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The Times of Their Lives: Phenomenological and Metaphorical Characteristics of Consumer

By S. Ratneshwar and David Glen Mick


Timestyles are the customary ways in which people perceive and use time. We propose that individuals ’ timestyles can be categorized in terms of social, temporal, planning, and polychronic orientations. We examine timestyle in a phenomenological investigation of a sample of American women and identify five emergent symbolic metaphors for time (pressure cooker, map, mirror, river, and feast) that holistically encapsulate informants ’ multidimensional timestyles. We discuss the theoretical and substantive implications of our findings for understanding the role of timestyles in consumer behavior and in the ongoing conflicts that consumers experience in deciding what they should do with their discretionary time. How do our timestyles relate to our behaviors as individuals, particularly as consumers? Some people constantly think of the future, plan their time meticulously, immerse themselves in one task at a time, and guard discretionary time as strictly their own. Others may prefer nostalgia, spontaneous actions, multiple tasks, and socially oriented events. Such habitual ways of perceiving and using time are intricately woven into the manner in which we exchange the resource of time for products and services—whether traveling in a group on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, browsing alone in an art gallery, or spending a Saturday afternoon bidding on eBay while talking on the phone with friends. Prior consumer researchers have principally emphasized singular dimensions of timestyle. Some have discussed a past versus present or future orientation (e.g., Holbrook 1993), while others have investigated a monochronic versus *June Cotte is assistant professor of marketing, Ivey School of Business

Year: 2014
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