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Shoppers’ attitudes towards personalised advertising in the physical environment

   Brunel Business School

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  Dr A Canhoto  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The retail industry has seen dramatic changes, as a result of digitalization. Digital technology offered retailers the opportunity to capture data and develop insight about their customers, and to improve efficiency. However, it also led to the emergence and expansion of a new breed of competitors that, because they operate online only, can offer a wider range of products, more conveniently and less expensively than their high-street counterparts. Moreover, digitalization changed how consumers find product information, and make purchases, leading, in particular, to the emergence of the showrooming phenomenon, whereby customers visit a physical store to learn about the product or try it on, but then buy it online from a competitor.

Beacon technology has been heralded by retail experts as the “most important retail technology since the mobile credit card reader”. It can bring to the physical environment benefits of online commerce such as pre-ordering, queue avoidance, customization, or remembering customer preferences. It could also help physical retailers counter showrooming or, even, lure back customers that have shunned physical stores altogether. These benefits might accrue because beacon technology allows high-street retailers to deliver targeted offers which reflect the customers’ context (e.g., their location or behaviour), which get noticed amid the noise of other communications, which develop customer intimacy, and which increase involvement with the brand. Yet, research that investigates, empirically, consumers’ perceptions and use of beacons is very limited in both number and scope. Research is needed to address the lack of empirical, consumer-focused research on consumers’ perception of beacons, and the delivery of personalised advertising in physical stores.

The empirical setting for the project is flexible. It can be either utilitarian, low-involvement settings or hedonic, high-involvement ones. Though, candidates are expected to carefully consider and justify the empirical focus of their work. The research design will require the use of mixed methods, including in-depth interviews, observations and either experiments or surveys.

Funding Notes

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.)

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