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Subfields of Marketing

The larger field of Marketing is often broken down into three broad sub-fields: Consumer Behaviour, Strategic Marketing and Quantitative Marketing. Most researchers find that their work falls into one (or at most two) of these subfields.

Consumer behaviour

The study of consumer behaviour draws from theories and techniques from a number of social sciences to study how consumers buy and use goods and services. It traditionally draws heavily on social and cognitive psychology and behavioural decision making. More recently, consumer behaviour has broadened its view to include approaches and insights from sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and behavioural economics. Consumer behaviour research typically relies on qualitative, experimental and survey techniques and includes a wide variety of topics such as decision making, attitudes and persuasion, social influence, motivation, cognition, memory, consumer culture, societal impact of marketing, consumption habits, consumer neuroscience, and emotions. The issues of consumer behaviour are commonly applied to the areas of marketing communications, retailing, e-commerce, pricing, branding, services, product planning, new product development, social and non-profit marketing, etc. Consumer behaviour is an area of particular strength at the University of Sydney.

Some background or interest in one of the core social sciences and experience with experimental methods, data analysis and/or qualitative methods provides optimal preparation for students pursuing consumer behaviour, though students from a variety of backgrounds can perform well in the program.

Consumer Behaviour content areas of current interest within the department include:

  • Retailing & Electronic commerce
  • Cross cultural & subculture consumer behaviour
  • Emotions in decision making
  • Politics and marketing
  • Behavioural response to pricing
  • Marketing of controversial product (e.g., gambling, alcohol)
  • Lying and deception in marketing and memory
  • Improving consumer welfare
  • Children and the learning of consumption habits
  • Advertising and food consumption
  • Sensory experience of food
  • Consumer-brand relationships
  • Social-cultural identity and response to marketing

For additional topics and more complete descriptions see the current staff research profiles and staff homepages.

Strategic marketing

Strategic marketing focuses on the building firm-level insights that allow organisations to create and maintain a competitive advantage. Its focus tends to be more managerial and draws heavily on theories and insights from industrial business management, sociology, and economics. Strategic marketing uses a variety of techniques such as qualitative interviews, surveys and econometric analyses of secondary data. Strategic marketing topics include brand building, international marketing, business to business marketing, corporate marketing strategy, entrepreneurship, resources and capabilities studies, marketing metrics, and the study of organisations within networks.

Academic training in strategic marketing, organisational theory, industrial organisation economics or general economics would be the best preparation. This is the sub-field most closely aligned with managerial practice and hence the one often most attractive to those with business experience, though students without such a background can also succeed in the program.

Strategic Marketing content areas of current interest within the department include:

  • Customer relationship management
  • Internal marketing and it impact on customer relationships
  • Role of networks and relationship in B2B marketing
  • Value co-creation across stakeholders
  • International alliances and marketing strategy
  • International marketing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Market entry processes
  • Services marketing and business performance
  • Market orientation and flexibility impacts organisational performance

For additional topics and more complete descriptions see the current staff research profiles and staff homepages.

Quantitative marketing

Quantitative marketing emphasises theoretically grounded empirical analysis of applied marketing problems. This line of inquiry draws primarily on fundamentals in applied microeconomic theory, industrial organisation, econometrics and statistics. Quantitative marketing topics include investigating consumer choices and purchase behaviour; product, pricing, advertising and promotion strategies of firms; and analysis of competition in a wide range of domains. A common theme of research is the use of rigorous quantitative methods to study important, managerially-relevant marketing questions.

A solid training in economics, econometrics, statistical methods as well as programming skills offer a distinct advantage for quantitative marketing students but students from various backgrounds such as engineering, computer science, and physics can thrive in the program.

Quantitative Marketing content areas of current interest within the department include:

  • Promotions and rewards
  • Salesforce management
  • Consumer dynamic choice
  • Brand equity

For additional topics and more complete descriptions see the current staff research profiles and staff homepages.