Consumer identity renaissance: The resurgence of identity-inspired consumption in retirement

Hope Jensen Schau, Mary C. Gilly, Mary Wolfinbarger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Using multimethod data, we investigate retirement as a life stage centered on consumption, where cultural scripts are particularly contested and in flux andwhere we witness an increase in breadth and depth of identity-related consumption, which we term consumer identity renaissance. While prior research on older consumers focuses on corporeal and cognitive decline and its impact on individual decisionmaking situations, our attention is drawn to the competency and growth potential of those who have exited their formal productive stage and privilege consumption as a means to create and enact identity. Contrary to the received view of older consumers simply reviewing and integrating their already developed identities, we find retirement can be a time of extensive identity work with multiple revived and emergent inspirations weaving across all time orientations (past, present, and future) and involving intricate consumption enactments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-276
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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