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KULTA - The Latent Bond-related Needs of Consumers (2017-2019)

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Societal changes such as internationalisation, digitalisation of information flow, ego-centrism and longevity of populations alter the needs of individuals and experiences concerning the meaningfulness of life. Meaningfulness is considered to consist of different kinds of bonds, such as social, emotional, cognitive, functional and spiritual bonds which an individual can tie to people, places, items or actions, for instance. The experience of meaningfulness and thereby also bonds have an essential influence on an individual’s needs and wellbeing. Often these needs are unconscious. Understanding the consumers’ latent needs has been regarded as extremely challenging in business sciences. Yet, it is of the essence to understand these needs in order to gain a profound customer understanding. In this research project we study the bonds that an individual values highly and also the needs that arise from the existence of these bonds. Our goal is to develop solutions to recognize and meet such consumer needs that emerge from loosening or breaking of bonds.

Our research project is of pioneer nature and it is built on the expertise of a vastly cross-discliplinary research network. In addition to the core research group's knowledge on customer experiences, it employs expertise from the disciplines of psychology and philosophy as well as nursing and doctoral sciences, to mention a few. We have engaged as our research partners the most appropriate domestic and international experts that possess unique data and/or exceptional networks. This multidisciplinarity enables us to understand the latent needs of consumers in a novel way, which cannot be achieved by using only approaches from business research. With the help of this knowledge it will be possible to develop services that better meet an individual’s needs both in public and private sector and prevent societally challenging problems such as loneliness and social exclusion. Services can, for instance, be equipped with characteristics that alleviate a consumer going through a difficult life transition, and ensure that the service does not deprive the customer’s already lowered amount of energy and capabilities. Research related to these kinds of situations is still scarce even though receiving the right kind of service at the right time could be most important exactly for these individuals.

The project is funded by a three-year project grant received from Emil Aaltonen Foundation.

Further information: Birgitta Sandberg (birgitta.sandberg@utu.fi) or Leila Hurmerinta (leila.hurmerinta@utu.fi).
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