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Jacob Östberg

About me

Jacob Östberg is Professor of Business Administration, specializing in Marketing. Previously his title was Professor of Advertising & PR. He earned his PhD at Lund University in 2003 with a thesis that was subsequently awarded the Academia Gastronomica Scaniensis research price. Since then he has taught at the Business Schools at Lund and Stockholm University, and as visiting distinguished professor of marketing at Aalto University School of Business in Helsinki, Finland and a visiting scholar at Bılkent University in Ankara, Turkey. After Östberg earned his docentship in Business Studies he chose to broaden his scope by taking a position at The Centre for Fashion Studies at the Faculty of the Humanities, Stockholm University. After he earned a docentship in Fashion Studies he realized that he could no longer escape his academic fate as a marketing scholar and returned to Marketing proper at Stockholm Business School.


Professor Östberg teaches at both the undergraduate and the graduate level and supervises doctoral students in marketing.


Östberg studies various aspects of the symbolic dimensions of consumption. For example, he is interested in how individuals in our consumer society create meaning and value through consumption and how brands are filled with meaning in the intersection of popular culture, marketing and consumers’ lived lives. Östberg’s publications have appeared in Advances in Consumer Research; Consumption, Markets and Culture; European Journal of Marketing; Journal of Consumer Culture; Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Global Fashion Marketing; Journal of Marketing Management; Journal of Place Management and Development; Marketing Theory; and Research in Consumer Behavior as well as in numerous international and Swedish book chapters.

He has also written the books Unboxing Marketing: Creating Value for Consumers, Firms, and Society, where he and co-authors Benjamin Hartmann, Anders Parment and Cecilia Solér give a fresch take on a textbook for marketing students; Marknadsföring, människor och interaction (Marketing, Humans and Interaction), where he and Peter Svensson critically examine the basic marketing management concepts; Konsumtion – begreppbart (Consumption), where he and the ethnologist Lars Kaijser introduces the field of consumer culture; and Märken och människor – om marknadssymboler som kulturella resurser (Of brands and Men – marketing symbols as cultural resources), where he, Anders Bengtsson and Benjamin Hartmann discusse the role that brands play for contemporary consumers. To catch the visual aspects of consumer culture Östberg has worked with videographies and presented award winning films at The ACR Film Festival and in Consumption, Markets and Culture.

To reach people outside of academia, Östberg has written books where he introduces the concept of consumer culture to a wider audience: Vi är vad vi köper: konsumtionskulturen är här för att stanna, together with anthropologist Katarina Graffman and På jakt efter den tid som kommer: bubblor, skam och andra fenomen together with Graffman and fashion scholar Emma Lindblad. Together with Katarina Graffman, Östberg also writes a blog for the trade journal Resumé


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Failure

    2021. Dannie Kjeldgaard (et al.). Marketing Theory 21 (2), 277-286


    Failure is ubiquitous in popular and consumer culture. In this commentary, we interrogate discourses around failure and outline potential avenues of inquiry for the marketing and consumption theory disciplines. We begin by synthesizing how failure has hitherto been conceptualized in marketing theory. Then, we discuss how recent rethinking of failure in other disciplines can be meaningful for marketing thought, and propose a new agenda for marketing scholars for studying failure, that moves beyond studying failure as a primarily destructive phenomenon that arises predominantly in service encounters.

    Read more about Failure
  • Unpacking Nordic branding

    2021. Lars Pynt Andersen, Frank Lindberg, Jacob Östberg. Journal of Place Management and Development 14 (3), 362-378



    This paper aims to develop place branding theory toward the accommodation of a multifaceted understanding of value and value negotiation by Nordic branding actors by way of answering the following question: How is Nordicness appropriated by Nordic branding actors and what value regimes are drawn on in the process?


    Using field data from a selection of branding actors and sectors in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, a qualitative analysis of Nordic branding performances is used to unpack the negotiations of valuation of worth.


    The analysis identified three principle orders of worth behind Nordicness (civic, green and inspired) that are negotiated through compromises between orders of industry and domestic and by contesting the orders of fame and market. The findings indicate how Nordicness is performed as principle worths and tensions and how these are rendered meaningful as propositions of “value as difference” as they are performed in practice by brand actors.


    Several studies focus on how place branding “adds value;” however, few studies have been aimed at unpacking how a “value universe” is negotiated as a more complex understanding of worth or “value.” This study thus opens up for branding heterogeneity, which signifies awareness of competing notions and orders of worth among small- and medium-sized enterprises and other central stakeholders; this could further inspire interdisciplinary, value-based research into the potential contingencies of (product) branding and place branding in other contexts and regions.

    Read more about Unpacking Nordic branding
  • Why do crowds cause trouble? Exploring affective instability in collectivity

    2021. Maíra Magalhães Lopes, Joel Hietanen, Jacob Östberg. Marketing Theory 21 (4), 539-560


    Through our ethnographic study of urban activism collectives in Sao Paulo, we propose another approach for exploring the process of collective formations and their longevity. Rather than seeking out the representational meanings of individualized communities, we approach collectivity from the perspective of crowds. Crowds are affective. Crowds are contagious. By adopting affect-based theorizing, we discuss affective intensities that bring about collectivity before the individuals awaken to narrate their meaning-makings. In our ethnographic context, collectives resist manifestations of gentrification (i.e., consumer culture in itself) and offer us a multifaceted site of being and becoming with the crowds. We explore how connections and disconnections affectively rekindle the social expression of collective bodies in consumer culture. This way, we add new dimensions to extant theorizing of consumer collectivity that tends to focus on individualized meaning, stability, and harmony.

    Read more about Why do crowds cause trouble? Exploring affective instability in collectivity

Show all publications by Jacob Östberg at Stockholm University