Curations from Our Academic Trustees

Journal Must-reads from Robert Kozinets, USC

Robert Kozinets is the Jayne and Hans Hufschmid Chair of Strategic Public Relations at USC Annenberg, a position he shares with the USC Marshall School of Business. His research focuses on the intersection of technology, media, brands, and consumers. He invented the widely used method of “netnography” which adapts ethnography to the social experiences and interactions that emerge through networked digital communications.

He notes: “It has been an excellent year for journal articles, and my choices move from a consideration of technological change in consumer science, to advances in marketing research and methodology, to recognition of the way that contemporary social and political trends are reshaping consumption. All of them are rigorous, and all have important implications for contemporary marketers, who are dealing with massive change.”


Consumer and Object Experience in the Internet of Things: An Assemblage Theory Approach by Donna L Hoffman and Thomas P. Novak, Journal of Consumer Research

“This ground-breaking article takes us on an intellectual journey to a world where the Internet of Things has revolutionized the way we think about consumers and consumer experience. Can non-human ‘things’ be consumers? Can they have experiences? Are they aware? The answer to all three questions, according to Hoffman and Novak, is yes. Where does that leave people? How does it change what we research, how we research it, and how we approach markets?

"The article is heady stuff, so settle in for a read that can be challenging at times. But for those interested in the cutting edge of consumer science, this article is rewarding, and as eye-opening and full of surprises as an episode of ‘Westworld’.” Who knows—your next major consumer might be bot, an algorithm, or an aware object. Are you ready for that world?"


From the Self to the Screen: A Journey Guide for Auto-netnography in Online Communities by Dino Villegas, Journal of Marketing Management

“Dino Villegas managed a presidential campaign in Chile, building and utilizing a Facebook community with over 350,000 members. His paper explores his experiences, and develops them into a self-reflective system of researching and managing social media marketing. The approach is particularly valuable for managers who are struggling with decontextualized analytics approaches to social media and the use of big data. As a remedy, this article suggests an approach called ‘brand auto-netnography’ which might have the potential to link marketing research with practice in new and important ways. Is your marketing team ready to tackle social media with this level of brand intimacy and customer connection?”


Selling Pain to the Saturated Self by Rebecca Scott, Julien Cayla, and Bernard Cova, Journal of Consumer Research

“’Selling pain’ pursues a concept of consumer cruelty through a fascinating setting. Today, consumers (like you and I) live in a time of relative ease and pleasure, with the cerebral pleasures of consumption and modern office life and its abstract work drawing us increasingly out of contact with our own bodies.

"With a detailed, in-your-face ethnographic exploration of the grueling ‘Tough Mudder’ adventure challenge, Scott, Cayla, and Cova argue that contemporary consumers like us hunger for challenge, and even painful agony. We crave it in order to remind ourselves that the demands of everyday life are about more than the needs of office work. Actually, transcending our bodies’ limitations through painful challenge might even be a way to find temporary relief from the burdens of self-awareness. And these self-inflicted trials and tribulations are enacted to pursue powerful experiences that we can incorporate into our life stories. What does that say about customer satisfaction? Maybe you need to make it more challenging, to make it more satisfying!"


Blue and Red Voices: Effects of Political Ideology on Consumers’ Complaining and Disputing Behavior by Kiju Jung, Ellen Garbarino, Donnel A. Briley, and Jesse Wynhausen, Journal of Consumer Research

“In current times, it is becoming possible to consider that political ideologies are reshaping everything about contemporary life, including marketplaces, and consumption. In this important exploration of the role of conservative versus liberal political beliefs, the authors ask whether these beliefs might have an impact on the tendency of consumers to complain about, or dispute, bad service.

"Supporting the popular notion that liberals tend to be more likely to melt, like delicate snowflakes, the results reveal that people with conservative political beliefs are actually significantly less likely to complain. Furthermore, the research reveals that political ideology is a major force determining people's behavior. Marketers seeking to understand their customers can learn a lot just by learning whether they are on team red or team blue. Watch out. The next major segment you seek might be more political than you think!”

Curations from Our Academic Trustees


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