Researchers investigate everyday snobbery
24 April 2012
In December, the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation granted SEK 9.1 million to a research team at LUSEM to examine the trend of sophistication that has transformed the regular Swede into a connoisseur and everyday products such as water, salt and bread into lifestyle markers.
The research project will investigate, among other things, what pushes certain routine products to embark on the lucrative journey from low to high engagement items. The results could help marketers transform water into wine. Professor Ulf Johansson and senior lecturers Sofia Ulver and Jon Bertilsson will each lead a sub-section of the main research project. The project is called Connoisseurship, snobbery and engagement – the trend of sophistication colonising everyday consumption.
The project aims to examine the sophistication trend that is entering our everyday life the purchasing decisions among shop shelves. “Products like water, salt and olive oil were formerly considered staple products with only functional importance and low engagement from consumers.
These everyday products are now undergoing
a sophistication trend, climbing the value chain and producing greater engagement from consumers. We attend olive oil tastings, season with salt flakes from the Himalayas and drink vitaminenhanced
water with raspberry flavouring”, says Ulf Johansson.
Express who we are
Something happens to products that are transformed from low to high engagement. They represent a higher value and are consumed
in new ways and contexts. The products become a resource for expressing who we are. “The consumer’s engagement in these products makes them move up the need hierarchy, from satisfying basic needs to something expressing our status and who we are”, says Sofia Ulver, consumption researcher in business administration at the School.
The research project consists of three sub-projects. One is to look more closely at different consumption areas that are entering the sophistication trend. A second is to study everyday products’ capacity to engage consumers, and the third is to examine the role of social media in spreading, maintaining and capitalising on the
“The research project could force commercial marketing professionals to re-evaluate the market potential of product categories that have previously only been seen to produce low engagement
from consumers. The results will help marketers change low engagement routine products to cultural consumption products that are purchased and consumed with considerably higher engagement
than before”, says Ulf Johansson.
The largest contribution
The grant of SEK 9.1 million is the largest contribution from the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation to any research project in 2011. Besides the above-mentioned researchers, three doctoral students will work on the project within the areas of branding, consumption and marketing at LUSEM
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