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Investigating Motivational Gender Differences in Online Consumer Decision Making (SF19/EIS/THOMSON)

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  • Full or part time
    Prof M Thomson
    Prof X Bian
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

Understanding online consumer decision making is crucial to the success of e-commerce and the way in which products are presented online plays an essential role in e-retailers’ marketing strategies. It is particularly important to understand whether market segments differ in their perception of online product presentations. Despite gender being one of the most common market segmentation variables, the effects of gender in e-commerce settings remain inadequately understood. While considerable research attention has been directed towards new human-computer interface technologies designed to enhance product presentation, research focusing on gender differences in response to such technologies is scarce.

In traditional retail contexts, men and women have been found to approach shopping with different motives. Men’s motives for shopping appear to be more functional, whereas women’s shopping motives tend to be hedonic (e.g.,Meyers-Levy & Maheswaran, 1991; Putrevu, 2004). This suggests that to reach and engage men, it is likely to be beneficial to get to the point quickly, focussing on the products and why they should be purchased, using statements that demonstrate value. Conversely, when it comes to women, research suggests that they would like to know more about the retailer, the brand and the lifestyle it creates, and how the product is going to make them feel. Thus, if men and women think differently about shopping, one would expect them to tackle online shopping in different ways.

Accordingly, the proposed PhD aims to provide an in-depth investigation of such motivational gender differences and their moderators in buying behaviour and, in turn, test how these findings can best be incorporated into e-retailers’ marketing strategies to improve overall effectiveness.


Meyers-Levy J, Maheswaran D. Exploring differences in males’ and females’ processing strategies. J Consum Res 1991;18(1):63–70.

Putrevu S. Communicating with the sexes: male and female responses to print advertising. J Advert 2004;33(3):51–62.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Recent publications by supervisors relevant to this project:

Hui-Yi Lo, Harvey, N. & Thomson, M.E (2012). “Information search and product knowledge: Differences between shopaholics and general shoppers in Britain and Taiwan.” Journal of Customer Behavior, 11(4), 349-371.

Chen, T., Ma, K., Bian, X., Zheng, C.D. and Devlin, J. (2018). Is high recovery more effective than expected recovery in addressing service failure? – A moral judgment perspective. Journal of Business Research, 82, pp. 1-9.

Bian, X., Wang, K-Y., Smith, A. and Yannopoulou, N. (2016). New Insights into Unethical Counterfeit Consumption. Journal of Business Research. 69(10), pp. 4249-4258.

Bian, X. and Wang, K-Y. (2015). Are size-zero female models always more effective than average-sized ones? Depends on Brand and self-esteem! European Journal of Marketing. 49(7/8), pp. 1184-1206.

Bian, X., Haque, S. and Smith, A. (2015). Social Power, Product Conspicuousness and the Demand for Luxury Brand Counterfeit Products. British Journal of Social Psychology, 54(1), pp. 37-54.

Yannopoulou, N., Liu, M., Bian, X., and Elliot, R. (2015). Perceptions of Authenticity within the Chinese Marketplace, Journal of Business Research, 68(1), pp. 27-33.

Şımga-Mugan, C., B. Daly, D. Önkal, and L. Kavut (2005). The influence of nationality and gender on ethical sensitivity: An application of the issue-contingent model. Journal of Business Ethics, 57, 139-159.

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