Henna Syrjälä

Associate Professor (tenure track)

Tilte of Docent, D. Sc. (Econ & Bus. Adm.)
School of Marketing and Communication, Marketing
+358 29 449 8483
Wolffintie 34, 65200 Vaasa
Ankkuri 1. floor

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Current and previous projects

I am an Associate Professor in Marketing, and hold the Title of Docent in University of Helsinki in Consumer Economics. Currently, I lead sub-project of University of Vaasa as well as one of the workpackages in the consortium decarbon-home that is funded by Strategic Research Council working with Academy of Finland. The key idea of the project is to support socially equitable climate-wise housing and construction. Our workpackage conctrates especially on citizen agency. The consotium is lead by University of Helsinki and other partners are Syke, Luke and TalTech.

Priorly, I have managed projects "Consumers' everyday practices as bellwethers for digitalization", and marketing side of the "Place sexiness of the rural". Also, I was a project manager in "Co-Creative Snacks – Gamification as a Tool for Developing Snacks Products" –project that was funded by Tekes (The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation). In this project, we examined the everyday consumption practices related to snacking and playing digital games. The aim was to provide tools, such as gamification and social media usage, for growth and development of the snacking sector. The core idea was to support consumption of healthy snacks. The project was carried out in co-operation with University of Turku (Functional Foods Forum and Technology Research Center) and several major Finnish food companies.

Previously I have worked in a project "Consumers and Responsibility as Business innovators", funded by the Academy of Finland. In this project, we studied from several angles the meanings and practices of responsibility in our consumer culture. For instance we elaborated the meanings of necessity consumption, anti-consumption practices and consumption in poverty.

I wrote my doctoral thesis on pet-related consumption; especially, I was interested in the many ways pets provide consumers with the chances for identity construction. After my defense, I worked in a Tekes-funded project "Petnets – Orchestring Networks for Better Pet Services" in University of Helsinki, in Consumer Economics.



I teach Master-level courses:

Cultural Consumer Marketing

Qualitative Methods in Marketing Research

Master thesis in Marketing Management


For Phd-students:

Consumer Marketing funded by Kataja and/or NFF.



I am the current leader of our Research Group: Marketing and Consumption Research

My research revolves around two acronyms: CCT (Consumer Culture Theory) and TCR (Transformative Consumer Research). This means that from the theoretical viewpoint, I am interested in examining consumption processes and transformations that take place within cultures, communities and in individuals as a part of larger collectives (e.g. Syrjälä, 2016). From the ideological viewpoint, I aim to study areas that have need for transformation in the lives of consumers, in environment or in society. Previous examples include food waste (e.g. Alhonnoro, Leipämaa-Leskinen & Syrjälä, 2020), animal well-being (e.g. Wünderlich et al., 2021) and clothing industry (Vesterinen & Syrjälä, 2022). Especially, as a marketing researcher, I direct my attention to research ideas that enable business development in a way that is grounded on profound understanding on consumers' mundane practices and consumption-related meanings entwined in surrounding cultural milieu (e.g. Laitinen et al., 2023; Honkaniemi et al., 2021; Jaskari, Leipämaa-Leskinen, Syrjälä, 2015).

Methodologically, I have multi-methodological expertise. As an example, I am an expert in autoethnography, which I have further developed towards a contemporary, digitalized form, auto-netnography (Syrjälä & Norrgrann, 2018). I have employed a variety of tools both quantitative and qualitative, although qualitative data stemming from ethnographic tradition (e.g. Syrjälä & Norrgrann, 2019) and practice-based studies (e.g. Leipämaa-Leskinen et al., 2016) to interviews (e.g. Honkaniemi et al., 2021) and narratives (e.g. Joelsson et al., 2023; Jaskari et al., 2018) are most suitable for the culturally oriented research questions that I am mostly interested in. Topically, I am probably most known of my studies on animals. However, I have expanded the theoretical discussion to multiple directions including phenomena such as sustainable consumption, food consumption, digitalization and gamification, home making, consumption in poverty and in rural areas, and youth consumption. As these topics of my studies highlight, I am used to working in the boundaries of various disciplines and cross-disciplinary teams, such as cultural studies, human-animal studies and game studies. Theoretically, my studies touch discussions such as everyday practices, consumer communities, consumer identity, (non)human agency, scapes and spaces of consumption, and anti-consumption.


A selection of my publications

  • Joelsson, Tapani N., Syrjälä, Henna, Luomala, Harri, & Mäkilä, Tuomas (2023). Geek Cuisine: Extending the Narrative of a Junk Food Gamer. Games and Culture, 18, 8, 1071-1094. https://doi.org/10.1177/15554120221150348
  • Jaskari, Minna-Maarit, & Syrjälä, Henna (2022). A Mixed-Methods Study of Marketing Students' Game-Playing Motivations and Gamification Elements. Journal of Marketing Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/02734753221083220
  • Honkaniemi, Tuomas, Syrjälä, Henna, Lundström, Niklas & Rajala, Arto (2021). Neolocalism and beyond: Sexing up rural places. Rural Sociology, 86(2), 326-356. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/ruso.12368
  • Wünderlich, Nancy, Mosteller, Jill, Beverland, Michael, Downey, Hilary, Kraus, Karen, Lin, Meng-Hsien (Jenny), & Syrjälä, Henna (2021). Animals in our Lives: An Interactive Well-Being Perspective. Journal of Macromarketing, 41(4), 646-662. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0276146720984815
  • Syrjälä, Henna, Hannele Kauppinen-Räisänen, Harri T. Luomala, Tapani N. Joelsson, Kaisa Könnölä & Tuomas Mäkilä (2020). Gamified package: Consumer insights into multidimensional brand engagement. Journal of Business Research, 199, 423-434. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.11.089
  • Alhonnoro, Lotta, Hanna Leipämaa-Leskinen & Henna Syrjälä (2020). Distributed agency in food waste – A focus on non-human actors in retail setting. In Elina Närvänen, Nina Mesiranta, Malla Mattila and Anna Heikkinen (Eds.). Food Waste Management: Solving the Wicked Problem. Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Syrjälä, Henna & Anu Norrgrann (2019). "When your dog matches your decor". Object agency of living and non-living entities in home assemblage. In Domen Bajde, Dannie Kjedgaard, and Russell Belk (Eds.). Consumer Culture Theory: Research in Consumer Behavior. Emerald Group Publishing Limited: Bingley, UK, 20, 39-54. https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/S0885-211120190000020006?af=R

Selected for publication in an edited volume of the best papers from the 2018 Consumer Culture Theory Conference.

  • Syrjälä, Henna, Luomala, Harri & Autio Minna (2017). Fluidity of places in everyday food consumption: Introducing snackscapes. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 41(6), 761-768. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcs.12389
  • Syrjälä, Henna (2016). Turning point of transformation: Consumer communities, identity projects and becoming a serious dog hobbyist. Journal of Business Research, 69 (1), 177–190. DOI:10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.07.031
  • Syrjälä, Henna, Minna-Maarit Jaskari & Hanna Leipämaa-Leskinen (2016). Object agency of a living/non-living entity: The case of horse/horsemeat. In Diego Rinallo, Nil Özça?lar-Toulous and Russell Belk (Eds.). Consumer Culture Theory: Research in Consumer Behavior. Emerald Group Publishing Limited: Bingley, UK, 18, 65- 92. DOI: 10.1108/S0885-211120160000018005

Selected for publication in an edited volume of the best papers from the 2016 Consumer Culture Theory Conference.

  • Kylkilahti, Eliisa, Syrjälä, Henna, Autio, Jaakko, Autio, Minna & Kuismin, Ari (2016). Understanding co-consumption between consumers and their pets. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 40 (1), 125-131. DOI: 10.1111/ijcs.12230

  • Jyrinki, Henna (2012). Pet-Related Consumption as a Consumer Identity Constructor. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 36, 114-120.  DOI: 10.1111/j.1470-6431.2011.00995.x

More of my publications: ResearchGate; GoogleScholar; SoleCRIS

Publications and expert tasks

» SoleCRIS Research Database