Guest Editorial and Commentary

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<ul><li><p>sum</p><p>an</p><p>retailers should respond to specic consumer predisposi-tions.</p><p>is generally difcult for practitioners to operationalize.</p><p>now follow are a compilation of studies that range from thesociology of consumption to the psychology of specic</p><p>shopping behaviour in the United Kingdom (UK).</p><p>ARTICLE IN PRESSPractitioners tend to engage with the customer on a morepractical level, which equates to much of the academicresearch is too theoretical. The goal for educators in this</p><p>Potentially, for those scholars and practitioners who wishto theorize the extent of change indicative of othergeographic regions, this paper takes a 20-year perspective</p><p>0969-6989/$ - see front matter r 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd.</p><p>doi:10.1016/j.jretconser.2006.02.008Consumer behaviour is necessarily complex; it may bestudied from a wide number of theoretical approaches, and</p><p>shopping behaviours. These are placed in context by therst manuscript, which historically considers the changingJournal of Retailing and Con</p><p>Guest Editorial</p><p>1. Introduction</p><p>Retailing worldwide is passing through a dramaticperiod of transformation in a climate where businessesare obliged to generate ever-increasing levels of differentia-tion just to maintain market share. New technologies andpractices combined with the globalization of products andservices have driven retailers to leverage every part of thebusiness in strategic response. Consumers have become, toa large extent, more sophisticated and demanding withtheir expectations of products, services and businesses.Crossing geographical and cultural boundaries generatesparticular sets of conditions, internally and externally, thatstretch the resources of retail institutions that are oftendesperately short of knowledge capital. To succeed in mostmarkets requires retailers to place great (some would sayoverriding) emphasis on the consumer, with the formula-tion of contemporary retail strategy necessitating adeveloped knowledge of consumer behaviours, intentions,expectations and proles. This Special Issue sought there-fore to provide a collection of articles on contemporaryresearch in consumer behaviour and related elds, drawingtogether the current and potential strands of academicresearch to elucidate future directions for JRCS readers.An editor is faced with many complications when</p><p>confronting the task of attracting and assembling scholarlyresearch in the eld of consumer behaviour. The rst ofthese is to gather a suitably varied number of articles thatappeal to the widest possible audience. This importantgoal, and the diverse nature of human behaviour, creates asecond level of difculty that of integrating the verydifferent perspectives and stances held. Psychologists andsociologists may well argue ercely for their favouredtheoretical stances. Some scholars may assert that theeclectic and rich blend of perspectives inspires and deliversnew advances and directions, for academics and practi-tioners alike. The variety of perspectives and orientations,however, make it inherently difcult to suggest hower Services 13 (2006) 377380</p><p>d Commentary</p><p>eld is therefore to integrate and, where possible, todisentangle the commercial relevance from the theoretical.Above all, we should attempt whenever possible to offernew insight into the development of successful retailstrategy.Popular consumer behaviour texts (e.g. Schiffman and</p><p>Kanuk, 2004; Solomon, 2003; Blackwell et al., 2001)mostly stem from the US and contain material of acontextual nature to international or European specica-tions. These works have substantially supported theresearcher and reader with numerous propositions, con-cepts and theories. Texts written in the European market-place (e.g. Hogg, 2005; Foxall, 1990; Foxall et al., 1998)tend to offer a more theoretically developed approach fromwhich to frame studies and management programmes, orare case driven and culturally specic (Gerrit and VanRaaij, 1999). As with other domains, the practitioner rarelycontributes to this knowledge pool. The majority ofmanagement insight (for academics, students and practi-tioners alike) emerges via the journal route and empiricallybased research applied in retail contexts. It is thesescholarly works that guide our management students andpractitioners of the future.</p><p>2. The manuscripts</p><p>Research into consumer behaviour has enthusiasticallyupheld the importance of recognizing cultural diversity andits impact on consumer choice. However, in terms ofresearch output the story is very different with a paucity ofempirically developed theory that successfully crossescultural divides. I therefore took the decision to offer inthis Special Issue a series of papers that delivered as muchinsight as possible over a range of contexts. The ensuingarticles deal with the detail of an individual consumersbehaviour and the macro environmental inuences onbehaviour, and mostly in a manner that alludes to culturaldifferences between such behaviours. The ve papers that</p><p></p></li><li><p>ARTICLE IN PRESSetaion changing consumer behaviour. From the authorsstandpoint, research of this nature necessitates considera-tion of a wider social practise embedded in a dened socialcontext (place and time), rather than the practice ofviewing each purchase as a unique decision.Taking the view that a symbiotic relationship exists</p><p>between consumer behaviour and long-term retail change,Hallsworth et al. argue that the consumer affects and isaffected by the altering retail scene or landscape. One of thekey drivers of change is thus society, the work people doand the consumption of goods, with later emphasis onretail structure, in-store provision, local choice and retailchange and legislation. In illustration of this the authorsdraws our attention to the poor and immobile consumers,and Taubers (1972) question [in a very different era andcultural landscape] who shops where, suggesting thismay be reduced to wherever they can reach and theoverwhelming issue of convenience. Hence, the authorsassert that (consumer) choice is partly a function of what isreadily available and, invariably, begs the question howdoes this compare with other cultures?For some JRCS readers this explanation of the devel-</p><p>opment of the UK retail-consumer scene will seem familiarand perhaps analogous with their own. Others may bringto the discussion Wal-Marts one-stop appeal in thedramatically different consumer culture (and geography)of the US. Is this also a function of convenience or is itabout value? Interestingly, the unstoppable retail giant iscurrently struggling (at time of writing) to adjust to thelocal Japanese consumer culture (Parker, 2005). Similarly,French retailing scholars may reect on the alteringpatterns of their consumers from parochial tendency toconsume in local and often expensive stores in pre-1978France, to the hypermarket mentality promulgated by theCarrefour and Continent phenomenon. We are thus drawnto the Hallsworth et al. manuscript as a particularperspective on retail consumer behaviour that drawstogether the facets of socio-cultural detail that applyequally to disparate social and cultural systems. In effect,this paper acts as a useful starting point and precursor tothe manuscripts that follow and emphasises the diversity ofthe subject area.At this point we turn to the micro marketing of</p><p>individual behavioural choices, as well as the widercommercial implications of such choices. The next paperexamines and ties together human personality traits andconsumer choice behaviour in respect of own and nationalbrands, and in the context of three major retail businessesin the food, cosmetics and grocery sectors. Whelan andDavies argue that traditional (marketing) methods ofmarket segmentation based on demographic variables haveshown mixed results in differentiating between consumerswho are more likely to buy own brand products and thosewho prefer national brands. Taking advantage of theemerging convergence in human personality research on</p><p>Guest Editorial and Commentary / Journal of R378the big ve dimensions and its implications for consumerresearch (Baumgartner, 2002), the paper focuses on thepotential of human personality as a method of identifyingdifferent customer segments.Whelan and Davies draw attention to the lack of</p><p>sophistication in the literature, which tends to concentrateon developing proles of shoppers based on demographic,socio-economic, and attitudinal or behavioural character-istics. Remarkable as it may seem, earlier studies of ownbrands focused primarily on demographics. The additionof human personality as a distinguishing variable offers asupplementary measure that may help to rene segmenta-tion techniques, and thus enhance the retailers response toconsumer purchasing patterns.Academic research of this type is critical for practitioners</p><p>who seem more than ever before prepared to adopt andoperationalise new perspectives and concepts appertainingto consumer choice criteria. This increasing awareness hascompelled UK retailers and consultancies to allocategreater investment for the deconstruction of the customerexperience. Perhaps more importantly, there is mountingevidence on an international scale to suggest thatcompanies in both the UK and the US are more willingto embrace the academic foundations and theories ofconsumer research (Shaw, 2005). Recent initiatives in theUK retail sector have successfully driven the renementand sophistication of segmentation variables. This ismanifested in the super customisation of merchandisecategories in the 2000s from the rudimentary analysesperformed by the early retail marketing efforts common inthe 1960 and 1970s. For example, UK grocery giant Tescohas successfully harnessed the CRM principles to greatadvantage based on a stream of behaviourally rich datathat informs communications and placement decisions tiedto customer service strategies. The picture is similar innancial services with emphasis on the service environmentand service component (Greenland and McGoldrick,2005). Whelan and Daviess paper in this Special Issue isindicative of the research that academia can produce inresponse to the needs of business.The paper presented next draws attention to the</p><p>theoretical minutia of the psychology of purchasing, byquestioning and reconrming the signicance of emotionsin the manifestation of behaviours. Yani-de-Soriano andFoxall reveal the signicance of negative emotions likesadness and anger during buying event, and in the contextof studies undertaken cross-culturally. In their paper, theauthors assert that emotions are central to the actions ofconsumers and managers alike, and vital to our under-standing of behaviour. It is notable that practitionerstudies in the 2000s have increasingly acknowledgedemotions [in the service experience] as one of the mostoverlooked aspects of business today (Shaw, 2005, p. 5).In response, Yani-de-Soriano and Foxalls work demon-strates the implications of ignoring very specic emotionssuch as dominance, as a valid emotional dimension in retailsettings or stores. Their research employs Mehrabian and</p><p>ling and Consumer Services 13 (2006) 377380Russells (1974) model, and advocates the use of all threedimensions of pleasure, arousal and dominance. This work</p></li><li><p>ARTICLE IN PRESSetaihas major implications for evaluating the effectiveness ofatmospherics in the setting in mediating actual consumerbehaviour, and may be expressed as: (a) a desire to afliatewith others in the setting; (b) a desire to stay in or escapefrom the setting; (c) a willingness to spend time and money(to consume).The Yani-de-Soriano and Foxall studies [their paper</p><p>draws attention to many] support and enrich, theoreticallyand empirically, the basis for future retail managementdecisions, by demonstrating the relevance of the dom-inance emotion to consumer behaviour and marketing. Inillustration, the paper reports that some personality scalesrelate primarily to the dominance emotion. This clearlyreveals the potential for the further renement ofpersonality constructs as segmentation variables. In othercontexts the paper draws attention to the usefulness of thedominance emotion as a mediator of consumer responsesto advertising using the three-factor pleasure-arousal-domination framework (Holbrook and Batra, 1987). Theaugmentation of consumer variables helps to developpractitioner thinking commercially and contributes to thedevelopment of future managerial actions. Moreover, thisroute deepens our understanding of consumer behaviour ina retail context. Of major consideration in this work is thevery robust cross-cultural evidence that the authors havegenerated with a mounting body of empirically basedknowledge.Continuing with the theme and microanalysis of</p><p>consumer behaviour, my next selection is authored byBackstrom and Johansson and is set in the Swedish retailsector. The paper investigates the substance of anexperience-oriented economy and experience-seeking con-sumption in Swedish retailing. Employing a case studyresearch approach and critical incident technique, theauthors explain how retailers and consumers relate to in-store experiences. Research suggests that retailers use evermore advanced techniques in order to create compelling in-store experiences to their consumers (one might speculatethat this is partly due to the increasing pressure fromcompetitors). In contrast, the depiction given by consumersreveals that their in-store experiences to a large extent areconstituted by traditional values such as the behaviour ofthe personnel, a satisfactory selection and a layout thatfacilitates the store visit. This presents a traditional andutilitarian view of consumer choice behaviour.At a deeper level of analysis, the authors argue that</p><p>positive store atmosphere is crucial in order to offerexperiences rather than just products and services. Theysuggest that atmosphere is of great importance specicallyin a service context because of the abstract (vis-a`-visintangible) nature of services. By consistently seeking tocontrol and add substance to the atmosphere of retailstores, Backstrom and Johansson assert that retailers mayinuence consumers when they are evaluating what type ofservice and what type of products are on offer. By</p><p>Guest Editorial and Commentary / Journal of RInvestigating retailers and consumers views on in-storeexperiences, their research expands the existing literaturewhere a presumed increase in experience-orientation is infocus. This study explores what is actually behind notionsof such an increase, from the retailers as well as from theconsumers point of view. The Backstrom and Johanssonpaper shows that when consumers in-store experiences arein focus, there are considerable differences betweenretailers and consumers opinions on what constitutespleasurable experiences and how these might be inducedin store environments.It is notable that the perceived differences between what</p><p>consumers consider pleasurable and the retailers view ofthe same may differ so widely. For practitioners this se...</p></li></ul>