Consumerism, Market Analysis and Impact on Business Plan Definition

Consumerism, Market Analysis and Impact on Business Plan Definition

Alessandro Ruggieri, Cecilia Silvestri, Michela Piccarozzi
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5880-6.ch019
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Creating a company is an event of great uncertainty and complexity. Many variables are to be considered and trying to predict the future development of the business is particularly important. A set of market and strategic analysis instruments can help entrepreneurs to define and solve problem in the start-up phase and to understand the potentialities of business. In particular, the analysis of consumerism is a particularly important factor in order to outline the development of demand and consumer behaviour. Therefore, the first instrument is certainly the business plan; it is necessary to explain and show the aspects of the market where firms will work. This chapter analyzes, through a qualitative analysis, the techniques of market analysis useful for drawing up a business plan focused on the consumer and the dynamics of consumerism. The goal is to emphasize the role the evolutionary dynamics of the consumer and his or her preferences play in leading the company planning towards specific market positioning and in determining the business volume.
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In the past, consumers were generally regarded as passive subjects, that business could easily manipulate. Until the sixties that could be considered largely true. Today, however, it is impossible to ignore that consumers are gradually matured and despite playing the role of buyers of consumer goods they fundamentally remain “individuals”; they therefore transfer the richness of their personality and their culture in the purchase. The analyses thereof are more complicated and need to be carried out using an interdisciplinary approach. It is mandatory to collect the contribution of other social sciences (economics, psychology, anthropology, semiotics, etc.) (Codeluppi, 2000, 2001, 2002).

Consumption, in fact, it is mostly “a Weberian social action with a meaning, and not only an 'hortum clausum' of economists as it has been too long. An arid orchard where quantities and prices, ambiguous concepts of utility and atomistic choices are compared” (Fabris, 2006b, 2006c). During the twentieth century this awareness led those who have studied the consumer to seek more detailed survey instruments, capable of describing a continuously changing reality, difficult to be fitted in rigid and predefined schemes. Consequently, if in the late nineteenth century it seemed undisputable that consumption was not just an appendage of production (and therefore a purely economic activity), but primarily a social and cultural way of acting, nowadays this is not sufficient to understand the act of a consumer “impossible to be caught, homeless and with no ties, devoted to zapping and patchwork” (Minestroni, 2006).

Bauman’s (2000) readings of the context where the consumer operates today is one of the most effective; she speaks of liquid modernity. The “fluidity” is for Bauman the main metaphor of the current phase of the society: liquids, in fact, do not retain their shape for long and are always ready to change; they easily move and lightly shift.

The fluid state deconstructs, breaks the traditional systemic order of the modern age, changes scenarios and requires a total rethinking of the old concepts of space, time, community, work and individuality. This new condition has consequences on consumption: if until recent times stability and reliability were the most appreciated dimensions when choosing goods, now it is their values, the meanings they contain and express that lead the buyer towards one or another product. Bauman’s reflections (1999) on the contemporary world have been developed in Italy by Fabris, and more specifically on the issue of direct consumption. Fabris has dedicated several works to the description of consumption and the consumer in the current post-modern society (Bauman, 1999; Featherstone, 1994; Lyotard, 1982; Vattimo, 1985). Fabris (2003), and other scholars who have dealt with this topic (Codeluppi, 1989; Fabris, 1995; Minestroni, 2006; Di Nallo, 1997; Signorelli, 2005) have described a fluid reality, where products are dematerialized, desires outdo needs, the emotional sphere and the multi-sensory become the most significant way of approaching the outside world, the real and the virtual combine to give rise to new forms of interaction and socializing.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Qualitative Research: Aims to explore in depth the complexity of the phenomenon under investigation. A qualitative approach emphasizes the qualities of entities, processes and meanings that are not experimentally examined or measured in terms of quantity, amount, intensity or frequency.

Consumerism (1): The movement seeking to protect and inform consumers by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, and improved safety standards. (2) The theory that a progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial. (3) Attachment to materialistic values or possessions: deplored the rampant consumerism of contemporary society.

Business Plan: Is a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals. It is a decision-making tool. There is no fixed content for a business plan. Rather, the content and format of the business plan is determined by the goals and audience. A business plan represents all aspects of business planning process declaring vision and strategy alongside sub-plans to cover marketing, finance, operations, human resources as well as a legal plan, when required.

Strategic Planning: Is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. The key components of strategic planning include an understanding of an entity's vision, mission, values and strategies.

Quantitative Research: Is used to measure phenomena, i.e. to describe the behaviours and attitudes of the public according to a numerical dimension. The objective is to produce numeric information by using highly structured and standardized measuring instruments. Therefore the quantitative research includes all those methodologies that make use of a sufficient number of samples that allow to extend the results of the research to the universe of reference, by means of a statistical measurements

Competitive advantage: Condition which enables a company to operate in a more efficient or otherwise higher-quality manner than the companies it competes with, and which results in benefits accruing to that company.

Marketing Information System (MIS): Is a management information system designed to support marketing decision making. MIS is people, equipment, and procedures to gather, sort, analyze, evaluate, and distribute needed, timely, and accurate information to marketing decision makers. Not to be confused for a management information system, marketing information systems are designed specifically for managing the marketing aspects of the business.

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