Consumers Culture Theory: The Case of the Danish Start-up Reform Expanding to Italy

Rita Duina

Student thesis: Master thesis


The present study investigates how Italian consumers construct their identities via kitchen consumption. The purpose of the research is, indeed, providing insights about the Italian consumers’ behavior in purchasing furniture, specifically kitchens, through the Culture Consumption Theory approach to consumer behavior. The topic has been considered of interest due to the peculiar situation of the Italian market of interior design: despite the economic recession, Italians consumers do not want to renounce to stylish furniture. The main themes investigated to answer the research question and fulfill the research purpose are Italian consumers’ style perception , the symbolic meanings Italian consumers associate to kitchen furniture, the values Italian consumers want to see mirrored in the kitchen furniture they own and the influence that product image can have in determining kitchen consumption choices, which has been deepened thorough the specificity of Reform case studies, an interior design firm specialized in Ikea Hacking. Qualitative research tools, in depth interviews, have been implemented to investigate the research question and the corrected empirical data has been analyzed through narrative analysis. Italian consumers have been proven to construct their identities through kitchen consumption. Specifically, the Italian consumers interviewed associate to style essentiality and simplicity as well as elements able to make the visitors feel comfortable and welcomed in the kitchen room. This is probably due by the shared culture Italian consumers hold, and the influence of the fashion system they are subjected to, as well as the advertising promoted by the firms that operates in the interior design sector. Moreover, the participants connect a set of symbolic meanings to kitchen elements of design such as materials as wood to warmth and friendliness and as steel to creativity and unconventionality. For what concern the values they attach to kitchen furniture, given that this product category offer a huge variety in terms of designs and therefore it allows consumer to introduce elements of personalization, it has been discovered that the Italian consumers interviewed can see the link between their personality, values and lifestyle to kitchen furniture. Specifically, three main sets of 2 values has been discovered to be the values the participants want to be mirrored in kitchen furniture: creativity, conviviality and rationality, in a hierarchy of importance that differs for different life stages, respectively young singles, young families and mature families. Finally, for what regards the influence that product image have on Italian consumers in determining their kitchen consumption choices it has emerged clearly that the participants value more kitchen that activate positive self – congruency, therefore, the ones they feel more close to reflect the value sets they are proud to be associated to. Specifically, with Reform, it has emerged that the general feeling towards the design lines offered by the firm is not well aligned with the Italian consumers’ identity needs, as, with the exception of one line, they do not see recognized their personality in REFORM’s kitchens. In fact, the image perceived of the brand design is sophisticated but cold and not friendly. However, for the project itself, based on customizing Ikea kitchens, the young singles felt an activation of positive-self congruity and declared that they would take into consideration Reform if they had to buy a new kitchen.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages90
SupervisorsAdriana Budeanu