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The interplay of emotions and consumption in the relational identity trajectories of grandmothers with their grandchildren

Delphine Godefroit-Winkel (Toulouse Business School, Casablanca, Morocco)
Marie Schill (Université de Reims Champagne Ardenne, Reims Cedex, France)
Margaret K. Hogg (Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 15 January 2019

Issue publication date: 5 March 2019




This paper aims to examine the interplay of emotions and consumption within intergenerational exchanges. It shows how emotions pervade the trajectories of grandmothers’ relational identities with their grandchildren through consumption practices.


This study analyses qualitative data gathered via 28 long interviews with French grandmothers and 27 semi-structured interviews with their grandchildren. This study draws on attachment theory to interpret the voices of both grandmothers and their grandchildren within these dyads.


This study uncovers distinct relational identities of grandmothers linked to emotions and the age of the grandchild, as embedded in consumption. It identifies the defining characteristics of the trajectory of social/relational identities and finds these to be linked to grandchildren’s ages.

Research limitations/implications

This study elicits the emotion profiles, which influence grandmothers’ patterns of consumption in their relationships with their grandchildren. It further uncovers distinct attachment styles (embedded in emotions) between grandmothers and grandchildren in the context of their consumption experiences. Finally, it provides evidence that emotions occur at the interpersonal level. This observation is an addition to existing literature in consumer research, which has often conceived of consumer emotions as being only a private matter and as an intrapersonal phenomenon.

Practical implications

The findings offer avenues for the development of strategies for intergenerational marketing, particularly promotion campaigns which link either the reinforcement or the suppression of emotion profiles in advertising messages with the consumption of products or services by different generations.

Social implications

This study suggests that public institutions might multiply opportunities for family and consumer experiences to combat specific societal issues related to elderly people’s isolation.


In contrast to earlier work, which has examined emotions within the ebb and flow of individual and multiple social identities, this study examines how emotions and consumption play out in social/relational identity trajectories.



Godefroit-Winkel, D., Schill, M. and Hogg, M.K. (2019), "The interplay of emotions and consumption in the relational identity trajectories of grandmothers with their grandchildren", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 53 No. 2, pp. 164-194.



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