Consumer psychology

By Susan A. Andrzejewski, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Marketing

Assistant Professor Susan A. Andrzejewski

My research lies at the intersection of consumer behavior and social psychology. The foundation of much of my work stems from the idea that psychological principles (broadly defined) strongly influence what happens in the consumer marketplace. In this regard, I utilize the marketplace as a forum for better understanding social psychological phenomena and interpersonal interactions. More specifically, my scholarship falls into two main streams of research:

1. Research on nonverbal communication in retail and service settings, as well as general social psychological settings, as a way to inform innovative approaches to managing customer relationships, and

2. Research that examines the role of materialism in relation to consumer culture within and across cultures.

Consumer logo collage

From my perspective, studying consumer behavior not only enables firms to better meet the needs of consumers (i.e., my research on nonverbal communication in retail and service settings), but also allows for the examination of negative consumer characteristics that are inevitably a part of living in a consumption-based society (e.g., my research on materialism).

In this regard, my research branches out from normative approaches to marketing research that seek to maximize profit at all costs. Alternatively, my research explores ways to better satisfy consumers’ needs, even if such practices might be at the potential short-term expense of firms.

For example, my work on nonverbal communication, suggests that the time and effort put into training sales personnel to accurately decode the nonverbal cues of consumers may ultimately cost the firm in the short-term, but create stronger relationships with customers in the long-term. In the same vein, my research on materialism suggests that marketing managers should balance marketing strategy with sustainable strategy. In other words, firms that recognize that many businesses encourage conspicuous consumption without regard for the negative outcomes associated with such consumption may be evaluated in a more positive light. This positive evaluation may lead to increased likeability towards the firm, and higher repatronage of firms that take an active interest in the well-being of consumers and society at large.

While traditional marketing research has focused on increasing short-term economic gain from consumer consumption, both of my streams of research suggest that firms may find increased benefit through focusing on more long-term sustainable strategies. The utilization of such strategies may enable firms to establish better long-term relationships with consumers that prove more beneficial to the firm over time, and simultaneously encourage a more positive experience for consumers. 

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© Spring 2015 / Volume 19 / Number 1 / Bi-annual