The 2021 research competition is closed. Upcoming information regarding MSI’s new research competition will be posted soon.

Marketing Science Institute: Research Competition and Call for Proposals

Learning from Disruption: New Connections, New Directions post-COVID

The COVID-19 global pandemic has profoundly affected almost every aspect of life. For marketers, this includes changes in consumer behavior and disruption of conventional business models. The external “shock” to existing systems and practices has created both new challenges for businesses and new opportunities for academic research. Some trends such as the shift to digital and omni-channel interaction have accelerated (e.g., buy-online, pick-up curbside), while others such as offshoring and “just in time” supply chains have been called into question.

Which changes will persist and become part of the new normal? Which activities will revert to pre-pandemic patterns—when and why? How will these developments be similar to or different than changes in the wake of past disruptions such as economic recessions?

In soliciting research proposals on marketing and marketing science in the post-COVID world, MSI is particularly interested in the effects of three broad developments:

1) Supply chain changes. Social distancing and supply chain problems have disrupted conventional interactions with customers and business partners, creating the need and opportunity for virtual and other new forms of mediation. For example:

  • How will consumer and B2B customer experience with omni-channel shopping affect the balance of physical and virtual channels and sales force deployment? Will DTC, subscription services, and delivery services grow or revert to pre-pandemic usage? How will this affect shopping center locations?
  • How will the digitalization of payment methods, inventory, financial systems, and supply chain fulfillment evolve to meet the needs for flexibility and innovation?
  • How will technology (chatbots, voice-activated interfaces, IoT, AR, VR, etc.) augment or replace conventional service delivery and other customer experience?
  • Will supply chain disruptions reduce the power of brands and raise the weight of product availability in consumer preference?


2) Lifestyle changes and associated changes in consumption patterns. In some sectors, work from home trends have major implications for employment practices, business models, real estate or other financial investments, the virtualization of customer experience, and consumer lifestyle and income allocation. For example:

  • Will employees demand to have access to work from home and to decline to move for work to larger urban areas? What lifestyle changes might ensue and how will this change patterns of consumption and choices of income versus leisure or family activities?
  • Will “tele-medicine” become a model for virtualization of communications and customer experience in other sectors?
  • How can we design culture that promotes adaptability and team interaction in both physical and virtual environments?
  • What is the impact of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, particularly with respect to women’s participation in the workforce?
  • Will we observe long term declines in consumer mobility?
  • How will the focus on and allocation of physical versus digital resources change if “suburbanization” continues or accelerates?


3) Effects of politics and social change on marketing. The pandemic coincided with a time of increasing political polarization that bled into marketing activities.

  • How will calls for social justice, sustainability and other forms of corporate social responsibility affect marketing decisions and budgets?
  • How can brands avoid losing half of their customers if consumers stop buying brands that they perceive do not align with their political views?
  • How will privacy concerns and new ways of identifying and engaging audiences require rebalancing resources for creative execution, media targeting and assessment?


MSI is specifically requesting—and will give special consideration to—proposals for interdisciplinary research that address these marketing and marketing science issues.  For additional topics, please see MSI 2020-2022 Research Priorities.

Submission Process

The submission process follows MSI’s standard research grant process, beginning with a brief pre-proposal submission. The MSI Research Committee in conjunction our partners, COER and JACR, will evaluate these submissions and encourage a subset for further proposal development and potential funding.

We would also like to share JACR’s call for papers and suggest that you also consider submitting to this special issue: The Pandemic Transformed Economy. Details are posted on the JACR website

Submissions intended for both MSI’s competition and for JACR will undergo separate and independent review processes.

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