Department of Marketing & Entrepreneurship

Time: Friday 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Location: 365B Melcher Hall
Open to Public: No reservation or registration required.

Note: Topics and Abstracts will be added to this page throughout the semester

Date Speaker Topic Faculty Host
4/26/2019 Hari Sridhar
Texas A&M
UH Hilton

    The 36th UH Marketing Doctoral Symposium
UH Hilton
Fred Feinberg
U of Michigan
    The 36th UH Marketing Doctoral Symposium
    Keynote Speaker: Fred Feinberg
4/5/2019 Claudia Townsend
U of Miami
    The Ugly Luxury Premium: When Distinctiveness Pays Off
  • Click to read Abstract

    Consumers choose attractive goods. However, this research identifies the “ugly luxury premium”. Three lab studies and two analyses of Amazon data show that, while consumers avoid ugly non-luxury products, among luxury, consumers view distinctively ugly products as more luxurious and fashion-forward, and choose them as often as beautiful ones.

Shijie Lu
3/22/2019 Alina Sorescu
Texas A&M
  • Click to read Abstract

    Research has found that employees will accept lower pay at companies with strong brands, with the associated compensation savings touted as a bottom-line benefit to the firm. We show that this represents a false economy. Using data from multiple secondary sources, we find that brand-derived compensation savings actually decrease profits due to lower pay’s offsetting negative effects on employee productivity and retention. Importantly, we find this relationship to be nuanced. Different dimensions of brand knowledge have opposite effects on pay, employee behaviors, and profits. Brands high in esteem, familiarity, and relevance are associated with lower pay, productivity, retention, and profits, while brands high in energized differentiation are associated with higher pay, productivity, retention, and profits. Tests to resolve endogeneity concerns and an online experiment support our theory.

Sam Hui
3/8/2019 Shubhranshu Singh
Johns Hopkins
    Conspicuous by Its Absence: Diagnostic Expert Testing under Uncertainty
  • Click to read Abstract

    We study the problem a diagnostic expert (e.g., a physician) faces when offering a diagnosis to a client (e.g., a patient) that may be based only on her own diagnostic ability or supplemented by a diagnostic test revealing the client’s true condition. The expert’s diagnostic ability (or type) is her private information. The expert is impurely altruistic in that she cares about both the client’s utility and her own reputational payoff that depends on the peer perception about her diagnostic ability. The decision of whether to perform the test, which is costly for the client, provides the expert with an opportunity to influence that perception. We show a unique separating equilibrium exists in which the high-type expert does not resort to diagnostic testing and offers a diagnosis based only on her own diagnostic ability, whereas the low-type expert performs the test. Furthermore, we establish that the high-type expert may skip necessary diagnostic tests to separate her from the low-type expert. Interestingly, the effect of reputational payoff on under-testing is non-monotonic, and the desire to appear of high type leads to under-testing only when the reputational payoff is intermediate. Our results also suggest a more altruistic expert may be more likely to engage in under-testing. Furthermore, efforts to encourage testing by providing financial incentives or by raising malpractice-lawsuit concerns may, surprisingly, help fuel under-testing in the equilibrium.

Seshadri Tirunillai
2/1/2019 Raghuram Iyengar
    The Impact of Subscription Programs on Customer Purchases
  • Click to read Abstract

    Subscription programs are increasingly popular among a wide variety of retailers including Amazon (Prime), Barnes & Noble (B&N Membership), and Sephora (Flash). These types of programs give members access to a set of exclusive benefits for a fixed fee upfront. In this paper, we document the causal effect of customers’ adoption of a subscription program on their subsequent purchases. Using a unique data set of a subscription program launched by a firm in the fast-moving consumer goods industry, we find subscription leads to a very large increase in customer purchases, with significant variation across customers. The effect is economically significant and persistent. Members are more engaged with the company as they purchase more frequently and a greater variety of products. We provide evidence that customers experience a sunk cost fallacy and switch their purchases away from competitors to the focal company in product categories with lower switching costs. We discuss the implications for subscription businesses and customer retention.

Sam Hui
11/9/2018 Hongshuang (Alice) Li
Ohio State
    Uncovering the Path to Purchase using Topic Models
  • Click to read Abstract

    In gathering information for an intended purchase decision, consumers submit search phrases to online search engines. These search phrases directly express the consumers’ needs in their own words and thus provide valuable information to marketing managers. Interpreting consumers’ search phrases renders a better understanding of consumers’ purchase intentions, which is critical for marketing success. In this paper, we develop a model to connect the latent topics embedded in consumers’ search phrases to their website visits and purchase decisions. Our model captures the dynamics and heterogeneity in the latent topics searched by consumers along the path to purchase. Additionally, we apply topic models, which have been traditionally used to analyze long text documents, to short search phrases. Using a unique dataset provided by a hospitality firm and containing more than 8,000 search phrases submitted by the consumers, our model identifies five latent topics: “loyalty”, “convenience”, “luxury”, “economy”, and “location”, underlying the searches that led consumers to the firm’s website. Compared to a model with existing semantic heuristics such as the Latent Dirichlet Allocation or a model without any usage of the textual information in consumers’ search phrases, our model provides a better evaluation of a consumer’s position on the path to purchase and achieves much better predictive accuracy based on five-fold cross validations. We also extend our discussion on the aggregator websites and segments of consumers who respond to the firm’s ads. Marketing managers can use our method to extract structured information from consumers’ search phrases and better design offerings and promotions to target the right consumers.

Seshadri Tirunillai
10/26/2018 Wesley Hartmann
    Identification of Advertising Effects
  • Click to read Abstract

    Recently developed quasi-experimental approaches for estimating advertising effects exploit the fact that advertising decisions are made at a more aggregate level than which we measure response. In the identification of Super Bowl advertising effects, local sales are influenced by exogenous local variation in viewership of national ads. In border strategies, local markets on opposite sides of the DMA border face different advertising levels because of the advertising incentives elsewhere in their own DMAs. We develop a model of advertising allocation and conversion that unifies these strategies based on a simple layering structure. Building on Waldfogel (2003), we use this structure to motivate a cross-market instrumental variable estimator in which demand side observables from the entire DMA are used as instruments for the advertising level, conditional on observing those same demand side variables in the local sub-DMA region. The source of variation is similar to the border strategy, but the instrumental variable approach allows all markets to enter the analysis, thereby improving statistical power and avoiding concerns about local effects. It also relaxes the unconfoundedness restrictions that are common to quasi-experimental approaches yet inconsistent with the optimizing behavior firms should engage in. We illustrate these advantages and compare estimators in and empirical application.

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Department of Marketing & Entrepreneurship
University of Houston
334 Melcher Hall
Houston, Texas 77204-6021
Phone: 713-743-4555
Fax: 713-743-4572