Research at the Department of Marketing and Retail Management

We contribute new ideas and fresh thinking to the academic discipline and research community of marketing, retail, service and consumer behaviour. We aspire to collaborate with organisations locally and internationally to shape future systems and processes.

Research approach

We actively publish in top-tier academic journals, organise conferences and perform both editorial and advisory roles. Our research, both theoretical and managerial focused, is core to our scholarly activity. We continuously develop new, insightful and leading research with fellow colleagues within the department, the University and co-authors across the world.

Research themes

Our department conducts research specifically focused on topics related to:

  • Retail marketing and distribution management
  • Service marketing and management
  • Consumer and shopper behaviour.

Research projects

Summary

This project used company archival data, supported by evidence from the trade press, to examine the development of the manufacturer-retailer relationship in the case of Cadbury and the supermarket retailers distributing its products in the period 1953-1975.

Impact

We revealed that the increasing importance of supermarket retailing, in relation to the confectionery as well as the grocery goods trades, had a direct influence on Cadbury’s marketing strategies and practices. We also provided new insight into the significance of these changes for Cadbury’s relationships with other manufacturers, including small-scale retailers typified by confectioners, tobacconists and newsagents.

Publication

A.R. Bailey and A. Alexander 2017, 'Cadbury and the rise of the supermarket: innovation in marketing 1953-1975'Business History, published online 22 November 2017.

Summary

The contribution of this paper provided a more complete understanding of the role of a store manager in a shopping centre in terms of informational boundary spanning between the retail organisation, the customers and local shopping centre management. 

Impact

From a practical point of view, our findings showed that store managers have the potential to be informational boundary spanners and thus valuable resources to inform and give feedback to shopping centre management.

Publication

Teller C, Alexander A. (2014) 'Store Managers – The Seismographs in Shopping Centres'. European Journal of Marketing, 48 (11/12), pp. 2127-2152. 

Summary

Although researchers often use automated sentiment analysis in assessing online consumer product evaluations by counting positive and negative words, more granular sentiment expressions—such as activation levels, implicit meanings, and patterns of sentiment across sentences (e.g., in an online review)—are relatively poorly understood. These granularities aid in differentiating different degrees of sentiment strength and enable a more in-depth analysis of the relationship between sentiment expression in consumer verbatim comments and subsequent online behaviour.

Using Speech Act Theory as an enabling framework, this study conceptualised the differential impacts of explicit sentiment force, implicit expressions, and discourse patterns on overall sentiment strength (i.e., star ratings).

Impact

We demonstrated the significance of these conceptualisations in an empirical study using online consumer reviews, as well as two follow-up studies assessing their relevance for sales and generalisability across social media contexts. By focussing on how consumers express different degrees of sentiment strength, this study offered a more in-depth understanding of online consumer behaviour. 

Publication

View the full article.

Summary

Underlying logic of social comparison theory: Decision making is influenced by people comparing themselves to others and to what they consider as “normal”. Often behaviour is contagious and people sticking out from this norm make others also depart from it because they trigger assimilation behaviour.

We ran an experiment in which three groups of consumers wore eye-tracking equipment and saw a video of the same waitress in either one of the three conditions: 1) healthy, 2) unhealthy in terms of weight (overweight), 3) unhealthy in terms of lifestyle. After seeing the video the consumers looked at a menu with healthy and unhealthy options. Eye tracking allows us to capture subconscious attraction.

Result

The healthy and overweight waitress did not influence attraction toward the healthy or unhealthy option, the unhealthy lifestyle waitress trigged attraction towards the unhealthy meals. 

Publication

Huneke, T./Benoit, S./Shams, P./Gustafsson, A., (2015), Does Service Employees’ Appearance Affect the Healthiness of Food Choice?, Psychology and Marketing, 32 (1), 96-106.

Summary

Symbolic material objects such as art or artefacts (e.g., fine pottery, jewellery) share one common element: the combination of generating an expression, and the materialisation of this expression in the object. This explains why people place a much greater value on handmade over machine-made objects, and originals over duplicates. We show that this mechanism occurs when a material object’s symbolic property is salient and when the creator (artist or craftsman) is perceived to have agency control over the 1-to-1 materialized expression in the object. 

Result

We found that the coactivation of these two factors caused the object to be perceived as having high value because it was seen as the embodied representation of the creator’s unique personal expression.

Our theory explains the causal link between authenticity and a product’s perceived value. It allows managers to design production processes in order to preserve a product’s perceived authenticity. 

Publication

Robert Kreuzbauer, Dan King & Shankar Basu; “The mind in the object—Psychological valuation of materialized human expression”Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144 (4), 764

Summary

This research examined how managers act as a boundary spanner in two types of boundary-spanning relationships and how their boundary-spanning activities provided support for customer value creation in service networks.

Result

By using an embedded case design in three shopping centres, the results from interviews with retail store managers and shopping centre managers indicated that store managers span boundaries between both the parent organisation and the shopping centre and between the shopping centre and customers.

Analysis revealed six types of boundary-spanning activities. Four serve to represent the organisation (service delivery, coordination, guarding, and external communication), while two are informational in nature (outbound information collection and relay, and inbound information collection and relay). This research highlighted the wide range of activities a manager can undertake to improve the competitiveness of a company and service network by enhancing customer value.

Publication

Alexander, C. Teller, and A.L. Roggeveen, 2016, ‘The Boundary Spanning of Managers within Service Networks’ Journal of Business Research, Vol 69 (12), 6031-39.

Summary

Customer misbehaviour in service settings is problematic for two reasons: (1) because of the direct damage it causes and (2) because of the additional negative effects that arise from the contagion of such misbehaviour. We extended the existing theory of customer misbehaviour by studying its contagious effect. The investigation focused on access-based services, defined as transactions in which multiple consumers successively gained temporal, short-term access to a good, while legal ownership remains with the service provider (e.g., car sharing and fashion rentals). Due to the nature of these services, they are especially prone to indirect customer misbehaviour, which is directed at the accessed product and occurs in the absence of others.

Impact

Two online experiments provided the first empirical evidence for a contagiousness of misbehaviour and revealed that this effect is driven by customers’ perceptions of the social norms among the customer group. Moreover, they indicated that greater strength of the accessed product’s brand as well as the lower anonymity of the accessed product’s owner attenuated contagion.

A field experiment showed that an increase in the communal identification among access-based service customers reversed the contagious effect, with customers more likely to remove signs of previous users’ misbehaviour. The results suggested that access-based service providers should address customer misbehaviour by (a) investing in the products they offer access to, (b) establishing more personal relationships with customers, and, foremost, (c) increasing communal identification among customers.

Publication

Read the full article.

Summary

We conducted an in-depth study with leading transnational food retailer Tesco plc to explore how its financial management and relations with the investment community, notably its reputation for capital discipline, underpinned successful expansion. Informed by close dialogue with equity analysts, we investigated how this model deteriorated from the late 2000s with declining returns, leading to high-profile international divestitures.

Impact

The analysis examined how the retailer, pressured by the investment community, reviewed its international strategy and attempted to ‘reset’ its relations with capital markets to re-emphasise shareholder value and returns. The research depicts the manner in which legitimacy with capital markets underpins the extent, pace and form of global retail expansion, leading to significant implications for workers, consumers and wider stakeholders across spatially dispersed host markets.

Publication

Wood, S., Wrigley, N. and Coe, N. 2017 “Capital discipline and financial market relations in retail globalization: insights from the case of Tesco plc”.  Journal of Economic Geography, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 31–57

Summary

The highlights of the paper are: (1) Competition and cooperation between stores increase agglomeration performance. (2) There is a positive spill-over effect between agglomeration and store performance. (3) Cooperation increases store performance indirectly via agglomeration performance. (4) The spill-over effect nullifies competition’s negative impact on store performance. (5) Coopetition capabilities of stores enhance competitiveness of an agglomeration.  

Impact

For retailers operating stores in agglomerations, this research provided food for thought in terms of the following: the findings were a call for more cooperation in agglomerations and showed the positive impact of competition in agglomerations. We conclude that competition is a much-needed mindset in agglomerations.

Publication

Teller C, Alexander A, Floh A. (2016) 'The Impact of Competition and Cooperation on the Performance of a Retail Agglomeration and Its Stores'. Elsevier Industrial Marketing Management, 52, pp. 6-17

Research at Surrey Business School

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Surrey Business School
Rik Medlik Building
University of Surrey
Guildford
Surrey
GU2 7XH