The missing streetcar named desire
Belk, R. W.
Mick, D. G.
98 - 119
Item Usage Stats
MetadataShow full item record
The why of consumption: contemporary perspectives on consumer motives, goals and desires
Desire has been a taboo word in consumer research. Two legacies of the economic and psychological parentage of the field of consumer research are its slowly disappearing cognitive information processing bias and its rationalization of consumer choice as a process of need fulfillment. The missing streeetcar named desire 99 homeostatic tension-reducing model of consumer motivation that underlies this orientation has occasionally been challenged by pleas to consider hedonic pleasure seeking, variety seeking, or experiential consumption. But even in these cases it is more the object of needs rather than the nature of the motivational process itself that is questioned. In order to begin to envision an alternative to the needs paradigm, consider the descriptors used to characterize states of desire. We say in English that we burn and are aflame with desire; we are pierced by or riddled with desire; we are sick or ache with desire; we are tortured, tormented, and racked by desire; we are possessed, seized, ravished, and overcome by desire; we are mad, crazy, insane, giddy, blinded, or delirious with desire; we are enraptured, enchanted, suffused, and enveloped by desire; our desire is fierce, hot, intense, passionate, incandescent, and irresistible; and we pine, languish, waste away, or die of unfulfilled desire. Try substituting need or want in any of these metaphors and the distinction becomes immediately apparent. Needs are anticipated, controlled, denied, postponed, prioritized, planned for, addressed, satisfied, fulfilled, and gratified through logical instrumental processes. Desires, on the other hand, are overpowering; something we give in to; something that takes control of us and totally dominates our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Desire awakens, seizes, teases, titillates, and arouses. We battle, resist, and struggle with, or succumb, surrender, and indulge our desires. Passionate potential consumers are consumed by desire.