Personal privacy as a positive experience of shopping: an illustration through the case of online grocery shopping

Ronan J. De Kervenoael, Didier Soopromanien, Alan Hallsworth, Jonathan Elms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - This paper aims to demonstrate the need for an improved understanding of the opportunities offered by privacy online. This is contextualized in the case of supermarket purchases of food in particular, often described as an intimate and personal choice. In the case of grocery shopping, the "intimacy" may be at the household level between members or/and between e-grocers' food offerings, and their other "non-food" related services Design/methodology/approach - This paper draws upon social practice theory research, retailing and consumer behaviour in order to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the value of positive privacy. The research uses 39 in-depth interviews of e-grocery shoppers in the area of Portsmouth (UK). Findings - This paper suggests a framework for embedded elements of positive privacy into retailing strategy as a driver for growth in the e-grocery sector. Three meta-themes requiring different approaches to privacy are uncovered. Positive privacy is dynamic and contextual at the consumer/household levels as well as for product/e-grocery brands. Research limitations/implications - This paper advocates the building of long-term sustainable relationship through sharing, offering, and exchange of information rather than pure technological chasing of data. Originality/value - A consumer centred bottom-up approach is employed demonstrating the value of two-way dialogues with consumers on sensitive issues. E-grocery is used as an illustration that involves regular re-purchase of a basket of staple goods over a long period of time where privacy becomes a latent long-term concern. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-599
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2007


  • electronic commerce
  • privacy
  • retailing


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