Within the Marketing Department at the University of Birmingham, there is a vibrant mix of young and established researchers. The research within the department is driven by real questions that face business and society.

Many of these questions – and their associated symptoms, problems and issues – do not simply fit into disciplinary boxes and so our research agenda and practices emphasize diversity, pluralism and inter-disciplinarity.

In this spirit, the Marketing Department aims to strike a balance between having a boundary field-spanning research agenda and profile, while also creating a sense of intellectual identity through developing specific marketing research themes. At present, the department’s main research activity concentrates on the following inter-related themes;

  • Social Marketing and Society
  • Business Market Networks and Communication 
  • Strategic Marketing and Innovation
  • Digital and Social Media Marketing and Analytics
  • Consumer Decision Making
  • Ethical Consumption
  • Consumer Complaints and Activism

Research and training within the department has been funded by several main UK government agencies such as the British Academy(BA), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as well as the Economic and Research Council (ESRC).  Our research activity has been recognized as extremely innovative, for example, receiving a prestigious EPSRC Fellowship Award. 

We also collaborate closely with a range of international, national and local businesses and also with professional accrediting bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Market Research Society. This support and reciprocal engagement reflects the expansive view of our marketing research.

Current Research Projects

"Reel Lives" - EPSRC funded project (October 2013 - September 2016)

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The term "digital personhood" is used to discuss recognition of a human being as having status as a person in the electronic realm. But all too often the digital data underpinning personhood is fragmented and offers very little in the sense of an individual life story or presence.

In this multi-disciplinary research project we seek to develop an innovative method of making sense of this fragmented data by converting this seamlessly into film-like life documentaries, which we term 'Reels'. This will be achieved by collaboration with computer scientists, film-makers, marketing academics, psychologists, HCI researchers and language experts based in the UK.

 "Exploring Multimodal Metaphor in Advertising (EMMA)" (October 2015 - October 2017)

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Metaphor and metonymy are key tools in communication, particularly when abstract ideas or emotions are discussed. While extant literature addresses metaphor in language and images, little has dealt with the combination of metaphor and metonymy in the multimodal context of advertising, where they play a key role.

The EMMA fellowship aims to redress this by testing figurative complexity and emotions, the impact of these on comprehension, accuracy of interpretation and advertising effectiveness. It involves an interdisciplinary study that combines cognitive and physiological psychology with linguistic and marketing interpretations. A mixed-methods approach of lab experiments and qualitative inquiry will assess the speed and depth of comprehension, the perceived appeal, and the physiological effect of static and video advertisements on participants from three linguistic and cultural backgrounds (English, Spanish, and Chinese). If advertisers, charities and NGOs target, and are sensitive to, linguistic and cultural differences in metaphors, local and international communities can benefit from specific, appropriate and ethical advertising.

 "Lifestyle, Social Media and Alcohol Consumption" - ERAB funded project

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Funded by the European Foundation for Alcohol Research (ERAB), the project examines public understanding of what risky behaviour/lifestyle is around alcohol. It examines the types of social media used by companies marketing to young people and investigates the role that social media and social media marketing plays in young people’s lifestyles in terms of risky, transgressive or anti-social behaviour.

The research seeks to gain an understanding of young people’s use of social media, and the influence of social media marketing on lifestyles around alcohol to make suggestions for regulatory and local policy with regard to social media use and approaches by business.

Through a multimodal approach (including content analysis, focus groups, interviews with alcohol companies, bodies involved with alcohol harm reduction, and qualitative and quantitative analysis of social media), the study will examine links across social media, social media marketing, alcohol consumption and young people’s lifestyle. Analysis of social media marketing sites and users’ social media employing screen capture and qualitative software will seek to identify whether and how social media around alcohol may influence or be part of lifestyle choices that include risky and/or anti-social behaviour.

Research Seminars

Keep up to date with all future seminars.