Find out about some of our PhD graduates.
Dissertation title: Modelling Customer Behaviour in Contractual Settings
Research interests: Customer retention, Customer analytics, Subscription-based services, Field experiments, Pricing mechanisms, Empirical models of consumer behavior, Bayesian statistics
Bio: In a nutshell, I am a marketing modeler who uses tools from statistics, economics and machine learning to answer relevant marketing questions. I work on customer relationship management, with special attention to the problem of customer retention. I use field experimentation (i.e., A/B testing) as well as econometric modeling to understand and predict patterns of behavior, and to maximize the impact of the firm’s marketing actions. My research has appeared in leading marketing journals including Marketing Science and Journal of Marketing Research. I received the 2014 Frank Bass award, awarded to the best marketing paper derived from a Ph.D. thesis published in an INFORMS-sponsored journal. Truth being told, as a kid I always wanted to be a butcher – who wants to be an “empirical modeler” when she is 6 years old? – but a variety of choices along the way took me where I (happily) am. I got my BS in Mathematics at the Universidad de Zaragoza (Spain), then I studied a MS in Economics and Finance from Universidad de Navarra (Spain), and finally landed at London Business School, where I got the tools and the research values that made the researcher I am today.
I found at LBS the perfect environment for a PhD. The marketing department offered me the ideal combination of a rich and stimulating academic environment, wide range of courses from all areas of Marketing, and an amazing group of people who always supported me. LBS has all the resources I needed as a PhD student, not to forget the connections with other schools like LSE or UCL, where I took all the econ courses needed for a “quant” student. Last but not least, London is an amazing city to live in.
Dissertation title: The Effect of Social Context on Advertising Reception
Research interests: Consumer behavior, decision making
Bio: My research investigates the social and cognitive determinants of consumer behavior, with an emphasis on the consequences of technology and globalization for consumers. We live in times of great societal and technological changes and I am interested in understanding how these changes are affecting consumers’ choices and their relationships with products. My work has been recognized by various grants and awards and has appeared in leading journals, including the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, and Management Science. In addition to my research and teaching, I am an active member of our academic community, for example serving on several editorial review boards and organizing the 2016 conference of the Association for Consumer Research.
My years as a PhD student at LBS have been a transformational experience. I received amazing support and mentorship from the members of the marketing department and especially from my PhD adviser Nader Tavassoli. LBS is an inspiring place, full of incredibly smart people, and during my years there I had the opportunity to interact with, and learn from, many exceptional individuals. I also found tremendous value in the vibrant character and diversity of the LBS community, and London more generally.
Dissertation: The Impact of Product Variety on Consumer Demand and Firm Performance
Research interest: Product assortment, product (service) bundling, multi-category consumer choices, empirical industrial organization, public policy.
My research focuses on the inter-related decisions made by manufacturers, retailers and consumers with respect to product variety in competitive markets. Methodologically I apply microeconometric models and Bayesian inferences to market data to understand behaviours of the firms and the consumers. Wherever necessary, I also generate my own data by conducting experiments in the lab and online. My recent work has been published in the Journal of Marketing. Prior to my doctoral studies at LBS, I earned an MSc in economics from the London School of Economics and a BA in economics from Sogang University. I also gained industry experience in the marketing field at Unilever and Nielsen (KR) and worked as a research fellow at International Growth Centre (UK). As a pastime I practice cooking, guitar, and Italian and enjoy travelling.
Initially I applied for the PhD programme at LBS for the potential research interest fit with faculty in the quant area but the best part of my time at LBS was in fact the rich interactions with each and every faculty member, regardless of the research areas. Instantly after joining the group, I was treated as a valuable member of “the team.” The professors have expertise in their own field and they showed a genuine interest in my research and shared their feedback based on their expertise. They were open for discussions (doors to the professors’ offices were literally open most of the time) and I learned a lot from presenting my work to them. I believe that I have become a researcher who respects various perspectives and approaches because of the warm and friendly environment in the marketing department at LBS.
Methodology: Bayesian statistical methods, microeconometrics, eye-tracking.
Hong, S., K. Misra and N. J. Vilcassim (2016), "The Perils of Category Management: The Effect of Product Assortment on Multicategory Purchase Incidence,” Journal of Marketing, 80 (5), 34-52
Dissertation: The Impact of Marketing (versus Finance) Skills on Firm Performance: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in South Africa
Research: My research focuses on the role of marketing and entrepreneurship in emerging markets. In particular, I am interested in solutions that can enhance the productivity and performance of entrepreneurs running small firms. Most of my work uses randomized-controlled trials to rigorously evaluate what works in stimulating small business growth, and also to uncover how and why these changes occur. I have completed field studies in South Africa (on business training) and Ghana (on new methods for measuring firm performance). Moving forward, I am working with thousands of entrepreneurs to study the impact of solutions ranging from international ‘remote coaching’ models (Uganda) and mobile-based information and analytics tools (Rwanda) to managerial insourcing and outsourcing programs (Nigeria) and loan products for increasing investment in productive assets (Ghana).
Bio: I grew up on Vancouver Island (BC, Canada) and so was excited about the chance to return to the west coast when I joined the Stanford GSB marketing group! In addition to my passion for competitive team sports, I have always enjoyed traveling and living internationally. Before returning for doctoral studies at LBS, I gained industry experience in the technology start-up space, working with entrepreneurs in product management and tech-transfer roles. This early interest in entrepreneurship carried over to my present day research activities, only now I am focused on assisting entrepreneurs in emerging markets to innovate, find new customers and increase sales. I share these life adventures with my wife (Sophia) and our two little dudes (Jude and Sampson).
Why LBS?: The perfect balance of inspiration, independence and impact. The LBS research culture allowed me to dream: to wade into unchartered territory and take on field studies across Africa with 1000s of entrepreneurs, inspiring me to take risks to examine the role of marketing in emerging economies. The PhD program allowed me to develop: to build the skills and confidence needed to carve out (then carry out) my own independent stream of research. The entire school, from faculty and fellow students to administration and research managers, allowed me to deliver: to not only support the creation of new knowledge, but also the use it to change the mindsets and behaviors of entrepreneurs, managers and policy makers.