Journal Articles 2020

This page contains details of some of the recent journal article publications by members of the Institute for Retail Studies. Pre-print versions of these articles are available online from the University of Stirling’s Depository (STORRE) in most cases, or contact the author or Leigh Sparks directly.

Smith A, Harvey J, Goulding J, Smith S and Sparks L(2020) Exogenous cognition and cognitive state theory: The plexus of consumer analytics and decision-making. Marketing Theory, (recently publised online –

We develop the concept of exogenous cognition (ExC) as a specific manifestation of an external cognitive system. ExC describes the technological and algorithmic extension of (and annexation of) cognition in a consumption context. ExC provides a framework to enhance the understanding of the impact of pervasive computing and smart technology on consumer decision-making and the behavioural impacts of consumer analytics. To this end, the article provides commentary and structures to outline the impact of ExC and to elaborate the definition and reach of ExC. The logic of ExC culminates in a theory of cognitive states comprising of three potential decision states: endogenous cognition, symbiotic cognition and surrogate cognition. These states are posited as transient (consumers might move between them during a purchase episode) and determined by individual propensities and situational antecedents. The article latterly provides various potential empirical avenues and issues for consideration and debate.

Eastmure E, Cummins S and Sparks L (2020) Non-market strategy as a framework for exploring commercial involvement in health policy: a primer, Social Science & Medicine, (recently published online –

This paper outlines the role of non-market strategy and its relevance to public health. Three broad categories of non-market activity are described: corporate political activity, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and legal activity, with examples relevant to public health. The importance to public health researchers of considering business activity through a non-market lens has been outlined. Using a non-market strategy perspective can assist with understanding the commercial determinants of health and analysing the writing of the ‘rules of the game’.

Rybaczewska M., Chesire BJ, Sparks L. (2020) YouTube Vloggers as Brand Influencers on Consumer Purchase behaviour, Journal of Intercultural Management (recently published online – DOI:

The increasing influence of YouTube vloggers on consumer purchase behaviour and the specificity of the vloggers _ viewers/subscribers relationship are under-researched. This paper explores the role of vloggers as brand influencers on consumer (their viewers) purchase behaviour. It investigates the interaction between vloggers and viewers/subscribers in terms of brand awareness and consumers’ purchase behaviour. We have observed specific brand endorsements and experiences, depending on the vloggers’context , leading to both positive and negative feedback. This interaction and the consistently positive perception of reasons behind the vloggers’ choice of the endorsed brands underpin the credibility of the vloggers – viewers/subscribers relationship.

Rybaczewska M., Sparks L., Sułkowski Ł. (2020) Consumers’ purchase decisions and employer image, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services (Recently accepted, April 2020)

A human capital perspective emphasises employer image as a powerful asset for a company’s operations. It is also an intangible factor potentially influential for consumers’ purchase decisions. This study answers the question whether there is any correlation between consumers’ purchase decisions and the image of the company as an employer. Results of quantitative research with 896 respondents show that whilst employer image is not an explicitly stated priority for consumers’ decision-making, it does moderate consumers’ choice and satisfaction. With decreasing differentiation amongst offers in the retail and service sector, this is significant for competitive advantage and can be used by marketers. Our study widens understanding of brand equity by providing a new perspective on relevance and use of the company’s employer image as a component of marketing activities.

You can find this paper here

Rybaczewska M., Jirapathomsakul S., Liu Y., Tsing Chow W., Thanh Nguyen M. (2020), Slogans, Brands and Purchase Behaviour of Students. Young Consumers (recently Accepted)

This research expands the understanding of slogans and brand awareness from the perspective of their impact on purchase behaviour. Data were collected through 34 in-depth face-to-face interviews with university students, using the Customer Decision Process (CDP) model as an approach. Our research confirmed that conciseness, rhythm and jingle are key features strengthening customers’ recall and recognition, both being moderators of slogans’ power. The role and influence of slogans depend on the stage of the customer decision making process. Key influencers remain product quality, popularity and price, but appropriate and memorable slogans enhance products’ differentiation and sale. Our findings deliver a particular justification for marketers not to promise young consumers too much through slogans, as this leads to too high expectations adversely influencing their post-purchase feelings. During the Information Search, slogans can create or strengthen or weaken the willingness to buy the advertised product, depending on the slogan, thus emphasising the need for care over slogan design and use. Our results revealed that the model approach to shopping behaviour does not confirm the belief that slogans influence consumers the most during the phase of Evaluation of Alternatives. Slogans provide a reference point for young consumers to decide whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with their purchase during the Post Purchase phase and provide information during the Information Search phase.

You can find the paper here

Rybaczewska and L Sparks (2020) Locally-owned convenience stores and the local economy. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 52

The convenience store sector in the UK has been growing strongly in recent years. Anecdotal commentary and media coverage claims that locally-owned stores are more advantageous for community coherence and resilience, being embedded socially and economically more strongly (than chain stores) in their local community. This paper extends our understanding of this. Following a review of the literature on social and economic aspects of convenience store operation, a multi-stage mainly qualitative research process was undertaken. Using four case stores in Scotland, this research demonstrates the local engagement of locally owned convenience stores and points to a stronger awareness and detail of the economic rather than the social aspects of this engagement. Differences with corporately owned convenience stores are identified. In policy terms the research shows that more work needs to be done to identify, quantify and then promote the advantages of local ownership of stores.

Stead M, Eadie D, McKell J, Sparks L, MacGregor A and AS Anderson (2020) Making hospital shops healthier: evaluating the implementation of a  mandatory standard for limiting food products and promotions in hospital retail outlets. BMC Public Health (2020), 20:132

Paper available here.

The innovative Scottish Healthcare Retail Standard (HRS) is a national mandatory scheme requiring all hospital food retail outlets to change the balance of food products stocked and their promotion to comply with nutritional criteria and promotional restrictions. The aim is to facilitate healthier food choices in healthcare settings. This study examined the implementation of HRS and the impact on foods stocked and promoted. The study aimed to examine implementation process and changes to the retail environment in relation to food promotions and choice. A sample of hospital retail outlets (n = 17) including shops and trolley services were surveyed using a mixed methods design comprising: (a) structured observational audits of stock, layout and promotions (with a specific focus on chocolate and fruit product lines), and (b) face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with the shop manager or nominated members of staff (n = 32). Data were collected at Wave 1 (2016), at the beginning and during the early stages of HRS implementation; and Wave 2, 12 months later, after the HRS implementation deadline.Positive changes in food retail outlets occurred after hospital shops were required to implement HRS. By creating a consistent approach across hospital shops in Scotland, HRS changed the food retail environment for hospital staff, visitors and patients. HRS provides a regulatory template and implementation learning points for influencing retail environments in other jurisdictions and settings.