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15 February 2021
Understanding the effects of social distancing on consumer and business practices during a pandemic: marketing and management implications
This Special Issue seeks to expand research conducted to date in the multidisciplinary literature to understand the effects of social and physical distancing during a pandemic by applying a marketing perspective. The aim is to examine how an extreme and unexpected situation is transforming both consumer behaviors and business practices. The current pandemic due to COVID-19 has generated changes in consumers’ consumption practices and led many businesses to adapt to new emerging consumer behaviors such as panic purchasing. While keeping the connections with customers, companies and brands are also engaging in this crisis by playing a social role through showing empathy, donating, sponsoring hospitals, helping public authorities to raise the awareness of people about the Coronavirus, manufacturing face masks and hand sanitizers, and developing online creative and humoristic content to adapt to a new quarantined consumption culture. The social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the daily lives and consumption practices of consumers. For example, while some consumers have started to prepare home-made meals and bread, others have been involved in volunteering and helping vulnerable populations.
This pandemic is disrupting consumer and business practices. It is leading both companies and consumers to develop coping mechanism (Echeverri & Salomonson, 2019: Falchetti et al., 2016) and resilience (Baker et al., 2007) to handle vulnerable situations (Batat & Tanner, 2019; Saatcioglu & Corus, 2016) and reinvent themselves to achieve their individual and collective well-being (Batat et al., 2017). Therefore, for marketing researchers, it could be relevant to analyze consumer behaviors and business practices in different domains and from different analytical angles to provide researchers and practitioners with new insights that can enrich research. This Special Issue builds on prior works in medical sciences, sociology, and marketing that tackled the concept of social distancing and its impact on individuals’ behaviors from different perspectives. While in medical sciences, social distancing refers to a public health practice that urges individuals to maintain their physical distance from each other during a pandemic outbreak to slow the dissemination of the infection (Glass et al., 2006), in sociology, the use of social distancing is mainly related to the study of the impact of ethnicity, social class, and gender on individuals’ perceptions of distance (Ethington, 1997). Yet, although “social distance” is an established construct in sociology, there is no consensus yet on its definition. Some sociologists have advised the World Health Organization (WHO) to change terminology and use “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing.”
While neither of these perspectives and definitions is directly applicable to marketing, “social distance” as a theoretical construct has been used in a few marketing studies to understand shopping behavior. Dickson and MacLachlin (1990) extended the concept of social distance studied in sociology by applying it to the field of retail. Kim et al. (2008) investigated the impact of two dimensions of psychological distance: temporal and social on consumers’ evaluations of products. Similarly, Zhao and Xie (2011) examined the interplay of social and temporal distance on consumers’ responses to peers’ recommendations. As such, despite these studies, the link to consumer social distancing generated by an unexpected situation such as a pandemic and its impact on consumption and business practices as a field of research remains largely unexplored in marketing. This, therefore, presents an ideal opportunity to extend a growing body of the literature on consumer social distancing in a pandemic by advancing the current understanding of emerging consumer and business practices from different perspectives.
In line with the focus of Journal of Marketing Management, this Special Issue welcomes contributions that take managerial, interpretive, and critical perspectives - including contributions that take the traditional format (i.e., papers both qualitative and quantitative) along with videographic contributions. All disciplinary, theoretical (Consumer Culture Theory, Transformative Consumer Research, etc.), and methodological perspectives are welcomed to stimulate marketing and management research in relation to the impact of social distancing during an extreme and unexpected situation such as a pandemic on both consumption and business practices. Topics for this special issue include, but not limited, to the following themes:
- Consumer physical versus social distancing
- What does social distancing behaviour mean? A conceptual introduction in marketing
- How does social distancing in a pandemic affect consumer behaviours and business practices?
- Consumer behaviour changes during a pandemic
- Quarantine consumer culture
- Consumer social distancing in a pandemic from a cross-cultural perspective
- Consumer vulnerability vs. competence in a pandemic
- The use of digital and technology in consumption activities during a pandemic
- Brands’ business practices and communication to respond to a pandemic crisis
- What are the consequences of the imposed lockdown and social distancing on the future of businesses and brands?
- How can marketing contribute to the well-being of consumers during a pandemic?
- What is the role of customer experience in a pandemic?
- How has social distancing in a pandemic disrupted both business and consumer practices?
- Young consumers reactions to imposed social distancing
- The role of empathy marketing and branding in a pandemic
- Ethics and socially responsible business and consumer practices in a pandemic
- Consumer resilience in a pandemic
- How is a pandemic disrupting business and consumption practices?
- Emergent business models and innovations due to a pandemic
- Consumers’ panic purchase behaviours
- Branding and communication during a pandemic
For more details including the reference list for this CFP, please visit the JMM blog:
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Authors should submit manuscripts of between 8,000–10,000 words (excluding tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes). All submissions must strictly follow the guidelines for JMM. Video Submissions are also welcome.
Manuscripts should be submitted online using the JMM ScholarOne Manuscripts site. Choose “Special Issue Article” from the Manuscript Type list, and when you come to the ‘Details and Comments’ page, answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is this manuscript a candidate for a special issue’ and select the Special Issue Title of Social Distancing in the text field provided.
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