My experience at the Northern European Consumer Research Symposium

Global and Strategic Marketing Research Centre

Yunlu Zhao is a postgraduate researcher at Leeds University Business School. Her research interests lie in consumer judgement and decision-making, especially consumers’ political ideology, moral value, and prosocial behaviour.

Yunlu Zhao presenting her research at a conference

My experience as the chosen representative of Leeds University Business School at the 2nd Northern European Consumer Research Symposium

On 12 June 2023, Leeds University Business School hosted the second Northern European Consumer Research (NECR) Symposium.

The one-day symposium provided postgraduate researchers from some of the best business schools in Northern Europe (Copenhagen Business School, Stockholm School of Economics, Bayes Business School, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), University of Amsterdam (UvA), University of Groningen and Aalto Business School) with the opportunity to present their research and receive invaluable feedback from faculty members and fellow students.

As the chosen representative of Leeds University Business School at the symposium, I had the privilege of presenting my research project on the relationship between political ideology and acceptance of individually-sensitive products, ie those products whose consumption is actively encouraged by public institutions yet not always readily embraced by consumers. (See below for a summary of my research.)

As a postgraduate researcher conducting research still in its early stages, the NECR Symposium marked my first public presentation of my PhD project in front of an audience. Naturally, I experienced a mix of curiosity and insecurity, fearing the judgment of other scholars. Thankfully, the presence of my supervisors and friends provided the reassurance I needed. I found the audience to be friendly and supportive, an essential factor in ensuring that postgraduate researchers like myself can fully enjoy the experience.

This symposium served as an excellent platform for engaging with accomplished scholars, enabling me to discuss my research and gain valuable insights. I was particularly impressed by the thought-provoking questions posed by fellow researchers, which highlighted areas for improvement and revealed the weaknesses in my work. Further, at the symposium, I was impressed by some interesting work and got the chance to meet new friends who are at similar stages as me in their career trajectory.

Overall, this symposium provided a tremendous learning experience, and I felt supported by those around me. I wholeheartedly encourage other postgraduate researchers to submit their work to next year's NECR Symposium.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Dr Aulona Ulqinaku and Dr Max Gerrath for organising the symposium and giving me the opportunity to represent Leeds University Business School. I also express my gratitude to my fellow postgraduate researchers in the marketing department for their assistance and calming presence when needed. Finally, I am deeply grateful to my supervisors, Dr Verdiana Giannetti, Dr Evangelia Mavroudi, and Professor Dayananda Palihawadana, for their unwavering support, as always.

Summary of my research

Affected by socio-cultural taboos, many products (eg contraceptives or sexually transmitted infection self-test kits) are still perceived by some consumers as “unmentionable”, “sensitive”, or even “offensive”. Such perceptions may restrain consumers’ purchase intentions and, in turn, damage consumers’ wellbeing and societal welfare.

Despite the relevance of this problem, there is a dearth of marketing research in this area. In my research, I investigate whether and how consumers’ political ideology drives their responses to such products.

The findings will extend the marketing literature on sensitive products in a novel manner and generate guidelines for practitioners and policymakers on how to increase acceptance of socially-relevant sensitive products.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the views of Leeds University Business School or the University of Leeds.