MCB-20806 Principles of Consumer Studies


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work1
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. IE de Hooge
Lecturer(s)J House
dr. N Sharda
prof. dr. ir. ES van Leeuwen
dr. J van Beek
JR de Vries
dr. IE de Hooge
dr. D Fischer
Examiner(s)dr. IE de Hooge

Language of instruction:


Continuation courses:

After completing this course there are several continuation courses (especially in the consumer studies specialisation of BBC, MME and MOA). Examples are: Gender and Consumer Culture (CHL-20306), Lifestyles and Consumption (CHL-20806), Consumer Behaviour: Concepts and Research Methods (MCB-30306), Consumer Decision Making (UEC-31306), Economics of Consumption, Welfare and Society (UEC-22306), and Applied Consumer Studies (MCB-32306).


Note: For all questions or remarks about this course, please send an email to:

In many situations, we benefit from knowing how consumers make decisions and how we can motivate consumers. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the theory and practice of consumer studies. In terms of theory, we will focus on economic, psychological, sociological, communication, and marketing theories to develop an understanding of consumers. We will study concepts such as information processing, attitude formation, framing, group norms, conflicts, motivations, emotions, income, wealth, social practices, and culture. In terms of practice, we will study four different approaches to consumer studies. All theories can be analyzed with at least 4 different approaches: marketing, communication, sociology, and economics. We will use basic theories and the 4 approaches to analyze business cases and consumer decisions in class. Also, in a group assignment you will analyze a self-chosen consumer situation with the 4 approaches to examine whether the theories allow you to develop an understanding of how and why consumers behave the way they do.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- retrieve the major concepts, theories and models of consumer science as treated in the study materials and the lectures;
- explain the major concepts, theories and models of consumer science as treated in the study materials and the lectures;
- apply the major concepts, theories and models of consumer science as treated in the study materials and the lectures in analysing a consumer situation;
- explain the various levels of analysis of consumer behaviour - like individual, household, group, gender - and their interdependency in explaining consumer behaviour;
- explain the societal developments that influence consumer behaviour;
- identify and correctly use four different disciplinary approaches within the multidisciplinary field of consumer studies;
- write a student essay on consumer studies.


This course uses a mix of active participation of students and of lecturers. This means that students will:
- learn basic theories & concepts before and after every lecture (self-study);
- answer MC quizzes and ask questions online before and after every lecture (self-study);
- attend and actively participate in the lectures;
- fulfil a group assignment;
- attend and actively participate in the group assignment feedback sessions


Students will be evaluated with:

- a final exam consisting of 40 mc questions (10 questions for every approach) and 4 open questions (1 question for every approach). This exam counts for 75% of the final grade for the course. From Period 1 2020-2021 onwards, the exams will take place on a pc instead of paper-and-pencil.

- a group assignment consisting of an introduction, consumer situation analysis for each of the 4 approaches, and a synthesis. This group assignment counts for 25% of the final grade for the course.

Students pass the course when the overall mark for the course is 5.5 or higher, and when the exam mark is 5.0 or higher. When the exam mark is higher than or equal to 5.0, the final mark is a weighted average of the exam mark (75%) and of the assignment mark (25%). When the exam mark is lower than 5.0, the exam mark is the final mark.


Articles and book chapters that will be used for this course will be placed on Brightspace.
In addition, we will use book chapters of the book " Consumer Behaviour" (2nd ed.) by Szmigin, I., & Piacentini, M. (2018). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Students that have followed the course "MCB-11805: Inleiding Bedrijfs- en Consumentenwetenschappen" are already in possession of this book. Students that have not followed the course MCB-11805 and are not in possession of the book yet are strongly advised to also read the book chapters that will not be discussed in this course (book chapters 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 9). This will provide valuable additional knowledge to our goal of understanding consumer behavior.  

Compulsory for: BBCManagement and Consumer StudiesBSc1MO
Restricted Optional for: MMEManagement, Economics and Consumer StudiesMScD: Spec. D - Management in Life Sciences1MO
MOAOrganic AgricultureMSc1MO
Compulsory for: WUCBHBSc Minor Consumer Behaviour1MO
WUPEBBSc Minor Psychobiology of Eating Behaviour1MO