Professor Cathy Barnes is fascinated by the world of the consumer. She is constantly trying to understand how we, as people, interact with the world around us and what this means to improved products and daily experiences.  Her research work has taken her on a journey from novel ideation techniques such as biomimetics (using nature to innovate) to sensory design. She is particularly interested in how we perceive the world through touch and what this means to why we buy products.

As the Professor of Retail Innovation at Leeds Beckett University, Cathy is responsible for leading and building the new Faraday Centre for Retail Excellence. Her vision is to create a new type of university institute where academics and industry work closely together to deliver new knowledge with real and immediate commercial impact. She would like the Faraday Centre for Retail Excellence to be seen as a major force in driving innovation and impact to UK plc and beyond.

Originally training as a draughtsperson, Cathy started her diverse career in engineering, working on nuclear submarines. After a first degree in Mechanical Engineering, she started her love affair with consumerism by 6 years in industry managing factories making everything from cosmetics to crisp packets. Prior to joining Leeds Metropolitan University she spent 12 years at University of Leeds researching into the consumer experience and managing outreach departments working closely with industry. During this time she led many research grants and has published widely in both academic journals and the trade press.

PhD, School Of Industrial and Manufacturing Science, Cranfield University, 2000, “A Methodology for the Concurrent Design of Products and Their Assembly Sequences“.

BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, Class I, University of Leeds, 1992. Awarded IMechE Whitworth Scholarship.

Cathy’s recent projects include:

  • Building a membership scheme for retail packaging sector including many of the leading FMCG companies.
  • Designing new touch experience for computer peripherals.
  • Developing new understanding of the consumer perception of freshness in retail environments for global food company.
  • Inventing a new aerosol experience for global household product company.
  • Researching a new marketing and pricing strategy in the condom market.
  • Creating new consumer perception tools and implemented throughout a global food company.
  • Supporting a global food company to understand consumer perception of biopolymers.
  • Advising on innovation strategy for new materials and design for large dairy.
  • Developing a novel innovation technique for a large petcare company.