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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Commodities

LUCA M. VISCONTI

ESCP Europe, France

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs046

In its wider and current sense, a commodity is any material (product) or immaterial (service, experience, and brand) artifact with a value (functional, symbolic, and/or hedonic) that is produced and eventually traded on the market and made consumable for either companies or end consumers. Marx (1967/1867) proposed a threefold articulation of such value: the value of the incorporated labor, the value in use, and the subsequent value in exchange generally reflected by the market price of the commodity.

In line with its Latin root commoditas – meaning advantage, convenience – a commodity is an object that is expected to benefit whoever consumes it, individually or collectively. However, assuming that notions of commodity and benefit implicate each other is the basis of an enduring theoretical confrontation.

On the one hand, the established approach to commodities reflects the perspective of liberal economics and the cognitive sciences. By adopting an engineering driven, analytical, and rational perspective, they corroborate the idea that commodities are marketable objects aimed at satisfying human wants and needs. Within this frame, commodities are usually defined narrowly to indicate those goods that customers perceive as banal, undifferentiated, and standardized (Kotler and Keller 2012). Examples can be raw materials, components, low differentiable products/services, and goods in an advanced life ...

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