Do Everyday Market Spaces Welcome or Exclude Consumers?

May 14, 2013, 10:07 ET from American Marketing Association

CHICAGO, May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Recent research in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing investigates how market spaces can be open spaces where consumers can operate freely or they can exclude consumers by restricting their ability to get their needs met.


We have advanced from the time when a consumer might be denied a seat on a bus or a place at a lunch counter. Or have we? Even though space is the invisible background where social life takes place, it still pushes back on consumers both opening and closing possibilities for action. Consider how gated communities exclude, how retail environments are built for consumers with able bodies, or how consumers living in food deserts lack access to low cost food and healthy produce. In this article, the authors draw insights from the critical spatial theory to draw attention to how space can be reimagined to be more inclusive.

Retail stores are made up of physical space that shapes how consumers move through the store to maximize order and continuity. But space is also a subjective product of human imagination envisioned by designers. Designers can instead maximize conviviality by creating spaces where people can socialize. The meaning of space is also affected by how consumers actually use these spaces. Consumers can create new meanings and uses. For example, increasingly, city policy makers are building local farmers' markets. Planners can be more inclusive to meet the needs of citizenry with diverse economic backgrounds by locating these markets centrally to increase economic exchange. But people can envision new uses such as building a shared sense of community by revitalizing local indigenous foods and crafts. This article appears in the Spring 2013 special issue of the American Marketing Association's Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.

Bige Saatcioglu and Julie Ozanne state that, "space is pregnant with meaning and differentiation, whether one sits at the back of the bus, comes from the wrong side of town, or lives in a neighborhood where retailers are absent. Far from neutral, social spaces are contested sites in which different actors seek to exert power to maximize different goals."

In sum, this article explains how market exclusion occurs and how markets can be made more inclusive. Novel ideas are presented in terms of how businesses can expand their interest in profit maximization to consider a wider array of other stakeholders' interests to ensure their long term survival.

About the AMA

About the American Marketing Association:
The American Marketing Association (AMA) is the professional association for individuals and organizations who are leading the practice, teaching, and development of marketing worldwide. Learn more at

Contact: Christopher Bartone – 312.542.9029 –

SOURCE American Marketing Association