Vulnerable Communities / Publication Abstract

Does Research on Scarcity Apply to Impoverished Consumers?

Oct 1, 2020

Ronald Paul Hill

Vulnerable Communities
Macromarketing & Public Policy


Investigation of impoverished consumers and their behaviors has garnered occasional interest among consumer researchers, especially by transformative and public policy scholars. Part of this lack of regular consideration may be due to the field’s focus on typical exchanges that manifest in more affluent communities and nations. Another part may be caused by ways that data are acquired, with an emphasis on panels and students who are rarely subject to the extreme material deficits noted by poverty researchers. Regardless, studies to date show that there is an underlying logic to why and how impoverished consumers respond to scarcity in material contexts in which they are embedded, leading to alternative narratives about their reactions and coping strategies. Using the consumer journey frame by Hamilton et al. (2019), this article shows how work on poverty can be subsumed under the scarcity construct. The close presents implications for scarcity research as well as impoverished consumer behavior.

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