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Academic Trustees Reading List

What Should Marketers Read? Our Academic Trustees Tell Us

At the end of 2016, we asked our Academic Trustees to review their past year’s reading and recommend journal articles with important marketing implications. Below, our academic expert offer their recommendations and explain why these are must-reads for marketing practitioners.

Kusum Ailawadi, Dartmouth College

The theme on top of my mind this whole past year has been connecting the online and offline world, whether it is from the supplier’s, the retailer’s, or the consumer’s vantage point. So, my apologies in advance for choosing articles within that theme. Even if you think the theme is narrow, I am confident you’ll find the questions, contexts, data, and methods both broad and interesting. So, here goes, in no particular order:

“Sharing with Friends Versus Strangers: How Interpersonal Closeness Influences Word-of-Mouth Valence” by David Dubois, Andrea Bonezzi, and Matteo De Angelis, Journal of Marketing Research, October 2016

Comments

KA: Firms are spending more and more time and money monitoring and trying to mine User Generated Content. There’s a great book on Social Media Intelligence, co-authored by one of MSI’s trustees (Wendy Moe) that reviewed the academic literature and presented in very readable form the opportunities and challenges managers face in drawing insights from UGC. This article builds on previous research on bias in word-of-mouth and digs deeper into when people are more positive versus more negative in their word-of-mouth. The authors show that when people are sharing with others to whom they are (psychologically, not physically) close, they tend to be more negative because they want to protect the receiver of the WOM. The opposite holds too. WOM is more positive when it is to people with whom one is not close, and that is because the sender of the WOM wants to self-enhance The authors show this quite convincingly through a series of experiments. I am not a “lab experiment” researcher but these experiments seem to be very well and realistically designed. The work is important because not only do we need to improve the tools to analyze unstructured UGC, we also need to improve our understanding of when to believe it. This article adds significantly to a body of research delving into the extent and direction of bias in UGC, depending on the medium, the source, the receiver, and now the relationship between the source and receiver.

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“Effects of TV Advertising on Keyword Search” by Mingyu Joo, Kenneth Wilbur, and Yi Zhu, International Journal of Research in Marketing, September 2016

Comments

KA: This article is a sequel to an award-winning paper in Management Science from 2014. It uses highly disaggregate individual level day-hour data to examine the connection between traditional TV advertising and the nature of search online. Given the plethora of research that has shown the downstream sales effects of online search, the fact that TV advertising moves the needle on online search is really important. But, what is more important is what type of search it influences. Joo, Wilbur, and Zhu find that, at least for financial services (the category that they study), TV advertising doesn’t increase the volume of category keywords but it influences the choice of keywords within the category, increasing the share of branded keywords. This is after rich controls for the baseline level of search, etc. There are more detailed results on how the effects vary for young and older brands, for different consumer segments, and for different types of advertising content, that are worth checking out. The paper is technical but very readable. I believe understanding the extent of branded versus generic search and the drivers of branded search is important, not just because of the implications for the cost and ROI of search advertising and TV advertising, but also because the extent of branded search versus generic search says a lot about the power of a brand online and the need (or lack thereof) for broad distribution.

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“On Demand Streaming Services and Music Industry Revenues: Insights from Spotify’s Market Entry” by Nils Wlomert and Dominik Papies, International Journal of Research in Marketing, June 2016

Comments

KA: From newspapers to music to TV, the challenge of navigating the digital channel when information supposedly “wants to be free” is proving to be a difficult one for content producers, providers, and distributors alike. I like this article for the important question it asks, for its simplicity, and for the insights it is able to provide. Wlomert and Papies use a creative approach to study the impact of the streaming channel on music industry revenues in existing channels and in total. They build a panel of more than 2500 consumers and follow their music consumption through monthly surveys over a period of one year, spanning months before and after Spotify, the largest music streaming service, entered the market. Their conclusions based on the behavior of this panel are that (a) there isn’t much evidence of people moving from free to fee; (b) streaming cannibalizes sales from other channels like downloads; (c) the net revenue impact for music labels is negative for free advertising-based streaming but positive and substantial for subscription-based streaming; and (d) the impact is quite sensitive to assumptions about royalty rates. While the overall findings may not surprise you, this type of analysis is critical as firms decide on the pricing models for the different channels through which their products reach the end consumer, not just for digital but for other products.

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“Price Transparency and Retail Prices: Evidence from Retail Price Signs in the Italian Highway System” by Peter Rossi and Pradeep Chintagunta, Journal of Marketing Research, June 2016

Comments

KA: I know you’re thinking – “The Italian Highway System, really?” Yes, really! The context for this paper may appear to be too specific to be of broad interest, but I challenge you to find me one firm that isn’t wrestling with the question at the center of the paper – what is the internet doing to pricing in my category? The authors study how firms (in their case, gas stations) change their pricing when prices become transparent through third parties (in their case, through a law requiring gas prices to be posted on signs along the highway). On one hand, transparency makes it easier for firms to know one another’s prices and therefore might increase collusion. On the other, it may increase competition and therefore reduce prices. The authors find that in their context, average prices decrease very substantially, with gas stations located very proximally to the signs posting their prices decreasing their prices the most. However, the transparency does not reduce price dispersion except among closely located competitors, at least in part because only a small percentage of consumers use the price information effectively. More than the gas station pricing results I found the work interesting because of its direct analogy (at least in my mind) to price transparency and its effects on the pricing behavior of different competitors online and on mobile.

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Alexander Chernev, Northwestern University

“Mining Brand Perceptions from Twitter Social Networks” by Aron Culotta and Jennifer Cutler, Marketing Science, May-June 2016

Comments

AC: This article offers a novel method for measuring and monitoring brand image using Twitter data. An alternative to using surveys to measure brand perception, the proposed method examines the social connections of brand fans to infer brand image. To this end, it relies on the information shared by all members of a brand’s network (a brand’s followers on Twitter), regardless of the degree to which they actively contribute relevant content. At the heart of this method is quantifying the overlap between a brand’s network and the network of a referent community, which represents a focal dimension of a brand’s image. (For example, GreenPeace and SierraClub networks can be used to assess the environmental friendliness aspect of a brand.) A key advantage of this method is that brand perception measures can be automatically generated and assessed in real time. Importantly, the data show that the results obtained using this method are highly correlated with results obtained with survey measures, suggesting that the two approaches can be used interchangeably.

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“Navigating by the Stars: Investigating the Actual and Perceived Validity of Online User Ratings” by Bart de Langhe, Philip M. Fernbach, and Donald R. Lichtenstein, Journal of Consumer Research, April 2016

Comments

AC: This article shows the disconnect between the objective quality information that online user ratings convey and the degree to which consumers trust them as indicators of objective quality. Specifically, in a dataset covering 1272 products across 120 vertically differentiated product categories, the authors find very little convergence between average user ratings and Consumer Reports scores, the most commonly used measure of objective quality in the consumer behavior literature. Furthermore, the authors show that average user ratings (1) are often based on insufficient sample sizes, which limits their diagnostic value, (2) do not predict resale prices on the secondary market, and (3) are higher for more expensive products and premium brands, taking into account Consumer Reports scores. However, when forming quality inferences and purchase decisions, consumers rely heavily on user ratings, and they do not sufficiently take into account the number of ratings and the price of the rated product.

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Peter Fader, University of Pennsylvania

“The Perils of Proactive Churn Prevention Using Plan Recommendations: Evidence from a Field Experiment” by Eva Ascarza, Raghuram Iyengar, and Martin Schleicher, Journal of Marketing Research, February 2016

Comments

PF: “Churn prevention” isn’t as simple and straightforward as it may seem.

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“Can Marketing Campaigns Induce Multichannel Buying and More Profitable Customers? A Field Experiment” by Elisa Montaguti, Scott Neslin, and Sara Valentini, Marketing Science, March-April 2016

Comments

PF: A very clear and comprehensive analysis of a topic that all marketers are interested in.

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“Ticking Away the Moments: Timing Regularity Helps to Better Predict Customer Activity” by Michael Platzer and Thomas Reutterer, Marketing Science, September-October 2016

Comments

PF: Pushing the frontiers of models of repeat-purchase behavior in a very interesting manner.

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Jacob Goldenberg, The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya 

“Idea Generation, Creativity, and Prototypicality” by Olivier Toubia and Oded Netzer, Marketing Science, August 2016 (online)

Comments

JG: Some papers have a potential to be part of an emergent revolution and pave the way to directions to totally new frontiers. This paper is, in my view, a very good candidate. History will judge, but it is not unlikely that future research will flesh out how computers can be used to help individuals in generating creative ideas using the digital echo system and the colossal amount of data it contains.In this paper, the authors scraped ideas from the web and then identified the creative, winning ideas, by finding the right balance between novelty and regularity using only the text and semantic network they generated based on the data. Philosophically, the general idea is not entirely new, but the greatness of the paper is in the implementation in a real world setting which was achieved through the authors’ smart move to use internet (big) data to overcome the famous “frame problem” in artificial intelligence. This is the best creativity paper written in the last few decades: despite the simple execution, it is a real breakthrough. Unless I am overreacting to this paper – I would not be surprised if automatic procedures become responsible for ideation of new products and services in the near future in a day to day manner.

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“Computer Interfaces and the ‘Direct-Touch’ Effect: Can iPads Increase the Choice of Hedonic Food?” by Hao Shen, Meng Zhang, and Aradhna Krishna, Journal of Marketing Research, October 2016

Comments

JG: Many habits, including habits of consumption and usage, have changed since the spread of mobile devices. Sometimes social or behavioral change involves the formation of new norms, but sometimes it is a direct consequence of a change (such as the emergence of touch screens).

This is the topic of this paper. The authors, in five studies, demonstrate an “affect-laden alternative” (the authors’ term) over a “cognitively superior” option. The authors argue that this effect is driven by mental simulation in which individuals engage, which is more consistent with the affective choice option. In my view, this is a harbinger of an emerging research direction of how marketing and technology meet and interact in the marketplace. In this particular case, the findings have strong managerial implications as they can help managers design screens and user interfaces to achieve optimal fit with users. This kind of paper will make marketing and engineering closer than they have ever been.

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Peter Golder, Dartmouth College

“Brand Love: Development and Validation of a Practical Scale” by Richard P. Bagozzi, Rajeev Batra, and Aaron Ahuvia, Marketing Letters, September 2016

Comments

PG: Building a strong brand is the goal of most marketing managers. The concept of brand love has attracted much attention in recent marketing literature. This article makes the concept of brand love more actionable for managers by developing shorter scales of brand love that can be applied more easily in practice. The authors show that brand love can help understand consumer loyalty, word of mouth, and resistance to negative information.

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Rob Kozinets, University of Southern California

“A Thematic Exploration of Digital, Social Media, and Mobile Marketing: Research Evolution from 2000 to 2015 and an Agenda for Future Inquiry” by Cait Lamberton and Andrew Stephen, Journal of Marketing, November 2016

Comments

RK: Digital marketing has become marketing and understanding the essentials of what we know about it is extremely valuable to marketers. In a concise and directed overview of 15  years of research, this article provides marketers with a single heaping serving of what we know about digital, social, and mobile marketing, and what we still need to find out.

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“Brand Public” by Adam Arvidsson and Alessandro Caliandro, Journal of Consumer Research, April 2016

Comments

RK: If you think you understand brand community, you need to read this. This innovative article looks at how consumers use social media to create value around brands. Using a set of Tweets about the Louis Vuitton brand, the article explores how interaction and identity are more important than outdated notions of brand community.

Download full article (free until June 9, 2017)

“The Hidden Cost of Personal Quantification” by Jordan Etkin, Journal of Consumer Research, April 2016

Comments

RK: Technology now allows us to measure many things, including our steps, sleep and calorie intake. However, we still know very little about the effects of this “personal quantification”. In this fascinating article, we find out that measuring things like our exercise activities can actually lead to us enjoying that activity less.

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“Understanding the Customer Experience Throughout the Customer Journey” by Katherine Lemon and Peter Verhoef, Journal of Marketing, November 2016

Comments

RK: This article adds much-needed clarity to the concepts of customer experience and the customer journey, notions that have relevance to marketers of all stripes

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Carl Mela, Duke University

“Crumbs of the Cookie: User Profiling in Customer Base Analysis and Behavioral Targeting” by Michael Trusov, Liye Ma, and Zainab Jamal, Marketing Science, May-June 2016

Comments

CM: With increased information pertaining to the digital footprints of individuals who browse online, it is possible to create reliable customer profiles; that is, a characterizations of a users’ evolving interests as their browsing sessions unfold (e.g., shopping vs socializing). Such information is critical for targeting communications and enhancing site usability. Building upon machine learning techniques such as Correlated Topic Modeling, the authors develop an approach that can process massive amounts of information while accommodating the possibility that some firms only observe a portion of user browsing behavior. The authors find improvements in advertising profitability by as much as 21%, along with corollary reduction in segmentation errors.

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“The Perils of Proactive Churn Prevention Using Plan Recommendations: Evidence from a Field Experiment” by Eva Ascarza, Raghuram Iyengar, and Martin Schleicher, Journal of Marketing Research, February 2016

Comments

CM: Counter to conventional wisdom, the authors demonstrate that common proactive churn prevention interventions actually increase churn in the wireless communications industry (by as much as four percentage points in their experiment). The authors suggest two possible explanations. First, the interventions alert users to past usage, making them more likely to evaluate other plans. Second, the interventions can disrupt habitual behavior thereby lowering their switching costs.

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“Mining Brand Perceptions from Twitter Social Networks” by Aron Culotta and Jennifer Cutler, Marketing Science, May-June 2016

Comments

CM: While the importance of brand attitude research has been a mainstay in marketing, the means by which it is collected has not. Surveys are often costly and cover small sample sizes. In contrast, user generated content on social media are vast and timely. Unfortunately, converting unstructured text into coherent characterizations is not straightforward. This article develops a method to data mine online content and social interactions for brand attitudes and finds a strong correlation (0.72) between these resulting attitudes and those elicited in survey methods.

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Wendy Moe, University of Maryland

This was a good year for overview/framework articles in the digital space with two papers, one addressing eWOM specifically and another on digital, social media, and mobile marketing more broadly.

“The Effect of Electronic Word of Mouth on Sales: A Meta-Analytic Review of Platform, Product, and Metric Factors” by Ana Babić Rosario, Francesca Sotgiu, Kristine De Valck, and Tammo H.A. Bijmolt, Journal of Marketing Research, June 2016

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“A Thematic Exploration of Digital, Social Media, and Mobile Marketing: Research Evolution from 2000 to 2015 and an Agenda for Future Inquiry” by Cait Lamberton and Andrew T. Stephen, Journal of Marketing, November 2016

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Michael Norton, Harvard University

“An Audience of One: Behaviorally Targeted Ads as Implied Social Labels” by Christopher A. Summers, Robert W. Smith, and Rebecca Walker Reczek, Journal of Consumer Research, June 2016

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“Wealth and Welfare: Divergent Moral Reactions to Ethical Consumer Choices” by Jenny G. Olson, Brent McFerran, Andrea C. Morales, and Darren W. Dahl, Journal of Consumer Research, April 2016

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“The Role of (Dis)similarity in (Mis)predicting Others’ Preferences” by Kate Barasz, Tami Kim, and Leslie K. John, Journal of Marketing Research, August 2016

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Sharon Shavitt, University of Illinois

“Understanding Consumer Psychology in Working-class Contexts” by Rebecca M. Carey and Hazel Rose Markus, Journal of Consumer Psychology, October 2016

Comments

SS: This paper provides deeper insights into social class -- a fundamental basis for consumer segmentation. Carey and Markus review a range of evidence on social class differences in psychological processes. Their review highlights that working class consumers differ from middle class ones in their styles of thinking, their causal reasoning, and their attention to backgrounds and contexts.
They also highlight class differences in emotional awareness, showing that working class consumers display greater empathy and accuracy in reading others' emotions, and are more guided by empathy in their decisions, than are middle class consumers. Carey and Markus’s review suggests that the meaning of consumer choice differs between middle-class consumers (for whom choices express personal preference) and working-class consumers (for whom choices fulfill relationships goals), with many implications for targeting, branding and promotion.

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“Is Eco-Friendly Unmanly? The Green-Feminine Stereotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption” by Aaron Brough, James Wilkie, Jingjing Ma, Mathew Isaac, and David Gal, Journal of Consumer Research, December 2016

Comments

SS: The second paper highlights a subtle but important barrier to the adoption of green products and brands. Both men and women implicitly perceive green consumers as being more feminine. That is, the concepts of greenness and femininity are cognitively linked. The studies suggest that this green-feminine stereotype motivates men to avoid green behaviors in order to appear masculine. The studies further indicate that those who engage in green behaviors are stereotyped by others as more feminine and even perceive themselves as more feminine.

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Peter C. Verhoef, University of Groningen

“Marketing Analytics for Data-Rich Environments” by Michel Wedel and P.K Kannan, Journal of Marketing, November 2016

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“Assessing Performance Outcomes in Marketing” by Constantine S. Katsikeas, Neil A. Morgan, Leonidas Leonidou, and G. Tomas Hult, Journal of Marketing, March 2016

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“Brand Buzz in the Echoverse” by Kelly Hewett, William Rand, Roland Rust, and Harald van Heerde, Journal of Marketing, May 2016

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“Regular or Low-fat? An Investigation of the Long-run Impact of the First Low-fat Purchase on Subsequent Purchase Volumes and Calories” by Kathleen Cleeren, Kelly Geyskens, Peter C. Verhoef, and Joost M.E. Pennings, International Journal of Research in Marketing, December 2016

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“Mapping the Customer Journey: Lessons Learned from Graph-based Online Attribution Modeling” by Eva Anderl, Ingo Becker, Florian von Wangenheim, and Jan Hendrik Schumann, International Journal of Research in Marketing, September 2016

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