Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Hanken School of Economics

No 543: The Hybrid Consumer: Exploring the Drivers of a New Consumer Behaviour Type

Grönroos Christian () and Hanna Leppänen ()
Additional contact information
Grönroos Christian: Hanken School of Economics, Postal: Arkadiankatu 22, P.O.B. 479; FIN 00101 Helsinki, Finland
Hanna Leppänen: Hanken School of Economics, Postal: Arkadiankatu 22, P.O.B. 479; FIN 00101 Helsinki, Finland

Abstract: A dramatically different consumption pattern seems to be emerging among a vast group of consumers. This may mean that conventional consumer stereotypes and segmentation theory are becoming outdated. The so called hybrid consumers seem to increasingly opt for both premium and budget alternatives in various product and service categories while mid-priced alternatives are losing share in their consumption basket. Although this type of polarisation, or dispersion, is already recognized as an important change, hybrid behaviour is still largely under-researched. The present study aims to analyze the possible drivers of hybrid consumption and by identifying typical categories and situations of trading up versus trading down derive tentative characteristics of hybrid consumption for further research on the topic. A tentative pattern of hybrid consumption was identified, which relates trading up to high-involvement, discretional spending and trading down to low-involvement necessities. However, it was also found that hybrid consumption transcends product category boundaries and may thus be less straightforward than previously perhaps assumed. In addition, a purchase pattern continuum was developed, accounting for various degrees of hybrid consumption.

Keywords: hybrid consumer /-behaviour; consumption patterns /-trends; polarisation; omnivorousness

35 pages, October 26, 2009

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