Department of Marketing

ICAR 2014

The International Centre for Anti-consumption Research (ICAR) was pleased to welcome you to the 2014 ICAR symposium on July 4-5, 2014. The symposium was hosted by Kiel University. The theme for ICAR 2014 was Anti consumption and consumer wellbeing.




What is anti-consumption and consumer wellbeing?

Anti-consumption means against consumption, yet the word is not synonymous with alternative, conscientious, ethical, sustainable, or green consumption. While these terms describe various forms of pro-social consumption; anti-consumption, on the other hand, focuses on phenomena that researchers traditionally have ignored.

Consumer research predominately focuses on the approach aspects of consumer behaviours and attitudes; for instance, why people choose a product or brand. In contrast, anti-consumption research focuses on why consumers avoid certain products or brands. Although a complete understanding of our consumption-driven society requires study of approach and avoidance phenomenon, the latter has received less focus.

Anti-consumption need not be contrary to business success or enhanced quality of life, nor need it interfere with societal and business progress. Enhanced quality of life depends on improving both the quantity and quality of consumption; thus, anti-consumption is not an inherent economic threat. Business practitioners and academicians should view acts of anti-consumption as opportunities to learn about ourselves, our products, our practices, and our society.

Physicians who understand health but not illness cannot treat their patients successfully; similarly, business scholars who only study successful companies may never understand what causes unsuccessful companies. Therefore, study of anti-consumption completes our understanding of consumers and society.

What makes anti-consumption important?

In the last two decades of the new millennium, we have seen consumer wellbeing affected in two vastly opposing ways. On the one hand, we see an ever increasing conglomeration of corporations, leading to larger, more ubiquitous, and hegemonic companies; often resulting in a reduction of consumer wellbeing. On the other hand, with the advent of Web 2.0 and the increasing use and proliferation of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and numerous consumer advocacy and review websites; we see an augmentation of consumers’ abilities to fight back, and in many cases, increase their well-being. These two diametrically opposing developments (larger and more powerful companies versus increasingly empowered and connected consumers) are in a constant battle, and consumer wellbeing is the issue at the core.

Tell me more about the hosts.

ICAR 2014 is jointly organized by Mike S. W. Lee form the International Centre of Anti-consumption (Auckland, New Zealand) and Stefan Hoffmann of Kiel University.

Kiel University

Uni_BuildingThe University currently teaches over 24,000 women and men and the range of subjects on offer is spread over eight faculties. In addition to the original faculties, the faculties of Agricultural and Nutritional Science, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Business, Economics and Social Sciences and, the newest faculty, the Faculty of Engineering are integrated into the university. Where once Max Planck and Heinrich Hertz worked, around 700 academics now pass on their knowledge to students from Germany and across the Globe.

More about the history of the university.


International Centre of Anti-Consumption


The International Centre of Anti-Consumption (ICAR) is located at the University of Auckland (New Zealand). ICAR was founded and is led by Mike S. W. Lee. ICAR comprises a network of marketing academics, practitioners, and social scientists from various universities all around the globe.

 Please find more information about ICAR.


 Mike S. W. Lee

Mike_LeeMike is senior lecturer of marketing at the University of Auckland (New Zealand). He received a Masters degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of Auckland.

Mike is the founder and director of the International Centre of Anti-consumption Research (ICAR), which organizes a symposium every second year, the first was held in Auckland 2006, Sydney followed in 2008, then Marseille 2010, and Brisbane 2012. In 2014, ICAR returns to Europe. Mike’s areas of research are anti-consumption, consumer resistance, branding, consumer behavior, brand equity, and consumer perceptions of brands associated with genetic modification. Mike's specific expertise is in the area of brand avoidance.

His work has been published in leading marketing journals, such as the Journal of Consumer Behavior, the Australasian Marketing Journal, the Journal of Consumer Marketing, the Journal of Business Research, the European Journal of Marketing, and the Journal of Macromarketing. Mike has been Guest Editor for four Special Issues on anti-consumption (the Journal of Business Research; Consumption, Markets and Culture; the European Journal of Marketing; the Journal of Macromarketing).


Stefan Hoffmann


Stefan is professor of marketing at Kiel University (Germany). He received a diploma in psychology from the University of Mannheim (Germany) and a Ph.D. and a second promotion (habilitation) in business administration from the Technical University of Dresden (Germany).

His research focuses on transformative consumer behaviour, communication, health marketing, and cross-cultural marketing. He is keenly interested in different forms of anti-consumption, including consumer boycotts and consumer animosity.

His research has been published in leading marketing journals, such as the Journal of Retailing, the Journal of Interactive Marketing, the Journal of Consumer Psychology, the Journal of Business Research, the European Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Service Research, and the Journal of Macromarketing.