Friday, April 29, 2011

Conceptual Consumption

An art-crime, a dusty Harley Davidson!

This is one gorgeous Harley-Davidson motorcycle! According to Harley-Davidson their vision is stated as follows:
"We fulfill dreams inspired by the many roads of the world by providing extraordinary motorcycles and customer experiences. We fuel the passion for freedom in our customers to express their own individuality."

So, it looks to me that riding an HD is all about freedom mixed with a blend of being rebellious. Yet some would go for a Harley not to satisfy the freedom need, but to have the image of a freedom-loving rider and its associated lifestyle. Even in some countries where owning a motorcycle needs an exclusive sort of license, someone might buy an HD to indicate he/she has the power of making it happen; this type of behavior is called conceptual consumption.

While physical consumption is related to the core benefit or quality of a product (example: food in a restaurant) conceptual consumption is related to the psychological attribute of consumption (example: the exclusivity of experiencing that restaurant). Interestingly, a consumer might sacrifice a physical consumption experience for a conceptual consumption experience in order to impress others and achieve a self-fulfilling prophecy. For instance, buying a a high-consuming car to be associated with the authority and power of that gigantic car.

Conceptual consumption was introduced by Dan Ariely and Michael Norton (Ariely and Norton 2009)* and one sure thing is that it can be utilized in business to sell something and drive the desired behavior of the consumer. My special thanks goes to Dr. Phil Jones for introducing me to this term.

* Ariely, Dan and Michael I. Norton (2009), “Conceptual Consumption,” Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 475-499
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