Collections that are in use: broadening our understanding of consumers' collections

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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The existing literature of collections has previously concentrated only on collections which items are sacred and consequently separated from their original functional purpose. Thus, the literature has neglected many interesting collections, such as those of sneakers, which items are known to remain in their functional use. The aim of this research was to fill this gap in the existing literature by concentrating on moomin mug collections. As moomin mugs have become a significant phenomenon in Finland and as many of their collectors are known to use these collectibles, moomin mug collections were seen as a fruitful context through which to broaden our understanding of consumers’ collections. The following research question lead the study: what are collections that are in use and how is the consumption experience of using a collection formed? The thesis was conducted as a qualitative phenomenological research and its research philosophical assumptions were based on interpretivism. The data of the research was gathered through nine semi-structured interviews and the informants were chosen based on their known possession and usage of moomin mug collections. In addition to interviews, the research data included photos of moomin mug collections. The purpose of the photos was to broaden the researcher’s understanding of the research context as well as to support the analysis of the interviews. All together the data included 45 photos. What was found from the data is that moomin mug collections are in many ways typical collections, as they have similar features with the collections depicted in the existing literature. On the other hand, a significant distinction was that their items were seen to remain in their functional use. The consumption experience of using moomin mug collections was seen to be formed through different logics of usage, which were the following: everyday usage, mood-based usage, seasonal usage, socially based usage, event-based usage as well as non-usage. These logics were found to be dynamic as they were negotiated by the collectors. Specific negotiation was identified between non-usage and the other logics as it was seen to be possible that the collectibles change their status from unused to used and from used to unused. This could happen through rotation or through a sporadic transition. Finally, collectors were also seen to utilize broken items of their collections in creative ways. This was also seen to be forming the consumption experience of using moomin mug collections. The findings of this research can be seen to broaden our understanding of consumers’ collections by highlighting the following aspects: (1) not all collections are sacred and protected from being used. Instead, also the kind of collections exist, which items remain in their original purpose. These types of collections can be an integral part of their owner’s life and bring a lot of joy to their everyday situations as well as special occasions. (2) Collections are not necessarily protected from the mundane world by storing them in a special place, as they can also be located in the same place with mundane objects. The chosen place supports the usage of the items. (3) Different kinds of collections exist in the continuum of used and unused collections and finally (4) collections that are in use can be in many ways dynamic, ranging from the dynamicity of their logics of usage to creating new purposes for collectibles that have become broken.
Thesis advisor
Weijo, Henri
collections, collections that are in use, possession, moomin mugs
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