The voice of experience

Meet Marie-Cécile Cervellon, a committed marketing professor who explores luxury from every angle

Marie-Cécile Cervellon , Professor, Head of faculty - Marketing

Marie-Cécile Cervellon wears many hats: researcher, professor, director of the Marketing department, this French-Canadian has a very full CV, the result of her many experiences in the academic and professional worlds. Following her passions and instincts, she has forged a foundation of convictions that guide her choices and mark her style: a commitment to the applicability of research and a love of passing on and sharing.

Reading time :
17 Jun 2024

"Ever since I was a little girl, I've always wanted to teach", she confides from the outset. It's only a short step (and a few years) from her first dreams of being a teacher to the benches of higher education. To turn her career plans into reality, Marie-Cécile first took a Research Masters in Marketing (formerly Diplôme d'Études Approfondies) at Paris Dauphine University. But the course left her with a taste of unfinished business: "Although these studies were enriching, they were extremely theoretical and I very quickly began to question my legitimacy: how can I teach something as concrete as marketing without ever having practised it?"


So Marie-Cécile Cervellon began her career not behind a teacher desk but behind a corporate one, at Sara Lee - Douwe Egberts in this case. She spent seven years in Paris with the big American machine. Moving from assistant product manager to product manager and then brand manager and development, she learned the trade through contact with iconic brands such as Benenuts, Maison du Café and Senseo, a brand for which she helped develop the system that revolutionised the home coffee market a few years later. But the sirens of education are not so easy to ignore.

After these years in the industry and having reconciled herself with her legitimacy, Marie-Cécile returned to her first love at McGill University in Montreal, where she completed a doctorate combining marketing and psychology, partly funded by the Danone Institute. And with good reason: her thesis, defended in 2004, focused on conflicts in attitudes to food, particularly those linked to eating disorders (1), with a view to promoting responsible food marketing.


Leaving Canada's far north for the South of France, her native region, she began her career as a professor at the IUM in Monaco, a school that appealed to Marie-Cécile in more ways than one: "The project to develop courses around the luxury industries spoke to me straight away", she explains, "there's no better place in the world to study this sector and that of the ultra-rich than the Côte d'Azur, from Monaco to Cannes. And of course, this environment has fundamentally influenced my research."

Bridging the gap between this industry, which spearheads French know-how, and her interest in responsible marketing, Marie-Cécile focused her research on responsible luxury and, in 2012, published the very first academic article on the motivations of second-hand and vintage luxury buyers (2), at a time when the first luxury resale platforms were being set up in France.


In 2013, she joined EDHEC, attracted in particular by the quality of the research and the school's focus on the notion of impact. "These were concepts that resonated with my personal values and professional beliefs," she explains. "I've always considered it a priority to make the link with the field and the reality of business, and to think about research in terms of its impact on society, hence my focus on ethics and sustainability".

At EDHEC, she gave a new impetus to her research by embarking on several complementary directions: sustainability in luxury and fashion, with publications on narrative discourse in luxury brand communication (3) or the motivations linked to the sale of second-hand luxury products (4); the marketing of nostalgia and vintage consumption, with a book published in 2018 looking closely at the phenomenon of retro consumption or retromania (5); and the marketing of influence, a more recent subject that she has developed in particular through the Chopard (6) and Supreme case studies. In 2023, Marie-Cécile also helped to draw up a set of recommendations for developing employability in responsible fashion (7), funded by an Erasmus+ grant from the European Union.


Her teaching career at EDHEC is no less extensive. Over the past 11 years, Marie-Cécile has taught marketing in all the school's programmes, from the Grande Ecole and BBA programmes to the Global and Executive MBA programmes, including the Msc Marketing Management, bringing her industry expertise and sharp eye for the luxury sector in particular. Since 2021, she has taken over from Michael Antioco - now Dean of Faculty and Research - as Head of the Marketing Department, a role that is very close to her heart: "I'm lucky enough to work every day with a fantastic team," she says, "professors with a unique outlook, unfailing commitment, and who share a real desire to work together." This 'working together' has led to the creation of a course, Challenges to sustainability & consumer well-being, which covers six industries, and a summer programme, The Business of Luxury, offered in Nice to take advantage of the proximity of the perfume, hotel, wine and, of course, ultra-luxury ecosystems.


And this is just the beginning, as Marie-Cécile intends to use her role as a driving force to develop this type of collaboration, drive forward multi-disciplinary research, and continue to better integrate industry into the classroom. "This is what attracted me to EDHEC over 10 years ago and what continues to energise me today", she concludes.

Key dates

Since 2023 : Co-Director of the Summer Program "The Business of Luxury"

Since 2021 : Head of the Marketing Department, EDHEC Business School

Since 2013 : Professor (Marketing), EDHEC Business School

2004-2013 : Programme Director and Professor of Marketing, International University of Monaco

2004 : Doctorate in Management (PhD), specialising in Marketing, McGill University, Montreal

1998-2004 : Doctoral student and lecturer in marketing, McGill University, Montreal

1991-1998 : Brand Manager, Sara Lee-Douwe Egberts, Paris (France)

1991 : Research Master in Marketing, Université Paris Dauphine

1990 : Master in Management (MiM), School of Management for Europe (now ESCP Europe)

1985-87 : Classes Préparatoires, Lycée Masséna, Nice

To know more about Marie-Cécile Cervellon :


(1) Ambivalent and dual attitudes : attitude conflicts and their impact on decision making and behavior (2004), Thèse, Marie-Cécile Cervellon - Mc Gill University.

(2) Something old, something used: Determinants of women's purchase of vintage fashion vs second‐hand fashion (2012), International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management. Marie‐Cécile Cervellon, Lindsey Carey, Trine Harms.

(3) Narrative-transportation storylines in luxury brand advertising: Motivating consumer engagement (2016), Journal of Business Research. Jae-Eun Kim, Stephen Lloyd, Marie-Cécile Cervellon.

(4) Selling second-hand luxury: Empowerment and enactment of social roles (2020), Journal of Business Research. Linda Lisa Maria Turunen, Marie-Cecile Cervellon, Lindsey Drylie Carey.

(5) Revolutionary Nostalgia: Retromania, Neo-Burlesque, and Consumer Culture (2018),
Emerald Publishing Limited. Marie-Cécile Cervellon, Stephen Brown.

(6) EDHEC Vox. [Case by case #7] "Chopard by Hylink: when artificial intelligence makes learning marketing easier (2024).

(7) SFES (Sustainable Fashion Employability Skills) White Paper (2023). Glasgow Caledonian University.

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