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The University of Southampton
Web Science Institute

Enhancing Long-Term Engagement & Research Collaboration with the ‘giant of the digital economy’


The project arises from a unique opportunity to engage with Amazon - the ‘giant of the digital economy’ and a quintessential disruptive force reshaping contemporary consumption practices. It focuses on developing research collaboration and long term engagement with this world-leading digital-economy firm by working interactively with Neil McCourt, Amazon’s Director of European Operations, who was recently appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the University. By actively involving McCourt in a range of our ongoing activities, we will seek insights into the types of knowledge a giant online retailer might value in terms of enhancing its future competitive advantage, whilst at the same time developing our capacity to deliver the best practice two-way knowledge exchange required.

Specifically, we will involve McCourt in the development of a scoping project focused on the dynamics of the web-use and emerging consumption practices of the demographic group commonly referred to as the millennials, loosely defined as those born between 1980 and 2000. Online retailers highlight the importance of this group for future competitive advantage in e-commerce. The project will consider the impact of the global financial/economic crisis of 2007-08 on millennials as a group and whether this has shaped new consumption practices such as the rise of the so-called ‘sharing economy’.

We will explore which consumption practices amongst millennials are regarded as being most significant by online retailers and why; the scale of change in consumption practices; and to what extent drivers of the consumption process such as price, quality, convenience, status, or ethical sourcing are different for millennials in comparison with other generational cohorts.


Principal Investigator: Professor Neil Wrigley, Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences

Co-Investigator: Professor Michelle Lowe, Faculty of Business, Art and Law

Research Associate: Mary Houston


View the report.

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