Marketingseminar (Masterthesis) (MKT 720)

 

General Information

The seminar thesis is prerequisite for writing a diploma/master thesis at our chair. It primarily addresses master students but is also open to students in Business Informatics, in Mathematics as well as in Economics. Master students explore a topic by reviewing literature to a specific research question in the field of marketing. Each student will prepare an individual seminar paper (approx. 22-25 pages) on an allocated topic. Master students should also check the "Modulkatalog" for the following requirements:

  • Enrollment in fall 2009: Modules MKT 520 and MKT 530/531
  • Enrollment in fall 2010/2011: Modules MKT 510, MKT 520, and MKT 530/531
  • Enrollment in fall 2012: Modules MKT 510, MKT 520, and MKT 531/MKT 532 (MKT 614)/MKT 540/MKT 560
  • Enrollment in fall 2013 - 2017: Modules MKT 510, MKT 520, and MKT 531/MKT 540/MKT 545/MKT 560 (not valid MKT 550 and IS/MKT 500) (parallel attendance possible)

Range of application: M.Sc. Bus. Adm., M.Sc. WiPäd, MaKuWi (MaKuWi: in order to write the master thesis in Marketing, the "Prüfungsausschuss" has to approve this matter.)


ECTS-Credits: 6 (Hours/Week: 2)

 

Timetable

  • Announcement of topics: Beginning of August 2017 (homepage);
  • Application period: August 21 to September 1, 2017;
  • Announcement of participants via e-mail: September 6, 2017;
  • Kick-off meeting (allocation of topics and introduction to academic work): September 12. 2017 at 4:30pm; participants are required to participate in this meeting;
  • Handover date of seminar papers: Week of November 6, 2017;
  • Presentation of seminar topics: tba; participants are required to participate in this meeting.

 

Application
In order to apply please hand in the following as one (!) pdf-document to Dr. Sabrina Haas (sabrina.haas(at)bwl.uni-mannheim.de):

  1. List of 3 seminar topics in order of preference (in english)
  2. CV (in english)
  3. Current grades (master/diploma studies)

Please do not apply at the other marketing chairs in parallel; the four marketing chairs will compare their lists. Seminar participants at our chair (MKT 720) will be informed via e-mail on September 6, 2017.

Procedure

  • Starting point of the seminar will be the kick-off meeting. We will give you a short introduction into academic writing and will present the allocation of topics. All participants are required to participate in this meeting. Afterwards we expect you to contact your advisor to receive a starter package of literature as well as to coordinate your individual timeline.
  • You write your seminar paper as an individual assessment.
  • The presentation of the seminar papers will take place in a block course. Every participant has approx. 15 minutes to present his/her seminar paper. Subsequently, there will be a discussion of 10 minutes for each presentation.

 


 

List of Topics

 

Digital Business, Pricing and Product Strategies

Nowadays, the application of digital technologies in order to achieve marketing objectives is more relevant than ever. Big data allows to improve customer knowledge tremendously, which, at best, culminates in the profitable acquisition and retention of customers. Nevertheless, classical marketing approaches cannot be transferred directly, but have to be adapted to the characteristics of the digital market, e.g. especially when it comes to pricing or product management. Therefore, rethinking marketing in the era of unlimited data is of utmost importance. If you are interested in developing strategies for the marketing manager of tomorrow, have a look at the following topics:

  • Topic 1: The Supply of News – Analyzing an Editor’s Choice. Editors of news websites get a constant supply of publishable content from journalists, news agencies etc. and eventually have to decide on when and how to publish it. However, as editors cannot control the supply of news content on a daily basis, this supply can be seen as an external event or shock. Terrorist attacks are an example for such unanticipated events. This seminar paper aims at analyzing news coverage of unexpected events and, eventually, at proposing a way for how to formalize the supply of news as an external shock to the news website.
  • Topic 2: The Freemium Business Model – Recent Research Insights. Due to fluctuations in revenue, more and more companies opt for more traditional revenue models for digital goods and introduce paid content. One prominent model that is implemented in various industries is the freemium business model, where consumers can use pre-specified content for free, but have to pay a fee in order to get access to the premium content. The freemium model increasingly has gained attention from marketing researchers and practioners alike over the past few years. The aim of this seminar thesis is to provide an extensive overview of recent literature on the freemium business model.
  • Topic 3: How does Online News Coverage Influence a News Website’s Customer Base?
    News websites are no longer relying on advertising revenues only and, therefore, offer paid content a consumer can access via a subscription fee. The question that remains is whether editors of news websites have an incentive to cover messages that are favored by the customer base in order to secure or increase customer revenues. The purpose of this seminar thesis is to analyze the literature on news coverage, and, eventually, to propose a way on how to formalize the relationship between the supply of news and news consumption.
  • Topic 4: Personalized Content. More and more media platforms as well as firms personalize the content and messages towards charactersitics and needs of customers. How to develop tailored content using individual insights and automated campaign management? What content needs to be personalized and what doesn’t?
  • Topic 5: Personalization from a Firm’s Perspective. A wide variety of firms tailor their services or products to consumers’ characteristics and preferences in order to improve customer satisfaction and experience. Personalization, sometimes also known as customization, can help to grow the returns on branding and advertising and to boost sales. Consequently, personalization efforts are pervasive both in the online and offline world. The objective of the present seminar thesis is to provide an overview of the contexts or markets, in which personalization is and can be applied.
  • Topic 6: Personalization from a Customer’s Perspective. Personalization (or customization) is generally believed to help firms build stronger, longer-lasting customer relationships. At first glance, personalization seems to benefit consumers in that services or products are tailored specifically to target their needs and preferences. But in some contexts, like for example social media and recommendation systems, personalization can potentially also be disadvantageous for customers. This seminar thesis is aimed at analyzing how and when personalization increases versus decreases consumer utility.

 

Digital Communications Strategies

In this day and age, companies face decreasing advertising effectiveness. On the other hand, social media have become ubiquitous in everyday life. Therefore, companies try to increase their brand awareness by exploiting the vast potential that social media offer. If you are curious about how marketers capitalize on social media most effectively, you should consider the below topics:

  • Topic 7: Viral Marketing and Social Media Strategies: How to Seed and Target Meessages. How can managers measure the success of seeding campaigns?
  • Topic 8: Omni-Screen and Omni-Channel. How does the inceasing number of screens and channels change decision making and behavior? In partucular, what is the impact of mobile on: search, networks, choice, behavior, the overall journey/path to purchase?
  • Topic 9: Big Data and Customers' Journey in B2C. Identifying the critical paths to purchase in B2C environments using causal models.
  • Topic 10: Big Data and Customers' Journey in B2B. Identifying the critical paths to purchase in B2B environments using causal models.
  • Topic 11: Employer Branding in the Digital Age. Is the increased transparency (Glassdoor.com, Kununu.com etc.) thanks to the Internet a blessing or a curse for companies? Discuss critically with the help of up-to-date scientific research.

 

New Data, New Methods

The ongoing change in firm's marketing can best be seen in the plethora of new types of data and new analytic approaches to gain insights. If you are interested in developing an understanding of new approaches that enable firms to gain insights from Big Data and multiple methodological approaches, and to bring together disparate methods to drive action, you should choose and focus on the following topics:

  • Topic 12: Field Experiments. Large scale field experiments and A/B Tests are experiments carried out outside of a laboratory in a setting that is not created by the researcher. The seminar paper aims to give a review of the existing literature describing this method and its application in Marketing and digital settings.
  • Topic 13: Conjoint Analysis. Conjoint Analysis is an empirical method aimed at understanding how people value different attributes that make up a product or service. The seminar paper aims to give a review of the existing literature describing this tool and its different specifications.
  • Topic 14: The Use of Artificial Intelligence for Creating Customer Experience. Technology continues to radically and rapidly change the nature of service, customers’ service experiences, and customers’ relationships with service providers.  How is and how can artificial intelligence change these experiences.
  • Topic 15: Images and Videos: Which Insights can Mareketers' Reveal with Data Mining? Images and videos contain many hidden information about consumers' preferences, needs and behavior. How far can data mining reveal this hidden information and help marketers to better characterize the customers in a praticular market?
  • Topic 16: The Value of Data in Defining Marketing Strategies and Marketing Management. Which type of insights can managers derive from all available data? What type of questions can we address with data gathered from mobile channels that companies were not able to address before, or can be better answered than it was possible before?
  • Topic 17: Methods for Real-Time Decisions. What methods can be used to make real-time decisions in a data-rich environment? What are scalable methods to analyze large amounts of data (in real time)?
  • Topic 18: Leveraging Digital Fingerprints. Anonymous online interactions will no longer be anonymous. Your portfolio of installed apps, your browsing behavior, your texts in comments and messages  etc. will all come together to provide your personal digital fingerprint. How do marketers leverage these digital fingerprints for effective communication while balancing privacy and intrusive content?”
  • Topic 19: The Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Hype. Currently all businesses try to apply machine learning and AI to improve e.g. autonomous driving or marketing practices. Journalists and politicians are talking about opportunities and possible threats for society at large. The aim of this seminar thesis is to address the following questions: what distinguishes machine learning algorithms from simple statistics or other kinds of algorithms? Or, is it only a buzz word?
  • Topic 20: Statistical Significance: Curse of Heterogeneity. While performing market research and other social experiments, researchers hunt for statistical significant results. A lot of papers have been published criticizing this trend and identifying bad habits like p-hacking and publication bias. However, not much attention has been focused on the role of heterogeneity as a drawback of achieving statistical significance. The aim of this master seminar thesis is to give a general overview of the literature on bad habits in obtaining statistical significant results and then to discuss the role of heterogeneity.


Consumer Behavior and Psychology and Its Relevance for Marketing Practice

Recent developments in digital/mobile technologies have created a data-rich environment that offers both new challenges and opportunities to marketing managers and researchers. The study of consumers helps firms and organizations improve their marketing strategies by understanding issues such as how…

  • The psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different alternatives (e.g., brands, products, and retailers);
  • The psychology of how the consumer is influenced by his or her environment (e.g., culture, family, signs, media);
  • The behavior of consumers while shopping or making other marketing decisions;
  • Limitations in consumer knowledge or information processing abilities influence decisions and marketing outcome;
  • How consumer motivation and decision strategies differ between products that differ in their level of importance or interest that they entail for the consumer; and
  • How marketers can adapt and improve their marketing campaigns and marketing strategies to more effectively reach the consumer.

If you are interested in this area of research, have a look at the following topics:

  • Topic 21: Construal Level Theory and Marketing. Construal level theory is a theory that perceives that the further the psychological distance between a person and an object or event, the higher the level of abstraction will be. Psychological distance can be defined as the “subjective experience that something is close or far away from the self, here, and now.” In other words, someone or something far away in space and/or time may feel closer to me than someone or something that is nearer. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the existing literature in consumer behavior that applies this theory in marketing.
  • Topic 22: Weber’s Law and Marketing. Weber’s law suggests that consumers’ ability to detect changes in stimulus intensity (perception difference) is strongly related to the intensity of that stimulus. In other words, it is a description of the “just noticeable difference” that can be perceived by an individual. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the existing literature in consumer behaviour that applies this theory in marketing.
  • Topic 23: Nudging the Customer, a Literature Review of Recent Findings. How can marketing actions drive positive changes in customers’ behaviour? How to help consumers make “good” decisions and “smarter choices”? What interventions can be deployed to generate (break) healthy (unhealthy) habits? The aim of this seminar paper is to provide a thorough review of the fundamental theories and the most recent findings about nudging (cueing).
  • Topic 24: Motivational Tendencies Related to Structure, Control, and Closure. A variety of theoretical constructs related to personal needs (e.g. need for closure, need for structure, need for control etc.) deal with individuals’ response tendencies in situations involving unpredictability, uncertainty and ambiguity. This seminar thesis aims at investigating the importance of such motivational tendencies in consumer purchasing behavior.
  • Topic 25: The Need for Flexibility. Often future preferences are uncertain, which leads consumers to value the chance to maintain more opportunities to choose from. Different decision-making contexts exist in which individuals derive some utility from preserving flexibility instead of committing to a particular course of action. The aim of this seminar thesis is to provide an overview of the research linking time preferences and the need for flexibility.
  • Topic 26: The Role of Risk Aversion in Consumer Behavior. Consumers differ with respect to the amount of risk they are willing to incur in a given situation. Risk aversion is a concept that has received much research attention not only in Marketing, but also in Economics and Finance. This seminar thesis aims at analyzing risk aversion as an individual difference variable and the strategies marketers can employ to reduce consumers’ uncertainty.
  • Topic 27: The Role of Autonomy in Consumer Decision-Making. According to self-determination theory, autonomy can be understood as regulation by the self. Many individuals’ exhibit a rather autonomous (i.e., self-endorsed) behavior reflecting their striving for decision-making freedom. Seeking independence might, for instance manifest itself in disliking binding contractual relationships. The aim of this seminar thesis is to analyze the role of autonomy and independence in consumer behavior.
  • Topic 28: How to Explain the Question-Behavior Effect? Ask someone to predict his/her behavior regarding a target action and the likelihood of performing the behavior in the future significantly changes. This effect is called the question-behavior effect and has been demonstrated in many contexts (e.g., sports behavior, recycling, voting). A couple of possible explanations have been proposed in the literature - from cognitive dissonance, response fluency, motivation theory to attitude accessibility. The aim of the seminar paper is to outline how each of these theories is able to explain the effect and how marketing can make use of these insights.
  • Topic 29: Self-Efficacy and its Role for Health Behavior Changes. Health is a vitally important issue of global concern. Actively engaging in health behavior change remains feasible across all ages, populations, and countries in a globalized, interconnected world. Attempting such change towards the above described health behaviors is often accompanied and controlled by human cognition and underlying psychological processes. Among these processes, one social cognitive construct has widely aroused interest in research, namely: self-efficacy, the faith in one’s personal capabilities.
  • Topic 30: Physical Store Design in a Digital World. More and more consumers are digital natives today. One question that arises out of this development is how physical stores should be designed and how the in-store experience should be, given the digitized consumer.
  • Topic 31: Sponsoring – What’s In for the Company? Non-profit organizations, sport clubs, single athletes – only a few examples of groups who rely on sponsoring. But is there a scientific proof that companies also profit from such sponsoring engagements?
  • Topic 32: Design Thinking in Marketing. Traditional management and marketing concepts are outdated for a vast number of innovative companies following an agile management style. The response to actual customer needs becomes of paramount importance in a fast-changing environment. The focus of the seminar paper is to understand the role of design and aesthetics for experience design and new product development and describe the role of design thinking.

 


 

Grading
The grade for the seminar paper accounts for 70%, the one for the presentation for 30% of the seminar's final grade. For passing the seminar, a minimal grade of 4.0 in both parts has to be achieved.


Application
In order to apply please hand in the following as one (!) pdf-document to Dr. Sabrina Haas (sabrina.haas(at)bwl.uni-mannheim.de):

  1. List of 3 seminar topics in order of preference (in english)
  2. CV (in english)
  3. Current grades (master/diploma studies)

Please do not apply at the other marketing chairs in parallel; the four marketing chairs will compare their lists. Seminar participants at our chair (MKT 720) will be informed via e-mail on September 6, 2017.

 

Timetable

  • Announcement of topics: Beginning of August 2017 (homepage);
  • Application period: August 21 to September 1, 2017;
  • Announcement of participants via e-mail: September 6, 2017;
  • Kick-off meeting (allocation of topics and introduction to academic work): September 12, 2017 at 4:30pm; participants are required to participate in this meeting;
  • Handover date of seminar papers: Week of November 6, 2017;
  • Presentation of seminar topics: tba; participants are required to participate in this meeting.

 

 

Further information:
Course Code:MKT 720
Term:This course will be offered in both fall and spring term.
Hours/Week:2
Exercises:No
ECTS Credits:6
Language:English
Registration:Application and registration (as described above) required!
Range of application:

Mannheim Master in Management,
Mannheim Master in Business Research (MMBR),
M.A. Culture and Economy / Business,
M.Sc. Business Education,
M.Sc. Business Informatics,
M.Sc. Business Mathematics,
M.Sc. Economics,
Diplom Business Administration.

 

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