Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Understanding Consumer Values and Socialization - a Case of Luxury Products

Academic journal article Management & Marketing

Understanding Consumer Values and Socialization - a Case of Luxury Products

Article excerpt

Abstract. The values consumer considers and associates with luxury products have changed as a result of globalization and modernization. Traditionally, consumers rely on functional values when making a luxury purchase decision. However, in contemporary times, there has been a shiftto an emphasis on emotional values and social values when considering luxury product purchases. While there are existing researches, which have focused on the functional values of luxury products, there seems to be a scarcity of knowledge that explains the emotional values and social values associated with luxury products. Accordingly, the aim of this study is to understand consumer values on luxury products and how contemporary consumer socialization have cause a shifttowards reliance on emotional values and social values when making luxury product purchases. The study is exploratory in nature and employs a qualitative discoveryoriented approach to explore consumer perceptions, opinions and experiences in relation to values and socialization associated with luxury products. Findings show that functional values remains as a consideration, particularly in terms of brand symbols, quality and durability of luxury products. There is, indeed, a stronger emphasis on emotional values and social values, in which consumers associates the consumption of luxury products with hedonistic experiences and a necessity to purchase, own and consume luxury products to conform with society expectations and to fit into the exclusive and higher social status consumer segments. Implications and recommendations from the study's findings are also presented.

Keywords: Consumer values, socialization, luxury products, functional values, emotional values, social values.

1. Introduction

Luxury products are often associated with diamonds, jewelries, high-end automobiles, and massive square foot of properties in the past (Okonkwo, 2007). However, due to time changes and globalization advancement, there have been significant changes in consumer behaviour and lifestyles (Cristache, 2009; Lim et al., 2009). With contrary to the past, materialism is becoming more prominent in consumers of contemporary times (Eastman et al., 1997). Previously, luxury products could only be owned or were often associated with only certain elite groups, the rich and famous and the royalties, all of whom reside in the higher social classes in the society (Christodoulides et al., 2009). As a result of modernization, the varieties of luxury products have extend to various product categories and product lines to cater to a wider market of consumers, which not only include those of the higher social classes, but also, those who are in the middle-upper social classes (Truong et al., 2009). Further, new market segments have emerged as luxury products are no longer targeted to consumers who are older, such as professionals and matured consumers, as more luxury products are observed to be targeting young consumers as a target segment (Twitchell, 2002). Paradoxical to prior times, marketers today communicate with wider target audience, in which marketing efforts of luxury products have become an increasing challenge (Dubois et al., 2005). Moreover, the effects of globalization and modernization has also evolve the values associated with luxury products as these products no longer provide solely on functional values, but also, on emotional values and social values (Atwal and Williams, 2009).

Values are defined as the net benefits that consumers gain and act as a strong contributing force to consumers' attitude and judgments in their purchase decisions (Ko et al., 2010). However, how consumers perceive the value of a particular product may be different due to the differences of weight that consumers place between benefits, which consumers may gain either through owning a product or using a service as compared to the consumers sacrificial in order to obtain the product or service (The Economist, 1997). …

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