Continued Use Trajectories: How Entropy Work Sustains Technology Assemblages

Article Abstract

Why do some technology products enjoy enduring continued use while others are quickly discarded? Existing marketing research explains that continued use is motivated by cost-benefit decisions over how useful a tech-product is and how easy it is to use. Yet the interconnected nature of contemporary technologies means that continued use can depend on tech-products’ capacities to interact with other devices, objects, infrastructures, and people as parts of assemblages that generate useful properties. By theorizing interview and observational data of technology consumption through the lens of Assemblage Theory, the authors identify four continued use trajectories. These explain different paths from adoption to discontinued use by distinguishing component parts’ capacities to interact and hold assemblages together to sustain emergent properties. In each trajectory, continued use is sustained by entropy work to support a tech-product’s usefulness and ease-of-use. The implications of entropy work for theories of continued use and broader marketing scholarship are considered, and recommendations to help firms manage the opportunities and risks that accompany different continued use trajectories are offered.

Journal of Marketing, May 2024

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About the researcher

Marcus Phipps is a Senior Lecturer of Marketing in the Department of Management & Marketing at the University of Melbourne.

His research interests include sustainable consumer behaviour, consumer well-being, routine disruption and the intersections of public policy and the marketplace.

Marcus’s research is embedded in the field of interpretive consumer research with an emphasis on sustainable consumption and the social well-being of consumers. He has conducted research into areas as diverse as tactical urbanism, the disruption of household routines during severe drought, consumer feelings of responsibility for sustainability, and the branding of politicians. His research has been published in outlets such as Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Policy, European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management and the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.

Marcus is on the editorial board of the Journal of Consumer Research and a regular ad-hoc reviewer for premier journals, a mentor at the CCT and ACR conferences, and supervises a number of masters and doctoral students. Prior to entering academia Marcus worked for not-for-profit and market research organizations.

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