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Shared or non-shared?: children's different consumer socialization experiences within the family environment

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2013
<mark>Journal</mark>European Journal of Marketing
Issue number3-4
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)506-524
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine children's consumption experiences within families in order to investigate the role that different family environments play in the consumer socialisation of children.

Design/methodology/approach – Key consumer socialisation literature is reviewed and family communication patterns and parental socialisation style studies are introduced. Such studies argue for the homogenous and shared nature of the family environment for children. A three-stage qualitative study of six families is reported, incorporating existential phenomenological interviews. The voices of children and their parents are captured, and the transcribed interview texts are analyzed on two levels (within and across family cases) using a hermeneutical process.

Findings – The findings of the study point towards the differential treatment of children within the family environment by both parents and siblings. It is proposed that children inhabit a unique position, or micro-environment, within their family setting. Consumer micro-environments are introduced; these have important implications in terms of children's consumption behaviour and, more importantly, their consumer socialisation process within the family setting.

Research limitations/implications – Consumer micro-environments have potentially important implications in any re-evaluation of the literature on consumer socialisation, and it is suggested that children may not have equal access to socialisation advice and support offered by family members. A limited number of families and family types are recruited in this exploratory study, and scope exists to explore family micro-environments across a greater variety of family forms.

Originality/value – A series of micro-environments, which have implications for the consumer socialisation of children, will be developed on a theoretical level. Existing consumer research views the family environment in homogenous terms, with suggestions that children are socialised by their parents in a similar manner (inhabiting a shared family environment). These findings problematise such a view and also offer insights into the role played by siblings in the consumer socialisation process.