The pursuit of subjective well-being and the complexity of conscientious consumer decision making in the South African white goods industry: A literature review and proposed conceptual framework

  • L Christie
  • NC Sonnenberg
  • IGP Gous


Emerging economies value an increasing GDP since it symbolises economic growth.  South Africa’s GDP increase has in part stemmed from the consumption patterns of consumers who have since 1994 been awarded equal opportunities and thus have been able to join the ranks of an emerging middle class consumer segment. However, current global trends established that the population’s consumption practices already exceed Earth’s bio-capacity by 50%. In this regard the question remains whether consumption should be encouraged, especially in emerging economies such as South Africa where economic growth is much needed. Current literature does not adequately address this question, yet experts suggest that economic, environmental and social well-being needs to be considered to ensure the sustainability of natural resources.  These are the resources that will support consumption on a national level, satisfy human needs on a personal level and maintain the integrity of natural reserves for future generations. Since consumption of products has a direct and indirect impact on the well-being of both the individual and the larger population, consumers also have a responsibility to improve consumer choices thereby reducing the nation’s social imbalance. Although macro level intervention is important, consumers (particularly those who belong to the higher-income groups), should also make conscientious decisions that may elicit economic, environmental and social responsibility as a measurement of well-being instead of maintaining the prevailing hedonic treadmill.  White goods serve as a typical example of products that require more conscientious deliberation. These products are deemed objects of affluenza, but simultaneously bear long term economic and environmental implications due to their required energy and water consumption. Based on the aforementioned arguments, this theoretical review proposes a unique conceptual framework that includes the pursuit of subjective well-being amidst the interplay of various constructs such as relative deprivation and affluenza to guide future research endeavours in achieving deeper insight into the complexity of conscientious consumer decision making in the South African white goods industry.   


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eISSN: 0378-5254