Introduction: Three Recent Trends In Consumer Behavior

During the past decade, consumer behavior in advanced economies underwent three main developments:

  1. Traditionally, durable material goods play a role in consumer behavior, but increasingly, also intangible products that are mainly concerned with experiences. So there is a growing interest in immaterial experiences in preference to material products (Trentmann, 2017; Van Boven & Gilovich, 2003; Yang & Mattila, 2017).
  2. People want to exude more than status and wealth through their consumption behavior and they also want to show something of their personality. So there is a shift in attention from status to personality (Chen, Yeh, & Wang, 2008).
  3. Social visibility of consumption behavior increased enormously due to the widespread use of social media (Heffetz, 2011; Josiassen & Assaf, 2013).

The first trend can be characterized as the emergence of the "experience society" and "experiential purchases" (Pine & Gilmore, 1999). Also, experience recommendation theory claims that consumers will be happier if they spend their money on life experiences such as travel and dining rather than on material possessions such as clothes andjewelry (Yang & Mattila, 2017). Van Boven and Gilovich (2003) conclude that consumers tend to prefer experiential consumption to material goods. Kim (2018) adds that "consumers whose interest is 'keeping ahead of the Joneses' will value the rarity and scarcity of luxury experiences" (p. 291). Concerning the second trend, young people in particular do not want to exude something by means of their possessions, but rather by means of what they do or experience in relation to their personality. In their study of conspicuous consumption, O'Cass and McEwen (2004) conclude that two factors play a role. Thus, not only the ostentation of status, income, and wealth but also something symbolic related to the consumer's identity. Woodward (2010) says: "The Facebook generation does not define what they own, but what they know and what they do or experience ..." (p. 7). The third trend can be seen as a moderator of the previous two trends. It allows people to show previously intangible and fleeting experiences to others in real time. For example, in the past the only way to communicate your vacation experiences to other people was by sending a postcard, and communicating about museum visits took place at birthday parties. Nowadays, this communication can be done easily by means of tweets or Facebook updates with photographs and moving images (Bronner & de Hoog, 2018; Josiassen & Assaf, 2013).