Saint Joseph's at the Center of Consumer Research
New center's goal hinges on consumer behavior
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
PHILADELPHIA (March 17, 2008) – While we all consume things everyday - coffee, food, apparel, personal care products, media, entertainment - very few of us reflect on our own purchasing habits and how the things we buy affect our lives. But consumer behavior expert Michael Solomon, Ph.D., does. As founding director of the newly established Center for Consumer Research at Saint Joseph's University's Erivan K. Haub School of Business, Solomon and his think tank of researchers and executives examine why people buy things to better understand the evolving needs of today's consumer.
Solomon explains that people don't buy things because of what they do; they buy things because of what they mean. "Our choices of products and services, whether food, furniture, or fax machines, reflect a pattern of consumption that jointly defines a lifestyle," he explained. As the saying goes: "You are what you eat (or drive or wear)."
Along with the contest for consumer attention, Solomon says marketers are challenged to understand the complexities and incredible diversity of consumer behavior. From this melting pot comes a range of perspectives and viewpoints for consumer researchers to study. He hopes the University's Center will drive this research.
Leveraging the expertise of faculty at the University, the Center plans to study issues including: the dynamics of food; pharmaceutical and apparel marketing and their influence on consumers' obesity and body image; the accelerating fusion between food retailing and entertainment marketing; and the trend toward consumer empowerment in choices ranging from healthcare to the development of packaged and soft goods. The Center will also host conferences and executive education programs for marketers.
Solomon and his assistant director, Natalie Wood, Ph.D., have amassed an impressive roster to form the Center's Thought Leaders Advisory Panel, which will provide strategic leadership for the program. Comprised of practitioners drawn from diverse industries, the panel includes two well-known fashion designers – Kay Unger and Alexander Julian – and senior executives from a range of companies, including Cotton, Inc., Black & Decker, Intel, Taco Bell, Johnson & Johnson, Nickelodeon/MTV, NutriSystem, Subaru and many others. Initial funding for the initiative came from Michael J. Hagan '85, who also contributed $10 million for the comprehensive enhancement of the University's athletic facilities.
Michael Solomon, Ph.D., is a professor of marketing at Saint Joseph's University whose research interests include lifestyle issues; branding strategy; the psychology of fashion, decoration and image; and the symbolic aspects of products. His textbook, Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being (Prentice Hall) is in its eighth edition and has been translated into several languages.
Natalie Wood, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of marketing at Saint Joseph's University whose research interests include avatars and virtual identities, and consumer behavior. Her research: "Political Star Power and Political Parties: Does Celebrity Endorsement Win First-Time Votes?" was recently published in the Journal of Political Marketing.