Product placement

Or why are there cornflakes boxes in our exhibition cases?

Our spring 2024 archive display highlights our current project with the university’s Institute for Retail Studies to establish an archive documenting forty years of research activity. The Institute’s archive consists of a wealth of material created and collected by staff. The collections provide a unique record of the growth and development of the retail sector, while the research papers and reports produced by the institute comprise an unrivaled academic library of the study of the business of retail. Material covers the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and includes administrative files, reports and papers produced by the institute; trade reports, annual company reports, extensive runs of trade press; business directories; sales catalogues; marketing material and product packaging; photographic and slide collections of UK and international retail outlets; and a library of the key historical international textbooks and studies on retail.

Our current exhibition features two elements of this extensive archive. The library walls display a selection of photographs taken by Professor John Dawson in the course of his work researching the changing face of retailing across the world. Appointed as the Fraser of Allander Chair of Distributive Studies in 1983, John established the Institute (and was dubbed by the press as ‘Britain’s first Professor of shopping’) and he has generously deposited his extensive research collection with the archive.

John Dawson’s photographs provide a visual record of his research into retail habits across the world, including Japan.

In addition, our exhibition cases demonstrate how the day-to-day products we consume are carefully marketed and designed with a selection of examples of supermarket packaging from Professor Steve Burt’s personal collection. You may never look at your morning breakfast cereal in the same way again…

How do you eat yours? A selection of Swedish breakfast cereal packaging.

Retailing: Reflecting and creating diverse cultures

The Luxury Gap: Supermarket packaging from the Institute for Retail Studies Archive

University of Stirling Library

On display until Thursday 28 March 2024

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