3. 3. “Market-things Inside”: Insights from <i>Progressive Grocer</i> (United States, 1929–1959)

Franck Cochoy

in Inside Marketing

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199576746
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191724916 | DOI:
3. 3. “Market-things Inside”: Insights from Progressive Grocer (United States, 1929–1959)

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This chapter wonders about the overemphasis placed on consumers in marketing research. It starts from two questions: Is studying consumption exactly the same as studying consumers? Can consumption be understood through consumer behavior only? The emphasis placed on consumers tends to neglect at least two other factors that yet significantly frame the consumption game. The first factor is the supply side. Consumption is shaped by consumers, but also by marketers. As a consequence, if we want to fully understand consumption, we have to study both types of actor; we must research marketing as well as purchasing and consuming. The second factor is that of market objects, devices, and technologies (Callon & Muniesa, 2007). If we really want to account for consumption, we thus have to study the three vertexes of the triangle: we need to supplement the study of consumers with a study of marketers, and the study of consumers and marketers with a study of “market-things” (Cochoy, 2007). The chapter proposes to follow such a view in starting from the latter vertex: through an analysis of the trade press journal Progressive Grocer over the 1929–59 period, and from the perspective of actor-network theory, it shows how many market-things (cans, shelves, turnstiles, magic doors, …) were put in motion and articulated in order to help grocers and consumers behave differently, thus modifying the very actions and identities of consumers and other marketing actors.

Keywords: consumers; consumption; marketing; marketing research; supply; marketers; grocers; active-network theory

Chapter.  10096 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Marketing

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