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Title: Reading between the aisles : a contextualised study of young fashion consumers' experiences of retail space
Author: Thomson, Clare A. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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Previous research exploring the impact of the retail environment has presented consumers as passive participants who can be managed in the space. Much of this research has focused on measuring consumers’ responses and behaviour using experimental and survey-based approaches, detached from the complexity and diversity of consumers’ lived experiences. However more recent research in advertising, services and leisure, and inter-disciplinary studies on consumption has highlighted the consumers’ role as active meaning makers across a variety of activities and contexts. This thesis focuses on young consumers’ retail brand experiences and in particular their experiences of retail space. Drawing on diverse research from marketing and consumer behaviour, environmental psychology, geography and anthropology, this study offers a more contexutalised understanding of consumers’ interactions with retail space. Research focused on the youth fashion market and three mixed fashion retail chains located in Glasgow. Adopting an interpretative approach, multiple methods of data collection were used, including in-depth interviews, mini group discussions and a series of accompanied shops. The study indicates that, far from passive participants, young fashion consumers are active co-constructors of space who derive their own meaning from these space encounters. The research extends the concept of literacy into a retail context to illustrate that consumers are capable of ‘reading between the aisles’. Informants not only had a sophisticated knowledge and understanding of retail design issues, but were also able to interpret and construct their own meaning from the physical, sensory and social space. Building on Relph’s (1976) model of insiders and outsiders the study further proposes that young fashion consumers adopt a number of roles in their interpretation of the retail space. The thesis concludes by exploring the implications of these findings for retailers and suggests possible avenues for future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available