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Staff Profile

Prof Michael Nicholson, BA (Hons), MSc, PhD

Professorial Fellow in Marketing in the Business School
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 45329
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 45201
Room number: MHL504

Contact Prof Michael Nicholson (email at


Mike joined the University in 2001, following a successful career in the retail and manufacturing sectors. His teaching activities centre round both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) marketing, with contributions across the School’s undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

A consumer psychologist, Mike’s expertise lies in the area of behavioural profiling. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the NEXT Retail Group, his original PhD research was an ethnographic piece of work profiling the behaviour of female fashion consumers in both physical and virtual shopping environments. The methods developed during this programme were subsequently extended to encompass more unusual aspects of consumer behaviour also, from shoplifting and compulsive buying through to counterfeiting and online consumer revenge. He regularly works with a range of both private and public sector organisations on profiling-related projects in these areas, including law enforcement agencies.

More recently, Mike’s research and teaching activities have become firmly located in the broader multi-disciplinary field of design thinking. More social-anthropological in nature, this approach to the practice of marketing seeks to explore, understand and empathise with every aspect of consumers’ lives and develop innovative solutions to everyday consumption problems. Located within the Scandinavian School of “d.thinking”, Mike’s particular contributions have been in the areas of ideation, persona-crafting and customer experience mapping. He also has a keen interest in associated methodological developments, including those involving social media and emergent technologies such as mobile ethnography.

This passion for d.thinking and human-centred innovation extends to Mike’s teaching activities. His classes are interactive and participatory, the traditional lecture format being replaced by more experiential learning techniques. He makes extensive use of educational technologies, social media and gamification methods, as well as setting students more guided learning projects such as scenario planning activities and design product/service design challenges. 

Mike is a regular speaker on marketing education and pedagogy, as well as undertaking educational development and quality enhancement work with organisations such as: the Association of Business Schools (ABS); the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); the Higher Education Academy (HEA); the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA); and the cross-party Westminster Higher Education Forum. 

Potential areas for consultancy, collaboration and PhD supervision include:-

Consumer behaviour and ‘misbehavior’

Design thinking, especially in service and experience marketing contexts

Marketing education and pedagogy

Research Groups

Business School

Research Interests

  • Consumer decision-making, particularly in online and computer-meditated environments.
  • Illicit consumer behaviour; e.g. impulsivity, counterfeit goods, consumer revenge.
  • Digital and social media marketing.
  • Omnichannel and multichannel retailing.
  • Design thinking for retail and service innovation.
  • Retail analytics.

Teaching Areas

  • Applied Behaviour Analysis
  • Crisis Management
  • Improving Management Decision Making


Journal Article


  • Xiao, S.H., Iyer, G. & Nicholson, M. (2013), Impulsivity and Impulse Buying: A Cross-National Examination, EMAC 2013 Conference, ITU. Istanbul, Turkey., Istanbul.
  • Nicholson, M. & Xiao, S.H. (2009), Social Marketing: Contributions from Evolutionary Psychology, International Symposium on Social Marketing and Behavioural Change. Durham University, Durham University.
  • Nicholson, M. & Xiao, S.H. (2009), Social Marketing: Contributions from Evolutionary Psychology, International Symposium on Social Marketing and Behavioural Change. Durham University, Durham University.