Nav: Home

People turn to consumerism to confront problems, grief and feelings

April 11, 2019

People are increasingly turning to commercial settings as outlets for their emotions, confronting problems, grief and feelings.

It is well understood that consumers seek out leisure activities and vacations in order to escape from daily life and real-world problems.

But a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, by Dr Leighanne Higgins, from Lancaster University Management School, and Dr Kathy Hamilton, from the University of Strathclyde, reveals a new consumption trend - the important role of marketplaces in enabling consumers to confront their problems.

"Whereas previous studies tell us that consuming something for therapeutic reasons is associated with escaping emotional suffering, our research shows that consumers are actively choosing to visit certain places in order to confront their feelings, grief or worries," said Dr Hamilton. "These environments are seen as safe spaces."

The researchers refer to these spaces as 'Therapeutic Servicescapes', where expressing emotion and appearing vulnerable is completely accepted, meaning visitors leave with a much-improved sense of well-being.

Their three-year study investigated the Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes, in France, which celebrated its 160th anniversary last year under theme of '160 Years of Emotion'. The study sought to understand why pilgrimage is one of the fastest growing motivations for travel.

Multiple field trips to Lourdes, where thousands of additional pilgrims will head to this Easter with HCPT, a charity taking children who are disabled or disadvantaged for a fun-filled week of faith and rest, and in-depth interviews with pilgrims revealed that they seek not only religious fulfilment but also the opportunity to 'break down' in a safe place away from the judgement of modern day society.

"One of our participants referred to their home environment of Scotland as being 'emotionally straight-jacketed', where people don't express emotion in public," said Dr Higgins.

"In everyday life, society tells us to keep going, with consumers constantly under pressure to be the perfect partner, parent and employee. We are witnessing unprecedented levels of mental health issues and our research uncovers consumers dealing with emotional suffering beyond traditional and private therapy sessions.

"Our research is helpful because it can show how businesses can cultivate emotions to promote well-being, especially when society tells us these emotions should not be displayed or shared in public."

The marketplace of Lourdes, comprising more than 200 hotels, 100 restaurants and 200 souvenir shops, is often perceived as detracting from the religious setting. However, the study uncovered the marketplace to be a firm part of the therapeutic process.

The interaction and engagement with the religious rituals, as well as the simple secular pursuits of eating, having a coffee or glass of wine, and talking to like-minded others were all pivotal in creating a therapeutic setting for participants.

Dr Higgins added: "Religious landscapes have a unique foothold in the market, and it is likely that we will see demand for pilgrimages continue to increase. However, if consumers are looking for a sense of community and a sense of safety in order to unleash their emotions, further studies into secular locations is important.

"This could potentially offer certain festivals or conventions, for example, the opportunity to capitalize on the therapeutic experience that consumers desire and, ultimately, improve wellbeing."

Lancaster University

Related Consumers Articles:

What's in a name? For young Chinese consumers, it's about culture mixing
Younger, more cosmopolitan Chinese consumers tend to favor brand translations that keep both the sound and the meaning of the original name, says U. of I. business professor and branding expert Carlos J.
Why do consumers participate in 'green' programs?
From recycling to reusing hotel towels, consumers who participate in a company's 'green' program are more satisfied with its service, finds a new study co-led by a Michigan State University researcher.
Consumers care about carbon footprint
How much do consumers care about the carbon footprint of the products they buy?
Consumers have huge environmental impact
You won't make big cuts in your environmental impact by taking shorter showers or turning out the lights.
Consumers' preferences for foliage plant attributes
Experiments investigated the effect of plant attributes on consumers' likelihood of purchasing indoor foliage plants.
New study finds adult fresh pear consumers had a lower body weight than non-pear consumers
The epidemiologic study, led by Carol O'Neil of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, used a nationally representative analytic sample to examine the association of fresh pear consumption with nutrient intake, nutrient adequacy, diet quality, and cardiovascular risk factors in adults.
How much do consumers know about new sunscreen labels?
Sunscreen labels may still be confusing to consumers, with only 43 percent of those surveyed understanding the definition of the sun protection factor value, according to the results of a small study published in a research letter online by JAMA Dermatology.
Saving money: Do consumers spend less if they think about the future?
Why is it so hard for consumers to save money?
When are consumers more likely to rely on feelings to make decisions?
Why do some consumers make choices based on their feelings instead of rational assessments?
How are ordinary consumers transforming the fashion business?
One of the most important shifts of the 21st century is the ability of consumers to participate in markets they love such as music and fashion.

Related Consumers Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...