Marketing Research Project

Disposal of the dead: an examination of the interface between consumption behaviour and supply

Funding: British Academy Research Grant
Date: September 2009-March 2011
Investigators: Dr Louise Canning | Professor Isabelle Szmigin

This research will examine disposal of the dead as an act of consumption and in so doing will explore the interface between consumption behaviour and supply. It will map out current consumption issues and constraints associated with disposal, and how those responsible for disposal services are meeting and managing consumer choice. Specific areas of focus will be:

  • How ethnic, social and cultural differences are reflected in choice of disposal method
  • The way in which environmental issues, space constraints and regulations impact on the disposal options
  • How consumer specific issues e.g. planned or distress purchase, changes in ‘fashion’, nature of the deceased’s wishes may impact upon decisions made.

There is now a significant body of literature on death and dying emanating principally from the disciplines of sociology, anthropology and built environment with relatively little contribution from the business and more specifically consumer behaviour perspective. The wider consumption issues related to body disposal have not been researched and it is this gap that this research intends to fill.