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EC 233 - Consumer Behavior


This guide ties in with the class assignment to develop a marketing strategy that addresses a particular issue related to consumer behavior. If you need any assistance in using these resources or if you are having difficulty in locating information, please contact the Economics and Business liaison librarian.


Background Information


The sources below offer company profiles that will help you understand the challenges and opportunities currently facing the company that you are analyzing.

Annual Report Gallery
A one-stop source for the latest annual reports of over 2,000 companies. Reading your company's annual report will show you what they perceive as their strengths and weaknesses.

Business Source Premier
This database contains Datamonitor reports on individual companies, which include histories and SWOT analyses. Type your company's name into the "Browse for" box.

LexisNexis Academic: Business Module
Access company profiles from sources such as Hoover's. To get started, choose Company Profiles from the menu at left.


The encyclopedias listed below contain essays that shed light on historic and modern consumption of goods and services. The two handbooks on consumers and spending provide recent data on consumption trends for individual products and services.

Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand
     Ref HC79 .C6 R87
Statistical profiles of the consumption of more than 300 products and services, with breakdowns by age, income, region, race, and level of education.

Encyclopedia of American Social History
     Ref HN57 .E58
This encyclopedia provides lengthy essays on themes such as food, sports, nightlife, alternative medicine, holidays, and music.

Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology
     In Credo Reference
Articles on relevant issues such as advertising psychology, consumer psychology, motivation to diet and exercise, and social networks.

Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion
     Ref GT507 .E53
Entries on topics such as body piercing, makeup, fashion advertising, and the social class issues related to clothing.

Encyclopedia of Food and Culture
     Ref GT2850 .E53
This three-volume reference includes an essay on the consumption of food, along with entries on specific foods and beverages, social class issues, and "food as metaphor."

Encyclopedia of Human Behavior
     Ref BF31 .E5
This encyclopedia provides a psychological perspective on issues like consumer psychology, substance abuse, social values, appetite, and body image.

Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth Century
     Ref E740.7 .E53
While most of this encyclopedia focuses on historical events and people, volume 6 contains revealing essays on clothing, leisure, music, the mass media, and the arts.

Household Spending: Who Spends How Much on What
     Ref HC110.C6 A666
Household spending on various products, broken down by a variety of demographics. The data is derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey.


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Geisel Library catalog
To find relevant books, you will probably want to try a combination of Keyword and Subject searching in the library catalog. Start by searching one or more keywords corresponding to the issue that you're researching. When you find a useful book, check in its catalog record for Subject Headings that are pertinent to your topic, which can lead you to further useful books. Here are some sample keyword searches:

  • (marketing OR advertising) AND (youth OR child* OR teen* OR adolescen*)
  • fast food AND America*
  • (Internet OR online) AND market*
  • leisure AND consum*

You can also try directly performing a Subject search on a defined Subject Heading related to your topic. Here are some Subject Headings that may prove helpful.

  • Child Consumers
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Consumer Behavior - United States
  • Consumers - United States
  • Consumption Economics
  • Marketing Research
  • Popular Culture - United States
  • Women Consumers

By searching WorldCat, you can identify relevant books owned by other colleges and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use. Try performing the same Subject and Keyword searches that were effective in the Geisel Library catalog. When you identify a relevant book in WorldCat, you can click on the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link in its WorldCat record. Books requested through WorldCat are usually delivered to Geisel Library in 7-10 days, so be sure to start your research early. You will be emailed when your book arrives, and you can check it out for a specified borrowing period.


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Journal Articles

More detailed and up-to-date analyses of consumer behavior will be available in academic journals, business magazines, and the trade press. Here's a breakdown of what these types of sources will provide, along with links to directly search some of the best periodicals in each category:

  • Trade press periodicals: articles written for industry insiders on the latest developments in markets and consumer preferences

To look for useful articles, start by searching the same keywords you used in the book catalogs, employing the Boolean AND and OR to combine concepts and related terms. Once you run your search, use the Publication Type limiter on the left side of the results screen to narrow your focus to Academic Journals, Trade Publications, or Periodicals (magazines). Click on a Subject Thesaurus Term along the left side to narrow your results to articles dealing with that particular topic. Here are a few sample keyword searches:

  • (collecting OR collector*) AND (psycholog* or motivat*)
  • marketing AND (Facebook OR Twitter)
  • (overeating OR obesity) AND child* AND advertising
  • (celebrities OR celebrity) AND endorsement* AND (marketing OR advertising)

If there is no link to the full text of the article, click on the Webbridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in Geisel Library or in full-text via another online database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link in the WebBridge window to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Within a week, you should receive an email indicating that the article is available to access.

Business Source Premier
Provides full-text articles and article abstracts for scholarly journals, business magazines, and trade periodicals covering business, marketing, consumers, and industry trends.

Academic Search Premier
This multi-disciplinary database contains articles on a wide range of topics. Check here for articles on consumer trends from popular magazines like Time and Newsweek.

This database is worth exploring if your topic has a strong psychological component, such as disorders, addictions, appetites, or self-image.

Try this database if your topic involves sociological issues such as group identification, social conventions, race, gender, or popularity.


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Newspaper Articles

In their feature and business sections, newspapers often cover new consumer trends long before journals and books address them. Although they lack the analysis and scholarly weight of journal articles, newspaper articles may be the best source of information on popular fads and new products. Try the same keyword searches that succeeded in the journal databases.

LexisNexis Academic
Find full-text newspaper articles from local and national papers. Next to Select Sources, choose either "US Newspapers and Wires" or "Business News Publications". In the results screen, change the Sort to "Relevance" to move the best results to the top.

Wall Street Journal
This database offers full-text access to the Wall Street Journal from 1984 through the present. You can limit your keyword searches to the article abstract or title to improve your results. In the results screen, change the sort order to "Most Relevant First".


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Citing Sources

See the library's Citing Sources guide for resources on how to properly cite research materials. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


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Book cover image for Born to Buy

Angela Olesen Seggie

Library Liaison
Jeff Waller

Background Information
Journal Articles
Newspaper Articles
Citing Sources

Subject Guide
Economics & Business