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Liquid Consumption

Bardhi, F. & Eckhardt, G.M. (2017). Liquid Consumption. Journal of Consumer Research, 44(3), pp. 582-597. doi: 10.1093/jcr/ucx050


This paper introduces a new dimension of consumption as liquid or solid. Liquid consumption is defined as ephemeral, access based and dematerialized, while solid consumption is defined as enduring, ownership based and material. Liquid and solid consumption are conceptualized as existing on a spectrum, with four conditions leading to consumption being liquid, solid, or a combination of the two: relevance to the self, the nature of social relationships, accessibility to mobility networks, and type of precarity experienced. Liquid consumption is needed to explain behavior within digital contexts, in access-based consumption, and in conditions of global mobility. It highlights a consumption orientation around values of flexibility, adaptability, fluidity, lightness, detachment, and speed. Implications of liquid consumption for the domains of attachment and appropriation, the importance of use value, materialism, brand relationships and communities, identity, prosumption and the prosumer, and big data, quantification of the self and surveillance are discussed. Lastly, managing the challenges of liquid consumption and its effect on consumer welfare are explored.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Consumer Research following peer review. The version of record of Fleura Bardhi, Giana M Eckhardt, Liquid Consumption, Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 44, Issue 3, October 2017, Pages 582–597, is available online at:
Publisher Keywords: liquid consumption, digital, access-based consumption, dematerialization, ephemerality, Bauman
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Accepted Version
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