Marketing Theses and Dissertations

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    When the Future Comes: Essays on Consumer Attitude toward Artificial Products
    (2023) Chen, Qihui; Kirmani, Amna; Wang, Yajin; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation consists of two essays that investigate how consumers react to artificial products. Specifically, each essay focuses on one type of artificial product: robots and lab-grown meat, respectively. The first essay investigates the interaction effect of personal control and the potential for negative judgment on consumers’ robot preferences. Across five studies, I find that when the consumption context enables the high potential for negative judgment, consumers with low (vs. high) personal control have stronger preferences for service robots because they are less confident in leaving a positive impression on others and thereby experience stronger social anxiety. However, when the consumption context enables the low potential for negative judgment, consumers feel confident in leaving a positive impression on others, so personal control affects neither social anxiety nor robot preference. The second essay studies why consumers resist lab-grown meat and proposes a novel theory to explain it: the life-creation perception theory. Across six studies, I demonstrate that consumers have more negative attitudes toward lab-grown meat than lab-grown dairy products because they associate lab-grown meat (vs. dairy products) with artificially creating life and thereby violating the laws of nature to a greater degree. In addition, theory-based interventions are shown to increase consumer acceptance of lab-grown meat by disassociating lab-grown meat from creating life. Across these two essays, I intend to provide insights into how consumers interact with artificial products in the marketplace and how marketers can increase consumers’ adoption of these innovations accordingly.
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    (2022) Zhao, Xindi; Trusov, Michael; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Recognizing the importance of product reviews for product sales in online retail platforms, this dissertation studies the effect of electronic word-of-mouth (e-WOM) dynamics on consumer behavior, including information processing, review-reading behavior, product evaluation, purchase decision, and reviewing behavior. In the first essay, I focus on incentivized reviews, which are posted by reviewers who received economic incentives (e.g., free product) from the firm, and explore how their emergence in a reviewing system influences subsequent organic (i.e., nonincentivized) review contributions for the focal product. I find that the ratings of subsequent organic reviews decrease after the appearance of incentivized reviews and that the magnitude of this negative impact decreases over time and the ratings recover in the long run. This is because subsequent reviewers adjust their product evaluations downwards when faced with priorincentivized reviews. In the second essay, I study the effect of a prevalence phenomenon— repetition in e-WOM—on consumer behavior. I demonstrate that high repetition in e-WOM could have a negative effect on persuasion and that this negative effect could be eliminated by modifying consumers’ inferences about the cause of repetition. Furthermore, consumers’ information-seeking behaviors are also affected by the share and type of repetition. Both essays provide an understanding of the impact of e-WOM on consumers’ judgments and decisions and offer implications for firms and platforms on how to gather, manage, and display e-WOM effectively; they also provide interesting avenues for future research.
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    Essays on Digital Content Provision and Consumption
    (2022) Wang, Chutian; Zhou, Bobby; Joshi, Yogesh V; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Consumption of digital content has become an inseparable part of consumers' lives today. As providers of digital content, media platforms continuously seek to pursue pricing and product design strategies that increase their profits. This dissertation studies media platforms' digital content provision and consumers' consumption decisions. In the first essay, we focus on the pricing of digital content and analyze the impact of consumers' endogenous content consumption on platforms' paywall strategies. Paywalls increase subscription revenues for platforms, but they also impact content consumption and thus advertising revenues. We build an analytical model that endogenizes consumers' content consumption decisions. We find that under moderate ad rates, a metered paywall under which a limited amount of content is provided for free is optimal when consumers display sufficient heterogeneity in their costs of consuming content. We also study how the amount of free content and the subscription price vary with changes in the advertising rate and consumer preference. In the second essay, we analyze the accuracy of news reported by the news media. When consumers are seeking the truth and accurate reporting is costly, determining the optimal level of accuracy in reporting is a strategic decision for a profit-maximizing media firm. We build an analytical model to study this media firm decision. When consumers and the media firm are both initially uncertain about the true state of the world, we show that the media firm always chooses full accuracy if investigation and reporting are of low cost. However, if achieving accuracy is sufficiently costly, the media firm provides news only when consumers' priors regarding the truth are not too extreme, so that they see enough value in news consumption. Interestingly, consumers' truth-seeking and the firm's profit maximization can lead to reporting inaccuracy and exaggeration of the more likely state a priori. We also discuss the implications of polarization in consumers’ prior beliefs and the media firm’s different objectives on the accuracy of news.
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    (1988) Bowers Comer, Lucette; Jolson, Marvin A.; Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md)
    Because of an increasing shortage of qualified salespersonnel, recruiters for sales positions are very receptive to female applicants. Despite this, sex-discrimination is still detectable in the market place. Some sales managers resist bringing women into male-oriented areas of selling, criticizing them for alleged weaknesses. Their criticisms stem from the belief that saleswomen will behave according to gender stereotypes on the job and that this behavior will impact negatively on selling performance. Sales managers need assurance that the saleswomen they hire will perform well on the job. This research investigated the usefulness of the concept of "sex role identity" as a basis for segmenting the pool of female applicants by their potential for effective performance. A survey was conducted of sales managers in three traditionally male areas of selling, who described saleswomen under their supervision. The relationships between sales managers' perceptions of gender stereotypic behavior, selling effectiveness, and sex role identity were examined. Saleswomen' s gender stereotypic behavior was defined as perceived weaknesses in three areas: "selling ability," "human relations," and "motivation." Selling effectiveness was measured as perceived proficiency in performance of six functions of selling and non-selling activities. Saleswomen were classified into sex role types on the basis of their sales managers' perceptions of their masculine ("instrumental") and feminine ("expressive") traits in their sex role identities on the Bem Sex Role Inventory. Seven research hypotheses were tested using univariate and multivariate analysis of variance and correlational analyses. The results showed that sales managers perceived some gender stereotypic behavior in the marketplace and that some of this behavior was associated with reduced selling effectiveness. Sex role types of saleswomen related to both perceived gender stereotypic behavior and selling effectiveness. Androgynous and masculine saleswomen were perceived 'as being the least stereotyped and the most effective performers. The findings give partial support for a two-dimensional model of selling effectiveness defined by masculine "instrumentality" and feminine "expressiveness." The results have implications for the selection, training , and supervision of saleswomen.
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    (2021) Kim, Nicole You Jeung; Ratner, Rebecca K.; Wang, Yajin; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation includes three essays that investigate the impact of signals that certain consumption choices can send to other consumers. In particular, each essay focuses on how consumers’ consumption-related decisions (e.g., choice of hedonic items, selecting low variety, and communicating that one has no preference) impact an observing audience’s perceptions of the consumer and the subsequent impacts on the observer. The first essay demonstrates that consumers strive to position themselves as attractive friends by making hedonic consumption decisions. While consumers shift to hedonic consumption, anchoring on their belief that others would heavily value fun when it comes to friendship, this essay demonstrates that consumers themselves actually value other aspects of friendship more, such as meaningfulness. As a result of this discrepancy in the belief of friendship, hedonic choice does not effectively help consumers cultivate friendship with another person. The second essay investigates the signals that selecting a low (vs. high) variety of items sends to observers. Choosing low variety signals to observers that the consumer has accumulated consumption experiences in the past, and thus has greater expertise, compared to choosing high variety. This signal of expertise endows the consumer with influence to impact observers to make consumption choices that mimic the consumer and be more willing to take the consumer’s recommendations. The third essay examines the impact of expressing no preference in a joint decision making context. While consumers expect to make the decision easier for the recipient, recipients of no preference communication (vs. explicit preference communication), experience greater decision difficulty. This unexpected negative impact occurs because recipients of no preference communication perceive that the communicator actually has preferences that they are hiding. Further, because recipients infer that these hidden preferences are dissimilar to one’s own preferences, they end up making a choice for the joint consumption that they personally less prefer.
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    (2020) Huh, Jin-Hee; Godes, David; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation studies two topics regarding user-generated content (UGC) in social media context. Due to its rapid proliferation, UGC has received much attention among both practitioners and researchers. Although past studies have investigated diverse aspects of UGC and their influences on consumer decision process, few studies have examined (1) status bias in online peer-feedback on UGC with the presence of reputation system, and (2) the impact of video UGC, a relatively new type of UGC, on product purchase and usage decisions. In Essay 1, we investigate how a reputation system affects peer-evaluations in an online community. In contrast to previous research on reputation systems, which has predominantly shown that reputation systems can induce posting activity and quality contributions, we study how reputation markers (“badges,” for example) may change peer-evaluations. We rely on a unique and detailed data set and employ a difference- in-differences approach, combined with propensity score matching, that suggests that, all else equal, posters receive disproportionately-higher evaluations of their posts after they earn a reputation marker, irrespective of post quality. This suggests a “rich- get-richer” process induced by a reputation system that may have the unintended effect of favoring some participants at the expense of equally-skilled others. In Essay 2, we examine the impact of a relatively new type of user-generated content, video user-generated content (VUGC), on consumer’s purchase and product usage decision. Due to its highly visual and auditory characteristics, VUGC has been considered as an effective marketing tool. However, as VUGC can have the risk of revealing too much information about the entertainment products, firms need to limit the amount of original content in VUGC. Under these circumstances, game developers need to have an understanding on how VUGC can impact sales and usage. To examine the impact, we collected VUGC activities and game characteristics from diverse sources. Our results indicate that VUGCs can affect sales and game usage, and the impact can vary by VUGC and game product characteristics. Our findings suggest that game developers should consider both VUGC characteristics and their product characteristics jointly when developing and implementing policies on users’ VUGC uploading, sharing, and monetizing.
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    (2020) Kim, Min; Zhang, Jie; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    In this dissertation research, I study strategic merchant competitions on a retail deal platform and propose a new modeling approach for discovering consumer preference structures in online shopping environments with large and frequently changing assortments. In the first essay, I examine the impact of alternative platform policies and changes in market primitives on payoffs of players on a retail deal platform where merchants make frequent strategic decisions based on competitive considerations in a two-sided market. To this end, I construct a dynamic game model and conduct counterfactual simulations. My analyses reveal novel insights regarding the interplay between platform policies and merchants’ profits and relationships among competing merchants, and identify several mutually beneficial growth opportunities for all parties involved via policy changes. They also provide a comprehensive assessment of the net contribution of each merchant’s action to the platform eco-system, which sheds new light on how to identify and foster “star brands” in such marketplaces. In the second essay, I develop a scalable stock-keeping-unit-level modeling framework of discovering consumers’ preference structures in large and frequently changing assortments at the store/marketplace level. My proposed model identifies the underlying “topics of interest” that drive online browsing and purchase activities concerning the entire store assortment. It overcomes several limitations of standard Latent Dirichlet Allocation models for handling large assortments and enables demand forecast for products not in the existing assortments. I apply the proposed framework to investigate “topics” driving browsing and purchase activities in an online marketplace of fashion products, which reveals distinct topics driving these two types of shopping activities and their time-varying patterns of relevance. Finally, I propose a personalized product recommendation system that is based on individuals’ preference structures inferred from the model and powered by the Bayesian optimization algorithm. Hold-out comparisons show that our approach substantially outperforms benchmark recommendation algorithms commonly used in practice (such as user-, item-, and content-based collaborative filters), and it is particularly powerful in prescribing recommendations for products that do not exist in the previous assortment. This dissertation research offers a range of policy recommendations and valuable managerial insights to marketing researchers and E-commerce practitioners.
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    (2019) Wu, Yuechen; Ratner, Rebecca K; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation includes three essays that investigate factors that influence how much enjoyment consumers derive from their various daily consumption. The first essay examines whether and when shared experiences are more or less enjoyable than solo experiences. Whereas prior research has primarily focused on the social benefits of having an activity partner in leisure activities, we propose that sharing experiences requires coordination with others, which can take the consumer’s attention away from the consumption activity, potentially reducing their enjoyment of the activity compared to those who engage in the experience solo. We demonstrate that lack of clarity about a partner’s level of interests in the activity can make it difficult for consumers to coordinate and focus on a shared activity, and ultimately enjoy the experience, relative to solo experiences or shared experiences for which clarity is high. The second essay speaks to consumers’ inhibition that prevents them from deriving happiness from rewarding solitary leisure experiences. Prior research shows that consumers are inhibited from engaging in public leisure activities alone because of negative evaluations on social connectedness they anticipate from others. This essay examines how people actually evaluate consumers who engage in these activities solo versus accompanied. We demonstrate that though observers indeed perceive solo (vs. accompanied) consumers to be less socially connected, observers also make more positive inferences for solo consumers on the trait of openness, and overall view solo consumers as favorably as accompanied consumers. The third essay examines the effect of ownership status (i.e., whether a consumer owns the product or not) on consumers’ adaptation to a product. We demonstrate that consuming a product for which consumers do not have ownership (vs. have ownership) prolongs happiness derived from the product. We propose that when consumers do not have ownership of a product, they experience an elevated arousal, which could help to slow down the otherwise natural process of hedonic adaptation.
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    (2019) Ukanwa Zeiger, Kalinda Ukanwa; Godes, David; Rust, Roland T.; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation is an examination of the impact of dynamic consumer reputation effects on firm decision-making in the marketplace. Essay I is a study of the impact of firm interventions on competitive reputation building among consumers on an online platform. Specifically, I model an actor’s decision to upload pirated content in order to build his reputation, despite facing threats from copyright lawsuits (firm interventions seeking to deter uploading activity) and intense competition on the platform. We propose a novel theory that explains what could occur in this scenario: high-reputation consumers will decrease their reputation-building activity, but their low-reputation competition may see an opportunity to enhance their reputation and increase activity. We argue that because competition for reputation is active on the site, the lawsuits may deter uploading in the short-run but may actually lead to more piracy over the long-run. Our findings support the theory: while high-reputation publishers decrease the likelihood of uploading as lawsuits increase, low-reputation uploaders do the opposite: they upload more. Essay II is an examination of the impact that a consumer group's reputation can have on firm decision-making. Specifically, we investigate 1) conditions under which a non-prejudiced firm may discriminate in service against its consumers based on group reputation, and 2) how subsequent consumer word-of-mouth can impact demand and profits over time. This mixed-methods study shows that discrimination can be profitable in the short-run but can backfire in the long-run due to the effects of consumer word-of-mouth and firm competition. Results indicate that high consumer heterogeneity in quality (i.e., their profitability to the firm) and low measurement error in detecting consumer quality attenuate the magnitude of service discrimination. The authors provide managerial recommendations on reducing service discrimination's profit-damaging effects. This research emphasizes the long-term benefits of switching to a service policy that does not use group reputation information. This dissertation contributes to the general marketing literature by providing new insights into how the reputation of the consumer, a sparsely researched area, can have direct impact on the firm in its decision-making.
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    Marketing in Mobile, Omni-Channel and Multi-Format Contexts
    (2019) Gu, Xian; Kannan, P. K.; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation studies the marketing issues in mobile, omni-channel and multiformat contexts. In the first essay, while conventional wisdom indicates that apps have a positive impact on customer spending, I critically examine this premise by estimating the impact of app adoption on customers’ omni-channel spending in the context of a hotel chain and identifying the factors contributing to such impact. Exploiting the variation in customers’ timing of app adoption and difference-in-differences approach, I find that app adoption has a significant negative impact on total customer spending. This negative effect is robust to controlling for customer self-selection bias, measuring effects across alternative time frames, customer spending patterns and app usage behaviors, using different measures of purchase and alternative model specifications, and using different random samples. A survey of app adopters reveals that customers who adopt the focal app are also most likely to adopt competitors’ apps, and therefore are likely to search more and shop around, leading to decreased share of wallet with the firm. My analysis also reveals that the negative impact on spending is lower for those customers who use the apps for mobile check-in than those who use the apps for just searching. So by encouraging customers to engage with the full functionality of the app, firms can possibly mitigate the negative impact. In the second essay, I further develop an integrated dynamic structural model to investigate consumers’ decision to adopt the mobile app, and its subsequent impacts on their decisions to purchase using alternative shopping channels. The policy simulations show that consumers are less likely to make reservations with the focal firm if the firm had not introduced their apps. Finally, in the third essay, I investigate the strategy of extending the product line by providing an additional premium version as a means to spur demand for the existing premium version. I highlight how extending the results of the standard product line model is insufficient in such cases due to the conceptual nuances that the presence of the free version introduces in a freemium context. I conduct a randomized field experiment with an online content provider, the National Academies Press, which offers book titles in a PDF version for free and sells the paperback version for a premium. Overall, I show that paperback titles accompanied by an additional premium version, either an ebook or a hardcover format, have higher sales than those in the control condition. The positive impact on paperback sales is stronger for titles that are more popular or lower in price, and the effect of introducing the ebook version is higher when the ebook price is closer to the paperback price. By analyzing customer choices at the individual level, I identify the existence of the compromise effect and the attraction effect in the extended product line setting, a significant contribution not only in the freemium context but also to the product line literature.
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    Antecedents of Dishonest Consumer Behavior
    (2019) Kang, In Hye; Kirmani, Amna; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Consumers engage in a wide range of dishonest behaviors, such as cheating or lying to companies for financial rewards. These dishonest behaviors are costly for companies and consumers. However, relatively little research in marketing has paid attention to consumer dishonesty. In this dissertation, we enhance the understanding of dishonest consumer behavior by examining a few prominent antecedents: a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and construal level. The first essay examines how a company’s CSR initiatives impacts consumers’ dishonest behavior toward the company. Companies are proclaiming their values by taking stands on controversial issues in their CSR. We examine a novel way with which consumers respond to a company’s polarizing CSR: dishonest behavior toward the company. We demonstrate that when the CSR cause is congruent with the consumer’s self-concept, CSR (vs. no-CSR) decreases dishonest behavior by increasing anticipatory self-threat (i.e., if I cheat the company, I will feel like I am a bad person). In contrast, when the CSR cause is incongruent, CSR (vs. no-CSR) increases dishonest behavior by decreasing anticipatory self-threat. We demonstrate an asymmetric effect such that the effect of incongruent CSR is larger than the effect of congruent CSR. Building on the anticipatory self-threat mechanism, we identify a boundary condition in which the backfiring effect of incongruent CSR is attenuated: situational salience of moral identity. The second essay investigates how construal level—the extent to which people’s thinking about a situation is abstract or concrete—influences dishonest consumer behavior. We show that the effect of construal level on dishonest behavior is moderated by the importance of moral values. We find that compared to concrete construal, abstract construal reduces dishonest behavior when the importance of moral values is high but not when the importance of moral values is low. Importance of moral values is measured as individual differences and situationally primed. These essays provide valuable insights into consumer dishonesty by demonstrating that different types of factors (characteristics of a company such as CSR and contextual factors such as construal level) influence dishonest consumer behavior. Moreover, these essays provide practical implications for companies seeking to reduce dishonest consumer behaviors.
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    Aspects of Online Reviews and their Effects on Consumer Decisions
    (2018) Watson, Jared Joseph; Kirmani, Amna; Pocheptsova Ghosh, Anastasiya; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation examines different aspects of online reviews and their effects in consumer decisions. Online reviews are proliferating at a tremendous rate, with most consumers now stating that online reviews are the most important product attribute in online purchase decisions (BrightLocal 2017). As such, it is important to understand how various aspects of reviews affect consumers’ decisions, and outline the conditions by which some of these attributes may have conditional influences. To that end, we begin this dissertation by first investigating two numerical attributes of online reviews, average product ratings and review volumes. Furthermore, because online reviews are becoming such an influential tool, firms have begun to attempt exploiting consumers via fake reviews (Mayzlin, Dover, and Chevalier 2014; Luca and Zervas 2016). Thus, the second essay in this dissertation investigates how consumers respond when a website discloses that they have caught fake reviews being written for a specific brand. In Essay I, we investigate how average product ratings and review volumes influence consumers’ decisions when faced with a choice set in which there is no dominant option (i.e., when one option has a higher rating, but fewer reviews relative to another option). We argue that the diagnosticity (i.e., influence) of both average product ratings and review volumes are conditionally influenced by the other attribute, and as such, the choice between the higher-rated, fewer reviews option and lower-rated, more reviews option is dependent on the specific values of each attribute. While prior research has demonstrated the relative influence of both attributes, the findings are still debated (Floyd et al. 2014; You, Vadakkepatt, and Joshi 2015). By investigating the conditional effects of these attributes on choice, we help to rectify the divergent findings. We argue that average product ratings are inherently more diagnostic than review volumes due to the bound versus unbound nature of their scales, respectively. Whereas average product ratings have stable scale boundaries (e.g., one to five stars), review volumes do not (e.g., zero to infinity). As such, review volumes are more susceptible to relative comparisons made within the choice set. We demonstrate how the relative diagnosticity of these attributes are a function of the review volumes contained within the choice set, and how this ultimately governs choice. We conclude Essay I with the theoretical implications as well as a series of simulations demonstrating the practical implications for managers. In Essay II, we demonstrate the consequence of websites informing consumers that they have identified fake reviews for brands featured on their website. While a growing body of literature has investigated the characteristics of fake reviews (Mukherjee et al. 2013; Ott et al. 2013), as well as the firms which are likely to solicit them (Mayzlin, Dover, and Chevalier 2014; Luca and Zervas 2016), to the best of our knowledge, this is the first investigation into the effect of disclosing this information to consumers. While fake review alerts inform consumers that websites are monitoring the reviews for fraudulent information, we argue that the alerts also activate consumers’ persuasion knowledge (Friestad and Wright 1994), leading to attempts to correct for perceived biased information, as well as justice against the brand when it is the source of the fake reviews. We demonstrate that fake reviews lead consumers to not only attempt correction in their perception of the brand, but also in the information that they acquire (i.e., the reviews they read). Furthermore, we show that reducing consumers’ perceptions of inaccurate information attenuates their corrections. As such, this research holds relevance for website managers which provide reviews for their consumers. In both essays, we demonstrate the consequences of review information in consumers’ judgments and decisions. We argue that managers must carefully consider what information to provide consumers, and how to present it, in order to avoid biasing their consumers’ decisions.
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    (2017) Lee, Seoungwoo; Zhang, Jie; Wedel, Michel; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The mobile applications (apps) market has been growing steadily, propelled by rapid technological developments and consumer adoption of smartphones and tablet personal computers. In this dissertation research, I study app publishers’ strategic monetization and upgrading decisions. The first essay studies app publishers’ dynamic forward-looking decisions on offering different versions of an app: free, paid, or both (i.e., freemium), and investigates alternative commission schemes which could benefit both app publishers and an app platform. My findings lead to recommendations on how one may improve the current commission structure to achieve mutual benefits for both the platform and app publishers. The second essay examines strategic upgrading decisions of mobile apps by taking into consideration of their interconnections with versioning decisions and between the free and paid versions of an app. Our joint model of versioning and upgrading decisions provides estimates of various revenues and costs associated with the two decisions, and our policy simulations based on the model estimates examine the soundness of certain current practices and identifies opportunities to improve app publishers’ profits, the app distribution platform’ revenue, and the eco-system payoff. This dissertation research provides a range of policy recommendations to key players in the mobile app industry.
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    (2016) Kim, Tom Joonhwan; Srivastava, Joydeep; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation consists of two essays which investigate how assuming the role of a seller or a buyer affects valuations in a price elicitation task (essay I) and how different presentations of an equivalent price affect evaluations when a consumer plays the dual roles of a buyer and a seller in transactions involving trade-ins (essay II). Sellers’ willingness to accept (WTA) to give up a good is typically higher than buyers' willingness to pay (WTP) to obtain the good. Essay I proposes that valuation processes of sellers and buyers are guided by a motivational orientation of “getting the best.” For a seller (buyer) indicating WTA (WTP), getting the best implies receiving as much as possible to give up a specific good (giving up as little as possible to get the specific good). Results of six studies suggest that the WTA-WTP elicitation task activates different directional goals, leading to the WTA-WTP disparity. The different directional goals lead sellers and buyers to focus on different aspects and bias their cognitive reasoning and interpretation of information. By connecting the valuation process to the general motivation of getting the best, this research provides a unifying framework to explain the disparate interpretations of the WTA-WTP disparity. Many new purchases and replacement decisions involve consumers’ trading in their old products. In such transactions, the overall exchange may be priced either as separate transactions (partitioned) with price tags for the payment and the receipt or as a single net price (consolidated) which takes into account the value of the trade-in. Essay II examines whether consumers prefer a partitioned price versus a consolidated price presentation. The findings suggest that when consumers are trading in a product which has a low value relative to the price of a new product, they prefer a consolidated price. In contrast, when trading in a product which has high value, they prefer a partitioned price. The results suggest that consumers use the price of the new product as an anchor to evaluate the trade-in value, and the perception of the trade-in value influences the overall evaluation especially when the transaction is partitioned.
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    A Multi-Method Examination of Partitioned Pricing
    (2015) Abraham, Ajay Thomas; Hamilton, Rebecca W; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation investigates the relationship between partitioned pricing (Morwitz, Greenleaf, and Johnson 1998) and dependent variables such as demand, preference, and attention. The first essay proposes a theoretical framework to examine extant and new moderators of partitioned pricing, classifying moderators based on the source of their impact as presentational, evaluative, or attentional. A meta-analysis of 17 years of research on partitioned pricing examines 149 observations from 43 studies in 27 papers (N = 12,878). The perceived benefit of the surcharge and the typicality of partitioning the surcharge in the category emerge as robust moderators of the effect of partitioned pricing on consumer demand. Surcharges for components perceived to provide high benefit and highly typical surcharges make partitioned prices more attractive. Replicating the meta-analytic effects of typicality, a follow-up experiment shows a more positive effect of partitioning on preference for typical surcharges than for atypical surcharges, and an eye-tracking experiment offers insight into the underlying mechanism by showing that people pay more attention to atypical surcharges than to typical surcharges. Different pricing strategies in the same market suggest different beliefs about the efficacy of partitioning prices on consumers' preferences. The second essay in this dissertation explores the impact of two countervailing theoretical influences that may predict how the numerical magnitude of surcharges can affect preferences. "Base price anchoring" suggests that as the magnitude of the surcharge increases (holding the total price constant), consumers may anchor on a lower base price, leading them to evaluate partitioned prices more favorably. In contrast, "surcharge salience" suggests that as the magnitude of the surcharge increases, attention to the surcharge increases, and evaluations of partitioned prices decrease. An analysis of eBay auction data reveals support for the influence of base price anchoring, and a follow-up experiment suggests that this mechanism dominates at lower levels of surcharge magnitude whereas surcharge salience dominates at higher levels of surcharge magnitude. Finally, an eye-tracking study demonstrates the influence of surcharge salience on preference and attention.
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    Essays in Strategic Marketing
    (2015) Healey, John; Godes, David; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Essay 1 focuses on purchasing behavior in the video game market, which can be conceptualized as a two-stage process where users first purchase a console and then purchase content for that console. Prior research on platform-mediated markets, which are defined by this interdependence in platform and content sales, has highlighted the relationship between installed base size (i.e. the total number of console adopters) and content sales. We extend this research by examining how two characteristics of installed bases, unrelated to size, affect content sales. First, we investigate the effect of installed base innovativeness, defined as the proportion of total adopters from early in the platform product's lifecycle, on content sales. Next, we evaluate the effect of installed base recency, defined as the proportion of total adopters that recently adopted the platform product. We find that more innovative or recently adopted installed bases purchase more content on a per user basis. These results suggest that content sales depend on more than just installed base size, providing an opportunity to increase content sales through the identification of installed bases high in either innovativeness or recency. In Essay 2, we examine how media exposures from sponsorship can impact a firm's financial performance. The extant literature has typically used aggregate expenditures as a proxy to study the financial effect of paid marketing communications. However, prior research has demonstrated that expenditures might not be an appropriate proxy for the overall effect of these marketing communications. We, therefore, study how exposures impact firm financial performance independently of firm expenditures used to obtain those exposures. Using a unique context (stadium naming rights agreements), in which the firm receives a random number of exposures, and leveraging the temporal nature of paid promotion in this context, we separately identify the effects of exposures from expenditures. In three analyses, we find that exposures increase firm stock returns and lower firm systematic risk, while promotional expenditures decrease firm stock returns and raise firm systematic risk. These results begin to bridge the gap in how promotional communications are measured between the marketing/finance interface literature and the broader literature on marketing effectiveness.
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    (2014) Johnson, Heather Macrea; Kirmani, Amna; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation includes two essays that examine how self-brand connection influences brand-related behaviors in different contexts. Essay I investigates conditions under which brand primes can lead to decreased behavioral intentions toward the brand not shown in prior brand priming research (Berger and Fitzsimons 2008; Ferraro, Bettman, and Chartrand 2009). We identify the type of association primed (core vs. non-core) as an important factor in determining whether positive or negative brand priming effects will occur for consumers with low vs. high self-brand connection (SBC; Escalas and Bettman 2003). Studies 1 and 2 find support for the notion that high (vs. low) SBC consumers' brand associative networks have stronger links between core associations and brand and overlap between the self and core associations. Studies 3 and 4 show that when SBC is low, priming core and non-core associations leads to increased behavioral intentions found in prior work (Berger and Fitzsimons 2008). When SBC is high, however, priming a non-core association decreases behavioral intentions, while priming a core association does not affect behavioral intentions. Thus, contrary to prior research (Park et al. 2010), we show that higher SBC may result in lower behavioral intentions under certain conditions. Essay II explores the conditions under which brief brand co-creation activities are effective in enhancing high (vs. low) SBC consumers' subsequent brand engagement in social media, such as liking the brand on Facebook and sharing brand promotions with others. Many brand marketers offer interactive activities that enable consumers to participate in the ongoing development of the brand, such as telling their own stories about the brand or evaluating other consumers' stories. We offer evidence that these co-creation activities vary according to their potential to create brand knowledge. We then examine how consumers' self-brand connection and the co-creation activity's brand knowledge potential interact to affect brand engagement. Across three studies, we demonstrate that high SBC (i.e., loyal) consumers intend to engage more deeply with the brand after participating in high rather than low brand knowledge potential co-creation activities. We show that generation of original, personal brand meaning underlies the effect.
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    (2014) Li, Hongshuang; Kannan, P.K.; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation contains one conceptual framework and two essays on the attribution modeling and marketing resource allocation in digital marketing. Chapter II presents the conceptual framework for attribution modeling and hypotheses related to the carryover effects and spillover effects of the information collected during the customer's prior visits through different marketing channels to a firm's website on subsequent visits and purchases. In Chapter III, I propose a method to measure the incremental value of individual marketing channels in an online multi-channel environment. The method includes a three-level measurement model of customers' consideration of online channels, their visits through these channels and subsequent purchase at the firm's website. Based on the analysis of customers' visits and purchases at a hospitality firm's website, I find significant carryover and spillover effects across different marketing channels. According to the estimation results, the relative contributions of each channel are significantly different as compared to the estimates from the widely-used "last-click" metric. A field study was conducted where the firm turned off paid search for a week to validate the ability of the proposed approach in estimating the incremental impact of a channel on conversions. This method can also be applied in targeting customers with different patterns of touches and identifying cases where e-mail retargeting may actually decrease conversion probabilities. Chapter IV analyzes the impact of attribution metric on the overall effectiveness of keyword investments in search campaigns. Different attribution metrics assign different conversion credits to search keywords clicked through the consumers' purchase journey, and the attribution-based credits affect the advertiser's future bidding and budget allocation for keywords, and in turn affect the overall return-on-investment (ROI) of future search campaigns. Using a six-month panel data of 476 keywords from an online jewelry retailer, I empirically model the relationship among the advertiser's bidding decision, the search engine's ranking decision, and the click-through rate and conversion rate, and analyze the impact of the attribution metric on the overall ROI of search campaigns. The focal advertiser changed the attribution metric from last-click to first-click half-way through the data window. This allows me to estimate the impact of the two attribution metrics on budget allocation, which in turn influences the realized ROI under different attribution regimes. Given the mix of the keywords bid by the advertiser, the results show that first-click leads to lower overall revenues and this impact is stronger for the more specific keywords. The policy simulation shows that the advertiser would be able to improve their overall revenue by more than 5% by appropriately changing the attribution metric for individual keywords to account for their actual contribution.
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    Online Social Influence
    (2014) Zhang, Yuchi; Moe, Wendy W; Godes, David; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation studies the behaviors of consumers in an online, social context. In the first essay, we jointly model the drivers of social media rebroadcasting behavior. Our goal in this research is to propose a framework and model of social media rebroadcasting behavior that integrates the various factors shown to influence rebroadcasting behavior. These include the role of message content and influence, factors that have been studied separately with very little integration. The results from our proposed model show that not only does rebroadcasting activity vary with the content of the original message but also that individuals are more likely to rebroadcast content that closely fits with their own interests. In the second essay, we ask whether online opinions impact consumers' decision quality and assess whether this impact occurs immediately or requires one to undergo learning first. We focus on a setting where consumers have multiple learning episodes based on their experiences with opinions from both uni- and bi-directional ties (i.e. weak and strong ties). We find that the dynamic effects are dependent on the strength of the tie. Additional strong ties (operationalized as bi-directional links) lead to immediate positive effects on decision quality. In contrast, additional weak ties (uni-directional, follower relationships) as a source of information lead initially to lower decision quality. However, highly-experienced consumers receive, ultimately, higher positive effects on decision quality from weak ties as compared with strong ties. Finally, in the third essay, we propose a new framework and model for identifying dimension specific influentials. We explicitly model individuals' preferences by estimating their locations on a market map to disentangle purchase behavior due to homophily from that due to influence. Our results show that it is important to estimate dimension specific influence, based on a comparison of model fit with a baseline model that measures influence along one dimension. We also show that individuals have varying levels of influence across dimensions, and an influencer for one dimension is not always influential on all dimensions.
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    Observer Interpretation of Signaling in Consumer Decision Making
    (2013) Matherly, James Edward; Kirmani, Amna; Rust, Roland T; Business and Management: Marketing; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation includes two essays exploring the effects of observers' interpretation of signaling behavior by others on the inferences and decision making of the observers. The first essay investigates how observers make inferences about other people's brand attachment. We propose that observers use the proximity of branded objects to the physical being of the user and the costs incurred to acquire the object to determine the degree of self-extension of the object - that is, to what extent it represents a part of the person's self-concept. Through two studies, we show that to the extent that an object is seen as self-extensive, the user would be inferred to be engaging in self-expression, attempting to convey aspects of their personality to others by using the object. These beliefs about self-expression then lead observers to infer that the individual is attached to the brand. In the second essay, we consider how a brand's advertising appeals should be affected by its market position. Building on an experimental study, we present a duopoly model of brand advertising copy decisions, where consumer motives are influenced by Quality-based and Image-based advertising appeals. We show that each brand's decision to select one type of advertising appeal over the other is a function of its market position. We find that larger brands will use Quality-based appeals while smaller brand will use Image-based appeals. We empirically test these findings by examining advertising decisions for major brands found in a popular newsmagazine. Consistent with the model, we find that larger market share brands use Quality-based advertising appeals to a greater extent, while smaller brands use more Image-based appeals. Further, we find that brands that deviate from the predictions of the model are less profitable. Our results suggest that marketing managers should consider their position in the market when crafting advertising appeals, with larger brands emphasizing product quality in their appeals and smaller brands emphasizing the fit of their products with consumers' self-image.