A combination of powerful innovations – above all in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence, and networking technology – are changing our lives. What I am describing in Box 1 is not some futuristic scenario from a sci-fi book, although it surely sounds like it. Instead, it is the world we live in. Today’s products are yesterday’s science fiction, and sometimes it even feels like today’s products are today’s science fiction. A few years ago, it started to become clear that increases in computing power and breakthroughs in machine learning were going to yield big dividends and transform many product markets. Although the benefits of these technologies are obvious and unquestionable, it is especially interesting for social scientists to examine whether the same developments also have a dark side for consumers. With the arrival of amazing machines, will we eventually lose something important? The key insight of our research is that the benefits brought to us by recent product innovations also come with potential burdens for people who are motivated to consume by identity motives – that is, by the desire to be the kind of person that they want to be.

Automation, Dematerialization, Identity, Consumer Behavior
ERIM Top-Core Articles
GfK Marketing Intelligence Review
Department of Marketing Management

Puntoni, S. (2018). Amazing Machines and the Quest for Meaning in Consumption. GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 10(2), 18–23. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/111813