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Consumer Behavior Essay: Critical Reflection On Consumption Practices


Your task is to write a consumer behavior essay critically reflecting on the consumption practices.


It is evident herein consumer behavior essay that the modern day business environment faces intense competition in the international market. Thus, organizational leaders and senior managers across the world are focused on forming strategies that can help them to sustain in the global market and gain competitive advantage. Thus, consumerism is considered to be one of the significant strategies that has helped firms across the world to grow in their respective sector. Strategies adopted to protect the needs and the interests of the customers are known as consumerism. Organizations tend to focus on consumerism because it helps in changing the lifestyle and well-being of the consumers (Brown and Vergragt, 2016). It is found that consumption practice of an individual often depicts their personality and background. The aim of this essay is to critically reflect on my consumption practices and the essay will also focus on discussing the impact of my consumption practice on the society as a whole.

Identification of consumption practice
I am an ethical consumer. According to the study conducted by Pecoraro and Uusitalo, (2014) when a consumer is conscious about their consumption practices and refuse to consume or buy anything that has a negative impact on the environment it is known as ethical consumption practice. The author states that ethical consumption can be also termed as sustainable consumption. Ethical food consumption, Purchase of daily requirements that is sustainable and eco-friendly in nature are major aspects of ethical consumption. I am intrigued to get informed about the sourcing of the products that I am purchasing from the mall. I tend to reject buying products that are not morally or ethically manufactured or sources. In my opinion, this habit of mine or this purchasing behaviour of mine has helped me to become ethically and socially responsible and has made me an ethical consumer.

However, as argued by Carrigan and Attalla, (2001), ethical consumerism has not yet received significant acceptance by the leaders or the senior managers of the organization. Organizational leaders or the senior team of several firms fail to understand the sustainable need of the consumers. The leaders tend to research less about the moral and ethical values that consumers across the world possess. Thus, lack of research on ethical consumerism has prevented the organizational leaders to understand the ethical response of the buyers or the consumers across the world. This has led to significant conflicts among the external and the internal stakeholders of companies operating globally.

Segmentation of customers on the basis of their purchasing behaviour is known as class identification. According to the study conducted by Ramya and Ali, (2016), social and economic factors are considered to be one of the important factor that is often taken into consideration by consumers across the world while making any purchasing decision. The social factors or social class are further divided into 3 different class. The class includes high, medium and low. Individuals are grouped under each of this class on the basis of their annual income. It has also been stated by the author that consumers who focus on purchasing products ethically tend to fall between middle class and higher class group. However, as argued by Olson, McFerran, Morales and Dahl, (2016), the middle class is also divided into 2 types. One is upper middle class and the other one is lower middle class. People who belong to the upper middle class tend to have more income than people who belong to the lower middle class group. The author states that people with more income tend to choose ethical products. In the current market, the price of organic foods or sustainable products is higher than non-sustainable products. Since, upper middle class family and people of high class society can afford to use these types of product. Apart from the affordability factor, people from this social or economic class understands the importance of using sustainable products. They have relevant knowledge about environmental degradation. People from this community is also well-informed about the negative impact of plastics, pesticides, insecticides and other poisonous fertilizers on the mother nature. Thus, they are more intrigued towards using products that have less negative impact on the planet.

Moreover, from the above discussion it can be said that I belong to the upper middle class or high class society. I have awareness about the constant change in the climate and how it can have an impact on the future generations. Self-awareness increases self-knowledge (Viskovich and De George-Walker, 2019).This makes me environmentally and socially responsible. In my opinion, the constant information that I am getting regarding the importance of sustainability has helped me to change my purchasing decisions. I have understood that how each one of us is responsible for the degradation of the environment and how it is a threat to our existence. I also have a tendency to choose quality product or quality lifestyle over quantity. Thus, it can be concluded that I am an ethical consumer who is socially responsible.

The concept of consumer has come into existence after the 1990s. From then the organizational leaders have understood the importance of identifying the cultural background of the consumers, their beliefs and values while segmenting them. Thus, consumer culture is defined as the values, morals and activities that revolve around the purchasing decisions of the consumer. According to the study conducted by Welch and Warde, (2015), there are different types of consumers that are encountered by organizational members of the world. The behaviour, motives and the purchasing decisions undertaken by these consumers are used to identify the cultural background of the consumers. The author states that currently with the increase in protests regarding climate change across the world, consumers have become concerned about this issue. They are spending their money on sustainable products, organic fruits and vegetables. This type of consumers is considered to be collective in nature and they have collective cultural background. Finally, it is found that consumers who are considered to be collective in nature are also socially competent. However, as argued by Minton, Spielmann, Kahle and Kim, (2018), infrastructure of a nation is considered to have influence on the consumers that further controls the purchasing behaviour of the consumer. In several nations across the world, when a person expresses their in-built ethics and values, they are considered to have esteemed cultural background. These value and ethics drive humans to focus on sustainable consumption. The author also states that authorities of several nations across the world guides and motivate business leaders to undertake sustainable actions and it also motivates the consumers to focus on sustainable consumption. The author considers the concept of Hofstede’s cultural dimension and states that it is the responsibility of the highest power in a nation to train the mind of the people of the nation. The government, organizational leaders of large firms have the ability to influence and motivate individuals or group of individuals to take sustainable purchasing into consideration. Thus, from the above discussion it can be found that the first scholar says that collective culture or ethical practices is an inbuilt value. On the other hand, the work of the second group of scholars argues that it is the responsibility of the leaders of a nation to build the nation in such a way so that people focus on sustainable or socially responsive purchasing.

In my opinion, I come from a collective cultural background. Collectivism helps in improving self-image and brand image (Frank, Enkawa and Schvaneveldt, 2015). I have been raised in such a way so that I can understand the importance of social responsibilities and ethical purchasing. Thus, it can be said that the purchasing behaviour of mine can be identified as an in-built value. The value that helps me to think about all the people across the world and not just me.

In the previous part of the essay, I have identified myself as an ethical consumer who focus on consuming sustainably. The objective of this part is to critically reflect my consumption practice. According to the study conducted by Ferreira and Ferreira, (2018), ethical consumption undertaken by customers across the world has brought major advantages to the world. Ethical consumption is not only reducing environmental degradation but it is considered to be one of the major act that is helping in initiating trade justice among nations across the world. Ethical consumers are working together collectively to help the organizational leaders understand the importance of sustainable consumption and socially responsible business practices. The author also states that in several nations like USA, ethical consumers are not only focusing on purchasing responsibly but a huge section of these consumers are motivating other members of the nation to switch from non-sustainable buying to sustainable buying. It is found that constant effort made by the ethical consumers and other activists to focus on purchasing ethically has discouraged companies to make products that can degrade the environment. With the increase in the number of ethical buyers, organizations are also focusing on investing in Research & Development so that they can come up with innovative and unique products in the market. Thus, from the above discussion it can be found that ethical consumption not only helps in degradation of the environmental conditions but it also helps firm to sustain in the market and gain competitive advantage. However, as argued by Carrigan and Attalla, (2001), it is found that consumers often get motivated to buy sustainable and organic products but they are not ready to protest against organizations who are not adopting sustainable business strategies. Thus, it can be said that ethical consumers might start consuming sustainable products but they are not capable of bringing any change within the organization. The author also states that one of the depressing but real situation that the world is witnessing is constant increase in non-sustainable practices by big nations across the world. Animal testing, use of harmful chemicals in the process of manufacturing and many other practices are significantly increasing. The author considers, this situation as depressing because it not only harms the whole environment in general but it is found that these non-sustainable business practices are having no negative impact on the consumers. This reveals that lack of awareness among the consumers is one of the alarming condition in the modern day business world.

In my opinion, I am an ethical consumer. I am socially responsible when it comes to buying products from the market. Despite this, I am not capable of influencing my peers to purchase sustainably. I think I should focus on building capabilities so that I can motivate other people and aware them about the constant degradation that the environment is facing. Apart from purchasing responsibly, I should also inspire people and help them to build moral values. I think until each and every consumer in this earth is shifting their buying habits, the environmental issues will not be resolved.

Ethical consumption is available to each and every individual or consumers across the world. The consumers tend to face several complexities while starting consuming ethically. There is a rapid in the percentage of middle class people. A huge section of people thinks that ethical consumption is not for the people who belong to the middle class background but several scholars believe that middle class people must be taken as an opportunity and a possibility that can further help in increase in the percentage of ethical consumption (Gregson and Ferdous, 2015). Ethical consumption is considered to be related to care. As mentioned earlier, it is responsible for removing exploitation of suppliers and workers. “Caring about” is considered to be one of the important phase which is associated with ethical consumption (Shaw, McMaster and Newholm, 2016). Since, care is the right of every individual therefore, the availability of ethical consumption is with every one irrespective of their cultural background.

In the previous part of the essay, works of several scholars have been taken into consideration to find out the advantages of ethical consumerism. The objective of this section of the essay is to focus on giving an overview of ethical and socially responsive consumption and how it has brought positivity in the modern day business world. According to the study conducted by Carrington, Zwick and Neville, (2016), ethical consumption not only has an impact on the climate change and environmental degradation. This type of purchasing behaviour of the consumer is considered to have major impact on the internal and the external stakeholders of the firm. The author states that when a consumers focus on ethical purchasing; he/she tends to get informed about the source of the product. This helps them to understand whether the suppliers of the raw materials are exploited by the organizational management team or the leaders in order to source the products. Apart from this, ethical consumers also focus on observing the condition of the workers within the firm. There are several MNCs across the world, who tend to exploit their workers by giving their less salary and by providing them with unhealthy working conditions. A huge section of ethical consumers often makes protests for product banning of firms who are exploiting their customers. Thus, it can be said that socially responsible behaviour considered by consumers across the world have a positive impact on the society. It strengthens the bond of people within the society.

However as opined by Gregory-Smith, Smith and Winklhofer, (2013), ethical consumption practices or ethical buying behaviour of a consumer not only has an impact on the external environment of the organization but it also has an impact on the internal departments of the firm. The author states that marketing communications undertaken by different organizations have changed due to the constant pressure of ethical consumers. Currently, marketers of firms are focusing on adopting “guilt appeal” strategies while formulating any campaign. The objective of this strategy is to build a sense of guilt among the consumers who are not ethically consuming or purchasing products. The guilt appeal is further helping the marketers of firms to influence and motivate people.

Therefore, in my opinion, ethical consumption practices are helping me to influence the society to change their way of living. This consumption practice will help me and each and every member of the society collectively. Furthermore, workers and suppliers are benefitted with my self-expression. Apart from environmental degradation, several issues like income inequality, exploitation and many more is also getting resolved.

The main aim of this essay was to reflect upon my consumption practices. The essay concludes that ethical consumption is followed by me when it comes to purchasing in products. This has made me a socially responsible person. The report also focuses on presenting arguments of different scholars regarding ethical consumption. From the essay, it can be found that ethical consumption which is practiced by me has significant positive impact on the society but it is my responsibility to influence and motivate my peers to do the same. This will not only save the planet but it will also focus on development of communities across the world. Finally, the essay concludes that self-expression of mine regarding socially responsible consumption will help make me a responsible consumer and responsible citizen and it will act as a motivational factor for others.

Reference List
Brown, H.S. and Vergragt, P.J., 2016. From consumerism to wellbeing: toward a cultural transition?. Journal of Cleaner Production, 132, pp.308-317.

Carrigan, M. and Attalla, A., 2001. The myth of the ethical consumer–do ethics matter in purchase behaviour?. Journal of consumer marketing.

Carrington, M.J., Zwick, D. and Neville, B., 2016. The ideology of the ethical consumption gap. Marketing Theory, 16(1), pp.21-38.

Ferreira, J. and Ferreira, C., 2018. From bean to cup and beyond: exploring ethical consumption and coffee shops. Journal of Consumer Ethics, 2(2), pp.20-34.

Frank, B., Enkawa, T. and Schvaneveldt, S.J., 2015. The role of individualism vs. collectivism in the formation of repurchase intent: A cross-industry comparison of the effects of cultural and personal values. Journal of Economic Psychology, 51, pp.261-278.

Gregory-Smith, D., Smith, A. and Winklhofer, H., 2013. Emotions and dissonance in ‘ethical’consumption choices. Consumer behavior essay Journal of Marketing Management, 29(11-12), pp.1201-1223.

Gregson, N. and Ferdous, R., 2015. Making space for ethical consumption in the South. Geoforum, 67, pp.244-255.

Minton, E.A., Spielmann, N., Kahle, L.R. and Kim, C.H., 2018. The subjective norms of sustainable consumption: A cross-cultural exploration. Journal of Business Research, 82, pp.400-408.

Olson, J.G., McFerran, B., Morales, A.C. and Dahl, D.W., 2016. Wealth and welfare: Divergent moral reactions to ethical consumer choices. Journal of Consumer Research, 42(6), pp.879-896.

Pecoraro, M.G. and Uusitalo, O., 2014. Conflicting values of ethical consumption in diverse worlds–A cultural approach. Journal of Consumer Culture, 14(1), pp.45-65.

Ramya, N. and Ali, S.M., 2016. Factors affecting consumer buying behavior. International journal of applied research, 2(10), pp.76-80.

Shaw, D., McMaster, R. and Newholm, T., 2016. Care and commitment in ethical consumption: An exploration of the ‘attitude–behaviour gap’. Journal of Business Ethics, 136(2), pp.251-265.

Viskovich, S. and De George-Walker, L., 2019. An investigation of self-care related constructs in undergraduate psychology students: Self-compassion, mindfulness, self-awareness, and integrated self-knowledge. International Journal of Educational Research, 95, pp.109-117.

Welch, D. and Warde, A., 2015. Theories of practice and sustainable consumption. In Handbook of research on sustainable consumption. Edward Elgar Publishing.


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