Business cycle effects on consumer behavior: A conceptual framework and research agenda

Daniel P. Hampson, Yi Xie*, Weiyi Li, Sining Kou, Yonggui Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A brand's long-term success depends on its ability to adapt to changes in the business cycle, during which consumer responses might vary widely. Decades of research on business cycle effects on consumer behavior have led to a diverse, yet scattered body of knowledge. To lay a foundation for moving the field forward, we conduct a semisystematic literature review and differentiate the literature based on (1) behavioral foci studied and (2) underlying theoretical assumptions made. Our review of 55 articles identifies six literature fields that study business cycle effects on consumer behavior, and a multitude of theoretical approaches, which we categorize as mechanical core, affective layer, motivational ground, sociorelational, and cultural background. Next, we integrate commensurable elements of these distinct research traditions in an interdisciplinary, higher-order conceptual framework of business cycle effects on consumer behavior, underpinned by four fundamental premises that direct marketing practice. Finally, we use these fundamental premises to delineate guidelines that advance the development of business cycle research in marketing, including (but not limited to) focus on consumer well-being, consumer engagement and digital marketing. The conceptual framework guides the generalizable application of psychological theories to marketing practice during different stages of the business cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-393
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • business cycle
  • consumer behavior
  • economy
  • literature review
  • recession


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