Consumers and Consumption

Research Lead
Dr Ana Canhoto, who is also chair of the Academy of Marketing's special interest group (SIG) in Services and Customer Relationship Management.

This is an eclectic research cluster, which covers contemporary topics, emerging theory and its application. It concerns the behaviour of consumers in decision making, consumption across different contexts and different research traditions.

More than ever, organisations need to identify their customers' needs and preferences and show in-depth understanding of their behaviour in order to deliver customised products and interactions and to differentiate the organisation from the competition.

Current research activity addresses the role and nature of customer relationship management (CRM) and customer engagement in marketing as influenced by recent socio-technological developments and its implications; the notion of the consumer experience and customer experience management; co-creation and consumer skills or operant resources, including the co-creation of value within on-line communities; political voting behaviour; cross-cultural consumer behaviours and comparisons e.g. China; gift giving behaviour by consumers in service settings; the behaviour of tourists and visitors, including destination experiences, tourist satisfaction, and wellbeing; studies of specific markets such as GLBT; the phenomenon of luxury consumption; and symbolic consumption. There is also focused research activity in the area of ethical and sustainable consumption, including attack advertising in politics, regulatory mechanisms for harmful products, and the interface between travel behaviour and sustainable consumption. There is significant emphasis too on consumers and digital activity and the team work closely with the Digital Marketing cluster as appropriate.

The team is committed to bridging theory and practice, publishing and supervising PhD students in this area and engaging with practitioners through joint events and projects.


The following are examples of some of the projects and activities undertaken by the team:

  • Dr Tom Farrell currently works as co-leader for the Academy of Marketing Special Interest Group, 'Ethics and Marketing' and for the organisation of the SIG track at the Academy of Marketing Annual Conferences.
  • Dr Ana Canhoto and co-author Y. Padmanabhan at Mindgraph won Best Paper in Conference at the Academy of Marketing Annual Conference 2014 having won Track Prize for Qualitative Research with their paper comparing automated versus manual analysis of social media conversations.
  • Team members instigated, edited and contributed to the Journal of Strategic Marketing's special issue exploring the impact of digital on customer targeting and management, published in the summer of 2013.
  • The cluster hosts workshops bringing together practitioners and academics to discuss emerging trends in CRM for example in November 2012, and October 2013. The latter workshop was held in London at the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing and sponsored by the Academy of Marketing to bring together practitioners and academics to debate the role of CRM in an increasingly digitalised environment.


Recent examples of grants awarded include:

  • In 2013, the team twice secured funding from the ESRC's Digital Social Research Community Activities Funding Scheme to examine the changing face of marketing strategy and customer engagement in the digital age.
  • Dr Jackie Clarke and Dr David Bowen (Business School and Oxford School of Hospitality Management) were awarded a British Academy / Leverhulme Small Research Grant in 2013 for two years to investigate the phenomenon of destination familiarity and returning tourists and visitors. The fieldwork is being conducted in Gower, South Wales and in the Mawddach area of Mid-Wales and has implications for deeper understanding of tourist behaviour and for building destination resilience.
  • Professor Janine Dermody and co-researchers won an internal grant for a substantial research study across 10 countries including the UK and China examining sustainable consumption and incorporating survey and focus group work into the design.
  • Dr Tom Farrell and collaborative researcher Dr Benoit Lecat (Burgundy Business School) were awarded internal funding for a study of an international comparison across France and the United Kingdom of the impacts of alcohol regulation and youth alcohol consumption.

Associated Staff

PhD Students

Examples of PhD student topics:

  • Li Chen
    Topic: Customer sensory experience in the Chinese hospitality industry.
  • Haiping Zhu
    Topic: Influence of Chinese philosophic religious traditions on Chinese consumption behaviour using case studies of Chinese festivals.


  • Aileen French (Senior Lecturer) and partner ECCO Oxford, a shoe retailing franchise, city centre location and a large on-line market; 2010-2012.
    "Identify, collate, organise and fully audit all customer, market and competitor data held by the organisation. To identify the organisation's information needs. To assess customers' information needs and to research, commission, install and launch an appropriate CRM system."
  • Dr Sarah Quinton with partner Mankind Ltd (now The Hut group), a premium-branded beauty and grooming online retailer; 2009-2011.
    "To create social media marketing strategy across the three brands owned by Mankind, to achieve brand congruence, operational efficiencies and improved engagement leading to repeat purchase."




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