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Connecting to Place, People, and Past: How Products Make Us Feel Grounded

Connecting to Place, People, and Past: How Products Make Us Feel Grounded

JM Insights in the Classroom

Teaching Insight:

This research introduces the need for groundedness in a fast-paced, digital world as a powerful concept that underlies marketplace trends such as the desire for local, indie, and traditional products, and as an important driver of consumer well-being.

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
Marketing Strategy

Full Citation: ​
Eichinger, Isabel, Martin Schreier, and Stijn M.J. van Osselaer (2021), “Connecting to Place, People, and Past: How Products Make Us Feel Grounded,” Journal of Marketing.

Article Abstract
Consumption can provide a feeling of groundedness or being emotionally rooted. This can occur when products connect consumers to their physical (place), social (people), and historic (past) environment. We introduce the concept of groundedness to the literature and show that it increases consumer choice, increases happiness, and increases feelings of safety, strength, and stability. Following these consequential outcomes, we demonstrate how marketers can provide consumers with a feeling of groundedness through product designs, distribution channels, and marketing communications. We also show how they might segment the market using observable proxies for consumers’ need for groundedness, such as high computer use, high socio-economic status, or life changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Taken together, we argue that groundedness is a powerful concept providing a comprehensive explanation for a variety of consumer trends, including the popularity of local, artisanal, and nostalgic products. It seems that in times of digitization, urbanization, and global challenges, the need to feel grounded has become particularly acute.

Special thanks to Holly Howe (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University) and Demi Oba (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University), for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program. 

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