This paper aims to show how social needs – the need for integration and need for distinctiveness – guide Finnish young adults’ mundane consumption behaviors.
The study draws on literature on the fundamental importance of social needs for people’s social well-being and the healthy development of the young. The research uses qualitative methods, leaning on an interpretive approach that regards social needs as subjectively experienced and socially constructed phenomena. The empirical data were sourced from 56 Finnish university students’ narratives on their daily consumption behaviors.
The findings present five categories: “Socializing through consumption”, “Consuming to affiliate”, “Uniqueness through consumption”, “Consuming to show off” and “Obedient consumption”, which are further linked to social needs.
The study opens up the ways social needs are connected to consumption behaviors, for example showing how quotidian consumption objects, such as branded clothes, may be used to satisfy social needs in a way that enables young adults to make independent and distinctive consumption choices. On the other hand, in regard to young consumers’ psychological and social well-being, the study finds that striving to satisfy social needs could also lead to destructive behaviors, such as alcohol consumption.
The current research highlights the unavoidable importance of social needs in young adults’ mundane consumption and how they strive to satisfy them. Thereby, it yields implications for social well-being by shedding light on the pressures and possibilities faced by young adults in their everyday life.
Authors wish to thank the Academy of Finland for providing financial support (grant number: 140 308) for conducting this research.
Syrjälä, H., Leipämaa-Leskinen, H. and Laaksonen, P. (2015), "Social needs in Finnish young adults’ mundane consumption", Young Consumers, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 301-315. https://doi.org/10.1108/YC-10-2014-00484Download as .RIS
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