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Dinner for one: A grounded theory of grocery shopping in the single -person household

Aubrey R. Fowler, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


A great deal of marketing thought and research has investigated household decision-making; however, much of this work has been accomplished under the assumption that families inhabit households and that household decision-making is actually family decision-making. Such an assumption does not take into consideration the changing nature of the family and the household as the nineteen-fifties ideal is left farther and farther behind. The purpose of this dissertation is to set aside the family-centric assumption and investigate a realm of household decision-making in a different household type. As such, I develop a grounded theory of grocery shopping in the single-person household, investigating how the unmarried person who lives alone and has no dependent children or other relatives fends for him or herself. By doing so, I aim to strip away any in-home influences upon the grocery shopping activity, leaving behind only those influences that drive the person to feed him or herself. The findings reveal that the major influence on the grocery shopping habits of the single person who lives alone revolve around the waste associated with feeding the self. These wasted resources include food, time and effort, money, and natural resources; and the recognition of this waste by the single person results in a variety of mealtime strategies for preparing and consuming meals that impact the types and amount of food purchased in the grocery store. This study also explores the differences between the grocery shopping and meal consumption habits of men and women as well as for members of different age groups. The resulting theory provides a challenge to current marketing thought and practice and promotes an awareness of alternative or non-traditional approaches to examining various marketing phenomena. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Marketing|Sociology, Theory and Methods|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Fowler, Aubrey R., "Dinner for one: A grounded theory of grocery shopping in the single -person household" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3315059.