The psychology behind the data
Arash Talebi is an assistant professor of marketing at EDHEC. His research focuses primarily on understanding the role of emotions in consumer judgment and decision-making. He will be sharing his expertise with students in the Master’s in Marketing Analytics program. Here, he tells us all about the need to understand the consumer behaviour behind the data.
Which class will you teach?
Advanced Consumer Psychology.
What can you tell us about your field of expertise?
Broadly speaking, my research looks into why we do the things we do. In other words, why and how we make the decisions we make. If I wanted to give you a more detailed description of my field of expertise, however, I should mention that I subscribe to a school of thought that relies on emotions as the focal predictor of our behaviour. Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon, best known for the theories of “bounded rationality” and “satisficing”, has explained the philosophy of this school of thought much better than I ever could. He said, “to have anything like a complete theory of human rationality, we have to understand what role emotion plays in it”.
Why is it important for marketing students to understand consumer behaviour?
To set the stage, let me first talk about the dominant paradigm of successful marketing today: data-driven marketing. Simply put, successful marketing decisions nowadays do not come from ‘gut feeling’, but rely on a wealth of consumer data. In Data We Trust, you could say. I’d take that a step further and say, In Psychology, We Trust to Explain the Data! Specifically, one needs advanced theories of psychology, the most powerful tool in a marketer’s arsenal, to make sense of the data and analysis, to make educated guesses and trend predictions that are as accurate as possible. This is why understanding consumer behaviour is vital for a marketer nowadays.
What are the main topics students will work on during your course?
Students will get to learn about advanced psychological theories, such as perceptual and sensory issues, goals and goal-directed behaviour, motivation and attitudes, choice and decision-making, moods and emotions, the interplay of affect and cognition, prediction, misprediction, and intertemporal issues.
They will be exposed to high-quality published academic research with applications for the industry and marketing practitioners. They’ll also learn about experimental research, how to examine research questions that lend themselves well to experimental research. In fact, they’ll be asked to design an experiment, collect data from consumers, analyse it and come up with marketing recommendations based on the results. They can use EDHEC’s resources (for example, access to Qualtrics, Statistical software, etc.) to complete the term project and accomplish their goals.
What is a must-read on consumer behaviour?
It’s best to read academic papers published in the top four academic journals, which have a huge impact on the industry: the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Consumer Psychology, the Journal of Marketing Research, and the Journal of Marketing. Students will be given a list of seminal articles in each of the aforementioned areas so they can learn the fundamentals and the trends in the field.
What do you expect the students to have mastered on completion of your course?
They will know how to make sense of market data ‒ including describing, interpreting, and, most importantly, making predictions ‒ relying on theories of psychology, how to identify market research questions that could be tackled experimentally and how to test those questions systematically through experiments.
How important is it for their future career in marketing analytics?
I would refer back to the slogan I proposed earlier: “In Data We Trust, In Psychology, We Trust to Explain the Data!” Students ‒ who I refer to as future marketing practitioners and managers ‒ who want to climb the organisational ladder efficiently and provide insight to their future companies should be able to go beyond simple analysis. Being able to determine brand strategies matters. This is possible by gaining a deep understanding of the numbers and figures, by understanding what is behind those figures and numbers and how to improve them ‒ in short, by drawing on the psychology of consumers. This is how this course is going to help them in their future career.