Understanding subjectivity beyond individuality

Date of publication: December 1, 1995


In this paper we propose to consider the approach to the subjectivity of consumers on the assumption that there is now a TRUE consumption culture which inspires their behaviour and ideology, strongly influencing the perception of products and brands. On the basis of this assumption we believe we can demonstrate that qualitative research, an unrivalled tool for probing motivations, must sometimes go beyond analysis of the individual case and limit and control subjectivity, at the same time penetrating its degree of importance. For this purpose we suggest the qualitative/quantitative research method, which focuses on a detailed questionnaire with a strong motivational bias. It also appears necessary to provide a contextualisation of data, that is an analysis of attitudes towards the category of product studied, and the opinions and behaviour relating to the product itself. We feel this will delineate an ideological/cultural context allowing the aggregation of subjectivity to be established in an extensive, varied way. The case we present to illustrate our working hypothesis lends itself to the purpose particularly well, as it relates to a product with a strong marketing personality which demonstrates the role played by the marketing mixes of the two product brands examined in instilling the culture of the product into consumers, in the encounter with their expectations, projections and lifestyles. This makes it possible to establish that the ideology associated with the consumption culture relating to the product category in question (in our case body care and personal hygiene products) significantly influences not only the perception of a brand, but also the method of purchasing and using the product.

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