics to support its arguments.

Paradoxes of Meaning

Paradoxes of meaning

Market segmentation is inherently a technology of domination. Segmentation is about ‘classifying, organizing, and labelling consumers.’ (Horkheimer and Adorno, [1944] 1996: 123)


We have seen that the central problem for both marketing theory and practice lies in the terms of the relationships that are feasible with active consumers in fluid settings and we have examined some aspects of the product within such settings. This chapter explores how consumers use goods and the meanings that are assigned to those goods. It describes how the assigning of meaning has come about through the increase in choice and the increase in the consumers’ economic ability to make those choices. Consumers today, as never before, define their self-identity and indeed their social or group identities ...

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