Professor Gillian Hopkinson


Research Interests

From my previous professional career I developed an interest in marketing channels - or routes to market - and in the relationships between suppliers, retailers and consumers. I have pursued these interests academically through a PhD that examined franchisor franchisee relationships in car retailing and subsequently in a variety of sectors, most especially the food sector.

My initial conceptual interests in power, narrative and sensemaking in marketing channels lead me now to take a rather unconventional approach in my studies - how do channel members make sense of their world and communicate that to influence others? In this I use a broader definition of the 'marketing channel' than is often applied, to include governments, the media, celebrity chefs and consumer/pressure groups. This approach is apposite to food, given the multiple controversies and key challenges srrounding food - and this lies at the centre of my recent and current work. Recent controversies that I have examined include the inclusion of male dairy calves in the food chain, sustainable fish and regulation concerned with sugar intake. My approach shares some common terrain with those from other disciplines who are exploring food systems, my distinctive marketing-based contribution lies in the particular attention I pay to the food industry and retail as important participants in broader sensemaking systems.

I would welcome approaches from organisations, researchers or prospective PhD students who share some of my interests in food controversies, food systems and food access. Important topics of the moment that share some characteristics I have mentioned above include (but are not limited to) questions of nutrition and especially sugar and also genetically modified foods.

I have worked with several major companies, most especially through collaborative sector-wide groups. For example, research I undertook and reported to The Responsible Alcohol Sales Group fed into the development of a new inter-agency collaborative approach to reduce alcohol sales and harm amongst young people (Community Alcohol Partnerships).

CCI Roundtable Session on Halloween: History, Lore, & Consumption (2022)
Public Lecture/ Debate/Seminar

Best Competitive Paper Award
Prize (including medals and awards)

  • Centre for Consumption Insights
  • Management and Society
  • Networks, Knowledge and Strategy