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Empowerment as latent vulnerability in techno-mediated consumption journeys

Céline Del Bucchia, Caroline Lancelot Miltgen, Cristel Antonia Russell and Claire Burlat

Journal of Business Research, 2021, vol. 124, issue C, 629-651

Abstract: Marketers, retailers, and brands increasingly rely on digital technologies to shape consumers’ journeys. Extending from the paradox of technology, which captures the coexistence of inherent benefits and risks, we propose that empowerment from techno-mediated interactions with brands conceals vulnerability; thus, introducing the concept of latent vulnerability. Adopting a dream interpretation approach from psychoanalysis, we explored consumers’ reflections on the integration of techno-based interactions with brands in their consumption journeys. The analysis unearths processes whereby consumer empowerment may convert to experiences of vulnerability. This research shows that, while giving consumers a sense of empowerment, techno-mediated journeys may hide a form of latent vulnerability. Latent vulnerability becomes manifest through revelation mechanisms that allow consumers to develop self-reflexivity and recognize their dependence and manipulation. We discuss the ethical implications that latent vulnerability raises.

Keywords: Cultural vulnerability; Empowerment; Techno-mediated consumption journeys; Dreams; Collages; Narratives (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.03.014

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