Assessment 1: Structured Abstract

Assessment 1: Structured Abstract
This structured abstract will review the topic of conspicuous consumption; with a specific focus on Millennial and Generation Z consumers in the emerging markets of India and Qatar. This will be accomplished through the works of Veblen, Farrag, Jain, Roy & Ranchhod and Sharda & Bhat.

  1. Brief summary of the theory
    Luxury and ostentatious consumption have long been topics of discussed and debated. It has been noted that well before Veblen first posited his theory for conspicuous consumption post-antiquity civilisations viewed consumption as a way to differentiate themselves and exhibit social status and power. (Patsiaouras & Fitchett 2012; Farrag 2017)
    Some of the most notable early references to this topic hail from Stoic philosophy. One example comes from the well-known by Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger who often opined over what he saw as superfluous and hedonistic tendencies.
    “… to want simply what is enough nowadays suggests to people primitiveness and squalor” (Seneca & Campbell 2004, p. 168)
    Veblen argues that consumer purchasing habits stem from their desire to imitate higher social classes and that “failure to consume with due quality or quantity becomes a mark of inferiority or demerit” (1899, p. 36) amongst his fellow status seeking peers.
    The works of Farrag, Jain, Roy & Ranchhod and Sharda & Bhat broadly support this notion of “keeping up with the Joneses” though the focus over the past century has shifted from the house and its master to individuals building their eminence. The definition of the “Joneses” has also changed thanks to social media bringing greater exposure to celebrity lifestyles coupled with the acceptance of these platforms from the affluent class. (Jain, Roy & Ranchhod 2015; Jain & Khan 2017)
    In developed nations the topic at hand has continued to evolve beyond simply wastefulness and materialistic consumption. According to Patsiaouras & Fitchett (2012) public displays of wealth has started to fall out of vogue and is slowly being replaced by ethical consumption to demonstrate social status by the highly-educated and well-travelled newer generations in post-affluent societies.
  2. Discussion of Common themes
    As discussed above the idea of “keeping up with the Joneses” can be found in all articles under the guise of social acceptance or social conformity. The papers layout the possibility of this being attributed to the deep-rooted social conventions of the caste system and tribalism. (Farrag 2017; Sharda & Bhut 2015)
    Exposure to the West was also seen as a topic of note for the authors specifically in the realm of brand consciousness where celebrity endorsement or high social media visibility play a factor in brands desirability. Farrag (2017) attributes this towards a desire to imitate celebrities individuals compare themselves to.
    The topic of materialism and hedonistic consumption is also explored. It is argued that historically poor nations with recent exposure to wealth tend to be more materialistic than developed countries (Sharda & Bhut 2015) and for consumers in these emerging markets “luxury brands purchased are a measure of their personal happiness” (Farrag 2017, p. 402)
  3. Discussion of Different themes
    Minimal differences in themes are present. Jain, Roy & Ranchhod (2017) notes the democratisation of luxury products within the large metro cities of India due to these goods being viewed as “part of life” by the inhabitants. This is contradictory to both the smaller and rural India centres as well as Qatar where luxury goods are still associated with the elite class and aristocracy. (Farrag 2017; Jain, Roy & Ranchhod 2017)
    This can be attributed to the absence of a universally acknowledged definition of luxury (Farrag 2017; Sharda & Bhut 2015; Jain & Khan 2017) leading to diverse cultural and socio-economic groups having differing interpretations of what constitutes luxury goods.
  4. Discussion of Study limitations
    There are common limitations present across all papers; age specifically is a restricting factor in generalising the findings which all authors acknowledge. The studies are primarily focussed on large cities within their respective country limiting the ability to identify changes in consumption attitudes across different social-economic groups.
    The qualitative research of Jain, Roy & Ranchhod (2017) acknowledges the need to undertake detailed quantitative research to validate and further refine their initial findings.
    Farrag (2017) and Sharda & Bhat (2015) placed an emphasis on mall intercepts and equivalent convenient sampling methods for their quantitative data collection. This excludes the ever-growing set of individuals – specifically men – who are migrating towards online shopping thanks to the increased access to credit and debit cards in developing countries. (Gehrt et al. 2012; Thamizhvanan & Xavier 2013)
    It is also noted by Farrag that the sample is heavily skewed towards female respondents; the paper explains this as a natural phenomenon as women are “more interested in shopping” (2017, p. 401). However, with males making up three quarters of Qatar’s population it seems improbably that less than 40% of males participate in the luxury market. A possible explanation pertains to the mall intercept method employed; given the author is a woman in a socially conservative country cultural factors may have caused selective sampling and the avoidance of unpartnered men.
  5. Discussion of future research
    Stemming from their narrow, youth focused, research all three papers the call for the expansion of studies to different age groups as one of the main directions for future study. In addition, continuing to use the developed methods and frameworks across other countries to allow for broader conclusions to be drawn across emerging markets is also endorsed.
    Though not discussed smaller and more regional Indian cities present a clear avenue for future research given the rapid expansion of the middle-class outside of national and financial capitals of Delhi and Mumbai respectively. Likewise conducting future group discussions and questionnaires in state specific languages may help to unearth new knowledge around luxury consumers who are not comfortable with English as a means of expression. This will help to provide a more representative view of conspicuous consumption across the nation.
    Social media and peer influence are topic which are also mentioned briefly in all papers yet are never full explored. Farrag (2017) specifically call these, along with vanity and functional value, out as being useful variables in developing a more comprehensive framework.
    Reference List
    Farrag, DA 2017, ‘The young luxury consumer in Qatar’, Young Consumers, Vol. 18 Issue: 4, pp. 393- 407
    Gehrt, KC, Rajan, MN, Shainesh, G, Czerwinski, D & O’Brien, M 2012, ‘Emergence of online shopping in India: shopping orientation segments’, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 40 Issue: 10, pp.742-758
    Jain, S & Khan, MN 2017, `Measuring the impact of beliefs on luxury buying behaviour in an emerging market: Emperical evidence from India’, Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 21 Issue: 3, pp. 341-360
    Jain, V, Roy, S & Ranchhod, A 2015, ‘Conceptualizing luxury buying behavior: the Indian perspective’, Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 24 Issue: 3, pp. 211-228
    Patsiaouras, G & Fitchett, JA 2012, ‘The evolution of conspicuous consumption’, Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, Vol. 4 Issue: 1, pp. 154-176 Seneca, LA & Campbell, R 2004, Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, Penguin Books, London
    Sharda, N & Bhat, AK 2018, ‘Austerity to materialism and brand consciousness: luxury
    consumption in India’, Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, Vol.
    22 Issue: 2, pp. 223-239
    Thamizhvanan, A & Xavier, MJ 2013 ‘Determinants of customers’ online purchase intention: an empirical study in India’, Journal of Indian Business Research, Vol. 5 Issue: 1, pp.17-32
    Veblen, T 1899, The Theory of the Leisure Class, Macmillan Company, New York

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