Re-examining utopia in contemporary consumption: conceptualization and implications for marketing

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Abstract

This paper introduces liquid consumer utopias, defined as market-mediated expressions of individuals’ desires to re-imagine and re-construct reality, and to re-frame the present. This conceptual lens illuminates previously untheorized consumption phenomena, which are socially constructed, and often critical, efforts to enact an alternative way of being in an increasingly uncertain and unpredictable world. Three key characteristics of liquid utopias are outlined—immediacy, transience and hyper-individualization––each pointing to liquid consumer utopias’ function to facilitate present-oriented and short-lived re-imaginings of reality. Co-existing alongside the solid and collective utopian consumption of interest to prior research, these emergent forms of liquid consumer utopias articulate a re-imagining of the present (rather than the future), have an emphasis on individual (rather than communal) experiences of betterment, and an orientation toward temporary re-framings of the experienced reality (rather than a pursuit of permanence and long-lasting change). Implications are discussed for retailing, experiential consumption, and consumer self-optimization.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23–39
Number of pages17
JournalAMS Review
Volume11
Issue number1-2
Early online date19 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Utopia, Liquid consumption, Desire, Escape, Experiential consumption, Retailing