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Utility of Religious Goods

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was dropped from the project due to lack of connection with the other four research questions. The research questions are as follows.

● Question 1: Do consumers see any contradiction of values between being religious and being materialistic?

● Question 2: Is there any difference in life satisfaction between religious versus non religious consumers?

● Question 3: To what extent do consumptions of various religious products and services differ between religious versus non religious consumers?

● Question 4: To what extent do the roles of religious consumptions differ between religious versus non religious consumers?

These research questions center around variables such as religiosity, materialism, life satisfaction, consumption, and values, which are the core of our study throughout multiple rounds of qualitative research. The questions were developed after formulating the problem, the effect of consumption of religious goods and services on life satisfaction.


Literature Review

Religiosity and Materialism

First, we sought to understand any contradiction in values between being religious and being materialistic in religious and non religious consumers. The overall conclusion from literature review was that an internal contradiction of values is possible, depending on the accepted practice of societal norms taking place (Veer and Shankar 2011). Cognitive dissonance of “different factors, including beliefs, values, and norms” have been assessed by using the Justification-Suppression Model (JSM) in the consumer context, to further understand the changing norms in religious society (Veer and Shankar 2011). Veer and Shankar site that “Christian consumers feel that materialistic goods are stigmatised, yet also feel compelled to purchase such goods...then some form of coping strategy would be necessary to balance the two pressures”. Arguably, this is taking place because of what is described as “secularization of society and the postmodern behavior of spiritual seekers, who mix and match from different sources to customize their spiritual beliefs and practices” (Maclaran, Belk, Gould 2012). Although some interview participants did acknowledge this change in religious culture, it was generally from a negative perspective, however some studies have found in certain religions, such as Buddhism, “consumption of goods, services and experiences can indeed provide the material means to achieve spiritual goals” (Maclaran, Belk, Gould 2012). The karmic doctrine itself is built on the concept that “one’s current actions have future consequences,” and within this concept the motivations of an individual can be to benefit one’s self or to benefit others (Kulow and Kramer 2014). This difference may be because in the past, researchers have focused on “the intangible experience, with few investigating the symbolic value of the physical goods” (Higgins and Hamilton 2016). Due to questions this posed, in recent years it has been found that “sacred and religious goods can be both functional and symbolic,” such as prayer beads passed down in a family (Higgins and Hamilton 2016). All of these concepts lead to the main conclusion brought about once again from the JSM model, which is that if the societal norm is “aversion towards materialism, it can be reasoned that a member of such group may be stigmatized if he or she breaks with these social norms,” yet consumers are finding ways to suppress their prejudice and apply justification for religious consumption (Veer and Shankar 2011).

Religiosity and Life Satisfaction

When reviewing the correlation between religiosity and life satisfaction contradicting information was discovered. Certain types of religious consumers will experience more cognitive dissonance when purchasing material items, most likely religious Christians (Veer and Shankar 2011). When this happens “the individual will do what is necessary to minimise this inconsistency” by using coping strategies so that they may justify their purchases (Veer and Shankar 2011). Anglicans are more satisfied when making purchases if they feel they have “sufficient justification to explain the purchase to others who may express negative feelings about the acquisition,” and also if the advertising used for goods and purchases are perceived as less materialistic (Veer and Shankar 2011). Beyond the initial engagement with products from the religious, there is a market of consumers who seek partnership level relationships with brands that are “conceived in spiritual or even religious ways” (Maclaran, Belk, Gould 2012). This is a way for consumers to incorporate their beliefs, values, and religiosity into their everyday actions. “Sacralization of the secular in the spheres of politics, science, art, and consumption” is understood to be perceived as a violation of the norms of the religious demographic, however the externally religious find value in materialism separately (Maclaran, Belk, Gould 2016).

Religiosity and Consumption

Once consumers get past the concept of materialism, and any cognitive dissonance with purchases, it is time to decide on making an actual purchase. It has been found that religious items considered kitsch may be purchased for gifting based on general religious functional familiarity with the object, or even sentimental value, such as prayer beads (Higgins and Hamilton 2016). In some other instances, such as karmic belief the motivations may be “altruistic or egoistic” (Kulow and Kramer 2014). It was found that religious consumers with “low levels of belief in karma” did not respond to incentives to participate in religious donation, while those reminded of their inherent religious values “indicated greater donation intentions when incentives were absent (Kulow and Kramer). Lastly, it should be noted that consumption is expected to vary by religion, since the implications and consequences are so different.

Roles of Consumption

As stated earlier, the role of consumption has been found to change depending on the religion (Kulow and Kramer 2014; Mclaran, Belk, and Gould 2012; Higgins and Hamilton 2016). For the religious consumer who either separates materialism or celebrates it, “spiritual elements are present not only in experiences that immerse consumers in nature, but also in those referred to as artificial, marketer-made consumption scapes,” and this is key for them (Maclaran, Belk, and Gould 2012). Others, who consume “the physical goods associated


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