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School of Materials

Three fashion students in discussion around table

Management and marketing

Our management and marketing researchers focus on fashion apparel and textiles in a complex and fascinating industry sector.

Research

Most researchers in this theme focus on fashion apparel and textiles. Increasing global competition, vertical disintegration and the rise of fast fashion has resulted in a geographically complex and fragmented industry sector that faces chronic downward price pressure as well as demand for shorter lead times.

Increasing globalisation of retailing and consumption as well as new ways of selling and marketing online (including e-commerce and social media) present challenges as well as opportunities in the management and marketing of fashion and textiles.

Sustainability and business focus

A greater focus on sustainability, including ethical and environmental issues, is reflected in our research, which addresses various issues from modern slavery in global supply chains to consumer perceptions of access-based consumption.

Finally, our research considers business and network issues, from the application of technological advances in pre-production and production phases, to collaborative design and manufacture, to exploring business models and drivers for future growth.

Our research utilises both quantitative and qualitative methodologies and focuses on a number of areas which address these challenges across the entire value chain. Innovative technology forms an integral component of many areas: for example, our consumer behaviour research makes use of human computer interaction (HCI) systems, 3D body scanners and mobile/digital technologies such as eye-tracking to better understand consumers' cognitive, affective and behavioural responses to products and services.

Case studies

Management and marketing research is making a significant societal impact, as demonstrated by our case studies:

Online fashion shopping behaviour

This collaborative project by Dr Rosy Boardman and Dr Helen McCormick investigated consumer behaviour within the online shopping channel with a Manchester-based leading online fashion retailer. The UK is currently a leader in fashion e-commerce. Therefore it is important that a comprehensive understanding of the benefits of web design and the consumer shopping experience is established, to allow 'UK plc' to stay ahead of global competition. Increased understanding of the digital economy will provide an improved appreciation of consumer behaviour that can build a stronger brand, develop better relationships with customers and influence purchase intention.

Current techniques of assessing online consumer behaviour include click-through statistics, verbal customer feedback and questionnaire analysis. These qualitative and semi-quantitative techniques, although useful, have weaknesses and are notoriously subjective measures. Thus, the project focuses on consumer interaction with the online retail environment by combining data from eye-tracking studies, click-through statistics and qualitative in-depth interviews.

Using innovative Tobii Eye Tracking technology, capable of measuring consumer eye focus up to 300 times a second, an analysis of consumer interaction is being undertaken. The integration of quantitative data and traditional qualitative assessments will allow, for the first time, a more thorough understanding of online consumer behaviour. This information can be used to enhance the web-based retailing experience, which will lead to greater profitability for retailers and a better shopping experience for the consumer.