Trio of Marketing Profs Provide Background for Media

Published on June 15, 2008
Professor Jill Sundie has been a source in several news stories about consumer behavior, including a February Houston Chronicle article about a rise in what is being called a “cutting-back” mentality.

Professor Jill Sundie has been a source in several news stories about consumer behavior, including a February Houston Chronicle article about a rise in what is being called a “cutting-back” mentality.

Local reporters are clamoring for marketing experts at the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston to examine the behavior of consumers looking for ways to stretch a buck.

With food and fuel prices on a seemingly never ending upswing, several major retailers, both local and national, have announced campaigns to help families offset the cost of higher living. Both retailers and consumers have a heightened interest in offering and making use of money-saving tips, according to Bauer marketing professors.

Marketing assistant professor Jill Sundie specializes in consumer behavior, particularly in how social influences affect purchasing. According to her research, people often look to others to determine whether or not they should alter their spending habits. “If your friends and close ones do not react, you’re less likely to change your behavior,” Sundie says. “If they cut back on spending, you’ll be more likely to do so as well.” Fear is another motivating emotion that influences spending decisions, she adds. “Fear in general is a pretty powerful emotion,” she says. “If you see others panicking around you, it’s a cue for you to panic, too.”

Professor Jacqueline Kacen has published research about impulse buying in grocery stores vs. online grocers, as well as consumers using purchasing to “manage” their moods.

Professor Jacqueline Kacen has published research about impulse buying in grocery stores vs. online grocers, as well as consumers using purchasing to “manage” their moods.

Marketing professor Betsy Gelb teaches the causes and effects of purchases through company actions and branding. “You save money, gas and time,” she has said about shopping online, which some say retailers are urging customers to do now more than ever with more Web-based coupons and deals. “People win three times from the point of view of the shopper, so why not do it on the Web?”

Marketing & entrepreneurship clinical professor Jacqueline Kacen delves into the psyche of the consumer with her research, which focuses on impulse buying and purchasing decisions. In a recently published article, “Bricks & Clicks & the Buying Impulse: An Investigation of Consumer Impulse Buying Behavior in an Online and Traditional Retail Environment,” Kacen suggests that sensory-based stimuli in bricks & mortar grocery stores offer shoppers more temptations than online grocers. “Customers who want to minimize impulse purchases should grocery shop online, or if that’s not possible ? write a detailed grocery list and stick to it,” she says.

UH Bauer alumna Shannon Miller is the most decorated American gymnast in history and a successful businesswoman. She was recently inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

UH Bauer alumna Shannon Miller is the most decorated American gymnast in history and a successful businesswoman. She was recently inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

In addition, Kacen has found that consumers use purchasing to “manage” their moods, prolonging feelings of happiness or speeding up recovery of negative moods. “We make purchases to feel good,” she says. “This is not a bad thing. Perhaps the best money-saving ‘tip’ I can provide is that a person can get an emotional lift from a small item as well as a large item, so no need to spend a lot of money to feel better. Consumers should allow themselves small treats and luxuries. They don’t need a $ 300 handbag; a $ 3 luxury candy bar can produce the same mood-boosting result.”

All three professors have been quoted in recent articles in the Houston Chronicle and given on-camera interviews to local news stations, including ABC13, KHOU, Fox26 and KPRC. Gelb has also been featured on The Today Show and the Wall Street Journal. Kacen was recently chosen as one of the two professors out of 300 to win the Journal of Advertising‘s Outstanding Ad Hoc Reviewer for 2007. Because of this, she has been asked to join the Editorial Review Board of the publication.

By Mayra Cruz

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the Bauer College of Business

The C.T. Bauer College of Business has been in operation for more than 60 years at the University of Houston main campus. Through its five academic departments, the college offers a full-range of undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees in business. The Bauer College is fully accredited by the AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In August 2000, Houston business leader and philanthropist Charles T. (Ted) Bauer endowed the College of Business with a $40 million gift. In recognition of his generosity, the college was renamed the C.T. Bauer College of Business.