Consumption in life transition : How do unemployed consumers behave in the marketplace?
Background: We live in a world where not everyone is employed; numerous people havelost their jobs due to several factors where one of them is the economic crisis. This has hada huge impact on Sweden and the unemployment rate. Previous research has shown thatinflation, unemployment, and high interest rates represent risks to consumer welfare. We all consume daily, or on occasions, but how do unemployed consumers consume, what do they consume and why? In this area, the authors have found a knowledge gap in literature; therefore exploring this phenomenon is of interest.
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore and illustrate how consumers who have experienced a life transition, from employment to unemployment, are affected by this and how it has an impact on their consumption.
Method: This is an exploratory study performed with a qualitative and an abductive approach, where the authors used primary data collection through semi-structured in-depth interviews in Swedish with 16 unemployed consumers. These unemployed consumers were selected at Arbetsförmedlingen, the public employment service, in Jönköping.
Results: By living in unemployment the consumers have been affected psychologically, physically, financially and socially. Their identity has changed for each of them since they have to adapt to the new circumstances in their life. The new life situation has had an impact on the consumer’s well-being where depression, anxiety, and a feeling of being the underdog in the society is present. Their new life situation has implied a change in their consumption behavior since they nowadays have to prioritize the basic needs. Many of the respondents used explicit and implicit shopping-list in order to reduce their impulse buying. The contribution that the authors have done to the theory of resistance is a fourth category called ‘Everyday life resistance’ which explains the behavior of people who live in unemployment, i.e. they always have to think about resisting temptations, wants, desires, and avoiding situations where the result may be unnecessary consumption. The consumers in this study are highly involved in their consumption behavior, which the authors have chosen to call ‘reversed habitual decision making’. This kind of involvement is very high despite the high- or low risk category of the product. Their new life situation has made them more aware of product alternatives, market supply, prices, and also knowledge about their own resistance in the marketplace.
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