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Animal Companions, Consumption Experiences, and the Marketing of Pets: Transcending Boundaries in the Animal–Human Distinction

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Journal of Business Research 61 (2008) 377 – 381


Animal companions, consumption experiences, and the marketing of pets: Transcending boundaries in the animal–human distinction Abstract This introduction lays the groundwork for a special issue of the Journal of Business Research devoted to “Animal Companions, Consumption Experiences, and the Marketing of Pets.” After some preliminary comments on the relevant background, the editors develop a conceptual scheme – based on a typology of consumer value – for organizing the contributions appearing in the special issue. They explain the assignment of various contributions to various value-related categories in order to account for the structure and meanings of the perspectives that emerge. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Background As a vastly lucrative business, the marketing of pets and petrelated products rests on an emotional bond between consumers and their animal companions that goes far beyond anything covered by the usual observations concerning “fantasies, feelings, and fun” (Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982) or “possessions as extensions of the self” (Belk, 1988). Specifically, people spend money on the “acquisition, maintenance, and disposition” of animal companions (cf. Jacoby, 1976) to the point where – in crude numbers – the ownership of a dog or cat costs roughly as much as the purchase of a slightly used Buick (over $10,000 per beast) and adds up collectively in the United States alone to annual outlays that dwarf many other industries (close to $40 billion per year). All this happens because people invest a huge amount of attention and love in caring for their treasured animals. These creatures give unconditional love in return. No matter how nasty we people act toward each other – no matter how dumb our beliefs, how bad our attitudes, or how uncivil our interpersonal behavior – our pets are always glad to see us. So, beyond their...

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