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Comparing Hedonistic and Utilitarian Products Essay

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Utilitarian Consumption:

The consumption of products has tangible benefit for consumer. In western culture, such products are often labeled as practical or necessary. Utilitarian products are purchased and consumed to satisfy consumer’s practical or functional needs. Utilitarian consumer behavior has been described as ergic, task-related and rational. In the marketing literature choice and decision with respect to utilitarian products and informed by the utility maximizing perspective. Thus the consumption of utilitarian products is more instrumental. The motivation initiating the need for a utilitarian product suggests that these products are primarily thought of in terms of their functional performance.

Hedonic Consumption:

The consumption of products for fun, amusement, fantasy, arousal, sensory stimulation, or enjoyment. Hedonic, pleasure-oriented consumption is motivated by the desire for sensual pleasure and fun. In western culture such products are often labeled as frivolous or decadent. The concept of hedonic consumption recognizes that individuals consume many types of products because of the feelings and images that are associated with the product. The cognitive motives driving the consumption of hedonic products are arguably the need to satisfy symbolic and value-expressive motives such as ego gratification, social acceptance and intellectual. Hedonic products have pleasure potential whereas utilitarian products perform functions in everyday life. Products with pleasure potential provide intangible, symbolic benefits and are likely to hold greater potential for evoking positive emotions in a consumer.

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Consumer decision making process:

Consumers are often faced with these types of choices between hedonic and utilitarian alternatives that are at least partly driven by emotional desires rather than cold cognitive deliberations. Hence, these choices represent an important domain of consumer decision-making. Yet much of the pioneering work in behavioral decision theory has largely focused on the cognitive aspects of decision-making without exploring its emotional dimensions. Consumer decision is driven by functionality, usage and benefits out of various functions of product in the case of utilitarian consumption. But the decision making process is obsessed by symbolism, status, value-expression and social acceptance. For example: the decision of buying bread is driven is by its generic functions and attributes not by brand or image, which are already underlined and understood by every consumer. In case of designer suit the decision is influenced by its brand, image, labels and certain associations like brand ambassador, designer and promoters or co-owner also.

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