Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Geography and Earth Sciences
Marketing means much more than mere advertising: trying to sell what manufacturers have decided to produce. It means the honing of product lines to suit ever-shifting consumer tastes. Studying the relationship between production and consumption is central to understanding modern consumer society. Housing is one of the most important consumer products most people will ever buy. Houses not only provide shelter but also are central to their occupants’ identity. At the same time, housing production and consumption are vitally important to the health of the economy. Yet, despite the importance of housing, marketing practices in the speculative homebuilding industry have received no systematic attention in the marketing, consumer culture, or urban studies literatures. This research begins to fill this gap. Using a case study approach, this thesis examines how the marketing practices of builders in the Toronto area, Canada’s largest real estate market, have evolved in response to shifts in consumer demand during the postwar period. The research draws on evidence from North American building and advertising trade journals and builders’ advertisements that appeared in the Toronto Star between 1940 and 2005.
This research shows that since the 1950s, the housebuilding industry has moved from a focus on efficiency in production towards a concern with the needs and preferences of the consumer. This consumer focus, however, has not been an uninterrupted trend, as historians of marketing in other industries have argued. Interest in determining and satisfying consumer demand has gained impetus during certain periods and ebbed during others. This cyclicality can be attributed to market cycles and the relationship between supply and demand. The consumer focus in the homebuilding industry has been strongest during buyers’ markets when supply has exceeded demand, periods of heightened competition between builders, and economic downturns.
Gill, Aman P., "Changing Marketing Strategies in the Canadian Housebuilding Industry: From Mass Production and Mass Markets Towards Niche Markets and Consumer Segmentation, c. 1945 – 2000" (2012). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7377.
McMaster University Library