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Contemporary consumer theory

Discuss about the Contemporary Culture Consumer Theory for BMW Luxury.

Segmentation, targeting and positioning are business strategies used by marketers to determine which kind of customers exist, then choose the one that they serve by optimizing products for that segment and communicating to them to indicate that the product serves their needs (Barnett 2003, p. 43). Therefore, marketing is a strategic and tactical activity that focusses on how the needs of the customer can be met in the through proper parameters that are put in place. Barnett (2003, P. 45) suggests that the market consist of people from different demographic and psychographic characteristics of individuals that shape their preference for some products and not others. For example, generation X or the so called baby boomers have vehicle purchasing patterns that are different from other segments since they have grown up understanding technology and have accumulated enough resources to own vehicles (Markert 2016, p. 13). On the other hand, BMW has a mono segmentation strategy that focusses on a mono-segment type positioning to ensure that the brand that it products appeals to the single customer segment (BMW 2016, P. 23). This means that the company has all sorts of cars for every segment that they target in the society. This report highlights how the contemporary consumer theory has been applied by BMW through positioning the Luxury Brand vehicle type to meet the consumer needs of generation of X.

Contemporary consumer culture theory focusses on the consumption choices and behaviors of the society from a social and cultural point of view rather than an economic and psychological one. This is seen in the relationships that exist between consumer actions, the marketplace and cultural meanings that they place on the products that they buy. Culture is thus a fragmentation of different groups within the society that have shared meanings rather than a homogenous construct. For example, generation X consists of people who were born in the baby boom period thus sharing the cultural characteristics that define that group rather than other common characteristics that they have (Bajde 2014, p. 12: Garvey 2016, p. 3). This is the reason why BMW has designed different car brands that are positioned for every consumer segment in the society. The market consists of different layers within the generation X group that require proper targeting and positioning to ensure that they meet the needs of such consumers (Hellhake & Henault 2010, p. 13). This means that the contemporary consumer culture theory transcends the 4ps framework by looking at the sociocultural processes and structures that relate to consumer identity projects, marketplace cultures, socio-historic patterns of consumption and mass-mediated marketplace ideologue.

Consumer identity projects

Consumer identity projects entails consumers working together to form a fragmented, diversified and coherent sense of self through mythic and symbolic characteristics that define them (Shiv, et al. 2005, p. 390). For example, the generation X group will want to differentiate itself from others in the society by forming characteristics that make them different from others. This group comes from parents who survived the world war period and have seen the great depression that hit the world. They have also seen technological changes that the society has witnessed thus making them a special group that has amerced a lot of wealth but at the same time cautious on how they spend their resources. Heath & Brandt (2006, p. 412) suggests that this leads to the development of a consumer relationship model for the group. When designing the luxury brand for the generation X group, BMW bases it on the model of consumer relationship investment through product performance and service quality of the automobile. This means that the car brand offers both luxury and performance which is the point of difference that fits the generation (BMW 2018, pp. 2). From the slogan of “the ultimate driving machine” the company has proved with its luxury brand of cars that it can offer the customers what they need. Further, the cars have been designed to fit different lifestyle groups, income levels, status and social class to ensure that the segmented consumers can fall in the group that fits them. Anurit, et al. (2014, P. 59) suggest that by offering a wide range of the luxury class, it becomes easy for consumers projects to be designed since the brands have been defined by the varying needs of consumers. Since the group is more independent, luxury to them is related to service quality and performance that they receive. This is the reason why BMW managed to surpass other luxury brands in fulfilling the needs of the generation Xers.

The marketplace cultures of the theory addresses the features of the marketplace-culture intersection where consumers are seen as culture producers. Here consumers forge feelings of social solidarity by creating distinctive, fragmentary cultural worlds when pursuing their consumption interests (Annamma Joy & Li 2012, p. 138). This is seen in the postmodern culture fragmented in the diversity of consumption-oriented micro-cultures that exhibit different patterns with shared meanings and practices in the society. This means that the car reference patterns of the generation X stem from the shared rational beliefs that define the behavioral approach of the group to issues. According to Goulding, et al. (2013, p. 815), these cultures arise from localised cultural capital and skills that resultto a pool of symbolic resourcesshared by the group. This characteristic is seen in this group since they have generateda lot of wealth through their years of working which they can use for luxury. This process then leads to development of marketplace subcultures that define the symbolic boundaries that exist (Canniford & Shankar 2013, p. 1055). For example, the generation X group consists of two subcultures of generation X millennials and generation x baby boomers. These two groups share the common characteristics of the generation X but at the same time a small variation that makes them differ in their marketplace cultures.

Marketplace cultures

Further, the socio-historic patterning of consumption looks at the institutional and social structures that influence consumption like social class. Arnould & Thompson (2005, p. 870) suggest that social class shapes the consumer patterns and choices that people have. Cultural endowents that define the social class of generation X  shapes their preference for the luxury brand. BMW has positioned this bran to meet the needs of this group by combining both luxury and performance to ensure that it meets the needs of the group (BMW Group 2018, p. 11). Since the group has a lot of wealth, it means that their purchasing power is influenced by their ability to afford any luxury brand that BMW offers so long as it meets the social class characteristics of what they want.

Lastly, mass-mediated marketplace ideologies and consumers’ intepretive strategies analyses how consumer ideology channels and reproduces consumerthoughts and actions. The way BMW markets its luxury car brand is used to position it as serving a particular segment in the society (Doughert 2016, pp. 4). The brand is designed for people seeking social status  and performance at the same time. The brand is not only designed to offer luxury but rather its luxury is extended to include performance and service quality which distinguishes it from other products. Through the normative slogan “the ultimate driving machine”, the luxury brand marketing is used to make consumers in the generation X segment to embrace it as the vehicle that meets their needs. The outcome is predisposing the targeted consumer segment to the identity projects that have been defined to fit them. The outcome is cultural ideals that have transformed into material realities that influenced the generation X segment towards the luxury brand. 

Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, the following recommendations are offered to management on how to manage brand positioning so that the needs of the segment can be taken care. One way that marketers need to understand is that the generation X group did not grow up affluent but rather accumulated their wealth as time went on. This means that they are rational, practical and independent. The brands that are designed to meet their needs have to consider these three characteristics. This means that the luxury element of the brand is not what they pay for but rather the service quality that they receive from the vehicle. By being rational it means that the price that they pay for the vehicle should be equivalent to the service that they receive from it (Bauer, et al. 2006, p. 345). This is a rational group that relies on what they are made to believe and only spend when they perceive value in the product (Drenik 2017, pp. 4). By tailoring marketing strategies towards the features that the brand offers and how it meets the needs of the segment, marketing strategies can be used to ensure that target segments within the market are satisfied.

Socio-historic patterning of consumption

Sherry & Deschenes (2009, p. 43) suggests that from a macro level, marketers can use consumer behaviour to create consumer identity that ends up consuming a certain identity project that the company has developed like the luxury brand. While on the meso level cultural systems like proper marketing need to be developed so that consumers can be predisposed to the identity project that has been developed. This means that marketing needs to move general marketing to positioned, segmented and identity marketing that seeks to lure a particular segment of the market.

In addition to that, when developing marketing strategies for segments in the market, the organization needs to analyze the symbolic meanings, ideological inducements in texts and cultural ideals that the strategy holds to create the intended perception to the target segment. Since each segment group has its own characteristics that define their approach to products in the market, then marketers need to understand the key defining element that can satisfy the group (Amber & Price 2011, p. 39). For example, for the generation X, luxury means service and performance. The same approach should be used on other products that the company produces.

Lastly, consumers are interpretive agents rather than passive dupes. Shalini & Milne (2010, p. 178) adds that this means that elements of consumer resistance can be felt on products that have not been adequately communicated to the consumer. The success of the luxury BMW brand is attributed to a good reception from the upper class due to its performance ability that other car models had failed to offer (Hwee 2015, p. 31). Marketers need to ensure that an alliance exists between consumers and consumer activists for proper reception of the product in the market. 


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