Food for thought: Weaning and the socialisation of consumption choices on mumsnet
Important forms of online consumption legitimisation now occur outside the brand sphere. This study examines underlying socio-psychological processes that underpin consumption legitimisation in ephemeral, diverse SNS; outlining socialisation and adaptive behaviours of members who use virtual reference groups to identify legitimate consumption choices. Adopting a netnographic approach, this paper reports on an investigation of selected Mumsnet interactions over a three month period. Analysis of social interactions on a thematic reference group on baby weaning offered insights into unique socialisation cues that influence consumption legitimisation practices arising in mundane conversations. Group rules associated with consumption are frequently implicit in member posts, notable in consumption confessionals when un-approved consumption choices are reported. The consumption codes embedded in member narratives are multi-layered, often enacted through social performance and self-referencing. Powerful narratives centred on babies who ‘eat absolutely everything’, as a form of member self-affirmation, lead to social anchorage with this thematic virtual reference group. Marketers need to a) fully recognise the complexity of online consumption codes and pay greater attention to the social psychology that underpins online consumption referencing; b) acknowledge that consumption advocacy occurring in ephemeral SNS is less about brand consciousness and more about search for social anchorage.
Citation : Phillips, N. and Broderick, A. (2016) Food for thought: Weaning and the socialisation of consumption choices on mumsnet. Academy of Marketing Annual Conference, Newcastle Business School, 4-7 July
Research Institute : Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)
Peer Reviewed : Yes