Hope Jensen Schau
Hope Jensen Schau

Do you ever wonder why big companies constantly want to know what you “Like”? They are seeking more than an upward thumb. The bigger prize is more data about how thousands and thousands of people like you behave. Corporations then use that data to make better guesses about which brands and products to back.

One Tucson expert specializes in connecting the dots between what people watch on TV and the brands they buy in real life. Hope Jensen Schau, associate dean of Eller MBA Programs at the University of Arizona, spent much of the last decade doing research on consumer behaviors that correlate with what they see on TV.

Schau holds the Gary M. Munsinger Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Eller College of Management. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. She has published well-cited research on the impact of technology on marketplace relationships, branding, identity-salient consumption practices and collaborative value creation.

TV does more than point to products. It is not simply about seeing a box of Wheaties, then buying a box for yourself. The larger patterns are of equal, if not greater, interest. Do fans of, say, Modern Family buy more cereal than fans of other similar shows, and if so, what kinds of cereal do they buy? Is it more Frosted Flakes or Cheerios?

Popular culture has always shaped identities and social norms, the professor notes, and much of popular culture is now shaped by television. We identify – and not – with the stories we watch, and we project from there to imagine what the characters would choose. To a larger extent than you might guess, we make predictions about what our TV favorites might pick when we decide.

This is the kind of nuance that the research of Prof. Schau helps to uncover. You could say she is in the business of predicting what we will predict. Join us  at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday (June 11) at 3:30 p.m. to hear what she may predict about you.

Submitted by Carla Nelson, Academy Village Volunteer

How Much Are Buying Habits Influenced By TV? June 2014
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