The Simple Man: A Consumer Identity Project?

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Frendle, Angela
McGinnis, Lee
Washburn University. School of Business
Kaw Valley Bank
Issue Date
May 2007
Alternative Title
In this study we analyze the Simple Man, or those men who have above average means in education, household income, or net worth but who consume conspicuously below their means. We interviewed ten such men and found that these men have highly individualistic identities and backgrounds, yet appear to stray away from products that separate them from others. These men also seem to have reached self-actualization, not needing products or material possessions to achieve fulfillment, status, or identity. These men have tastes that reflect low cultural capital (LCC) consumption but have the means and educations in many instances to engage in high cultural capital (HCC) consumption. The men in this study adamantly proclaim that they do not define themselves by what they own but neither do they appear to define themselves primarily by what they do, at least in terms of occupation. In short, these men appear complex in many ways yet live simple lives, or what might be termed complex simplicity