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Shoppers’ attitudes towards personalised advertising in the physical environment

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.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

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: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible 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%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Ana Canhoto - I am a Reader in Marketing, and a member of the Marketing and Corporate Brand Research Group. I lead the "Innovation, Digitalisation and Society" research lab, and I am a founding member of the Centre for AI: Social and DIgital Innovation. My research focuses on the use of digital technology in interactions between firms and their customers. I am particularly interested in how technology and society shape each other, sometimes helping and creating opportunities but, at other times, creating constraints and exclusion. I have taught across various programmes, including MBA and executive education, and led on the pedagogical use of new technologies (for instance, I was part of the academic team that founded the Google Online Marketing Challenge). Since March 2020, I have been serving as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Marketing Management.