Although the consumer research field has made great progress over the past 30 years with respect to the scope, quality, and quantity of research, there are still significant disagreements about what consumer research is, what its objectives are, and how it should differ from related disciplines. As a result, the field appears to be rather fragmented and even divided on some fundamental issues. In this review we first examine the original vision for the field and its limitations. In the second section we explore the consequences of the ambiguity about the domain and identity of consumer research and the multidisciplinary influences on the field. In particular, we review key trends and “camps” in consumer research, which represent complementary and, in some cases, conflicting views regarding the main topics of investigation and how research is conducted. This review is based in part on systematic analyses of articles that have been published in the leading consumer research journals over the past 30 years. Finally, in the third section we revisit the question of what might differentiate the field from related disciplines, as well as the role of theory testing, studies of substantive phenomena, and relevance in consumer research.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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