The purpose of this report is to examine consumer behavior within the hospitality industry, with a particular focus on investigating the consumer decision process models. Given the postmodern and fragmented nature of consumer behavior, the author intends to determine whether the consumer decision process models are vague and attempt to be all encompassing by reviewing examples of consumption within hospitality industry.
Interesting as it seems, readers and the author of this report have something in common. They are all consumers. They all think about purchasing things, they talk about purchasing goods and services and they do purchase and use products and services. They also consume to say something about themselves to others, or even to themselves. A brief idea of consumer behavior: Gabbott and Hogg (1998, cited in Williams, 2002) suggested consumer behavior is any behavior involved in the course of buying, using and disposing of products. The definition has been commented by Williams (2002) to be too vague and of least practical use. However it has reinforced the fact that consumer behavior is a difficult concept to describe and the importance of emotional involvement. Horner and Swarbrook (1996:4) defined consumer behavior as “the study of why people buy the product they do, and how they make the decision”. Then again the definition is only limited to exchanges of products. Engel, Blackwell and Miniard (1995) has provided a better understanding for consumer behavior, referring it to activities which directly involve decision processes prior and after stages of obtaining, consuming and disposing products. In the modern society, a phenomenon of hyperconsumption occurs commonly, where people are getting obsessed with consumption. This happens especially in western society, where consumption is said to have defined the society (Ritzer, 1999). Miles (1998) has associated city centers with consumption sites, people’s homes become place of worship for the religion of consumption, and people’s lives resembles an ongoing juxtaposition of wide-ranged consumer tastes and styles. This is not without its reasons. Such a growth in consumption trends corresponds with people’s perceptions of how consumers can act, which was majorly affected by a shift from modernism to postmodern period.
Postmodernism seems to be an intangible concept. Indeed, Brown (1995) described postmodernism as something “intangible, inexplicable, unclassifiable” where there is no exactitude of anything, no right or wrong, because people start to view things in an interpretivist approach, the reality is what people, as individuals, interpret and perceive. Rue (1994:272) has given a rather understandable meaning to postmodernism, stating that “there are no absolute truths and no objective values. Reality does not tell us what is true or beautiful or good. The Universe is not itself any of these things, it does not interpret. Only we do, variously”. Perhaps the best way to understand is that the word postmodernism is very multifaceted. It is up to the readers to interpret and see the real word themselves as there are no standard definitions of postmodernism. However, the author will be providing several consumer characteristics of postmodern behavior. As there is no fixed reality, Foucault (1980) suggests that there is no unified self, individuals are free to build and change identities. Oglivy (190:15) proposed that due to the freedom to experience “inconsistent identities”, consumers start to enjoy “an eclectic combination of good and services”. These result in fragmentation of identities within an individual and the individual’s desire to experience hyperreality and chronology (Firat & Shultz, 1997). Hyperreality is the “blurring of distinction between the real and unreal”(Williams, 2002:184). Many hotels, clubs, cruiselines try to suggest authenticity through different simulated decors, but being a perfect simulacra, nothing is (Miller and Real, 1998)....
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