The emergence of a mass market for consumer durables in interwar Britain

The emergence of a mass market for consumer durables in interwar Britain

The emergence of a mass market for consumer durables in interwar Britain

the-emergence-of-a-mass-market

Professor Peter Scott assesses attempts to create a mass market for consumer durables in interwar Britain, with case-studies of a number of major industries, including furniture, radios, vacuum cleaners, other electrical appliances, and telephones. We find that, contrary to the arguments of some earlier scholars, British producers were often highly innovative in marketing and found various methods to both communicate the virtues of their products, and the `easy terms' on which they could be purchased, to a new, mass, market. The project also reveals the importance of retailer-led marketing initiatives in some sectors (such as furniture); the impact of marketing techniques imported from the United States; and the persistence of high production costs in some cases, despite a major expansion in annual sales.

Published outputs to date

2011 `Still a niche communications medium: the diffusion and uses of the telephone system in interwar Britain', Business History, 53 (2011), 801-20.

  • 2009 `Mr Drage, Mr Everyman, and the creation of a mass market for domestic furniture in interwar Britain,' Economic History Review, 62, 802-27.
  • 2008 `Managing door-to-door sales of vacuum cleaners in interwar Britain,' Business History Review, 82, 4 (2008): 761-88.

Discussion papers

  • Patent monopolies, antitrust, and the divergent development paths of the British and American interwar radio equipment industries
  • The determinants of competitive success in the interwar British radio industry