The Carolan Research Institute was founded by the late Geraldine Fennell. Dr. Fennell, who died in 2014. She was an accomplished marketing practitioner and academic researcher. In her earlier career, she worked for Unilever and J. Walter Thompson and received her Ph.D. in social psychology from City University of New York.
The purpose of the Carolan Research Institute was to disseminate, develop, and promote the application of Dr. Fennell's models and concepts. In support of this purpose they promoted academic research which applies her models, facilitate the use of her models in industry, and provide materials to teach her models in the classroom.
Dr. Joel Saegert, a member of the Carolan Research Institute Executive board passed away on January 24, 2019. Dr. Saegert worked with Dr. Geraldine Fennell from 1980 until her passing in 2014 as a researcher and colleague. Together they published numerous papers dealing with her models of customer wants and desires as the basis for marketing strategy.
The CRI was founded by the late Geraldine Fennell. Dr. Fennell, who died in 2014, was an accomplished marketing practitioner and academic researcher. In her earlier career, she worked for Unilever and J. Walter Thompson and receiver her Ph.D. in social psychology from City University of New York. Her work was published in numerous marketing journals and conference proceedings including the Journal of Marketing, Marketing Science, Marketing Letters, Journal of Advertising Research, and Motivation and Emotion. She set up the CRI to be an endowed source of funds for doctoral student and faculty research in marketing.
Dr. Joel Saegert worked with Dr. Geraldine Fennell as a researcher and colleague from 1980 until her death in 2014, publishing numerous papers with her that deal with her models of customer wants and desires as the basis for marketing strategy.
Dr. Saegert was Professor of Marketing at The University of Texas at San Antonio, where he is now Professor Emeritus. He received his PhD in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin in 1970 and taught marketing at UTSA from 1976 to 2014. He published papers in a number of marketing and psychology journals, book chapters and conference proceedings. He is past president of the Society for Consumer Psychology and a member of the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association. He retired from UTSA after 37 years of service and worked actively as a trustee for the CRI.
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Title: Linguistic Characteristics of Consumer Complaint Narratives and their Implications for Firms
Abstract: What linguistic characteristics best capture the heterogeneity in consumer complaint narratives and how can firms use this heterogeneity to decide their strategic response? Our research offers the theory and preliminary empirical evidence on the above question. We use the firm strategic response theory to identify the three dimensions - whether, when, and how - of firm response. To identify the appropriate explanatory variables of the firm response, we use the message-source framework. That is, we examine how firm response is impacted by the message (complaint narrative) or the messenger/source (complainant). We also assess whether the firm response is driven more by the information (objective) or emotion (subjective) component of the message.
Title: Virtual Reality: Real Virtual? Consumer Decision Making, Structure, and Justification in Virtual Decision Environments
Abstract: Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are presumed to affect the future of product customization architectures (PCAs). The objective of this research is to investigate the effect of virtual (relative to non-virtual) PCAs on consumer behavior in PCAs. This research hypothesizes that virtual relative to non-virtual PCAs increase consumers’ choice confidence with regard to the customized product due to two psychological mechanisms (increase in consumers’ mental simulation of the customized product and increase in consumers’ immersion (control) in the choice environment). Four laboratory experiments are designed to test the hypotheses. This research is expected to provide notable implications for theory and practice. First, this research is projected to expose the effect of virtual relative to non-virtual PCAs on consumer decision making and justification. Second, this research is anticipated to fortify most recent research on embodied cognition by demonstrating how physical interactions within a decision environment affect consumer behavior. Third, this research targets to support marketing practitioners in designing virtual PCAs (VR interfaces).
Title: From “Wealth-as-Status” to "Values-as-Status:”
The Millennial Luxury Consumer Mindset
Abstract: Luxury brands, whether conspicuously (Han et al. 2010) or inconspicuously (Berger and Ward 2010) consumed, are “good” signals of status, social standing, and help consumers fit in their social group (Wilcox et al. 2009). And yet, signals of status seem to be changing. Recent literature suggests that larger-sized food and drink options (Dubois, Rucker, and Galinsky 2012), non-conforming behaviors (Bellezza, Gino, and Keinan 2014), and “busyness” (Bellezza, Paharia, and Keenan 2017) serve as new symbols of status. Germane to this research is the finding that status can be achieved by engaging in more prosocial behaviors (choosing green alternatives; Griskevicius et al. (2010)). Furthermore, research on Millennials (Deloitte 2017) finds that these consumers appear to care a lot about values like environmental concerns, social issues, sustainable production, etc, but that they will also represent 40% of the luxury market by 2015 (Bain & Company and Ferfetch, 2017). This raises the question: Is what is desirable, and desired, by the new Millennial luxury consumer changing?
Following Geraldine Fennell’s adage “don’t sell what you happen to make; make what the consumer wants to buy,” and integrating new theories of status with functional theories of attitude, the current research seeks to explain why luxury consumers (Millennial versus not) are drawn to luxury brands. In the current research, we begin with the hypothesis that the functional role of luxury (social-adjustive) that is provided to consumers, Millennials or not, has not fundamentally changed. However, what is signaled – i.e., what constitutes “status” – has likely changed. We, therefore, expect that while other cohorts use luxury to signal “wealth as status”, the basis for the social-adjustive function of luxury brands for Millennials is rooted in core Millennial values, i.e., “values as status” (Sim 2018).
Four experiments (lab and Mturk) using different stimuli, products/services, and manipulations, support out theorizing. We find that Millennial luxury consumers purchase luxury for social-adjustive reasons, but to signal personally meaningful values to their social group, more than just status. While they still want prestige and exclusivity from luxury, they also want the luxury brands they interact with to be concerned with environmental sustainability and social issues, more so than the older cohorts. We conclude by discussing the implications of the motivational heterogeneity (Yang, Allenby and Fennell 2002; Allenby, Fennell et al. 2002) of luxury consumption across generations for luxury brand managers.
Title: On the perceived fairness of price discrimination by algorithms and humans
Abstract: Rapid advances in technology are reshaping the way businesses determine prices, challenging previously established notions of what consumers consider to be “fair market behavior.” Nowadays, many businesses use algorithms to dynamically set prices. In this research, we examine how the use of these algorithms (vs. human price setting) affects consumers’ fairness perceptions and choices. We find that consumers generally think that the use of price-setting algorithms is unfair and are less likely to buy products as a result, but these reactions are contingent on the type of consumer information used in the algorithm, and in some cases these effects reverse.
Her paper was the winner of the Best Paper Award at the 2020 Society for Consumer Psychology conference.
Title: Are personality traits related to consumers motivational classes? Expanding upon Fennel’s model of motivation.
Abstract: According to Fennell's model there are seven different classes of motivation that might guide consumer brand choice and that could be applied to any sort of good or service. The objective of this study was to extend Fennell's work by exploring the relationship between personality traits and the motivation classes proposed by Fennell. Ultimately, our study will lead to a deeper understanding of Fennell's model, and how it fits within the psychology of individual differences.
Title: Different Shades of Green: Exploring Green Market Segmentation Based on Motivational Needs
Abstract: Environmentalism has emerged as a megatrend in developed western societies in recent years. However, extant green market segmentation research has largely ignored consumers’ motivational needs and upstream wants. To address this research gap, the current research project investigates motivational need-based green segmentation. Through exploratory studies, it is revealed that the term "Going Green" bears many different meanings for consumers. Similarly, there exists a wide range of motivational factors for "Going Green". Survey data was collected from subjects in the US and in China to uncover homogeneous market segments based on consumer motivational needs as related to prosocial causes, in combination with environmental attitudes. Individuals’ self-concept and motivational needs play an important role in determining which green market segments they fall into. Implications for new product development and advertising strategy are discussed.
Title: The distinct influence of power distance perception and power distance values on customer satisfaction in response to loyalty programs
Abstract: In today's fiercely competitive environment, firms are increasingly relying on loyalty programs to influence customers' repeat purchase behavior. However, little is known about how customers' cultural values shape their satisfaction in response to loyalty programs. Such knowledge is important because it allows marketers to identify cultural segments that may be more or less likely to respond favorably to loyalty programs, and hence increase the effectiveness of such programs. In the current research, we propose that power distance perception — defined as the extent to which people observe power disparities in society — positively influences satisfaction of customers who hold loyalty status, but negatively influences satisfaction of customers who do not hold loyalty status with a firm. In contrast, power distance values — defined as the extent to which people endorse power disparities in society — negatively influences satisfaction of customers who hold loyalty status, but positively influences satisfaction of customers who do not hold loyalty status with a firm. A quasi-field study and several lab experiments support these propositions, shed light on the underlying mechanisms, and rule out alternative explanations. Our findings also uncover several distinct tools that marketers could use to influence non-loyalty status and loyalty status customers' satisfaction with businesses.