The role of AI in overcoming the value-action gap in sustainable consumption for mainstream consumers

Project Details

Lead Supervisor: Prof William Young
Other Supervisors: Dr Vania Dimitrova, Dr Phani Kumar Chintakayala
Contact Email:
Partners: University of Leeds

Start Date: September 2019

The majority of consumers say they care about sustainable/ethical issues, for example 94% saying they care about protecting the environment across Europe and UK. The number of shoppers translating this to ethical purchases in the UK has grown rapidly in the last decade. Consumers’ spending on ethical food and drinks has grown by 16% in 2017 to over £11 billion but it is still only 5% of the total spent of £219 billion in the UK. The barriers for shoppers with concerns about climate change, human rights, animal welfare etc. are high as they have to go through the detailed product descriptions while searching for products that match their interests. This makes it very time consuming and difficult process for individuals with concerns.

There is potentially an opportunity for consumers to short-cut this process through using AI technology as ethical personal shopper for online purchases. This type of intervention will be the core of this exciting PhD which will have three stages. Firstly developing the AI technology, testing and piloting with consumers in social labs and on live online retail environments and thirdly, evaluating the sustainability, ethical, social and business impacts. This work will involve technical AI development, social science data collection and analysis, sustainability evaluation and close collaboration with a range of online retailers. The outcomes will be advancement of the theories around the value-action gap, an AI personal shopper technology and a better understanding of the impact of such an intervention will have on shopping behaviours, online retail business and advancement of sustainable consumption.

Deadline 7th April 2019

Reference number LE34

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