Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 437–460 | Cite as

Testing evolutionary theory of household consumption behavior in the case of novelty - a product characteristics approach

  • Kenza El QaoumiEmail author
  • Pascal Le Masson
  • Benoit Weil
  • Aytunç Ün
Regular Article


This article tests and extends the evolutionary theory of household consumption behavior, which is an alternative to neoclassical theory. Evolutionary economists offer novel approaches to the analysis of consumption behavior that emphasize the major role of learning in the evolution of consumer preferences and wants. As a possible inspiration for further progress in evolutionary thought, this paper examines the idea of consumer learning by studying the nature of what consumers should learn in the context of ‘novelty’. Our empirical results regarding novelty during the learning process show that consumers learn the ‘new characteristics’ of consumer goods, contrary to the Lancasterian approach, which suggests that the characteristics space of goods is fixed. We show that during the process of consumption, ‘consumer learning’ extends the characteristics space of consumer goods; this phenomenon is far from negligible and differs across product types. Moreover, our results show that the emergence of new characteristics cannot be modeled as a Poisson process because these new characteristics exhibit clear interdependence over time.


Evolutionary economics Novelty Household consumption behavior Innovation Consumer learning 

JEL classification




This work is a development of part of my doctoral thesis discussed at Ecole des Mines ParisTech in the Management of Science Center (CGS). I wish to thank the members of the chair “Design theory and Methods for innovation” (DTMI) for their interest in my research. I acknowledge financial support from School of Mines ParisTech as part of my doctoral contract.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CGS - The Center for Management Science, MINES ParisTechParisFrance

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