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School of Geography

CSAP Projects

Modelling Individual Consumer Behaviour

PI: Alison Heppenstall (University of Leeds)

Overview: Recent studies have highlighted that changes in consumer lifestyles and choices have created more complex consumer behaviour: for example, many shopping trips are now enacted as part of multi-purpose journeys rather than as a discrete end in themselves. These changes to consumer behaviour have been compounded by changes by retailers: for example, enabling shopping after traditional office hours and via new channels like the Internet. These changing patterns of consumer culture and opportunity have altered the retail landscape. Although the significance of this new behaviour has been noted in the literature, the inability of the traditional models to capture complex individual-level behaviour means that little attempt has been made to model it.

This research addresses this issue. By combining methodologies such as agent-based modelling and qualitative data sources, it creates a framework for simulating current consumer behaviour. These simulations will lead to a richer understanding of the ramifications of these changes to the retail environment. They will also act as a test bed for investigating issues of model validation and error, enhancing our understanding of complex system modelling in the social sciences. Finally, the framework itself will provide a foundation for future modelling of consumers in the widest sense, including the consumers of public services and commons.

Start Date: 01 December 2008

End Date: 31 December 2012

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Grant Reference: RES-061-25-0030