Chair of Marketing

Consumer Behavior

Shopping_01In our research, we develop explanations for consumer behavior and test them empirically. We build on the principles of behavioral science, social and cross-cultural psychology. This background is also reflected in our other fields of our research. These are
Health Marketing
Communication and
Cross-cultural Marketing.

Our work focuses on analyzing different aspects of consumer behavior, such as the analysis of transformational, ethical, politically motivated and sustainable consumer behavior. Especially in developed industrial nations, the topics of ethical and sustainable consumption has received more and more attention over the past years. Particularly socially irresponsible company actions which have a broad coverage in the mass media (e.g. moving factories to low-wage countries, environmental scandals, hazardous products, inhumane working conditions of suppliers etc.) stimulate heated debates in the general public. Consumers attempt to influence company actions by changing or restricting their own consumption patterns (e.g., boycotting).

What are the questions the department is dealing with?

The research field of “Consumer Behavior“ deals with the following topics among other related issues:

  • Consumer boycott and buycott:
    e.g., what motivates people to participate in consumer boycotts and carrotmobs?
  • Ethics and sustainability:
    e.g., which consumers consider social and environmental aspects when  making their consumption choices?
  • Consumer animosity:
    e.g., under what conditions do hostile feelings influence consumer behavior?

What is meant by consumer boycott?

Consumer boycott - Definition: “[…] when campaigners (protest groups, nongovernmental organizations etc.) try to convince potential boycott participants (consumers) to make use of their consumer sovereignty by not buying specific products to show their displeasure about the actions of the companies (expressive goal) and/or try to make them change their behavior (instrumental goal).”

Source: Hoffmann (2008): Boykottpartizipation, p. 13. (Translated from German into English)

What is a carrotmob?

Carrotmob - Defintion and procedure: „A carrotmob is a temporary buycott in the form of a purchase flashmob by a group of consumers organized by activists. These activists chose the company offering the best bid within an auction as the target of the carrotmob. The best bid can be defined in terms of the company’s monetary and/or nonmonetary inputs or in terms of expected improvements in issues the activists ask for.”

Source: Hoffmann/Hutter (2012): Carrotmob as a New Form of Ethical Consumption, p. 218.

Source: Hoffmann/Hutter (2012): Carrotmob as a New Form of Ethical Consumption, p.217.

What are the department’s current publications?

Lee, M. S. W.; Hoffmann, S. (2014) (eds.). Anti-Consumption and Consumer Wellbeing: ICAR Proceedings, Vol. 5, New Zealand: Auckland.

Hoffmann, S.. Are Boycott Motives Rationalizations?, Journal of Consumer Behaviour. (forthcoming).

Hoffmann, S.. Does National Culture Impact Consumer Boycott Prevalence? A Multi-Country Study, European Journal of International Management, 6 (5). (forthcoming).

Hoffmann, S.. Home Country Bias in the Moral Obligation to Boycott Offshoring Companies, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice. (forthcoming).

Hutter, K.; Hoffmann, S. (2013). Carrotmob and Anti-consumption. Same Motives, but Different Willingness to Make Sacrificies? Journal of Macromarketing, 33 (3), 217-231.

Hoffmann, S.; Hutter, K. (2012). Carrotmob as a New Form of Ethical Consumption. The Nature of the Concept and Avenues for Future Research, Journal of Consumer Policy, 35 (2), 215-236.

Hoffmann, S. (2011). Anti-Consumption as a Means of Saving Jobs, European Journal of Marketing, 45 (11/12), 1702-1714.

Hoffmann, S.; Mai, R.; Smirnova, M. (2011). Development and Validation of a Cross-nationally Stable Scale of Consumer Animosity, Journal of Marketing Theory & Practice, 19 (2), 235-252.

Hoffmann, S.; Müller, S. (2009). Consumer Boycotts Due to Factory Relocation, Journal of Business Research, 62 (2), 239-247.

Soyez, K.; Hoffmann, S.; Wünschmann, S.; Gelbrich, K. (2009). Pro-environmental Value Orientation across Cultures. Development of a German and Russian Scale, Social Psychology, 40 (4), 222-233.

Müller, S.; Wünschmann, S.; Wittig, K.; Hoffmann, S. (2007). Umweltbewusstes Konsumentenverhalten im interkulturellen Vergleich: Ein Beitrag zum Interkulturellen Marketing, Göttingen.