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Critical Consumer Behavior


Gibbert M.

Course director

Bitetti L.


Langebraun N.


Märcz L.



Course Description

The starting point for this course is that consumers define themselves by what they buy, and, vice versa, they buy based on how they define themselves. The title is Critical Consumer Behavior since these choices (which consumers make every day, every hour) have wider implications in social, environmental, and cultural spheres, to name but a few. In a nutshell, consumers can influence not only their own well-being but also what gets produced (and how) via their consumption choices. Hence our ‘critical’ interpretation of consumer behavior both as a discipline and as an everyday activity which should serve ‘mankind’ rather than benefit only a particular sub-set of society. We build on various literatures (mainstream cognitive and social psychology, economics and management, as well as postmodernist and humanist thinking) to understand better the processes underlying this conundrum. The emphasis is on linking deep theoretical insight with practical application, and the course provides both the tools and the context for exercising these tools.

Textbook: Solomon, Bamossy, Askegaard, and Hogg (2016). Consumer Behavior, a European Perspective. 6th edition, Pearson, ISBN-10: 1292116722 • ISBN-13: 9781292116723

Course Objectives

Critical Consumer Behavior has two objectives: (1) to give you access to a breadth of consumer behavior tools and topics, (2) to make enough room to develop adequate depth in key areas of your choice, and to provide the space to exercise your tools in a practical way.

  • The breadth objective will be achieved in the main sessions of the course, in which we look into a variety of topics relating to the consumer in the marketplace, how they behave both as individuals as well as groups, what cultural (as well as sub-cultural) influences play a role, and how this affects their decisions and buying behavior.
  • The depth objective will be achieved through giving you the opportunity to choose which tools, in particular, to use in the case examples we discuss in class. Rather than prescribing which tools to use, this course aims at providing a selection of tools and leaving it to the managerial decision maker to pick the tools most relevant for the problem at hand.



Your grade in Critical Consumer Behavior depends on how you perform both as an (1) individual, and as a (2) team member.


  • The individual performance will be evaluated through
    • three short voluntary mid-term written exam (together 15% exact -dates TBA)
    • an obligatory final, written exam at the end of the semester (70%).


  • The performance as a team member (15%) will be assessed through your uploading the group work on the blog (this includes comments on other groups’ work on the blog).


  • NB: you need to have a grade ≥6 on your individual performance (final exam) to pass the course. A 5 o 5.5 grade obtained on your individual performance permits you to claim credits for the course (based on article 30 of the Study Regulations 2008/09), but this score will not be put on average with the group work score.


  • NB: the mid-term exams are voluntary, and if you decide to take them, you need to take all three. If you are unable to attend one or several mid-term exams, you, can substitute these with an individual research paper, which needs to be discussed with Prof. Gibbert (in this case, you need official medical or legal certificates).


  • NB: For those students who do not pass (or choose not to take) the voluntary mid-term exam, the obligatory final exam will include one extra question and will account for an overall of 85% of the final grade.


  • NB: For students who do NOT participate in the group work, the overall grade consists only of the final written exam and the mid-term exam (70% + 15% = 85%) or only of the final written exam with one extra question (85%). As such, the maximum grade that can be obtained by students not participating in group work = 8,5.