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Marks and Spencer and the social history of food c. 1950 - 1980, with particular reference to the relationship between consumer behaviour and retailing strategies

Freear, Josephine (2015) Marks and Spencer and the social history of food c. 1950 - 1980, with particular reference to the relationship between consumer behaviour and retailing strategies. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis uses a detailed study of the relationship between the retailing strategies of Marks and Spencer and consumer behaviour to examine wider changes in the history of food retail and consumption in Britain between 1950 and 1980. Using material from the Marks and Spencer company archive, it situates these traditional business history sources alongside primary material from a wide range of social, cultural and political and multi-disciplinary scholarship in order to contextualise the company’s experiences as a food retailer. The first half of the thesis explores the complexities of this relationship and investigates the ways in which the histories of consumption, retail and supply interacted during the twentieth century. The second half then uses this retailer-customer interface to identify patterns, trends and areas of change and continuity in consumer behaviour through the lens of Marks and Spencer’s retail strategies. This includes the development of the company’s hygienic food retail practices in the 1940s and its creation of the chilled ready meals sector in 1979. It finds that Marks and Spencer’s focus on the progressive dimensions of advances food technology allowed the company to redefine its relationship with its customers while building on its cultural role as a ‘national institution’. This technological emphasis then permeated the company’s product range through a series of innovations, first through a focus on hygiene, then by the diversification of its product range and finally through the packaged ready meal. Ultimately, it argues that Marks and Spencer was able to create a new relationship with food consumers and develop retail strategies which allowed the company to navigate and, to a certain extent, actively shape consumer preferences over this thirty year period.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Consumer history, food history, social history, retail history, business history, twentieth century, Marks and Spencer
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.668757
Depositing User: Miss Josephine Freear
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2015 10:44
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10498

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