Consumer research is uniquely positioned and equipped to develop a deeper understanding of the role of economic inequality in consumers' lives. We propose a three-step framework that delineates the role of the marketplace in shaping consumers' perception of and response to economic inequality. First, we propose that the marketplace shapes, and at times biases, perceptions of economic inequality, as a result of the consumption signals, social environment, and market structure that individuals observe and navigate. Second, the marketplace offers unique strategies that the “haves” and the “have-nots” may rely on to cope with inequality. Third, the marketplace offers consumers, marketers, and policy-makers tools to change or preserve inequality including purchase decisions, resource reallocation opportunities, and communication strategies. We outline how consumer researchers can contribute to unpacking each step of the process and identify fruitful research directions that would be interesting and important to pursue.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology