ICDBM 2023


International Colloquium on Design, Branding and Marketing, Manchester, UK, 5-7 Dec 2023; Deadline 14 Jul

POSTING TYPE: Calls: Conferences

Author: Charles Dennis


5th – 7th December 2023

The Future Priorities for Design, Branding and Marketing: The Era of Technology and Sustainability

T: @ICDBM2023

Call for Papers: Abstract Submission Deadline: 14th July 2023

Abstracts should be submitted to Oxford Abstracts.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how fast the environment can change, with retailing and supply chains coming to a global halt. We have seen shifts in consumer behaviour, with people becoming increasingly more environmentally-conscious, putting pressure on companies to adapt their current working practices as a result. Sustainability is, therefore, acting as a key driver for innovation, encouraging retailers and brands to adopt out-of-the-box thinking and find novel solutions without exploiting the social, environmental or economic environment (Henninger et al., 2020). As a result, there has also been a rise in the number of businesses that are interested in eco-social responsibility activities like green marketing (Nguyen & Johnson, 2020). However, Yu (2020) noted that consumers who are sceptical of sustainable advertising are more likely to view green advertising as a means of profit maximisation rather than environmental protection. Indeed, Richardson et al., (2022) found that Gen Z consumers distrust fast fashion brands sustainability initiatives, branding them as ‘greenwashing’. Therefore, further research needs to be conducted to see how brands can adapt to more sustainable practices and produce marketing communications that are not simply greenwashing.

The cost of living crisis has put further pressure on brands’ supply chains and their ability to appeal to consumers who have increasingly less disposable income. This is in addition to a decade that has seen physical retail stores struggling, with commercial vacancies on high streets higher than ever (Journal of Retailing, 2022). The Centre for Retail Research estimates that since the start of 2018 alone more than 386,000 retail jobs will have been lost in the UK (Deloitte, 2021). This highlights the imperative for retailers to reconsider their physical store strategies and focus on the design and experience created for customers.

Technology is one way for retailers to enhance aspects concerning their design, branding, and marketing. The latest technology is enabling brands to reach consumers more directly that ever before (Journal of Retailing, 2022), thereby dramatically changing the way that brands communicate with consumers (Pizzi and Scarpi 2020). Yet, with increasingly advanced technologies coming out each year, coupled with the shortening of technology life cycles, retailers need to constantly reimagine their strategies in order to remain competitive in a rapidly changing environment. As consumers have become used to interacting with new technologies they leave their favourite brands with no choice but to implement them in order to keep up with the competition (Boardman, Henninger & Zhu, 2020).

This intense competition means that online fashion retailers must offer a superior online shopping experience than their competitors (Kaushik et al., 2020). This places more pressure on creating compelling retail websites and omnichannel experiences. In online and social commerce, consumers are unable to inspect products physically, therefore having to make purchase decisions by looking at online images, reading product descriptions, and then using their imagination (Li et al., 2019; Hjort et al., 2019).  The inconsistency between purchased products and expectations is an essential manifestation of product dissonance (Powers & Jack, 2015). This is increasing the likelihood of consumer returns which is having a significant negative affect on the environment. Furthermore, such product inconsistency can cause significant damage to retailers and brands (Li & Choudhury, 2020). As a result, further research is needed to investigate how ecommerce and social commerce can be more effective and reduce the high rate of returns.

With new social media channels coming out all the time brands need to ensure that they are on the ones that appeal to their target market and that their content is engaging. Livestreaming on social media is becoming more commonplace, enabling brands to increase consumer awareness whilst also driving sales (Journal of Retailing, 2022). The future of social commerce has many potential avenues, such as incorporating Augmented Reality and voice search in order to enhance consumer experiences (Chrimes et al., 2019). Brands can also use social platforms to embed gamification to appeal to consumers’ desire for personalisation, self-expression and playfulness online, aspects that have increased since the pandemic (Chen et al., 2022). Whittaker et al. (2021) show that gamification can even be used for sustainability marketing and in encouraging more sustainable consumer behaviour but research into wider demographics is still needed. Indeed, Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010 approximately) are now growing as a consumer force. Not only do they have their own spending power and are no longer reliant upon parents, they also have strong and distinctive wants and needs that retailers and brands need to provide for (Deloitte 2021).

Furthermore, advances in the metaverse are creating more challenges as well as more opportunities for design, branding and marketing. Yet to be fully realised, the metaverse is conceptualised as being an interconnected, 3D virtual world that overlaps with, or provides an alternative to, physical reality and is inhabited by avatars of real people (Kim, 2021). Hence, it signifies the ultimate merging of digital and physical reality (WGSN, 2020). The pressure is now on brands to partner with retailers in order to create new and compelling virtual experiences for consumers (Journal of Retailing, 2022). Thus, as brands are entering the metaverse through consumer-facing technologies and virtual platforms, such as AR, gaming and digital fashion shows, research addressing the opportunities and barriers in relation to marketing, design and branding is warranted. Areas such as Digital Avatars, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, NFTs, Gamification in Marketing, Blockchain, Digital Fashion, Virtual Brand Experiences and Artificial Intelligence are all gaining traction in response to this.

As such, retailers need to re-address their design, branding and marketing in order to encompass both social and environmental sustainability as well as incorporating the latest technologies to survive in a post-pandemic world. This two-day colloquium will bring together practitioner and scholarly experts in the areas of design, branding and marketing to share their knowledge and experiences with fellow academics and practitioners. Scholarly, conceptual, empirical and practitioner papers are welcome.

The 2023 colloquium will examine current issues concerning technology and sustainability and its interplay with design, branding and marketing, exploring the use of research and practice for the retail industry going forward as well as to inform the content of marketing and design curriculums. Some key questions which we aim to explore are:

  • How have recent events in the economy (e.g. COVID-19 pandemic, cost of living crisis etc) shaped priorities for design, branding, and/or marketing?
  • How has our understanding of sustainability changed in design, branding and/or marketing, and how will this impact future directions?
  • What is the importance or either social or environmental sustainability for design, branding and/or marketing?
  • What is the role of technology in future-proofing the industry?
  • How can technology be used to enhance retailers’ design, branding and/or marketing?
  • What are the opportunities of new, upcoming technologies (e.g. the metaverse) for Design, Branding or Marketing?
  • What are the barriers relating to new technologies for Design, Branding or Marketing?
  • What are opportunities for scholarship to address the era of technology and sustainability in design, marketing & branding subjects?
  • Do the importance placed on sustainability by younger consumers and the integral use of technology in their lives affect the way that students are taught in marketing, design and branding subject areas?

Publication Opportunities attached to the Colloquium

Journal special issue

A special issue in the prestigious journal Qualitative Market Research (ABS 2*, Impact factor 0.56) has been agreed.

Kindly be aware that authors may have an additional chance to contribute chapters to a forthcoming edited book and another special issue, both of which are currently being finalised.

Abstract Submission Guidelines for the Colloquium

Deadline for 300-500 word abstracts: Midnight 14th July 2023

Abstracts of 300 – 500 words (with up to six keywords), and which may include images will be subjected to a peer review / feedback process to be then published in the Colloquium proceedings.

Abstracts should be submitted to Oxford Abstracts in the following format:

  • Microsoft Word document, Times New Roman 12 font, double-spaced, justified paragraphs.
  • Margins: 1 inch top, bottom, and sides.
  • Authors’ names’ and affiliation should be included on a separate page (i.e. cover page)
  • Any references should use the Harvard referencing style
  • Images may be included if relevant

Submitted abstracts will be subjected to a double-blind peer review process and published in the Colloquium proceedings.

Key dates:

Submission of Abstracts: Midnight 14th July 2023

Notification of acceptance: 22nd September 2023.

Colloquium: 5th – 7th December 2023 at the University of Manchester

Abstracts should be submitted to Oxford Abstracts

Colloquium Chairs and Directors:

Dr Rosy Boardman (University of Manchester)
Email: rosy.boardman@manchester.ac.uk

Dr Courtney Chrimes (University of Manchester)
Email: Courtney.chrimes@manchester.ac.uk

Professor T.C. Melewar (Middlesex University)
Email: t.c.melewar@mdx.ac.uk

Professor Charles Dennis (Middlesex University)
E-mail:  c.dennis@mdx.ac.uk

Conference Fees:

  • Presenter £550
  • Non-presenter £650
  • PhD Student £450

If you have any questions, please email Rosy.Boardman@manchester.ac.uk

Colloquium Location: The University of Manchester, Oddfellows Hall, Grosvenor Street, Manchester, M1 7HF

Manchester is the major international and cosmopolitan city in the North of England, widely regarded as the central hub of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’. It is recognised as one of the most influential, modern and knowledge-based European cities for culture, business, sport, technology and science. Youthful, diverse, energetic, and bursting with character; Manchester is one of the most exciting places to visit in the UK right now where everybody and anybody is very warmly welcomed. It’s why Lonely Planet recently featured Manchester in its prestigious ‘Best in Travel 2023’ list, and National Geographic included Manchester in its ‘Best of the World’ list for 2023.

Manchester city centre is jam-packed with unique and eclectic restaurants, bars, shops, museums, galleries, hotels and places to stay whilst the surrounding Greater Manchester boroughs offer a patchwork of visitor experiences including quaint market towns, traditional pubs and beautiful green spaces and waterways to be explored on foot or bike. The city region is easily navigated, with great transport links both in and around Greater Manchester.

The University of Manchester is part of the prestigious Russell Group of universities and highly respected across the globe as a centre of teaching excellence and research innovation and discovery. With 25 Nobel Prize winners among its current and former staff and students, it has a history of world firsts, with its impact ranging from splitting the atom to giving the world graphene. The University’s outstanding facilities and wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD courses make it one of the most popular universities with students in the UK and internationally. It is proud to have the largest alumni community of any campus-based university in the UK, with more than 500,000 graduates in more than 190 countries around the world. The University’s purpose is to advance education, knowledge and wisdom for the good of society, putting its three core goals of research and discovery, teaching and learning, and social responsibility at the heart of everything it does.


Boardman, R, Henninger, C.E., Zhu, A., (2020). ‘Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – New Drivers For Fashion Retail?’, in Technology-Driven Sustainability: Innovation in the Fashion Supply Chain, Vignali, G., Reid, L., Ryding, D., Henninger, C.E. (Eds), London, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.155-172. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-15483-7_9

Chen, R., Perry, P., Boardman, R. and McCormick, H. (2022). ‘Augmented reality in retail: a systematic review of research foci and future research agenda’, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 50(4), pp. 498-518. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-11-2020-0472

Chrimes, C., Boardman, R., Henninger, C.E., (2019). ‘The Challenges and Future Opportunities of Social Commerce’, in Social commerce: Consumer Behaviour In Online Environments, Boardman, R., Blazquez, M., Henninger, C.E., Ryding, D., (Eds.), London, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 255-272

Deloitte (2021). ‘What next for the high street? Part One: the way things are now’. January 2021

Available at: deloitte-uk-what-next-for-the-high-street-part1.pdf

Henninger, C.E., Blazquez, M., Boardman, R., Jones, C., McCormick, H., Sahab, S., (2020). ‘Cradle-To-Cradle Versus Consumer Preferences In The Fashion Industry’, in Hashmi, S., & Choudhury, A.I. (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Renewable and Sustainable Materials, 5, pp.353-357, Oxford: Elsevier

Hjort, K., Hellström, D., Karlsson, S., & Oghazi, P. (2019). ‘Typology of practices for managing consumer returns in internet retailing’, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 49(7), pp. 767–790. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-12-2017-0368

Journal of Retailing (2022). ‘Who owns the brand in the digital retailscape? Revisiting the power balance’, Journal of Retailing, 2022, ISSN 0022-4359, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretai.2022.11.001.

Kaushik, V., Khare, A., Boardman, R., Blazquez, M. (2020). ‘Why Do Online Retailers Succeed? The Identification and Prioritization of Success Factors for Indian Fashion Retailers’, Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 39, Jan-Feb 2020: https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1aDXr5aO-oZX3X

Kim, J., (2021). ‘Advertising in the Metaverse: Research Agenda’, Journal of Interactive Advertising, 21(3), pp. 141-144.

Li, J., Yang, R., Cui, J., & Guo, Y. (2019). Imagination Matters When You Shop Online: The Moderating Role of Mental Simulation Between Materialism and Online Impulsive Buying. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 12, pp. 1071–1079. https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S227403

Li, M., & Choudhury, A. H. (2020). ‘Using website information to reduce postpurchase dissonance: A mediated moderating role of perceived risk’, Psychology & Marketing, 38(1), 56–69. https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21409

Nguyen, N., & Johnson, L. W. (2020). ‘Consumer behaviour and environmental sustainability’. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 19(6), 539-541.

Pizzi, G., & Scarpi, D. (2020). ‘Privacy threats with retail technologies: A consumer perspective’, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 56, 102160.

Powers, T. L., & Jack, E. P. (2015). ‘Understanding the causes of retail product returns’, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 43(12), pp. 1182–1202. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-02-2014-0023

Richardson, C., Boardman, R., Benstead, A., (2022). ‘Using Circularity As “Permission to shop” Among Gen Z Consumers’, International Journal of Sustainable Fashion & Textiles, 1(2), pp.249-272. https://doi.org/10.1386/sft_0013_1

WGSN (2020). Research Radar: Entering the Metaverse. WGSN. Available at:  https://www.wgsn.com/insight/article/89597#page3

Whittaker, L., Mulcahy, R., Russell-Bennett, R., (2021). ‘‘Go with the flow’ for gamification and sustainability marketing’, International Journal of Information Management, 61, 2021, 102305, ISSN 0268-4012.

Yu, J. (2020). ‘Consumer responses toward green advertising: The effects of gender, advertising skepticism, and green motive attribution’, Journal of Marketing Communications, 26(4), pp. 414-433.