EmoryMAC focuses on big data, visualization

EmoryMAC 2014

Marketers from around Atlanta and the southeast gathered to discuss trends and the future at this year’s EmoryMAC conference. PHOTO: Allison Shirreffs

“It’s not about data, it’s about the stories you will tell with the data.”

Google’s Saket Kumar spoke with an almost inspiring tone, encouraging the marketers in the room to think beyond the numbers.

Thus was the tone of the Emory Marketing Analytics Center Spring Conference on March 21.

Each year the center hosts hundreds from around the Southeast eager to learn best practices and trends in a now data-rich environment.

“This year we had some very well-received presentations from representatives of firms who had not presented in prior years, including IBM/Target Corporation on retail assortment optimization, Chick-fil-A on new product testing, and Google on making data work for you,” said Doug Bowman, a Goizueta professor and co-director of the center.

Kumar encouraged attendees to think of ways to visualize data. He said it requires curiosity, an understanding of math (or ability to see patterns), domain knowledge and as much organizational knowledge as possible.

“If you can not show it to people who aren’t quantitative and make an argument, it’s no good,” he said.

Delta’s New Take on Loyalty Programs: Boost or Bust?

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is headquartered in Atlanta, GA
PHOTO: eisenbahner/Flickr.com

This past week, Delta Air Lines announced changes to their frequent flyer program, Delta SkyMiles. The changes, which include rewarding travelers based on the amount of money they spend on tickets rather than simply on how far they fly, raised questions about the evolution of loyalty programs in the airlines industry. Goizueta marketing Professor Michael Lewis conducts extensive research on loyalty programs and consumer behavior. He spoke with us to offer his perspective on the shift in reward programs and who it ultimately benefits.

Goizueta: What are your initial thoughts on the program? How would you evaluate their changes?

Professor Mike Lewis

Michael Lewis is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.
PHOTO: Allison Shirreffs

Lewis: If we think about the program based solely on consumer behavior principles, it is an elegant program. The consumer is constantly presented with incentives to invest in her relationship with Delta. Think of a new consultant living in a non-hub airport region. This program increases the dynamic incentives for her to go out of her way to fly Delta.

The Delta program is striking in how explicit they are making the connection between the economic value of a customer and customer treatment. Loyalty programs have always been intended as a mechanism for improving the experience (and thereby loyalty) of the firms most valuable assets but the means have always been less direct. Now there is no doubt. Spend more money and the customer gets more.

Goizueta: Do you see any drawbacks to the new format?

Lewis: One potential issue is the factor that the person taking the flight is often not the entity paying the bill. Often companies are the ones carrying some, if not all, of this expense. This new program actually has a structure whereby the employee booking the travel has an incentive to search for higher fares. This would probably only happen on the margins, but the consumer whose firm is paying the fare has an obvious incentive to switch from say the 8 am flight with a fare of $300 to the 9 am flight with a fare of $500. It will be interesting to see the reaction from businesses to this change.

Goizueta: How do you see this new format changing how current SkyMiles members view their relationships with Delta?

Lewis: Only time will tell, but loyalty/reward programs can often change the tenor of brand-consumer relationships. These programs can sometimes create an almost contractual-feeling relationship where the consumer believes they are owed the rewards they have earned. When this happens, the loyalty program creates what academics call “behavioral loyalty.”

Goizueta: What is “behavioral loyalty” and what would that mean in this situation for Delta?

Lewis: Behavioral loyalty is repeat purchasing without increased affinity or loyalty. In other words, the program operates more like a job to consumers, making it less effective in developing any real loyalty for the brand. If you consider the airline industry, you can see how little true preference exists between the major carriers. Contrast that to the deep attitudinal loyalty that exists for brands like The Coca-Cola Company, Nike or Apple. When you reward a consumer for using your service, there is always the risk that this will be the result of the nature of the relationship.

Emory’s Jagdish Sheth Named 2014 Wilkie Award Recipient


Jagdish N. Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing

The American Marketing Association Foundation (AMAF) has named Jagdish N. Sheth, Charles H. Kellstadt Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, the recipient of the 2014 William L. Wilkie “Marketing for a Better World” Award.

Sheth accepted the award Saturday, Feb. 22 at the AMA Winter Educators’ Conference in Orlando, Fla.

The award honors marketing thinkers who have significantly contributed to the understanding and appreciation of marketing’s potential to improve the world. The award recognizes and honors the work of William (Bill) Wilkie, the Nathe Professor of Marketing at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.

The Wilkie Award is a broadly based, major academic recognition for the field, recognizing marketing thought leaders whose conceptual developments, substantive applications, or empirical studies have served to provide significant bases for improvements in the world.

“I’m extremely pleased that Jagdish Sheth was selected to receive this award,” Wilkie says. “He is a remarkably talented thinker who is interested in both theory and practice. The sense of the Wilkie Award is that Marketing has huge potential to improve daily lives if done well, and Professor Sheth has been advocating this theme for nearly 50 years, writing over 400 articles and 40 books. He is, as Philip Kotler puts it, ‘a Renaissance Thinker.’”

Wilkie also cited:

  • Sheth’s early book with John Howard, “The Theory of Buyer Behavior,” which Wilkie said “proved a key for developing the whole field of consumer behavior”;
  • his seminal work on relationship marketing, “moving our field toward delivering higher value”;
  • his significant support of the academic infrastructure through the Sheth Foundation; and
  • his recent work on the judicious use of resources and “mindful consumption,” which will be the topic of Sheth’s talk at the upcoming Winter Educator’s Conference in Orlando.

Sheth is a sought-after advisor and has worked in a variety of industries throughout the world. His work has been honored at the highest levels, including the top three awards from The American Marketing Association.

Sheth is a respected academic and prolific author. His book, “The Rule of Three” (Free Press), coauthored with Rajendra Sisodia, altered the current notions of competition in business. The book, published in 2002, has been translated into German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. It also was the subject of a seven-part television series on CNBC (India).

His 2007 book, “Firms of Endearment” (Wharton School Publishing), coauthored with Rajendra Sisodia and David Wolfe, was selected as one of the top 10 business books on leadership. Later that year, Sheth also authored “The Self-Destructive Habits of Good Companies … And How to Break Them” (Wharton School Press). Both books have been translated into more than 10 languages.

More recently, Sheth published “Chindia Rising: How China and India Will Benefit Your Business” (Tata McGraw Hill, India) and “4 A’s of Marketing,” co-authored with Rajendra Sisodia (Routledge).

Schweidel added to “40 under 40″ list

Associate Professor of Marketing and co-director of Emory Marketing Analytics Center David Schweidel was recently named to the “Best 40 B-School Profs Under the Age of 40” list produced by Poets & Quants.


Schweidel, who joined the Goizueta Business School faculty in 2012,  focuses his research on the development and application of statistical models to understand customer behavior, specifically in the context of customer relationship management and customer valuation. His current research explores the use of social media as a means of marketing intelligence.

Fun fact? Schweidel loves finding an excuse to watch the latest television shows. ”It turns out that researching television viewing, advertising, and social media offers a good excuse for the hours I spend watching Netflix and TV.”

See the full 40 under 40 list here.

Marketing students shift toward non-traditional career paths

Faizon Headshot  In a recent feature by USA Today, Emory University Goizueta Business School BBA senior Faizan Bhatty shared his insight into his decision to choose a finance position with Google over a more traditional position on Wall St. The article, titled “Move over Wall Street – some students are running toward Silicon Valley” shares that many students are choosing more desirable career paths that incorporate more friendly office environments as well as preferable work hours.

Bhatty worked closely with several key Goizueta faculty to identify his desired career path, including Elliot Bendoly of Information Systems & Operations Management and Manish Tripathi of Marketing. Tripathi also had thoughts on the recent shift of business graduates shifting away from the usual career positions and companies in business, “Marketing students have a unique opportunity to apply their skills in knowledge in a wide array of capacities. Many students are realizing that their skills are transferable to areas outside of just traditional career paths.”

Click here to read the full article on USA Today.