Yale Faculty Honored with Two Top Awards at Marketing Science Conference
Yale SOM marketing professors Jiwoong Shin, K. Sudhir, and Dina Mayzlin were honored for their research at the 33rd INFORMS Marketing Science Conference, held from June 9 to 11.
Shin, an associate professor of marketing, and Sudhir, the James L. Frank '32 Professor of Private Enterprise and Management and Professor of Marketing, won the John D. C. Little Award for their 2010 paper "A Customer Management Dilemma: When Is It Profitable to Reward One's Own Customers?" The Little Award is given annually to the best marketing paper published in Marketing Science or Management Science.
Mayzlin, an associate professor of marketing, won the INFORMS Society for Marketing Science Long Term Impact Award for the paper "Using Online Conversations to Study Word-of-Mouth Communication," which appeared in Marketing Science in 2004. The paper was a collaboration with David Godes, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Maryland. The Long Term Impact Award is given annually to a paper that appeared in Marketing Science, Management Science, or another INFORMS journal five or more years ago and that is "viewed to have made a significant long run impact on the field of marketing."
Shin and Sudhir's paper has its origins in a common management dilemma: whether firms should aim their pricing at acquiring new customers and or retaining existing customers. "For example, why do magazines offer discounts to new customers, while your friendly departmental stores like Macy's or J.C. Penney's mostly reward their own loyal customers?" asked Shin.
Sudhir said, "For over 20 years, many scholars tried to answer this question, and came to the same conclusion: it is never optimal to reward one's own customers unless either firms or consumers were not completely smart or strategic," But that conclusion was at odds with the fact that many firms do reward their own customers. "We felt that such a widespread phenomenon of rewarding one's own customers should not depend on the dumbness of either firms or customers; it must sometimes be the smart thing to do. With our research, we were able to identify conditions when a firm should reward its own customers."
Mayzlin and Godes' paper is based on research done in early 2000, when widespread use of the Internet and online conversations were relatively new. "There was very real skepticism among managers and academics as to whether online discussions really meant anything," Mayzlin said. "Were they just crazy people talking to other crazy people, or maybe just themselves? What we—and other researchers that followed—have shown is that it does matter. However, to understand what it means, you need to understand more about networks and how information travels through them."
Sudhir pointed out the two award-winning papers took different paths to impacting the marketing field. "Dina's work was pioneering in that it showed that data from online forums matter when it comes to explaining what people choose or do in the real world," he said. "A large number of researchers followed this lead and this has become a fertile area of research over the last 10 years. In contrast, our paper contributed to an already very fertile 20-year-old customer management literature, but addressed a long-standing puzzle."
He added, "It was great that Yale scholars were recognized on the same day for both pioneering a new area and resolving a long-standing puzzle."
Subrata Sen, the Joseph Cullman Professor of Marketing, added, "My colleagues have always worked on important and interesting topics. Therefore, it is very satisfying to see that the quality of their work is being recognized by the rest of the field."