Consumer Engineering, 1920s–1970s

Marketing between Expert Planning and Consumer Responsiveness

  • Jan Logemann
  • Gary Cross
  • Ingo Köhler

Part of the Worlds of Consumption book series (WC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Twentieth Century Marketing—Aspirations and Limits, Costs and Benefits

  3. Consumer Engineers and Transatlantic Exchanges at Mid-Century

  4. Consumer Engineering Practices in Postwar Europe

  5. Consumer Engineering and Consumer Movements

  6. Back Matter
    Pages 287-296

About this book


In the middle of the twentieth century, a new class of marketing expert emerged beyond the familiar ad men of Madison Avenue. Working as commercial designers, consumer psychologists, sales managers, and market researchers, these professionals were self-defined “consumer engineers,” and their rise heralded a new era of marketing. To what extent did these efforts to engineer consumers shape consumption practices? And to what extent was the phenomenon itself a product of broader social and cultural forces? This collection considers consumer engineering in the context of the longer history of transatlantic marketing. Contributors offer case studies on the roles of individual consumer engineers on both sides of the Atlantic, the impact of such marketing practices on European economies during World War II and after, and the conflicted relationship between consumer activists and the ideas of consumer engineering. By connecting consumer engineering to a web of social processes in the twentieth century, this volume contributes to a reassessment of consumer history more broadly.


Marketing management marketing practices history of consumer marketing marketing in the twentieth century history of capitalism transnational marketing history consumer engineering social engineering mass consumption U.S. business history history of design fast capitalism consumer goods Victor Gruen German business history Americanization consumer credit Walter Landor consumer research consumer activism

Editors and affiliations

  • Jan Logemann
    • 1
  • Gary Cross
    • 2
  • Ingo Köhler
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Economic and Social HistoryUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of HistoryPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Economic and Social HistoryUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-14563-7
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-14564-4
  • Buy this book on publisher's site