Research in Action

The Use of Data Programs by Salespeople and the Effect on Customers

John F. Tanner Jr., associate dean of Research & Faculty Development, is involved in a qualitative research study evaluating salespeople and the ways they use data to segment buyers. The study is being done in Mexico, France, and the United States. Tanner has found that while salespeople use the data to plan sales calls and account strategies, organizations are not leveraging the power of the information to inform company strategy. The research study looks at technology and the transition organizations make from sales-focused data systems to broader customer relationship management systems.

Can Happiness be Purchased at the Mall?

In a culture that tells us happiness can be purchased at the mall or on the Internet, it isn’t surprising that many Americans have a love-hate relationship with money and material possessions. In pursuing the “American dream,” many of us are caught up in a never ending cycle of spending and disappointment as we find little or fleeting satisfaction with each additional purchase. However, with each additional purchase come mounting bills, stress, and anxiety. The use of credit cards in pursuit of the “good life” accelerates this downward spiral into unhappiness and debt. The relationship between shopping, credit cards and quality of life is a hot research topic with interesting results. James A. Roberts, associate professor of Marketing, is interested in how consumers use credit cards and how this use affects their shopping behavior.

“How we relate to material possessions really does affect how we relate to our fellow human beings,” Roberts claims.

Roberts’ research supports the notion that when we use credit cards we spend more than when we use cash, checks, or debit cards. In some instances we spend up to 50 percent more when we use credit cards. Dr. Robert’s believes an important question to ask is why consumers spend more when they use credit cards. A potential answer may lie in the delayed impact on one’s wealth and lack of rehearsal when using credit cards.

When we use cash, checks, or debit cards, the money is immediately no longer available in our pockets or accounts. With credit cards the impact is not felt for up to a month and, unlike a check, we don’t have to write down the total spent when using credit cards. All of this leads to the tendency to over estimate the amount of money available to spend when using credit cards. In turn, this over estimate of available wealth leads to more spending. Roberts has found a strong relationship between credit card misuse and compulsive buying. And, compulsive buying is associated with a whole host of problems including arguing with friends and family over money, mounting credit card debt, personal bankruptcies, and the stress and anxiety associated with money worries.

A preoccupation with material possessions crowds out more fulfilling pursuits such as family, friends, and participation in your community. All of these activities are more intrinsically satisfying and lead to happier people. However, these types of pursuits are clearly at odds with the current consumer culture.

Roberts blames our current preoccupation with material possessions, wealth, and status on two factors: (1) a culture that tells us that happiness can be purchased, and (2) feelings of low self-esteem and personal inadequacies. And, Madison Avenue is quick to exploit both in helping Americans achieve the “good life.”

Branding Effects on Employee Performance and Customer Satisfaction

Firms spend millions of dollars in marketing to customers, creating elaborate brand promises. However, many firms under-invest in ensuring that their employees transform the brand promise into reality. In a current research project, Chris Pullig, assistant professor of Marketing, is investigating employee-based brand equity effects. In a series of studies, Pullig’s research indicates that when employees find the brand they represent more attractive, they are more committed to deliver the brand’s promise and that this commitment is positively related to supervisor-rated job performance and customer satisfaction. Thus, brand messages and marketing efforts viewed by prospective and current employees may be equally important as the ones aimed at consumers in creating employee-based brand equity and greater success in the marketplace.

Newsletter to Focus on Research at Hankamer School of Business

A newsletter aimed at sharing information about business research being conducted at Baylor debuts this month. “Each issue of the newsletter, called Focus, will be centered around a general topic for which there are various streams of research at the business school,” said Tanner.

The topic of the first issue is entrepreneurship. Research from Kevin Johnson, Roberts, Jeff McMullen and Bill Petty will be highlighted. The newsletter will be published three times per year and distributed to AACSB-accredited business schools worldwide.

Baylor Business Review, Spring 2006

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