NCCC65: Indicators of Social Change in the Marketplace: Producers, Retailers and Consumers

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

NCCC65: Indicators of Social Change in the Marketplace: Producers, Retailers and Consumers

Duration: 10/01/2016 to 09/30/2021

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Economic, technological, social, and environmental factors continue to create changes in the marketplace that impact producers, retailers and consumers. Members of NCCC-065 are committed to fostering research and collaborations that will facilitate understanding and explanation of changes that impact the consumer-marketplace interface. The committee has and will continue to focus its efforts on enhancing advanced data analysis and grant-acquisition skills among scholars who study the rural marketplace and markets for products containing agricultural components. Also, the group plans to facilitate collaborations among researchers that will generate research in this area. In particular, participants in the NCCC-065 multi-state effort are positioned to address two of the North Central cross-cutting research areas, specifically: (a) Economic Development and Policy and (b) Social Change and Development. Background: A number of indicators such as the Main Street Index (Rural Mainstreet economy, 2015) and the Mid-America Index (Business Conditions Improve, 2015) suggest that like the overall U.S. economy, the rural economy is experiencing recovery from the global recession. Certainly this is good news. However, we have a new economy as a result of the global recovery and thus, social changes to investigate. Return of Domestic Production: The return of domestic production is one outcome of the new economy. Increases in fuel costs and labor issues in major US ports increase cost of off-shore sourcing, making domestic production more viable again. Rural sourcing, where a service provider sets up shop in a rural community to capitalize on the lower-cost facilities and workforce, has become a trend for smaller and less technical projects such as call centers and information technology work (The Economic Times, 2012). Technology Impact: Augmented reality applications and mobile technology impact business operations and consumers. Social media impacts on retailers and consumers. Constant changes in technology have not slowed, calling for study of changes to society. Demographic Trends: Continuing demographic shifts across the US, in terms of age (aging population, millennials) and ethnicity (Hispanics, other immigrants) impacting rural communities as well as urban communities and their demand for food and products with agricultural components. Sustainable Production and Consumption: Social trends, such as consumer demand for sustainably produced apparel and other products, locavores seeking food produced close to home, and the growing popularity of urban, backyard gardens and animals (chickens, goats) are producing societal changes in need of investigation. In terms of social responsibility, there exists a shift in value perceptions of consumers. Made in the USA and sustainability are a part of this shift. Consumers are more informed and issues around sustainability in the textile and apparel supply chain are gaining support. Research shows that supply chains are paying attention, but how consumers place value needs further study. The Committee: Over the next five years, the committee will identify research directions related to social change in the marketplace, offer training programs to increase rigor of research methods and analysis techniques, foster skills in grantsmanship, provide opportunities to build cross-disciplinary partnerships and develop mutual interests at the national level, share and critique new ideas and research results, and attract young scholars who have the skills and interest to investigate social change in the marketplace in the future. Researchers in the field have demonstrated a need for the programs we offer, as indicated by the strong attendance at every workshop and conference session NCCC-065 has conducted over the last 15 years. There is no other existing organization that will offer the array of sessions we provide and that can serve as a think-tank to generate new groups of cooperating scholars with interdisciplinary and multi-state focus on complex problems of social change in the marketplace. To address existing and emerging issues related to social change in the marketplace, NCCC-065 has focused on increasing the overall quality, quantity, and competitiveness of research related to social change in the marketplace by initiating systematic efforts to strengthen the research focus and infrastructure and foster collaborations. A programmatic 15-year effort was implemented. The goal was to increase the number of researchers receiving external funding to generate knowledge and move the research agenda forward in this critical and dynamic area of inquiry. During the last five years of the project, eight targeted workshops and special conference sessions were held in four U.S. cities and one in Canada to assist scholars in increasing the quality, competitiveness, and collaborative efforts of their research. NCCC-065 collaborators have initiated research to address priority areas; nevertheless, with the ever changing landscape associated with social changes in the market place, continuing effort to facilitate collaboration and promote enhanced quality and competitiveness of research is needed. As an outgrowth of these previous efforts NCCC-065 aims to focus its objectives for 2016 through 2021 on four key areas of social change in the marketplace. The first area is technology and its impact on consumer/retailer/producer actions in the marketplace. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the lack of technological and business knowledge and skills in rural businesses and how marketers are coping with rapidly changing consumer expectations for and use of technology in the marketplace. The second area is society's impact on consumer demand for goods and services to improve human well-being. Collaborative work and information exchange will focus on US consumption changes resulting from emerging trends that create new consumer needs and preferences, such as increasing obesity, the changing view of aging, increasing number of ethnic minority consumers, immigration and populations shifts (i.e., exurban and in-urban migration; relocation due to natural disasters). The third area is economic linkages among consumers, retailers, and producers to enhance community development. Member efforts in this area will focus on establishing and exploring new linkages among family businesses, entrepreneurs, communities, and local and regional markets and designing strategies to develop human capital in the face of economic downturn. Rural sourcing will also be investigated in relation to enhancing community development. The fourth area is sustainability. The marketplace is experiencing a transition toward increasing environmental responsibility, which is one of the major challenges producers, retailers and consumers will be facing in the near future. Many producers and retailers are modifying strategies to address society's demand for more responsible business practices related to the three components of sustainability: environmental, social and economic responsibility. Addressing research questions focused on social change in the marketplace often requires complex research techniques and procedures as well as a collaborative model for conducting research. Thus, a multi-state effort engaging scholars representing a diversity of expertise will encourage the development of science-based information for consumers, retailers, and producers and solutions beyond any one state. A multi-disciplinary approach is essential to understanding the complex problems arising from social change in the marketplace. NCCC-065 members represent diverse areas of research and inquiry such as consumer behavior, gerontology, e-commerce, rural retailing and entrepreneurship, textile recycling, body scanning for product development, aesthetics, and obesity stereotypes. Current members represent a range of institutional types and geographic regions. Also, members bring expertise regarding the effect of social change on different systems (e.g., family, community, economic, social). The area of interest, social change in the marketplace, is complex and requires a range of expertise and viewpoints in order to conceptualize research problems/questions, design appropriate research methods and analyses, and disseminate findings. Working collaboratively within the NCCC-065 multi-state committee and facilitating opportunities for interaction with the broader community of scientists working in this area will result in new research directions and greater depth in existing research topics. Specific issues and problems associated with social change in the marketplace may be unique to one state or locale, yet their resolution may apply regionally or nationally. Scientists' capability will be increased by a multi-state information exchange that facilitates the sharing of expertise and viewpoints, development of advanced skills in data analysis and collection, the creation of partnerships and collaborative relationships, and by the critique and review of new ideas and research results.


  1. Provide opportunities for scholars to identify emerging issues, develop mutual research interests, build collaborative cross-disciplinary research partnerships, and share and critique research ideas on Social Change in the Marketplace.
  2. Identify funding opportunities and strengthen grantsmanship and extramural writing skills of researchers studying Social Change in the Marketplace.
  3. Identify strategies to increase the rigor of research methods and analysis techniques and to improve the quality of publications on Social Change in the Marketplace.
  4. Develop infrastructure to develop and recruit future researchers who will conduct research on social change in the marketplace.

Procedures and Activities

The Committee has identified three Grand Challenges that will drive the activities undertaken to achieve the proposed objectives. These challenges were identified in the Fall 2015 annual meeting via a visioning session, in which all attending members participated. Common themes were identified and discussed, and consensus was obtained on three themes to move forward with for the renewal. Great energy and enthusiasm was expressed by committee members for the Grand Challenges, as these are important issues and they underlie the research of everyone in the group. The first Grand Challenge is climate change and the goal is to facilitate research that will decrease the negative impact of marketplace effects on climate change and increase human well-being. The second Challenge is demographic-driven marketplace change and the goal is to facilitate research that reveals how the marketplace can better ensure the well-being of emerging demographic groups. And the third Grand Challenge is innovation and technology change, where the goal is to facilitate research that reveals innovations and technologies that will enable the marketplace to improve human well-being. The objectives submitted by the group are activity focused and thus specify the activities the group will undertake. Thus, the activities will focus on one or more of the Grand Challenges.

Relating to Objective 1, to provide opportunities for scholars to identify emerging issues and build partnerships, committee members will submit proposals for conference grants, hold special sessions at professional conferences and explore technology-mediated dialogues focused on the Grand Challenge themes. For Objective 2, to identify funding opportunities and strengthen grantsmanship skills, committee members will hold sessions at professional conferences on grantsmanship and will recruit scholars to their grant writing efforts. For Objective 3, to increase the rigor of research in the area of social change in the marketplace, committee members will solicit workshops at professional conferences on relevant methods and techniques to help colleagues stay up-to-date. And for Objective 4, to develop future researchers in the area of social change in the marketplace, committee members will actively recruit promising researchers and will promote the group more aggressively.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Coordination of specific research, education and extension programs relating to climate change, demographic-driven marketplace change and innovation and technology change.
  • Exchange of ideas and information relating to climate change, demographic-driven marketplace change and innovation and technology change.
  • Generate interest in climate change, demographic-driven marketplace change and innovation and technology change.
  • Publication of joint research articles on climate change, demographic-driven marketplace change and innovation and technology change.
  • Identification of critical research and education issues relating to climate change, demographic-driven marketplace change and innovation and technology change.
  • Outcome/Impact 6: Submission of joint grant proposals to investigate climate change, demographic-driven marketplace change and innovation and technology change.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

National workshops and special topic sessions at professional meetings identified in the objectives and activities sections will increase linkages to scholars interested in social change in the marketplace and serve to disseminate information about this important area of research. Efforts will be made to ensure that information is disseminated to ethnically diverse and minority serving colleges and universities.


The recommended Standard Governance for multistate research activities include the election of a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. All officers are to be elected for at least two-year terms to provide continuity. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a CSREES Representative.

Literature Cited

Anonymous. (2012). Rural sourcing a cost saving option for US firms. The Economic Times, June 21, 2012. Retrieved online July 22, 2015 at:

Business Conditions Improve for June: New Hiring Remains Weak (2015). Mid-American States, July 1, 2015. Institute for Economic Inquiry, Creighton University. Retrieved online July 22, 2015 at:

Rural Mainstreet economy improves for July: More than half of bank CEOs expect higher loan defaults (2015). Mainstreet Economy, July 15, 2015. Institute for Economic Inquiry, Creighton University. Retrieved online July 22, 2015 at:


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

Miami University, Ohio, Ohio State University, University of Arkansas
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