Shopping Motives Constructionist Perspective

Francis Buttle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Some twenty years ago the Journal of Marketing published an article by Edward Tauber entitled ‘Why do people Shop?’, which hypothesised that shopping trips were not always related to the purchase of goods, and that a number of other social and personal motives account for shopping behaviour. This article is an updated replication of Tauber's study but was conducted under an explicitly different set of metatheoretical assumptions from those implicit in Tauber's 1972 piece. Tauber's basic findings are corroborated but significantly developed in this replication, which is grounded on constructionist rather than positivistic assumptions. Accordingly, motives are defined not as internalised states but as descriptive or ascriptive accounts of some contextualised act, expressed in terms of prefigurative or practical logical force. Three key findings distinguish this article from the earlier one. First, people account for their shopping behaviour in terms of logical force. Shopping trips are made both as a result of prefigurative causes and for practical reasons. Second, motives for shopping are not personal attributes or general orientations. People account for their shopping behaviour in a number of ways which are incompatible with the notion of a general orientation towards shopping. Finally, motives for shopping are contextualised. People contextualise the shopping experience before offering motivational accounts. Since shopping is contextualised in different ways shopping motives are also contextualised. The context markers which are cited most often are life-script, life-style, episode (product class), relationships, gender and location. Motives can therefore be thought of as structured in some way around the realities of lived experience, rather than being abstract internalised potentialities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-367
Number of pages19
JournalThe Service Industries Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1992
Externally publishedYes


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