Original Research

Transformative consumer research: Its origins and possible enrichment of the field of consumer research in South Africa

Leona M. Ungerer
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 40, No 1 | a1163 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v40i1.1163 | © 2014 Leona M. Ungerer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 June 2013 | Published: 05 June 2014

About the author(s)

Leona M. Ungerer, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: This article provides a rationale for considering transformative consumer research as a research approach for investigating the relationship between consumption and consumers’ well-being in South Africa.

Research purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the principles underlying transformative consumer research, including how it differs from traditional research methods and pointing out some established research areas in this field.

Motivation for the study: Apart from pointing to a lack of literature, this article highlights the relevance of this approach for emerging countries by investigating the principles and practices embedded in transformative consumer research. It provides some indication of how an investigation of these areas may contribute to enhancing the relevance of consumer research to its various stakeholders.

Research design, approach and method: The author used a literature review to conduct the study.

Main findings: It appears that consumer research currently lacks external and internal relevance. A transformative consumer-research approach may address some of the fundamental problems in the way consumer psychologists plan and conduct their research, contributing to this lack of relevance.

Practical/managerial implications: Most stages of the traditional research approach may need to be adapted for transformative research purposes. Some approaches appear particularly suited to transformative consumer research, including revelatory, incendiary, policy, participatory and coalition research.

Contribution/value-add: This study’s primary contribution stems from suggesting a rather novel additional approach to enhance the relevance of consumer research in South Africa, pointing out some established practices in the field of transformative consumer research and suggesting how they may augment consumer research in South Africa.


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