The Carolan Research Institute invites doctoral students and faculty to enter a research initiative aimed to further our understanding of everyday consumer actions. Proposals should involve empirical research that seeks to further our understanding of the antecedents of prospective consumers’ behaviors within the framework of Dr. Geraldine Fennell’s research.

Selected proposals will receive funding from the Carolan Research Institute for research-related expenses, including but not limited to recruiting and compensating research subjects, funding for third-party researchers, and acquiring data from privately held sources. In addition, support will be made available for travel to international and national marketing conferences such as ACR, AMA, EMAC, MSI, SCP, etc. where the proposed research ideas will be presented.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Please submit the proposal by no later than 5 pm (central time) on October 16th, 2020. Proposals will be reviewed by the CRI Evaluation Committee and winners will be announced in early November.
  • Proposals should include:
    • A descriptive title
    • Names and affiliations of all authors
    • An abstract of up to 150 words
    • A 1-2-page (single-spaced) proposal outlining the research question, any past studies that have been completed showing support for the proposed hypothesis, and a description of the proposed studies. In addition, the proposal must include a section that clearly delineates the ways in which the project relies on Dr. Fennell’s theories and plans to investigate at least one of the themes outlined below. .
    • A budget indicating expected expenses, the total amount requested, and the anticipated timeline for expenses. Past projects received funding ranging from $2000 to $10,000 and we anticipate providing similar levels of support this year as well. The budget items must be all related to data collection. The budget can additionally include up to $2000 in expenses related to travel to conferences (i.e., registration fees, air fare, and hotel). Travel funds will be made available upon confirmation of acceptance to the conference and CRI approval.
  • Dr. Geraldine Fennell was motivated by the Marketing Concept: “Don’t sell what you happen to make; make what the consumer wants to buy.” As such, proposals must embody this credo in order to be considered for funding. To assist authors in preparing their proposals, we have compiled Dr. Fennell’s publications here and provided a starting list here [see shortlist below]. Specifically, at least one facet in the proposal must include a specific investigation of one or more of Dr. Fennell’s research ideas, including but not limited to:
    • Differentiating between prospects versus non-prospects: Demonstrating that sought-for effects differ between those predisposed to the product category vs. those who may not be predisposed to it. For instance, if the study relies on pet food as stimuli, are the effects moderated by whether participants regularly feed a pet? At least one study in the proposal must include a measurement of which participants are prospects for the product category if this theme is being relied upon.
    • Exploring “upstream” influences: Preference will be given to proposals that seek to understand the motivations of customers at the earliest stages of choice and decision-making. Dr. Fennell’s work conceptualized customer actions as a series of product-use situations that each involved unique motivations (see Fennell, 1978) and contextual cues that might influence the ultimate behavior of a prospective customer. Thus, her focus was on the upstream influences on everyday customer actions that have an effect before customers had narrowed their decision down to choosing between specific product categories and brands.
    • Focus on market segmentation versus population segmentation: Research that aims to compare groups that differ on demographic (i.e., population) bases (e.g., gender, income, culture, etc.) should also strive to identify how these groups compare to each other in terms of the motivational heterogeneity within the product-use situations encountered by prospective customers in these groups. In other words, rather than merely compare Asian customers to American customers, an effort should be made to further our understanding of the extent to which customers in these groups are likely be engaged in similar or different product-use situations. See Fennell and Saegert (1996) and Fennell et al. (2003) on the limitations of relying on demographic variables.
  • Preference will be given to projects that are largely empirically based and have some initial data collected concerning the research hypothesis. Non-empirical projects will be considered as well under exceptional circumstances.

Eligibility requirements:

  • At least one of the applicants should be affiliated with a doctoral-degree granting institution and working in marketing and closely related fields (e.g., psychology, economics, management, strategy, etc.).
  • Applicants need not be working at U.S. institutions. We welcome proposals from institutions outside the U.S., provided they are from doctoral-degree granting institutions.
  • Participation in other grant or award programs does not preclude consideration for this award.
  • Previous awardees can submit proposals as long as the new proposal represents a significant extension to a previously funded project or is a new project. Funding for previously funded projects would be contingent on providing a manuscript or publication reporting the project’s findings.
  • Support of the Carolan Research Institute should be acknowledged in all relevant publications and presentations after funding has been received.

Questions about proposals should be directed to: Dr. Ishani Banerji at

Introductory papers:

  1. Fennell, G. (1978). Consumers’ perceptions of the product. use situation. The Journal of Marketing, 38-47.
  2. Fennell G (1987) A radical agenda for marketing science: represent the marketing concept. In: Dholakia N, Furat F, Baggozzi R (eds) Philosophical and radical thought in marketing. D.C. Health, Lexington, pp 289–306.
  3. Fennell, G., Allenby, G. M., Yang, S., & Edwards, Y. (2003). The effectiveness of demographic and psychographic variables for explaining brand and product category use. Quantitative Marketing and Economics1(2), 223-244.
  4. Fennell, G. & Saegert, J. (1996). Globalization issues: The myth of prepackaged solutions. In I. McGovern (Ed.), Marketing: A Southeast Asian perspective (pp. 1 – 27). Singapore: Addison-Wesley.
  5. Bajac, H. (2018). The Thinking of Geraldine Fennell
  6. Fennell, Geraldine, Saegert, Joel and Gilbride, Tim (2002), “Responding to Wants: Do Ad Effects Studies Measure the Right People?” In J. Edell and R.C. Goodstein (Eds), Proceedings of the Society for Consumer Psychology. Washington, D.C.: Society for Consumer Psychology (Division 23), American Psychological Association, p. 142-154.”

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