In this opinion paper, Maschio draws from their 20 years of experience in conducting ethnographic research. The goal is to stress that the concept of desire should be a more central focus in consumer research. Desire drives not only the consumption of products and experiences but also status and fulfilling ones’ destiny. In this perspective, products and goals may be considered as forms that are inhabited by human desires. This is an important concept when researching motivation and customer needs. What research questions would change if we start considering that products may be fulfilling a desire rather than a need? I am reminded of the saying, “Sex sells,” which shows that products are often marketed to fulfill that basic desire. But there are other desires that could be focused on. Some of the other desires I see marketed to are social status, community building, and activism or causes. While discussing this level of desire in consumer culture provides a new level of consideration for researchers and marketing professionals, it does not remove need fulfillment as an essential force of cultural development. I would argue that consumer culture is created by a combination of need and desire, and previous consumer experiences.
Maschio, T. J. (2016). Culture, Desire and Consumer Culture in America in the New Age of Social Media. Qualitative Market Research; Bradford, 19(4), 416–425. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/QMR-04-2016-0038
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