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Revisiting experiential values of shopping: consumers' self and identity

Helen Woodruffe‐Burton (University of Cumbria, Lancaster, UK)
Susan Wakenshaw (University of Cumbria, Lancaster, UK)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 8 February 2011



The research presented in this article aims to extend our understanding of the symbolic and experiential values of shopping through the investigation of consumers' grocery shopping and consumption experiences.


The research approach was based on the existential phenomenological interview; ten women living in the UK who were in paid employment outside the home at the time of the study, who were married (or living with their partner) and who had at least one child living at home participated in the study which explored their lived experiences of grocery shopping and consumption.


The findings reveal that consumers can construct various dimensions and levels of self/identity through their food shopping and consumption practices through their shopping experiences and in conjunction with various resources and support provided by retailers. Four key themes are identified and explored: “I am in control”; “I am me”; “I share and I love”; and “I belong”.

Research limitations/implications

The present study is exploratory in nature; it identifies four key themes which appear significant and provides a starting point for further research.


This paper explores the ways in which shopping confirms consumers' personal identity, social position and social identity and contributes to the literature in two ways: the research extends our understanding of the experiential values of shopping by extending the domain of enquiry from consumers' experiences in‐store to the actual consumption phase and consumers' self identity is investigated through the exploration of individual consumers' lived shopping and consumption experiences from an holistic perspective.



Woodruffe‐Burton, H. and Wakenshaw, S. (2011), "Revisiting experiential values of shopping: consumers' self and identity", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 69-85.



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