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The simple man: The consumption behavior of the principled life


Correspondence to: Lee Phillip McGinnis, Associate Professor of Marketing, Department of Business Administration, 112a Stanger Building, Stonehill College, 320 Washington Street, N. Easton, MA 02357, USA.



In this study, we analyze the Simple Man, a label for those men who have above-average means in education, household income, or net worth but who consume inconspicuously and modestly below their means. We interviewed 27 men in the Northwest, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast regions of the United States and found that these men have highly individualistic identities and backgrounds yet appear to stray from products that separate them from others. These men also seem to have reached a level of contentment, not needing products or material possessions to achieve fulfillment, status, or a particular masculine identity. These men have practical and durable tastes that reflect low cultural capital (LCC) consumption but have the means and education 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 nor 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. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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