Examining the consumption of advertising through a female lens: a 3 year study of retailer Christmas TV advertising

Student thesis: Phd


The development of relevant and engaging advertising message appeals is a critical element of retail marketing strategy. Achieving advertising resonance with female consumers is beneficial to brand building, and eliciting positive feelings and emotions lies at the heart of effective advertising development. This is particularly important at Christmas when retailers need to attract attention, engage consumers and encourage women to buy. This thesis addresses the increasingly prevalent phenomenon of retailer Christmas TV advertising in the UK. It seeks to understand women’s perceptions of the Christmas advertisements of four retailers over a three year period 2011-2013 in order to examine the way in which advertising message appeal engages consumers and reflects the retailer. It therefore illuminates the relationship between female consumers, the advert and retailer. Research in the area of advertising relies heavily on quantitative studies that reflect the often normative approach to advertising planning and development. This thesis, through its social constructionist theoretical standpoint, informs the methodological nature of the study. Such an approach offers insight and meaning in connection with the advertising message appeals used by retailers as it seeks to interpret the Christmas advertisement phenomenon from a consumer perspective. The Christmas TV advertisements of four retailers (John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, and TK Maxx) are selected as an empirical focus and the study offers a longitudinal approach in its design. Dialogues are subsequently maintained with the primary consumer targets of the retailers’ advertisements over a three year period. The study evidences the most effective advertising appeals and the power of emotional advertising that reflects both consumer and brand. The findings demonstrate the ways in which consumers use Christmas advertising in their festive preparations, how women consume Christmas advertising and its associated images of family and feelings of love and illustrate the relationship between the advert and perceptions of the retailer. This thesis makes contributions in a number of ways. First it is an original qualitative study that examines women’s constructions of retailer Christmas TV advertising message appeals and their effects. Second it extends insight into the field of retailer brand research through its social constructionist approach. Finally the consumer narratives illuminate the ways in which advertising is received by consumers and in doing so addresses a lack of qualitative research in the field. The constructionist approach to investigating this phenomenon has further applications in the field of advertising research which provides a wealth of opportunity in terms of its breadth. In particular the approach has value in the area of retailer advertising.
Date of Award31 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorHelen Mccormick (Supervisor) & Lee Quinn (Supervisor)


  • Consumption
  • Christmas
  • Retailers
  • TV Advertising

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