Academic journal article IUP Journal of Marketing Management

Consumer Awareness and Consumer Activism among Adolescents: A Socialization Perspective

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Marketing Management

Consumer Awareness and Consumer Activism among Adolescents: A Socialization Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

Socialization has been described as "a process that begins at birth, by which an individual learns the expectations of society and how to get along with others, and acquires sensitivity to the pressures and obligations of group life" (Melanie and Locke, 2007). This approach has been used by researchers in the field of consumer behavior.

Children's consumer behavior as an area of research has been studied since the 1950s (John, 1999). But the work in this area of research gained momentum wit h the publication of an article by Scott Ward in the year 1974 entitled, "Consumer Socialization", describing it as the "process by which young people acquire skil ls, knowledge and attitudes relevant to their functioning as consumers in the marketplace" (Ward, 1974). Studying consumer socialization of children is about determining what makes children learn the role of a consumer. Consumer socialization of children has been a topic of immense importance for researchers (Moschis, 1985; Moore-Shay and Berchmans, 1996; and John, 1999), marketers and consumer educators (Moschis and Churchill, 1978).

Several consumer groups have criticized marketers for their unethical practices and the effects of these on children, considering them the most vulnerable segment. Young consumers are a major market not only for snacks and sweets but also for expensive items (Halan, 2002). The Government of India, like responsible governments of other countries, aims to make the consumers aware of their rights and duties and to protect their interest. Despite many efforts to protect consumers by the government, the consumers, especially the children as consumers are being exploited by the marketers. Hence, there is a need to investigate this for the government and the consumer educators to frame the policies accordingly.

A number of studies related to consumer socialization have been conducted around the world (Ward, 1974; Moore and Stephens, 1975; Ward et al., 1977; Moschis and Churchill, 1978; Moschis and Moore, 1978 and 1979; Churchill and Moschis, 1979; Moore and Moschis, 1980; Moschis, 1985; Shim, 1996; and Bush et al., 1999), but not much research has be en done from the Indian perspective. Since most of the studies in this area so far have co ncentrated on developed countries (Dotson and Hyatt, 2005), there is a need to understand the role of various agents in consumer socialization from adolescent's viewpoint in developing countries like India (Haq and Rahman, 2015). Also, not many studies have been undertaken rece ntly to study consumer socialization, though the role and importance of different socialization agents have undergone many changes over the past times. This study strives to fill this void. Empirical investigation in the area of consumer socialization may also help the marketers in developing effective marketing strategies (Wa rd, 1974; and Moschis an d Churchill, 1978).

In recent times, studies have been conducted to examine the various issues related to consumer affairs knowledge and consumer behavior like research on the knowledge about labels (Madhvapaty and Singh, 2014), impact of consumer awareness on effective consumer behavior (Ishak and Zabil, 2012), and challenges for consumer protection (Usman et al., 2015). But environmental and social factors influencing their knowledge and behavior are not studied much. This study addresses this gap.

Hence, the purpose of the present study is to examine the level of consumer affairs knowledge and consumer activism among adolescents and also to examine the influence of various socialization agents on consumer affairs knowledge and consumer activism among adolescents in India.

The existent literature reveals that research on this topic is lacking, particularly in India. Also, Internet and school as consumer socialization agents have not been studied much in India; though these are important socialization agents, especially for adolescents. Hence, it becomes important to study their influence on adolescents. …

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