Taboos, morality and marketing: towards a conceptual model and illustration

Grant Michelson*, Rohan Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Drawing on the anthropological literature, this paper aims to develop a model of taboos (morality) that applies to the marketing, consumer behaviour and consumption contexts. 

Design/methodology/approach: The paper is mainly conceptual but illustrates the general premises of the model with a case study of “dark” tourism and the contemporary marketing of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Findings: The paper shows that even extreme taboos can be commodified and traded-off, and that not even the horrific deaths and large-scale suffering that occurred at Auschwitz are “sacred”. This can occur through reframing and seeing the same taboo through different national lens.

Research limitations/implications: Questions pertaining to consumer morality are relative rather than universalistic, and even the most extreme cases of taboo can still be successfully marketed.

Originality/value: The paper is among the first to attempt to conceptually design a model and then explain the taboo process as it applies to a marketing and consumption context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-400
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Issue number3
Early online date1 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2019


  • Auschwitz
  • Consumption
  • Marketing
  • Morality
  • Sacred
  • Taboo


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