Michael Luchs

Consumer Wisdom: A modern virtue for a qualitatively better and more sustainable economy

Associate Professor of Marketing; Director, Innovation and Design Studio
College of William & Mary, School of Business
Williamsburg, Virginia; United States of America

Capstone Conference Talk

Saturday (8/5) 1:30-1:50PM

Towards a Theory and Measure of Consumer Wisdom

Conventional consumption-oriented lifestyles in developed economies detract from individual and societal well-being given their negative impact on financial stability, emotional health, and social connections. While prior research has focused on understanding and measuring dysfunctional consumption patterns of behavior, such as materialism, very little research has attempted to develop an aspirational model of consumer behavior. In response, and building on extant wisdom literature, we draw from a set of 31 interviews of nominated wise individuals to develop a theoretical framework of Consumer Wisdom. We identify and describe five, mutually reinforcing facets of Consumer Wisdom and we provide a preliminary self-assessed questionnaire for assessing these five facets.


Capstone Conference Research Laboratory

SATURDAY (8/5) 4:00-5:10PM

Sharing to Enhance Life

The aim of this laboratory is to explore what scholars can offer – from philosophical, theological, historical, and social science perspectives – that might provide ideas about a) what sharing means, b) what is shared, c) how sharing occurs, d) what inspires and promotes sharing (e.g. religion, culture, institutions, economic forces), and e) barriers and limits to sharing (e.g. cultural, infrastructure, habits, systems, individual concerns about trust and equity). We construe sharing in the broadest possible sense, to include the material (e.g.w commodities/products, water, land) and immaterial (e.g. energy, time, culture, community). In this way, we hope to isolate the ways in which acts of sharing enhance personal and social life. 

Research Laboratories allow audience members to interact with a panel of ELP Scholars and Interlocutors in addressing a problem of public relevance. We invite active participation from audience members in the creation of new knowledge.

Academic Biography

Dr. Michael G. Luchs is an Associate Professor at the College of William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business, and Director of the Jim and Bobbie Ukrop Innovation & Design Studio (www.wmidstudio.com). He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Dr. Luchs also earned an M.S. in Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin, an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business, as well as a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Psychology from Tufts University.

His research interests include sustainable consumption and product design.  He has won ‘best paper’ awards from the Journal of Product Innovation Management (2011), the American Marketing Association's 2010 Marketing & Public Policy Conference and the Association for Consumer Research's 2007 conference on Transformative Consumer Research.  He is a member of the Transformative Consumer Research advisory committee, which is focused on promoting research that improves consumer welfare.

Dr. Luchs' research has been published in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Journal of Consumer Policy, Journal of Research for Consumers, and the Journal of Business Research.  He has won multiple teaching awards including the 2012 Page Prize for Sustainability Issues in Business Curricula and the student-nominated Faculty Excellence Award at the College of William & Mary. He currently teaches the undergraduate courses “Sustainability Inspired Innovation & Design” and "Customer Insights for Innovation."

Project Executive Summary

There is a growing recognition that consumer lifestyles in developed economies are not globally scalable due to resource and other constraints. Further, the mainstream consumerist lifestyle has been shown to detract from individual and societal well-being given its negative impact on financial health, emotional health, and social connections.  The objective of the proposed research is to study a nascent, contrasting phenomenon of Consumer Wisdom.  Our belief, based on background research and anecdotal evidence, is that a growing group of ‘wise consumers’ in society have a significantly lower ‘market footprint’ and yet also enjoy an enhanced quality of life. 

The first phase of work, currently underway, includes development of a refined conceptualization of Consumer Wisdom and an interview guide for fieldwork. The second phase will establish an empirically-grounded understanding of Consumer Wisdom – both the practices of wise consumers and the underlying values that motivate them.  Synthesis of fieldwork and survey data will lead to two academic articles within the context of the Enhancing Life Project timeline; the first focused on the conceptualization of Consumer Wisdom and illustration of its practices via case studies, the second focused on development of a psychometric scale to systematically and quantifiably measure Consumer Wisdom at the individual level.  These, in turn, will enable subsequent research on the antecedents and consequences of Consumer Wisdom.  Ultimately, I also hope to develop a popular press book on Consumer Wisdom targeting younger consumers, whose consumption habits are still forming and are open to positive influence.