Consumer Behaviour

Márketing # Purpose. Method. Unconscious dream. Action for purchase. Globalisation. Human behaviour

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Stockholm University

The Consumption Experience of the Volvo P1800-ES 1973

Consumer Behaviour

Content

Introduction

Introduction

The process of people buying a certain product seems to be a rather simple one. People recognise their need for a certain product, look for a good place to buy it, purchase the product and consume it. However, this process is not simple at all. The postmodern approach emphasises that a lot of different influences determine the ongoing and the result of that process. Postmodernism doubts the overall existence of such processes and a forecasteable human behaviour and considers these processes to be illusory and fictional and argues that micropracticess of everyday life, discontinuities, pluralities, chaos, instabilities, constant changes, fluidities, and paradoxes better define the human condition.

In this report we demonstrate how one of our group members made a purchase of a Volvo P1800-ES 1973 and discuss her buying decision in depth. We chose Sigrid's case because of the interesting underlying situation. Her purchase did not happen as a response to a realised problem. Nevertheless, there exists a high involvement and a strong motivation from Sigrid during the purchase.

To analyse this case in depth we will use the postmodern approach since it is in our opinion most suitable to give reasons for and to understand Sigrid's behaviour before and during the purchase as well as the underlying motives leading to the purchase.

We start though by presenting Sigrid's own story about her experience when buying her P1800-ES.

The Consumption Experience of my Volvo P1800-ES 1973

During the time I lived in Kristianstad, I owned a car that I used for daily transportation between different destinations. The car was more of a utilitarian need than of an expressive need. I was a car-owner for six years before moving to Stockholm. As I sold my car to my brother, I was relieved since this meant the end of the worries concerning the car and I became a satisfied passenger of the public transportation system in Stockholm. Usually at summer I for a couple of weeks visit my family in Skåne. The first summer car-less was terrible, I felt tied and dependent to my parents in lending my one of their cars. It was then that an idea of a summer-car came to my mind. With the backup from my boyfriend Erik, I started reading ads in car magazines. The fact that I only was going to use the car at summertime and therefore could neglect issues regarding performance characteristics in rough weather conditions, made it possible to consider an old sports car.

To be an owner of an old sports car, for long had been a dream that I now gladly seemed to be able to realise. After analysis of the offered cars at the market, I had several favourites, I easily made my mind up for the unique sports car model from Volvo, the P1800-ES. ES stands for the station-wagon model and was produced 1971 - 1973. This car seemed to have a specific aura, based on different factors; like its history from the movie business; its image around the uniqueness of being the only sports car model launched by Volvo and its world-known and popular design. The fact that Simon Templar, ”the Saint”, drove a P1800 seems to have transformed the car to a legend by car enthusiastics all over the world. I found the design to be the closest to perfect for a car model, with elegant lines, details in chrome, its low height and the one of a kind boot cover, the most beautiful detail of the whole car. The specific design from the early seventies is highly represented in the interior of the car. Besides passion for the design of the car and its image, there were some practical motives for choosing this model. There exist a club for P1800 enthusiastics in Sweden, where tips and connections regarding repair works could be found. And the fact that it actually was a Volvo, parts were easily to be found at Volvo-retailers and at scrap merchants. Parts from the common Volvo 240 fit the engine of the P1800. The prices for the parts would then not be extreme high like in comparison with the parts for an old Porsche. A Swedish Volvo car also meant that Erik, my boyfriend, was able to do a lot of the repair works himself and that was actually a major issue for me in the decision process of at all buying an old sports car. To buy the car with only my own efforts was for me an unrealistic thought. I needed Erik's enthusiasm and knowledge about repair work. The car was also equipped with a fuel-injection motor and fairly large amount of horsepower (for the time of production), which made the driving fun!

In February 1999 I found an ad with a picture of a light-blue beauty, the seller was located in Köping, which was a bit far to go from Stockholm in this early stage. I just had started looking and I was not totally convinced that a car purchase actually would happen. After telling my boss at my part-time job that I was looking for a Volvo P1800-ES, he became very enthusiastic since he himself as a young man had owned a P1800. He found at the Internet a car dealer in Sundbyberg that had a yellow P1800-ES. Erik, a friend and I visited the car dealer and made several testing trips with the car. This was the first time ever I drove a P1800 and what a feeling! The car felt far easier to drive than I had imagined and somehow the car fitted me perfectly indoors or perhaps the opposite, I was the one that matched the car! Driving was a wonderful feeling, mixed of excitement and joy. I was sold about this car model, it was so perfect in every detail and matched my deepest preferences about how an old sports car should be and feel when driving it. But this specific yellow car was not the car I was going to buy. The steering wheel was in higher speed unpredictable, the car lacquer was not properly made and several other things were not preferable. But the event was an important experience within the process of the purchase decision.

The time went by, me reading car ads and researching available information about the P1800-ES. By a tip from a friend, I looked at a red P1800-ES, placed at one of the streets at Östermalm with a note “Fore sale”. I did not try this one since the seller claimed a far to high price and the colour did not attract me a bit. So without any more ads with P1800-ES I realised that there seemed to be a shortness of available P1800-ES at the market. At the site of “The Swedish Volvo P1800 club” I understood that I was not the only one looking for a P1800. I phoned the seller in Köping again, he sounded surprised that still, three months later someone was calling about the ad. “Yes, I still got it”, was his answer, he had once sold it without receiving money from the buyer which left him in a situation where other interested buyers thought the car was sold. So actually the car was waiting for me and the reason for me today being the owner is because I phoned far too late than expected.

Emil is a friend of Erik and I, who has a passion for buying old cars in order to fix them cheaply into functional conditions. We brought Emil with us to Köping and when we arrived to the seller's house, he had taken the car for a drive and did after half-hour wait turn up with the silencer in the trunk. He had dropped it during the drive! But, this mishaps and the enumeration Emil made of the faults could not affect my first impression and the feelings of desire that arose within me. I remember me “praying” it not to be too much dysfunctional. As soon as we, Erik, Emil and I, had closed the doors in the intention to take the car for a testing trip, Emil spontaneously said, “What a car!!!”

Two days later, we had negotiated the price with a 20-percentage decrease and I was the owner of the beautiful car. Then an unexpected attack of panic hit me as I realised that I once again was becoming a car owner and was going to receive all the worries that this brings. I asked for the first time the opinion of my parents and they mentioned arguments that pointed in opposite direction than from my intention in asking them. My father said, “Old cars only cost money”. This did not help up the situation I actually in the beginning felt trapped in. And I thought of the amount of money I was going to invest and all other practical nonsense my brain could come to think of.

Today I know that this panic period after the deal was a necessary process for me to be able to enjoy the car. I had bought a car, just as old as I am, probably with costly needs of repair works and me with the thinnest knowledge of car motors! I had passed the boarder from having a dream of being an old sports car-owner to becoming one. And it was then, as I went to Köping for bringing the car home, I became sure about my decision and started to enjoy the car.

Today I say that even though the mishaps and problems last summer, Erik and I have had the most rushing moments of joy with this beauty. Not once I have regretted the purchase, since after letting my sensible thoughts about practical matters go, the car could fulfil its obligations, to let me be carried by my passion! As I am writing this story, my love for the car comes to my attention and my longing for May to come when it is time to bring the car out on the streets again, seems to be stronger than ever.

Problem discussion

Major business trends such as deregulation, globalisation, technological convergence, and the rapid evolution of the Internet have transformed the roles that companies play in their dealings with other companies. Business practitioners and scholars talk about alliances, networks, and collaboration among companies. Yet managers and researchers have largely ignored the agent that is most dramatically transforming the industrial system, as we know it: the consumer.

The postmodernism states that there is an infinite number of influences on human beings that have an impact on that human being as a consumer. Thus, by evaluating Sigrid's narrative and observing her behaviour and attitude towards her decision-making process it is very difficult to draw conclusions as to what kind of consumer she is. Is it possible to say that she chose that particular car because of its image or did she feel its personality corresponding to her own? Or is it mainly a fulfilling of her dream? Six-year owner of a “normal“ car, she would have never thought that one day, she could be the owner of the car of her dreams. But in summer 1999 her dream became reality when Sigrid bought a Volvo P1800-Es 1973. This raises the questions:

What made her cross the border from fantasy to the real purchase?

What really influenced or motivated her to purchase the car?

Purpose

The aim of this report is to provide or familiarise us with an understanding of important concepts in the consumer choice domain with the help of the postmodern approach. This will lead to a deeper understanding of Sigrid's case.

Method

We have chosen to analyse our report by using the postmodern approach. Since there are so many influences, emotions and time levels involved in Sigrid's purchase and since they are all somehow interconnected the postmodern approach is the most suitable way of discussing and explaining Sigrid's purchase. Besides, we will also adopt the structure of this case to the postmodern approach.

Postmodernism states that there are no structures within in human behaviour, it is unlimited over time. Hence, we will not structure this paper in the common sense.

Nevertheless, to obtain the reader with an orientation among the case and to show the development within the case we will use a figure that illustrates the way we want to discuss the case.

Consumer Behaviour

The figure is taken from the article “Liberatory Postmodernism and the Reenchantment of Consumption“ by Firat and Venkatesh. It illustrates the market fragmentation and the fragmentation of the self-referred to one particular situation. We would like to change that figure slightly in order to make it suitable for our case. We will place Sigrid in the middle of the figure and draw arrows to her, which express all the influences she receives that are relevant for the case. As we know that there are -especially from a postmodern point of view- an nearly infinite number of influence that have consciously as well as unconsciously an impact on her buying the old sports car we will only focus on the most important influences. The figure will develop the further the case discussion develops. In the end, the figure will represent all influences we have analysed and give a picture (although maybe not the totally complete one as stated above) of Sigrid when she made the purchase of the car.

Moreover, we will not structure the case analysis according to theoretical points of view. This would be contradictory to our aim to use the postmodern approach as an instrument of analysis. Nevertheless, in order to make the discussion easier to follow, we divided the analysis in three discussion fields: the general dream about having an olds sports car, the actual search and the purchase and Sigrid being the owner of the Volvo P1800-ES 1973 and using it. But this division does not mean that we want to indicate any limited phases. We are aware that this process is an overlapping, constant, unlimited one according to the postmodernism.

The report will be written in a very personal style and theories and explanations will be integrated to create a discussion. This is necessary to understand Sigrid's behaviour, her thoughts, feelings and actions. Furthermore, when using the postmodern approach we have to

use that type of analysis style to be conform with the point of view of postmodernity and to be able to use that approach in depth for the case analysis.

Introduction to the Postmodernism

To obtain the reader with a deeper understanding of the instrument of analysis we will use, we will shortly introduce the postmodern approach. But as the postmodern approach reflects on all aspects of human life we will restrict the introduction to the aspects necessary for our analysis.

Postmodernism completely changes and destroys the way of thinking that is common for the modern standpoint. Within the postmodern approach there exist no clear structures, no limited processes. The human being is not predictable in one way, the human condition as a whole consists of discontinuities, pluralities, chaos, instabilities, constant changes, fluidities and paradoxes.

One of the major objectives of postmodernism is to restore aesthetic approaches in human discourse by emphasising the linguistic and symbolic aspects of human life, recognising subjective experiences as a meaningful part of human practices, and by redefining the human subject as both a cognitive and an aesthetic subject.

Postmodernism implies five important conditions to find new ways of thinking about marketing and consumption: the sign system (giving objects a meaning through relationships and interactions), hyperreality (humans creating their own realities as products of imaginations, fantasies, pragmatic needs and ingenuities), particularism (unlimited social and cultural constructions changing over time), fragmentation (the self as being multiple and more a product of imitative assemblage than a unified construction), and symbolic behaviours (consumers negotiating consumption processes via meanings).

Furthermore, cultural, social personal and psychological factors have an important impact on consumer behaviour from the postmodern point of view. Cultural factors broadly influence values, perceptions, preferences and behaviours, social factors mirror the daily influences on humans, personal factors refer to the individual characteristics distinguishing one individual from others, and psychological factors point out the ways in which human thinking and thought patterns influence buying decisions.

An unconscious dream

To own an old sport car is the dream of many people since this notion-concept-word exists. It represents a sort of exit from the reality, from the everyday life, as it is used like a “plus” for hobby time...

How does Sigrid feel this dream? How does society influence people, why is it a common dream shared by the entire society, at different intensity degrees? How does her behaviour reflect the society but also her own particularity, her self?

Before 1999, Sigrid never really thought about the car in a conscious way. But it always has been on her mind, like a dream that perhaps one day, she will realise.

Sigrid has been living in a specific culture, which also influenced her attitudes and behaviour.

The old sport car can be defined as a specific category of car-type; it has its own image which is a symbol of the western way of life, a symbol of luxury, a sign of a certain social status surrounds it.

As well as we cannot define a common image of this type of car, because each individual sees it in a different way, according to its particularities, different images come to our mind; a young free woman in a movie who is driving quickly and dangerously, the “active” man, who shares his free time between this passion and the golf, who have succeed his life or the daughter or the wife of a rich man.

A car like the P1800 is perhaps a bit different, but it is within a category of legend car. One of the main ”starter” of this phenomena had been perhaps the film ”the Saint”, in which Simon Templar drove the car. This Volvo car is Swedish, but it is also very famous in the U.S.A. Sigrid cannot remember when and where she saw this car for the first time, but the old sports car type has always been present on her mind. Each individual knows this type of car, but perhaps has a different image of it, and has a different degree of attention to give. It depends on its place in our hierarchy of goals and values.

As Sigrid lives in a specific culture, she learns its values through the enculturation process, which assumes that values that motivate people vary across cultures. Value systems are different, it means that through the society where she lives, Sigrid ranks them in a different way than could do someone from another culture, “different society behave differently in regard to the same set of needs, because their worldviews are different”-->[Author:Sba،º]. The particularism notion explains this phenomenon, but it does not mean “mutual exclusivity”. Parents, friends represent the socialisation agents, as influencing our view of the world. But from the postmodernism view, if Sigrid, as she lives in a specific culture, is really influenced by it, we cannot say that she is only a reflection of this culture, she reflects on this influence and is transformed as well as she transforms herself.

As Sigrid told us, people seem to expect someone else to own the car. Several times, she had been accosted in the road or in a parking area by strangers who liked old cars. They asked her some questions about the car and seemed surprised or did not believe her when she said she is the owner. “ No, it is your father who bought it for you, or your husband?!”

The image of a young woman owning such car does not correspond with their reality, i.e. for them, they are two opposite images, at the individual level. Each person has its own image, we do not want to say that the whole society shares this image, but that some individuals react almost in the same way. How come that Sigrid bought a car which did not fulfil the society expectations?

As Sigrid has been car owner for 6 years, she felt really release when she sold it. She did not need it at all in Stockholm. But in summer 1999, which was the first she spent without a car in Skåne, she really felt the need. She wanted to move, to take advantage of her holidays with her boyfriend to her parents' house to show him the region and to go to the beach and see friends and other several things for what she needed a car. Her parents had to lend her the car, and she really felt bad in this dependency. She realised she had the financial possibilities, as she sold her last car. Realising it, the purchase of a car only for summer in Skåne came in her mind. Staying open to all the information she could have had, she did not yet the step towards the purchase; she was not seeking information to buy it, but to shape in her mind the image of the type of car she could buy. A question came in her mind: ”Why do I have to buy a ”normal” car? “ She only needed this car for summer, so it did not have to be very resistant and she could leave it in Skåne. It would fulfil only an expressive need.

Summer= Skåne= holidays= fun + freedom.

The personality of Sigrid, which made her construct of her own world, so-called hyperreality has also a major impact on her decision to buy the car. It is the construction of her own reality, “these realities are a product of our imaginations, ingenuities, fantasies, and pragmatic needs”. Imagination had an important influence on Sigrid, when she was thinking of herself and her boyfriend, driving freely on the road of Skåne. Her behaviour reflects the society but also her personality, as it is an assumption of the postmodern theory. Her personality has also been influenced by people, it is the notion of the influence of the group reference. She has growing up between two brothers, she always had to make herself heard her voice to be heard. Both brothers like cars, to speak about it, to look for magazines which can inform them etc. Her boyfriend also is interested in cars, but he does not seem to have played a rule in the first moment, even if, as we said before, he was with her in Skåne. They spoke about it like a dream, thinking about the nice moments they could spend with a car, driving together wherever they want. Her parents did not have any influence on her during all the process of thinking about buying an old sport car. In fact, Sigrid did not ask them about their opinion which could be based on the fact that she expected her parents to have a negative opinion about her plans. She does not want to be assimilated to them, like for every child in the western culture, they do not represent the reference group, at last for this type of purchase. And her dependency to their car during the summer did not bring her a good feeling. She has her own point of view, her independence, since she does not anymore live with her parents and she is working.

If the idea of freedom is so important for Sigrid, it is because she thinks that independence is one of her main values. She is not afraid of the attention rises by owning an old sport car. She needs it, to drive such a noticeable car! At the opposite, perhaps she wants to show that she is different, to go towards her ideal status. In order to show her self, to complete it “ you are what you consume” , she attributes a symbolic meaning to the car; as the symbol and the meaning of the symbol are closely connected to its image. Even if she did not yet have really precise ideas, she has this meaning on her mind.

It is difficult to determinate the symbolic meaning she gives to the car since she cannot herself really do it. In summer 1998, she did not yet think especially about the P1800. An old sports car would fulfil her dream, as it represents the liberty and pleasure. Such a car is only bought for that. She remembers when she was in Bonn, few years ago, and saw two women driving a Porsche and the feeling she had; she thought that she would more take advantage than them of such a car!

The culture of the society and her self are mixed and reflected by Sigrid's thinking and behaviour. As she realises she has the possibility to buy a car, she is going to think about it when she came back to Stockholm in September, after her holidays in Skåne.

Consumer Behaviour

Action for Purchase

It was during January Erik and Sigrid watched a television programme about old sports cars. The content of the programme was "what to think of when considering buying old sports cars". A couple of alternative sports car models were tested and evaluated. What different brands that were presented is something Sigrid cannot remember, which is a sign of interest in cars but not high involvement. Though is this event important in this story since the theme of the programme functioned as a trigger for Sigrid to take higher notice about her dream of being an old sports car owner and to actual consider searching for cars.

Sigrid was, as mentioned before, more negative towards the responsibility part that comes along when buying a car. This negative attitude was connected to the associations with her period as car owner for six years. In the beginning of the search for alternative car models Sigrid had a conflict within her mind, the possibility to fulfil a dream towards the negative emotions of responsibility.

Sigrid started to buy specific car magazines with ads offering cars for sale. Thanks to these magazines she was able to scan the models at the market and became well informed of the alternatives. These cars were within the same price category and from the sixties/seventies. Early, she became fond of the only sports car model ever launched from Volvo, the P1800-ES. The design of the car attracted her but also the fact that it was a bit larger than the other alternatives which made the model appropriate choice for daily driving. Naturally, the influence and support of Erik was very important in this decision. Since Sigrid and Erik have common interest in industrial design for cars she knew when asking him for his opinion regarding her choice of car model that he would be thrilled. Of this we can tell that the influence on Sigrid lay not directly within the time of the actual choice of model since she managed this alone, but from past shared experiences, fragments of opinions had developed an understanding of the Erik's values within Sigrid's mind. Therefore, the level of his influence on Sigrid was high even though he did not take part of the actual decision. Their opinions have during the time for their acquaintance been affected by each other and formed a mutual understanding only them able to apprehend. The importance of being able to decide for her own surely was high, unaware of the unconscious impact of their mutual understanding. By making the decision on her own and thereby receive support from Erik strengthened her motivation in the future search for cars available. To her as a person the involvement of Erik should have not been too extended, since then she perhaps would have felt manipulated and not convinced that this was her best choice.

In February, Sigrid phoned a seller situated in Köping offering a light-blue P1800-ES. For Sigrid his location was a problem since at this early stage it was more of interest than of intention for actual purchase. Thus, she did not want to put to much effort in getting there. Since, according to the seller, many potential buyers had visited him and this was the first car ad Sigrid found, Sigrid did not take much notice about this offered car. She continued her search for P1800-ES. This process also consisted of a lot of information search that became naturally sequence of her raised interest for this car model. All of a sudden she felt that the surrounding seemed to be obsessed with P1800. This of course from the eyes of an interested presumptive P1800 buyer, affected her and she learned several things about the car. The information sources for the foundation of the opinion of the car model that arouse within the mind of Sigrid were several. She found information from magazines, television programmes, the Internet and of course from different people in her surrounding. By telling at her work that she was considering buying a P1800 she received a lot of encouragement by her boss and the AD who both were former P1800 owner. They had only positive experiences and showed a high level of enthusiasm. Her boss even found a P1800 for sale at Internet that he presented to Sigrid. Certainly did their high involvement affected Sigrid in a positive way.

Early April, Erik, a friend and Sigrid, intended by the boss' finding, tried a yellow P1800-ES in Stockholm. This was the first time Sigrid came close by a P1800-ES. She found the design of the car far nicer in “reality” and was filled with love for this car model. Though this particular car was not appropriate, Sigrid's was overwhelmed by her impressions of the car. It fitted her well so indoors that she thought it was produced only to fit her. The experience from this event had great impact on Sigrid.

Erik is though the person within Sigrid's surrounding that had the largest possibility to influence Sigrid. Since he as well was very fond of the P1800-ES model he only could have the affect of strengthening her motivation. Sigrid turned to close friends though not for their opinion or their approval but for canalise her excitement and together within their thoughts imagine all the fun the car would bring them. There were no serious discussions regarding car models or the presumptive purchase, instead the car was spoken about in the terms of a symbol for playful sunny days. Sigrid received comments and impressions from other people, both acquaintances and unfamiliar persons. At parties Sigrid found out that thanks to the word-of-mouth people were approaching her for their interest in her consideration of the P1800. Surprised by these people's love for the car model made her even more convinced to start consider an actual purchase.

The influences for the opinion did not necessarily came from sources directly connected to the car model. In her perception of different fragments in the everyday-life were certainly affected by the focus in her mind. Therefore things or phrases that normally Sigrid would have neglected now were connected to her presumptive purchase. Within the blurred “world” that Sigrid operated, these self formation of sources for influences and other sources of knowledge connected to the car model, formed a stated opinion in Sigrid's mind. We can call it image of the car in the sense of the image that exist within the mind of Sigrid since this is formed by her subjective observations. The degree of importance of this image for Sigrid determines her ability to realise her wish to become an owner of a P1800 car. Her image of the car showed her a “world” which does not represent the world of other people in her society. To Sigrid the image has a special meaning, a meaning only recognisable to Sigrid.

The image of the car model that Sigrid formed was based on basic facts as the Swedish brand, Volvo, the time for production, its performance equipment with fuel-injection engine and amount of horsepower e t c. It is also based on visual and tangible characteristics like the specific design from the early seventies represented in the interior and exterior such as elegant lines, details in chrome and composition of colours. Legend stories based on different events during the years have also contributed, like its performance in the movie industries, where it seemed to be the first choice of car for the agent “the Saint”. Also the one of a kind boot cover that functioned as the trademark of the car model and the uniqueness of being the only sports car model launched by Volvo. In Sweden the present king, Carl XVI Gustaf, was a P1800-car owner in the seventies and established a deeper patriotism for the car model within the minds of the Swedish people. These things have equipped the car with a specific aura, which is an effect or feeling that seems to surround and come from the car model P1800. It is a cultural and social construction and created by the humans within the culture and is therefore only visual to the members of the culture. Components of the aura are a number of diverse experiences that are closely linked to cultural factors that affect the interpretation of the actual experience. Some practical matters also were influencing her, for instance, the club for P1800 enthusiastics in Sweden where tips and connections regarding repair works could be found. And since it was a Volvo, parts were easily to be found at Volvo-retailers and at scrap merchants. Parts from the common Volvo 240 fitted the engine of the P1800. The prices for the parts would then not be extreme high like in comparison with the parts for an old Porsche.

Since Sigrid knew that her parents did not share her interest for old sports cars she deliberate avoided asking them for advice. Her parents had a negative influence since their opinion was that “old cars only cost money” and therefore was interpreted as an avoidance group. Perhaps was this not without emotions of conflict since we often are deeply affected and involved by the opinions of our parents. Sigrid was most likely aware of this and avoided a discussion that could bring far to much attention to negative emotions in her consideration.

Sigrid reflected an inner vision, constantly modified of new impressions, how life would change to the “better”, when the “actual world” was transformed to a “P1800 car-owner world”. This kind of “hyperreality”, constructed by Sigrid's realities and a product of her imaginations, ingenuities, fantasies, and pragmatic needs. Therefore, her “world” was constructed through simulacra and simulations, a hyperreality or a world of self-referential signs. The condition for this lies within Sigrid's values and wherein she finds meanings. In her interpretation process, that determines what things mean to her, she was highly affected by the components of her image of the car model. She developed a passion for the car model, which is referred to a non-limited involvement with emotions like, excitement, joy, and love. In the short-run, she created a desire, which lead her into the intensive search for available and suitable cars.

“Who you are is neither more or less than who you are in the process of telling yourself - or others- that you are.“

The self determines a person's behaviour. This fact not only holds for a psychological point of view but is relevant for all kinds of human behaviour - therefore also for the behaviour of a consumer. The self and its different dimensions are a major aspect in Sigrid's case and have a great impact on Sigrid crossing the “border” from some kind of fantasy - dreaming of becoming an old sports car owner, to a “reality” as an actual car owner. The self is captured in the self-concept, which refers to the beliefs a person holds about his or her attributes, and how he or she evaluates these attributes. As the self is pluralistic, one can be many people with different roles. One's life stages, learning and relationships can be included in the self and form the pluralistic perspective of the self. The self changes over time and influences the behaviour of Sigrid as a consumer. Consumer behaviours vary across time and space as well as by contingencies and changing images. This means that there are no sustaining themes or consumption patterns. This fragmentation can also be found for the self. Within the postmodernism it is more a product of imitative assemblage than a unified construction. The consumer becomes continuously emergent, reformed, and redirected trough relationships to products and people. The self of Sigrid and its different dimensions are a major aspect in how she perceived her surrounding. The fragmentation takes place when she wants to reach or to that she wants to come closer by purchasing that car and the actual self, which she tries to improve.

After a period without new ads offering available P1800-ESs, Sigrid became a bit low-spirited. She had looked at a red one, offered at one of the streets of Östermalm with a far to high price. Soon spring was entering summer and there was no cars even for considerations. After finding the ad from the seller in Köping, Sigrid wanted to know if the car might still be for sale. Erik was convinced that it was a waste of time calling the seller since the ad was almost three months old. As Sigrid heard the car was still for sale she did not responsively assume that there was something really wrong about the car, that one might be able to expect. Instead she felt this was meant to be, “that car is waiting for me” she thought and already at that point felt right within herself about this car. Personality characteristics of Sigrid like this kind when thinking about destiny could have had a major influence in her decision to go through with the purchase, leaving her imaginary thoughts and entering the “reality” contenting a tangible P1800. Sigrid brought Erik and a friend with great competence in cars, Emil, with her to visit the car in Köping. The analysis of the car was a period intense of influences with high impact level as Emil and Erik were commenting the car. Erik was very impressed by the visual part of the car. His excitement hardly influenced Sigrid, as she already was totally lost for the car. Emil though paid more attention to practical matters as functions and replaced parts. During this analysis Sigrid was praying that it would not be too dysfunctional and the seller, a person with limited knowledge for cars and car maintenance, seemed to get unsure of the functional status of the car. Though after Emil had tested the car, he judged it to be a good object for purchase. This statement from Emil meant very much and was the major factor in the evaluation of suitable car. Therefore Emil was a great influence at Sigrid in her decision which car to buy, still she had though not totally made her mind up whether to buy or not. Regarding the decision to actually go through the purchase the influence of Emil was non-existent. His influence founded the condition for actual purchase since now the car was found and decided, the rest was up to Sigrid to decide if she was going to become a car owner or not.

The greatest influence came of course from Erik. His opinion was to buy the car. It is of course an easy decision for him as a boyfriend since this meant that his “world” would also be affected by the P1800-ES without undertaking commitments. Sigrid and Erik were aware of this and had discussions about it. Sigrid realised that his enthusiasm was of great importance for her to consider buying an old sports car. She wanted Erik to be part of fulfilling a dream and she needed his support both mentally and physically. She was relaying on the help from him for repair works. The negative associations from her former life as a car owner were in a transformation phase where discussions with Erik played a large role. They concluded that he as well had the best interest in the car and was going to share the commitments concerning the car, like parking problems, repair work information e t c. Sigrid realised that she was buying the car for her passion but also for their passion to the car and that the fact that she was paying was only the thing distinguishing her involvement from his.

Sigrid also consulted her brother. Several times they had talked about someday becoming owners of old sports cars. But their reasons for these wishes were distinctive which made their discussion limited to what an old sports car as a symbol in life could bring them. Her brother had no extended interest for cars or the design of cars, instead his attention lied at speed abilities. Therefor he was not consulted when deciding what car model, but for the decision to become an owner. As sister and brother they have a mutual understanding of their learned values passed on by their parents, he was the only one able to actually tell her an advice contradicting her parents' opinion that she could listen to. He told her not be lead by rational thinking but to go for her dream.

Sigrid was attracted by the thought by her purchase being able to “travel back” to the beginning of the seventies and feel the spirit of that time. By owning that car she would feel unique and part of the magic and the glamour around that car. Thus, she would become a part of the legend. Since the consumption is social procedures that express symbolic meanings and social codes within the cultural society, it produces and reproduces identity that in turn creates the value of the product. Products are symbols in order to express a consumer's social “identity” and the products content meanings, how the consumers interpret the meanings of symbols and the correspondence between signs and symbols affect the assignment of meaning. The interpretation process for Sigrid is founded in the image of the car and by her passion for it she express her cultural “statements” about what her social “identity” is. The car is a symbol and the meaning of the symbol is closely connected to her idea of the image of the car model, since this is the foundation for other participants within the society to interpret the message. It is a social reciprocal action that also determines the members of a specific culture or society.. The conventional sign system in a society consists of signs and symbols that provide meaning for our communication. Not only are signs used as a part of our spoken and written language, but everything about us is significatory. Symbols create meanings and consumers negotiate consumption processes via meanings. The cultural group to which they belong gives these meanings. Meanings always are in transit and as meaning change, so do Sigrid's, negative associations transformed positive temptations regarding owning a car. The view of the society has to change with changes in society. As there seems to be a retro-trend in the fields of fashion and industrial design, the fragmented consumer behaviour of Sigrid visualises her intention to signalise her belonging within the society. Using symbol, like the P1800-ES, to mark what she has neglected in her choice of product. By choosing an old sports car model Sigrid tells to her surroundings she is the kind of “person” that neglect all other kinds of cars, or even other alternative objects for spending. Within the imagination of Sigrid's mind she lets her passion for a car symbolise her extended value in life.

Consumer Behaviour

Sigrid as a P1800 car owner

Short after the price was set Sigrid was struck by emotions of panic, based on rational thinking in terms of financially, practically and responsibility subjects. To invest money and effort in an old sports car contradicted now to all her rational thoughts that were on her mind. The commitments were complex because the risk was high, for example, considering the significant financial investment, functional risks, e t c. Thoughts as such created a worry, and she had a hard time coping with the fact that she once again was a car owner. The panic period seems to be an essential part of Sigrid's the human behaviour and lies within her personality. Even though, filled by all these stressing feelings she could recognise her behaviour since this was something common for her and often present during important decision processes. According to Sigrid she think that it was a period of necessity so she could be able to enjoy the car without miss-feelings. This conforms to her description of joyful feelings and rushing excitement when picking the car up in Köping. The focus on rational thinking only lasted for one and a half-day.

During this panic period she searched for support by Erik, her brother and her parents. Interesting that now when realising the fact of being a car owner she finally turned to her parents of approval. Could a reason for this be to even stretch her miss-feelings in order to really go in depth with her worries? After facing the rough truth expressed by her father, “that old cars only cost money”, they finally supported her mentally within the roles of caring parents.

The dis- or satisfaction by a consumer is determined by the general feelings, or attitude, the consumer has about the product after it has been purchased. A consumer most often engages himself or herself in evaluating the things that he or she has purchased as these products are integrated into his or her daily activities. Sigrid and Erik encountered mechanical problems with the car, something they were expecting though since the car maintenance by the seller had not been too satisfying during his year as an owner. The problems were proceeded with interest and excitement and both Erik and Sigrid learned a lot of the car and repair work. Nevertheless, there were difficult times where the mishaps felt far more depressive than joyful. The post-modern consumer seeks to construct meaning and experience and it is questionable if Sigrid has achieved this constructed meaning. We can argue that her purchase has an immense meaning for her behaviour as a person. She finds the car very enjoyable. She recalls her days in Skåne during the summer when the sun is shinning bright, and she taking a drive in her car. She feels comfortable driving and thinking “What a car!” Despite the problems and worries for the car she is very pleased with it. It is most likely these worries, have an impact on her emotions about the car as a whole. Her attention and high involvement for the car even increase. She really admires her car very much and it seems she absorbs most of her leisure time taking care of it.

Solomon et al argue that consumers form beliefs about product performance based upon prior experience with the product and/or communications about the product that imply a certain level of quality. It is worth to say that when something performs the way we thought it would, we may not think much about it and if it fails to live up to our expectations then its negative results turn to affect us. In spite of the constant mechanical problems that confront Sigrid she was and still is satisfied and pleased with her car.

As a car-owner, Sigrid is still influenced by people in her surrounding. The high involvement from Erik, buying and fixing things of his own, surely affected the perception of the consumption in a positive way. Their shared responsibility for the car was rather encouraging her than troubling her. She received lots of attention for the car from unfamiliar people, many approached her discussing the legend of the car model and some even questioning her if the car was for sale. Influence from friends as they were expressing compliments on the car also contributed in a positive way. For Sigrid was though most likely the great surprise to finding her parents loving the car, some kind of triumph and for sure made her even more satisfied with her situation as a car owner of a light-blue P1800-ES.

Consumer Behaviour

Conclusions

As we have examined in the previous part, there exist several influences and other factors that had an impact on Sigrid “crossing the border” and buying the Volvo P1800-ES 1973.

The external influences vary in depth and persons. Even Sigrid's closest environment - her parents, her boyfriend and her brother - influenced her in completely different levels.

Erik, her boyfriend, influenced Sigrid indirectly towards the car model and the purchase decision. By sharing the same opinions and feelings as Sigrid, he gave Sigrid the opportunity to reflect her own thoughts and emotions and to feel confirmed.

Sigrid's parents have influenced Sigrid for her whole life and were therefore an influence Sigrid could estimate. Thus, she avoided her parents by knowing their negative attitude towards old sports cars which would be an unwished disturbance in Sigrid's attitude building and for her feelings. But finally, Sigrid depended on the stabilising influence of her parents. When panicking she referred to her parents as she knew that they would support her.

The influence of Sigrid's brother became less and less important. Sigrid knew that she and her brother did not share the same passion for the design of old sports cars, she did not refer to her brother any longer because he was not useful in building a positive attitude towards buying the car. However, in the emotional panic period he became -just like the parents- significantly important. He was also a well-known influence that was able to give in that situation the most supporting influence by telling Sigrid to go for her dream.

Moreover, less emotional but important influences were those by Sigrid's bosses and Emil. The bosses had a major impact on Sigrid going for her dream and gave her the feeling to do something (positively) special. Emil's competence in cars and his positive opinion about the specific Volvo P1800-ES 1973 gave Sigrid security in her decision for that specific car.

At least, there were also influences from society such as people talking to Sigrid on parties about the car and people on the street asking her about the car. These influences were not that deep. Nevertheless, they confirmed Sigrid in doing the right thing and doing something special, maybe even admirable.

Besides those influences were there also Sigrid's characteristics that made her buying the car. She perceived the image of the Volvo P1800-ES 1973 - her personal image of the car - as suiting her own image, the image she had about herself. The car represented a part of a self she wanted to reach. Buy buying that car, she could uplift one part of her self. She came closer to her wished part of her self, presenting herself in society by stating a certain taste, the ability to value well-designed and nice things.

Sigrid also wanted to state a symbolic meaning by purchasing that car. She stated that she was independent enough to buy and use that type of car, able to appreciate nice things and enjoy life.

By having bought a product that is fitting so well a part of herself, Sigrid still feels passion for the car although it obviously causes more trouble than a new car.

Thus, as we have shown in the analysis and above, one can find the critical issues of the postmodern approach -fragmentation, the sign system, symbolic behaviour, particularism and hyperreality- definitely appearing in Sigrid`s case. They have a major impact on her behaviour as a whole, her behaviour as a consumer and her behaviour before, within and after the purchase of the Volvo P1800-ES 1973.

Nonetheless, there still exists the question about crossing the border from fantasy to reality. By referring to the postmodern approach, there exist no such things as reality and fantasy. All things are perceived, transformed and unlimited. Therefore, it is Sigrid who transforms her imaginations, her dream about being the owner of an old sports car into the purchase of the Volvo P1800-ES 1973. But as we stated above, there is no border. By using the postmodern

point of view, we found out that there are only processes, one cannot find a border Sigrid crossed. Sigrid was and still is constantly influenced, transformed, she constantly perceives, selects and reacts. Hence, all processes within her are unlimited, even unstructured and thus there is no borderline. Sigrid still is within that process by thinking about her Volvo P1800-ES and by using it soon.

References

Literatures

Björkman, I., Sven Duchamp - expert på auraproduktion, 1999

Solomon, M. Bamossy, G., Askegaard. S., Consumer Behavior - A European Perspective, Prentice Hall Inc., 1999

Articles

“A depth approach to the futures of the self“, Inayatullah, S., Futures, 31, 1999

“Liberatory Postmodernism and the Reenchantment of Consumption“; Firat, A. & Venkatesh, A., Journal of Consumer Research, Dec.1995

“Postmodernism perspectives for macromarketing: An inquiry into the global information and sign economy”, Venkatesh, A., Journal of Macromarketing, Boulder Dec 1999

“The Post-modern Explained to Managers: Implications for Marketing”, Cova, B. (1993) Harvard Business Review, 11/15/96

“The self in global society“, Anderson, W.T., Futures, 31, 1999

“….”, Prahalad et al, Harvard Business Review, 00010

Other sources

Studier om Kommunikation - en introduktion Fiske, J., 1999

Lecture 2000-02-24 at Stockholm University, by Jonathan E. Schroeder from the University of Rhode Island.

Firat, A. & Venkatesh, A., “Liberatory Postmodernism and the Reenchantment of Consumption“; Journal of Consumer Research, Dec. 1995, p. 243

Prahalad et al. (00010) in Harvard Business Review

Firat, A. & Venkatesh, A., “Liberatory Postmodernism and the Reenchantment of Consumption“; Journal of Consumer Research, Dec. 1995, p. 256

Firat, F., Venkatesh, A., “Libertory Postmodernism and the Reenchantment of Consumption“, Journal of Consumer Research, Dec. 1995, p. 243

Venkatesh, A., “Postmodernism perspectives for macromarketing: An inquiry into the global information and sign economy“, Journal of Macromarketing, Dec. 1999, p. 154

Venkatesh, A., “Postmodernism perspectives for macromarketing: An inquiry into the global information and sign economy“, Journal of Macromarketing, Dec. 1999, p. 154/155

Cova, B., “ The Post-modern Explained to Managers: Implications for Marketing“, Harvard Business Review

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Journal of Macromarketing; Boulder; Dec 1999; Alladi Venkatesh

Journal of Macromarketing; Boulder; Dec 1999; Alladi Venkatesh

Journal of Macromarketing; Boulder; Dec 1999; Alladi Venkatesh

Lecture 2000-02-24 at Stockholm University, by Jonathan E. Schroeder from the University of Rhode Island.

Björkman, “Sven Duchamp - expert på auraproduktion”, p. 39, 1999

10 Solomon, M. et alt., “Consumer Behavior - A European Perspective“, p. 95

Venkatesh, A. “Postmodernism perspectives for macromarketing: An inquiry into the global information and sign economy“, Journal of Macromarketing, Boulder Dec 1999, p. 155

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Solomon, M. et alt., “Consumer Behavior - A European Perspective“, p. 176 / 177

Inayatullah, S., “A depth approach to the futures of the self“, Futures 31, 1999, p. 814

Venkatesh, A. “Postmodernism perspectives for macromarketing: An inquiry into the global information and sign economy“, Journal of Macromarketing, Boulder Dec 1999, p. 156

Venkatesh, A. “Postmodernism perspectives for macromarketing: An inquiry into the global information and sign economy“, Journal of Macromarketing, Boulder Dec 1999, p. 156

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Bernard Cova (1993): “The Post-modern Explained to Managers: Implications for Marketing” Article Publication Date: 11/15/96 in Harvard Business Review

22

Brothers

Influences from the society

Her personality

Erik

Parents

Expressive needs

Past experiences as a car-owner

Erik

Past experiences as a car-owner

Expressive needs

Her personality

Influences from the society

Brothers

Interests in cars and car design

Emil

Parents

Friends

Her boss and the AD

Newspapers and TV programmes, Internet

Her imagination and wishes

Her imagination and wishes

Rational thoughts

The car

Friends

Parents

Emil

Past experiences as a car-owner

Mishaps

Her personality

Influences from the society

Brother

Erik