The general mission of the Department of Marketing is to produce and disseminate research with a strong market orientation that can transform businesses and organisations towards becoming more competitive both nationally and internationally. Understanding consumers is the core purpose of the Consumer Research cluster. For both corporations and authorities, it is increasingly important to understand consumers and their practices and the way in which consumers ascribe value to objects and brands in order to meet or challenge their needs. To facilitate such insights, we focus on a number of consumer research perspectives:
• Consumer Culture Theory (CCT), a family of theoretical approaches viewing consumption not as an individual need-fulfilling activity but as a way to construct and communicate meaning in society. CCT can be described as the context where this meaning construction and communication takes place. In consumer culture, consumers as well as public and commercial actors of different sorts are in a constant process of negotiating the meanings of things and services. During the past 30 years, a seismic shift in the location and integration of ethnography within the consumer research world has given way to the incorporation of ethnographic research in virtually every company offering qualitative consumer research.
• Consumer-seller relationship theory. Cultivating well-functioning relationships with its customers is paramount for any company. However, engaging relationships may expose consumers to new uncertainties. In close relationships consumers may be ‘selling’ their independence for the purpose of attaining lower transaction costs. Thus, companies are in need of effective models and information tools, which assist them in understanding and managing complex consumer-seller relationships.
• Consumer individual decision making and behaviour. The interaction between the consumer and stimuli in the environment is an ongoing process in which the consumer develops beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and intensions towards the environment. Within this perspective we attempt to develop models and to carry out empirical studies that seek to investigate and increase our understanding of the possible complexities of consumer individual decision making and behaviour.
• Consumer neuroscience. There has been a change in the view of consumers’ decision processes, going from a perspective where consumers with the right insights would make a rational and optimal decision, towards a view where decisions are influenced by irrational and non-conscious processes. Recent studies in cognitive neuroscience have been able to explain behaviour in relation to brain activity and further address these to biologically evolution. Through experimental research and neuroscience technology we provide new insights into consumers’ decision models and to basic marketing theory.