The etiology of the frugal consumer

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frugality, status consumption, materialism, brand engagement in self-concept, consumer independence


This study examines several psychological factors hypothesized as antecedents of frugality. Although external forces, such as downturns in economic activity, can promote frugal behavior, it is also likely associated with a syndrome of individual differences that are independent of economic conditions. These include values, personality characteristics, and other consumer characteristics. Our study used data from 256 U.S. consumers to test hypothesized relationships between frugality measured as a personality- or lifestyle-type construct characteristic embedded in the social psychology of consumption. We identified four key constructs as likely antecedents of frugality: materialism, status consumption, brand engagement, and consumer independence. The results showed that frugal consumers are less materialistic, less status conscious, and less involved with brands than other consumers, but are more independent from the opinions of others in their consumer decision making.

Recommended Citation

Goldsmith, Ronald E., Leisa Reinecke Flynn, and Ronald A. Clark. "The etiology of the frugal consumer." Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services 21, no. 2 (2014): 175-184.

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