Author: Melissa Ferrigno

Marketing Scholars Address “Social Media Insights: Implications for Digital Marketing & Analytics” at the 2014 ING Global Colloquium

From left to right: Wendy Moe, Olivier Toubia, Nicholas Lurie, Sarah Moore
From left to right: Wendy Moe, Olivier Toubia, Nicholas Lurie, Sarah Moore

The Marketing Department hosted the 2014 ING Global Colloquium, Social Media Insights: Implications for Digital Marketing & Analytics, on April 4. The colloquium was a great opportunity to learn from cutting edge researchers in the areas of social media, digital marketing, and digital analytics.

Wendy Moe (University of Maryland) spoke on Social Media Intelligence: Behaviors, Biases and Brand Tracking, Moe, who has written a textbook on marketing analytics, spoke about the importance of accounting for differences across social media platforms and integrating insights across these platforms when conducting consumer sentiment analysis. In a paper with her coauthor (David Schweidel, Emory University), she develops a new brand sentiment metric that accounts for sentiment characteristics and posters’ social media platform choices. Empirical tests on social media comments for enterprise software and telecommunications show that the new metric outperforms existing metrics used by social media aggregators in terms of predicting stock prices and changes in brand sentiment in offline brand tracking surveys.

Sarah Moore (University of Alberta) presented a paper entitled Material Words: Explaining Language in Word of Mouth.In this paper, Moore argues that online reviewers use different types of explanations to explain their choices of utilitarian and hedonic products. For utilitarian products, consumers tend to provide action explanations (“I chose this product because…”), but for hedonic products, consumers tend to provide reaction explanations (“I love this product because…”). Using data from as well as a series of lab experiments, Moore finds significant differences in the types of explanations used for utilitarian and hedonic products. She also finds that consumers of utilitarian products find reviews with action (versus reaction) explanations to be more helpful and are more likely to consume the reviewed product after reading action explanations in reviews. She finds the opposite for hedonic products for which reaction explanations are perceived as more helpful and have a stronger influence on consumption.

Olivier Toubia (Columbia University) presented a paper entitled Improving Penetration Forecasts Using Social Interactions Data. In this paper, co-authored with Jacob Goldenberg of the Arison School of Business (Israel) and Rosanna Garcia, Northeastern University, Toubia develops a method to improve new product diffusion forecasts by using individual level social interaction data, such as the number of recommendations provided and received by adopters and non-adopters of a product as well as social network ties, to supplement initial aggregate penetration data. A test of the model in collaboration with a major consumer packaged goods company on a new cooking product shows that incorporating social interactions significantly improves the accuracy of penetration forecasts.

Nicholas Lurie (University of Connecticut) presented a paper entitled Going Mobile: Characteristics and Perceived Value of Mobile Word of Mouth. In this paper, Lurie and his coauthors (Sam Ransbotham of Boston College and Hongju Liu of the University of Connecticut) investigate how the content and perceived value of mobile word-of-mouth differs from that created using traditional (i.e., desktop) platforms. Using data from mobile and non-mobile restaurant reviews, the authors find that content created on mobile devices is more affective, less cognitive, and more one-sided. In addition, mobile word of mouth reflects greater current (vs. past or future) concerns and is more negative than desktop word of mouth. Results show that while some of these content differences increase the value of mobile word of mouth others lower its perceived value relative to desktop word of mouth. After controlling for observable differences in the content of mobile and desktop word of mouth, the authors find that mobile word of mouth is less valued than desktop word of mouth.

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Ph.D. Accomplishments

 Jeff Carlson defended his dissertation, “Exploring the Importance and Value of Studying Subjective Time in Marketing Management.”

Wei Chen defended his dissertation proposal, “The Effect of Regulatory Resource Depletion on Consumer Decision Making.”

Ann Jansson Vredeveld defended her dissertation proposal, “Consumer-Brand Engagement: Cultural and Moral Manifestations” and received the following awards: Ph.D. Program Summer Fellowship, AMA Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium Fellowship, ING Global Ph.D. Fellow, University of Connecticut School of Business Dean’s Pre-doctoral Fellowship, and University of Connecticut Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

Selcan Kara received the Marketing Department Ph.D. Student Teaching Award and Ph.D. Program Summer Fellowship.

 Bin Li, Zahra Tohidinia, and Nian Wang received the Ph.D. Program Summer Fellowship.

Shuai Yang defended her dissertation, “Two Essays on Matching Strategy in Paid Search Advertising” and has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Donghua University (Shanghai) beginning in Fall 2014.

Abstract: An Empirical Study of Response Alternatives in Direct Mail

2014 Marketing Science Conference, June 2014, Atlanta, GA

Nian Wang. Co-author: Joseph Pancras, Hongju Liu, and Malcolm Houtz

Many consumer goods such as books, DVDs, magazines are sold through catalogs with ‘buy now, pay later’ offers. Firms in such markets face the challenge of predicting what types of customers will not pay for the product, termed ‘bad debt’ customers, since such bad debts pose significant costs for firms. Such firms also need to understand consumer’s propensity to return products, since this is also costly for firms. This paper proposes a new model considering both the bad debt and return simultaneously, and applies the model to the data obtained from a Spanish book company. We find that the extra mailings have a greater influence on bad debt, and that historical bad debt behavior influences the probability of return. These findings help improve the firm’s targeting policy, and also point to the potential for more elaborate modeling of the tradeoffs between the bad debt and return.

Abstract: Product Line Positioning Strategies and Firm Financial Performance

2014 Winter Marketing Educators Conference, Poster Session, February 2014, Orlando, FL

Shan Lin, Co-authors: Bill Ross, Hongju Liu

This article provides an empirical investigation of the effects of six product line positioning strategies (high, medium, low, high–medium, medium–low, and high–medium–low) and three primary branding strategies (corporate branding, house-of-brands, and mixed-branding) on firms’ financial performance—cash flow and idiosyncratic risk—after controlling for firm size, leverage, profitability, profits volatility, market-to-book ratio, current liabilities, acquisitions, and advertising spending. This research illustrates that as one of the marketing instruments, product line positioning strategy matters. Narrower product line positioning strategies are associated with higher cash flow and lower firm idiosyncratic risk, while broader product line positioning strategies are associated with lower cash flow and higher firm idiosyncratic risk. In addition, branding strategies have a significant impact on firms’ cash flow but not idiosyncratic risk. In addition, product line positioning strategy moderates the relationship between branding strategies and cash flow but not the relationship between branding strategies and firm idiosyncratic risk.

Abstract: An Exploration of the Effect of Language on Processing of Numbers in Alphanumeric Brand Names

SCP Conference, March 2014, Miami FL

Selcan Kara, Co-authors: Kunter Gunasti, Rod Duclos, and Bill Ross

Language structure is an influential factor on numerical cognition. We explore whether consumers’ number processing in ANBs (Alphanumeric brand names) can be related to differences in the language structure of the numeral system they use. For example, some languages, such as Chinese, have very systematized numeral systems; once you know the numbers 1 through 10 you can easily process any other number. Other languages, such as Turkish, require the knowledge of a new word for each tens digit. Some languages, such as English have unstructured wording for numbers below twenty. Certain languages, such as German, use backward wording for a verbal representation. Finally, on the extreme side, some languages have even more complex systems; for example, French has a partial vigesimal (20) system and other irregularities; and they process the number 91 as four twenties and eleven. Thus, the aim of this research is to understand variations in consumer perceptions of ANBs resulting from linguistic differences in numeral systems for five different languages, English, German, French, Turkish, and Chinese. As the results of an international experiment revealed, comparative evaluations of superiority and price expectations between the parent and extended brands were significantly different across languages. These results support the notion that language effects how consumers make brand related judgments based on numbers in ABNs.

Abstract: The Effect of Number versus Letter Cognition on Consumers’ Evaluations of Alphanumeric Brand Names

SCP Conference, March 2014, Miami FL

Selcan Kara, Co-authors: Kunter Gunasti and Bill Ross

Alphanumeric brand names (ANBs) consist of combinations of letters and numbers either in digit or word form (Pavia and Costa 1993), such as Coke Zero and Audi A4. We examine the effects of alpha and numeric components of ANBs on consumer evaluations of product line extensions. In five experiments, we illustrate the influence of disparities between number and letter cognitions in consumer assessments of line extensions introduced by changing alpha or numeric components of existing brands. Findings suggest ascending letters in ANBs lead to more favorable evaluations of line extensions than descending letters in ANBs. Line extensions are evaluated more favorably when a line extension ANB is formed with a change in number (versus letter) for an existing ANB. We also examine dimensions of this superiority perception, and find that increasing numbers in ANBs anchors consumers, who evaluate line extensions as having improved numeric attributes. This numeric anchoring mediates consumers’ favorable evaluations of ANBs with increased numeric components in comparison to ANBs with increased alpha components.


Abstract: Protecting the Brand in the Face of Counterfeits: Genuine-Item Consumers’ Anti-Counterfeit Framework

Brands and Brand Relationships Conference, May 2014, Boston, MA

Anna Jansson Vredeveld. Co-authors: Bill Ross, Robin Coulter

This research explores how consumers purposefully and intentionally interact with brands in pursuit of moral identity and consumption legitimacy. In particular, we examine how genuine-item consumers, as differentiated from consumers who purchase or use counterfeits, cope with the identity threat posed by counterfeits. We find that genuine-item consumers actively seek support from other genuine-item consumers of similar brands when counterfeits are perceived as a threat to their identities and/or their brand relationships. In particular, we find that genuine-item consumers collectively frame counterfeit consumption as immoral and prescribe activities for moral brand use to institute moral legitimacy of their luxury brand relationships. Thus, we contribute to extant research on brand relationships by showcasing how brand users collectively imbue their brand practices with moral meanings.

Experiential Learning in Market-Driven Management Benefits Students and Partners

Experiential learning is a key part of being a student at UConn’s School of Business. The Marketing Department provides many opportunities for students to apply their learning in course projects. For example, MBA students in Mary CaravellaMarket Driven Management courses worked with three different organizations—Cognizant, HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs), and UConn’s own Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL)—to help them connect and engage with new potential customers.

While each project had slightly different goals, all students evaluated the market environment, identified one or more customer segments to target, and then recommended changes to the organization’s marketing mix to reach and engage these customers. Students rose to the challenge, supporting their recommendations with detailed analyses such as the market potential for a new product in different global regions, evaluation of alternative pricing strategies, and mockups of new website designs. Jeff Makray ’15 MBA gave high marks to the experience:

“The marketing proposal allowed us to draw from classrooms lessons and apply them in a practical way. Doing market research and applying thoughtful assumptions for market sizing and business feasibility are things I will take with me beyond my MBA. Also, it helped to build my confidence in trusting my own judgment when the available data can’t get me all the way. I’ll definitely be pulling from this experience next time I’m working on a business plan.”

Several teams of students continued to work with partner companies as part of Joseph Pancras Market Research class. If your organization is interested in partnering on a future project, contact Mary Caravella.

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UConn Executive MBAs Experience Business in South Africa

UConn EMBAs in South AfricaUConn’s Executive MBA (EMBA) students traveled to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa as part of Robin Coulters Global Business Issues course. South Africa, a diverse and emerging global market, serves as the gateway to much of the African continent. Students visited an array of businesses addressing topics such as direct investment, banking, business ownership, business challenges and opportunities. Highlights included:

“Investing in South Africa: High Risk or High Return?”
Mteto Nyati, Managing Director, Microsoft

“Retail Strategies for Low-Income Populations”
Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, Transformation Director, Pick n Pay

“Building a Successful Business in South Africa”
Tony Gerrans, CEO, Grotto

While in South Africa, students visited important historical and cultural sites including the Soweto Township; Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela served his prison term for his campaign against the Apartheid regime; and the Apartheid Museum, which illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid, the system of racial segregation that blighted much of South Africa’s progress for half a century.

Students returned equipped with new knowledge and insights, having visited with executives from an array of companies and industries. “Understanding the history and culture of a country in which you conduct business is critical,” Noel Petrolati ’16 EMBA observed. “I knew it was important, but to see and experience South Africa’s turbulent past and to see its economic development was enlightening.”

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Stamford Learning Accelerator Team Builds National Database Using Visual Analytics Tools

Stamford Learning Accelerator Team
Pictured from left to right: Jennifer Chiarella, JD/MBA ’14; Angela Balduyck, MBA ’14; Tugba Onder, MBA ’14; Aswathy Mohandas, MSBAPM ’14

Working at the Stamford Learning Accelerator with faculty mentor Brian Brady, a team of MBA, JD/MBA, and MSBAPM students built an executive contact database of 3000 One Stops, their affiliates and local offices across the United States. The database connects each One Stop Center to its corresponding State Workforce Investment Board which provides vital grant funding to these centers and is a potential source of revenue for Access Technologies Group, a Connecticut company whose flagship simulation software product is Simentor.® This simulation software is designed to help individuals who face challenges such as learning disabilities, computer literacy, or explaining a criminal record, enabling them to overcome these challenges and increase their employment opportunities.

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