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Withdrawing as a matter of re-agencing: the case of bulk sales

  • Cochoy, Franck
  • Mallard, Alexandre
  • Eugenio, Cyrus
Publication Date
Dec 05, 2023
DOI: 10.4337/9781803925554.00024
OAI: oai:HAL:hal-04393769v1
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The world of consumption is undoubtedly one of the main sites for innovation through withdrawal. For example, in “no added sugar”, one innovation cancels out the other. Behind this type of innovation, it is possible to discern a more general turnaround of modernity, characterised since its origins by addition, growth, “always more”. With this in mind, the authors of this chapter consider the case of bulk sales, a method that is particularly interesting in the context of innovation through withdrawal. Should selling in bulk, without any packaging, be seen as just a step backwards, towards traditional sales methods, and thus reinstating a relationship between the buyer and the naked product that has been lost in the backroom of consumer society? They answer this question based on a recent survey tracing the history of bulk sales and its declination in contemporary stores. Both these and pre-packaged sales have long maintained complex and intertwined relationships, subtly integrating the ambivalent logics of subtraction and addition, of new and old. These transformations, from counter sales to zero-packaging, from self-service to prepackaged products and from bulk to organic products, are characterized by a series of additions and withdrawals that “build a system” adjusted to the commercial agencement. Beyond the opposition between a naked product and a product inserted in a protective envelope, the authors discover a multiplicity of possible agencements for the singularisation of the link between the consumer and the product.

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