MK9708 - Contemporary Issues in Consumer Behaviour

What will I learn on this module?

Since the beginning as a stand-alone discipline, marketing theory and practice is underpinned by in-depth knowledge of consumers. However, understanding today’s consumer is a challenge, even for the most seasoned marketing practitioners and academics. Research in consumer behaviour suggests that we live in a consumer culture, where consumers seek experiences that are underpinned by expectations of engagement, co-creation, choice, hyper-reality, and instant gratification.

Therefore, we encourage our marketing students to understand the complex nature of postmodern consumers and key issues they face in order to become capable marketers or academics. To begin with, you will learn about postmodern consumer culture and its influence on contemporary marketing strategy. It enables you to understand the complex and ever-changing needs and wants of postmodern consumer society. This covers key postmodern consumer traits such as experience, co-creation, hyper-reality, engagement, instant gratification, and fragmentation of self. It also helps you to critically understand the nature and importance of relational orientation in developing contemporary marketing strategies. Building on this understanding, you will be introduced to key issues of postmodern consumer culture and how they influence marketing as a discipline. Here, you will learn the depths of consumerism and critically evaluate its nature, traits and influences on gender issues, ethical debates, sustainability strategies, brand communities, and globalisation trends. You will engage in critical debates to learn how these issues are everyday part of our lives in today’s postmodern culture, thus, bringing greater relevance to designing marketing strategies.

How will I learn on this module?

You will be supported by a Teaching and Learning Plan (TLP) which outlines the focus of formal sessions (lectures, seminars and workshops), and provides details of tutor-directed and independent study/learning.

You will learn through lectures, seminars, workshops, and independent learning. The lectures will cover theories and concepts that will enable you to understand key characteristics that guide consumers’ expectations today. Lectures will also raise key issues consumers face today and will highlight the importance of understanding these issues comprehensively.

In seminar sessions you will build on the material discussed in the lectures and further explore in groups to understand critical implications of these issues.

You will also build on lecture material during workshop sessions to critically evaluate relevance of postmodern consumer traits and key issues to marketing practice. You will have the opportunity to work in a group environment, where you will discuss, debate, and critique various applications of consumer insight. This material will also inform part of your individual critical portfolios.

You will further learn through the module e-learning site, which includes resources and specific access to directed and independent reading.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will receive support through a variety of ways on this module. Your module leader will guide your engagement and learning through development of material and administratetion of the module.

Your seminar and workshop tutors will provide you with academic guidance during sessions, pre-schduled appointments and via email.

The e-Learning portal will be accessible for you to obtain relevant information about the module such as lecture and seminar material and assessment information. There will be scheduled drop-in sessions during the semester to discuss your critical portfolio ideas with the staff and obtain constructive formative feedback. You will also be supported within a group environment where other fellow students and staff work together and reflexively.

In addition, the University provides an excellent library facility which is accessible 24/7 during term time and provides you with access to a wide variety of specialist journals and other relevant publications focusing on the themes covered in this module. There are top of the range IT facilities at the Faculty of Business and Law building where your formal study sessions will take place.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

• You will gain knowledge of the complexity of postmodern consumer culture. This will include key traits of today’s consumers and key issues they face. You will also gain understanding of how these consumer traits and consumption related issues influence marketing strategy (ML01).

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

• You will develop skills necessary to profile consumers in today’s markets and apply this understanding to develop marketing strategies that are meaningful and appealing to consumers (ML02).

• Through developing group and individual assessment tasks, you will develop skills that are important in professional and effective presentation of consumer issues (ML03).

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

• You will begin to empathise with the world around you with a heightened sense of ethical, cultural, and social awareness (ML04).

• As a result, you will begin to adopt traits that essential to become a well-rounded and socially responsible marketer in this fast-changing, globalised markets (ML05).

How will I be assessed?

In this module you will be assessed summatively and formatively by a group activity (25%) during week 6 and an individual report (75%) at the end of the semester. Formative feedback will be given to you during seminar and workshop sessions.

Part A (25%)
Performative Representation of Postmodern Consumer

You will work in groups of 3-5 students to direct a dramaturgic representation of postmodern consumer. You will draw from lectures, seminars and workshops to identify key characteristics of postmodern consumers and will direct a 10 minute short movie under the theme “Enchanted Consumers”. Your creative product will need to highlight the key consumer traits and how they make consumption a complex, fascinating process. You will be evaluated on two fronts: 1. understanding of key postmodern consumer traits (discussed in lectures and seminars) and 2) application of these traits to represent consumer behaviour.
(ML03, ML04 and ML05)

Part B (75%)
Individual Report (Critical Evaluation of Postmodern Consumption Related Issue)

You will work individually to research and develop a critical portfolio that combine evidence across multiple formats (classroom debates, pictures and video of examples, etc.) and written commentary of a contemporary consumption related issue of your choice that is faced by consumers. You will draw from the topics discussed during lectures, seminars and workshops to identify a topic. Your portfolio will introduce the issue, discuss its severity, and critically argue how it influences or influenced by consumers and marketing. You are expected to read academic literature, follow leading activity in the field, and further investigate in popular media when developing this critical portfolio. You will be evaluated on understanding of the critical issue, depth of research, and the strength of the critical argument. You will receive written summative feedback.
(ML01 and ML02)





Module abstract

Marketing can not exist without the consumer. Holistic marketers begins with obtaining a naturalistic understanding of the consumers in their cultural context. However, the complex nature of today’s consumers pose genuine challenges for marketers as consumers are no longer helpless and passive subjects of brands. Instead they are active experimenters and co-creators of brands they love. They share “paradoxical” lifestyles such as seeking authentic experiences in hyper-real environments. They pursue “flickering” needs and wants to aid identities that are fragmented to pieces and they like their rewards now rather than an year from now. This is the very nature of the postmodern consumer culture that we live in.

This module draws from rich traditions of postmodern consumer research to provide you with an in-depth understanding of today’s consumers. The module also goes beyond to bring key issues that are faced by today’s consumers in order to help you understand how brands are a product of consumers as much as they of brands. As a result you will critically evaluate the dynamics of consumerism in shaping key contemporary issues namely gender issues, ethical debates, sustainability strategies, and globalisation trends.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 16 months Full Time
2 other options available

Department Newcastle Business School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start January 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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