Research Context of the Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group

Core concept

The research program consists of two pillars that are related to each other: marketing and consumer behaviour. Within the consumer behaviour track, research is conducted to understand consumers buying and consumption behaviour processes, and their determinants, and to improve marketing and cousumer research methodology, the latter in order to obtain relevant information about consumers. Understanding consumers’ preference formation processes and their associated behaviour is necessary for firms to develop successful products and services, and for policy makers to develop successful policies. Consumer research into the process of consumers’ buying behaviour focuses on how commercial and social marketing can anticipate and respond to consumer behaviour. Here, the relation with marketing, the MCB Group’s second pillar, becomes apparent.

Within the marketing pillar, research is conducted into marketing strategy, marketing channels, and marketing institutions. Knowledge of consumer and customer behaviour is the driver behind a firm’s marketing strategy, hence the knowledge generated in the consumer behaviour pillar provides information for firms to develop new marketing strategies. Not only does consumer behaviour research provide the necessary information about product development -a topic of in-depth research at MCB-, it also plays an important role in the development of marketing channel structures, a topic that has been researched by MCB since its origin in 1965. Testing for redistribution of economic power in marketing channels and assessing the profitability of advertising and shelf space allocations are topics in this domain. Within the marketing pillar, marketing institutions that facilitate the exchange process within the marketing channel (such as auctions and futures markets) are a central topic of research. These marketing institutions play an important role in the domain of food – and agribusiness. Changing consumer preferences, new technologies (e.g., biotechnology, Internet), and consumer concerns (food safety issues), not only require marketing institutions to implement structural changes at a fast pace but also have a major impact on food policies of governmental institutions, and Non-governmental organisations, as well as society more generally. In the areas of new technology and food safety in particular this is developing as one of the key areas of the MCB group’s efforts

The Research Program and the MCB Group’s ambition

The domain of the MCB group’s research program is the food, agribusiness, and other institutions interested in food and agriculture. This domain provides excellent opportunities to contribute to the knowledge in the field of marketing and consumer behavior. Food marketing is the classical example of marketing of fast moving goods, which is investigated intensively in general marketing theory. Agribusiness and food companies are of significant importance to the Dutch economy. The rapidly changing environment in which the agribusiness and food industry, and regulatory institutions, operates requires new concepts to understand and tackle existing and emerging questions questions. The MCB group aims to be a leading research group in marketing and consumer behavior in the domain of the agribusiness the food industry and policy community. The MCB group has established strong links with other European and US universities that also focus their marketing and consumer behavior research on this domain.

The research topics that have been studied and that will continue to be main topics of the MCB group within the consumer behavior area are: consumer perception and behaviours regarding food safety and food safety issues, consumer response to new technological developments (e.g. nutrigenomics, plantgenomics) in food products, the role of branding and labeling, e.g., the region/country-of-origin cue, , consumers’ response to innovative food products, consumer perception of the variety in retail assortments, the role of risk perception and risk attitude on consumer decision-making behavior, consumers’ and firms’ social responsibility (e.g. animal welfare), engaging consumers in agri-food policy development, and the development of (multivariate) data analysis techniques for marketing research in the area of consumer behavior. Within the marketing area, the following main topics are being studied: Analysis of the performance of food and marketing channels and marketing institutions (auctions and futures markets), the impact of internet technology on marketing of food products and the business-to-to business marketing in the raw material food marketing chain.

Human resource management at MCB is aimed at disposing the research capacities to fulfil the knowledge to contribute to our mission. Many of the faculty has specialist backgrounds (econometrics, psychometrics, psychology, marketing research etc.) that complement each other. Through their cooperation on a research topic, complex research questions can be studied. The MCB Group has an excellent marketing and consumer behavior PhD program, with many former candidates having successful scientific careers both at home and abroad. The PhD students work together with several staff members on research projects and take courses in various national and international PhD education programs.