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Applying Marketing to Benefit Society: AMA-EBSCO Award Winners Present Their Findings

Applying Marketing to Benefit Society: AMA-EBSCO Award Winners Present Their Findings

The inaugural recipients of the AMA-EBSCO Annual Award for Responsible Research in Marketing presented their research at the AMA Summer Academic Conference in August. The research exemplifies the seven principles of responsible research which are designed to encourage credible and useful knowledge that can be applied to benefit society.

Sponsored by AMA and EBSCO, the award aligns with AMA’s longtime mission solving big societal problems with thoughtful scholarship.

Dangerous Double Dosing: How Naive Beliefs Can Contribute to Unintentional Overdose with Over-the-Counter Drugs

Jesse R. Catlin, Cornelia (Connie) Pechmann, and Eric P. Brass


In a series of studies, consumers reviewed over-the-counter (OTC) drug packages and evaluated these drugs for concurrent use. The authors investigate whether the consumers utilized the active ingredients listed on the package and recognized the risks of double dosing when using two drugs with the same active ingredient. Both novice and expert consumers used the active ingredients to assess drug similarity, indicating that the information was accessible. However, only medically trained experts used this information to assess the risks of taking two drugs concurrently, indicating that they understood its diagnosticity or relevancy. Novices’ failure to view double dosing as risky suggests that they might hold a naive belief that OTC drugs are relatively risk free; thus, the authors test interventions to increase active ingredient diagnosticity versus accessibility. One intervention considered by OTC drug manufacturers makes active ingredients more accessible on packages using icons. However, the authors found this approach alone to be ineffective, whereas interventions enhancing the diagnosticity of ingredients through public service messages or package warnings yielded promising results. Thus, interventions may benefit by going beyond accessibility to also highlight active ingredient diagnosticity.

Rejected, Shackled, and Alone: The Experience of Systemic Restricted Consumer Choice among Minority Entrepreneur Consumers

Sterling A. Bone, Glenn L Christensen, and Jerome D Williams


This research investigates the experience of systemic restricted choice and its impact on self-concept among racial and ethnic minority consumers seeking financing. Choosing loans is an involved consumer choice journey, and encountering systemic, chronic, and uncontrollable restrictions on choice at any level of the goal/choice hierarchy limits and even prohibits minorities’ ability to make desired choices. Across a multimethod investigation, these three studies demonstrate that minorities experiencing systemic restricted choice endure deleterious impacts to self-concept, including framing the self as fettered, alone, discriminated, and subservient, as well as marked reductions in self-esteem, self-autonomy, and self-efficacy. Minority consumers also frame themselves as striving in a world of limited resources and fighting uphill, often losing battles. Juxtaposing the experiences of racial/ethnic minorities against the choice journeys of educationally and economically similar white consumers puts those minority experiences in sharp relief. The theoretical and transformative consumer research implications of these findings are discussed.

Dog Parks and Coffee Shops: Faux Diversity and Consumption in Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Sonya A. Grier and Vanessa G. Perry


The process of gentrification, whereby lower-income residents are replaced with higher-income ones (Glass 1964), has changed the composition and character of hundreds of urban neighborhoods in cities worldwide. These changes affect not only the physical landscape but also the diversity of the people who live there. This research explores diversity seeking, consumption, and community in neighborhoods undergoing gentrification. The authors conducted a qualitative study of longer-term and newer residents in three neighborhoods in Washington, DC, to examine how the demographic changes that accompany gentrification relate to consumption. The findings suggest that diversity-seeking tendencies among newer residents were accompanied by tensions in the social and consumption domains, such that longer-term residents perceived exclusion and all residents experienced a reduced sense of community. The authors also find that these dynamics undermined the diversity that drew residents to these areas in the first place, resulting in “faux diversity.” The authors draw on these findings to discuss strategies that marketers and policy makers can utilize to contribute to the development of inclusive, healthy, and sustainable diverse communities.

Keeping the Memory but Not the Possession: Memory Preservation Mitigates Identity Loss from Product Disposition

Karen Page Winterich, Rebecca Walker Reczek, and Julie R. Irwin


Nonprofit firms’ reliance on donations to build inventory distinguishes them from traditional retailers. This reliance on consumer donations means that these organizations face an inherently more volatile supply chain than retailers that source inventory from manufacturers. The authors propose that consumer reluctance to part with possessions with sentimental value causes a bottleneck in the donation process. The goal of this research is therefore to provide nonprofits with tools to increase donations of used goods and provide a theoretical link between the literature streams on prosocial behavior, disposition, memory, and identity. As such, the authors explore the effectiveness of memory preservation strategies (e.g., taking a photo of a good before donating it) in increasing donations to nonprofits. A field study using a donation drive demonstrates that encouraging consumers to take photos of sentimental possessions before donating them increases donations, and five laboratory experiments explicate this result by mapping the proposed psychological process behind the success of memory preservation techniques. Specifically, these techniques operate by ameliorating consumers’ perceived identity loss when considering donation of sentimental goods.

Spillover Effects of Mission Activities on Revenues in Nonprofit Health Care: The Case of Aravind Eye Hospitals, India

Sachin Gupta, Omkar D. Palsule-Desai, C. Gnanasekaran, and Thulasiraj Ravilla


Nonprofit health care organizations in low- and middle-income countries often pursue a cross-subsidization business model wherein services are offered to poor patients for free through surpluses generated by serving some patients at market prices. This approach allows such organizations to fulfill their mission-oriented and revenue-generation goals. Conventional wisdom holds that mission activities need financial subsidies from revenue-generating activities. The authors examine this dependence in the context of Aravind Eye Hospitals, which delivers eye care services in India. They measure whether the marketing activities (outreach camps) of Aravind that are targeted only to poor patients produce the spillover benefit of attracting paying patients to its hospitals. Using nine years of patient-level historical data, the authors find that camps increase the flow of paying patients. These effects are comparable to the camps acting as advertising for Aravind. Using model estimates, the authors compute the incremental revenue accruing to Aravind from a camp and find that it exceeds the incremental cost of a camp. The findings challenge conventional beliefs about the subsidies required by mission activities.

Credibility-Enhancing Displays Promote the Provision of Non-normative Public Goods

Gordon T. Kraft-Todd, Bryan Bollinger, Kenneth Gillingham, Stefan Lamp & David G. Rand


Promoting the adoption of public goods that are not yet widely accepted is particularly challenging. This is because most tools for increasing cooperation—such as reputation concerns1 and information about social norms2—are typically effective only for behaviours that are commonly practiced, or at least generally agreed upon as being desirable. Here we examine how advocates can successfully promote non-normative (that is, rare or unpopular) public goods. We do so by applying the cultural evolutionary theory of credibility-enhancing displays3, which argues that beliefs are spread more effectively by actions than by words alone—because actions provide information about the actor’s true beliefs. Based on this logic, people who themselves engage in a given behaviour will be more effective advocates for that behaviour than people who merely extol its virtues—specifically because engaging in a behaviour credibly signals a belief in its value. As predicted, a field study of a programme that promotes residential solar panel installation in 58 towns in the United States—comprising 1.4 million residents in total—found that community organizers who themselves installed through the programme recruited 62.8% more residents to install solar panels than community organizers who did not. This effect was replicated in three pre-registered randomized survey experiments (total n = 1,805). These experiments also support the theoretical prediction that this effect is specifically driven by subjects’ beliefs about what the community organizer believes about solar panels (that is, second-order beliefs), and demonstrate generalizability to four other highly non-normative behaviours. Our findings shed light on how to spread non-normative prosocial behaviours, offer an empirical demonstration of credibility-enhancing displays and have substantial implications for practitioners and policy-makers.

Ethically Deployed Defaults: Transparency and Consumer Protection through Disclosure and Preference Articulation

Mary Steffel, Elanor F. Williams, and Ruth Pogacar


Defaults are extremely effective at covertly guiding choices, which raises concerns about how to employ them ethically and responsibly. Consumer advocates have proposed that disclosing how defaults are intended to influence choices could help protect consumers from being unknowingly manipulated. This research shows that consumers appreciate transparency, but disclosure does not make defaults less influential. Seven experiments demonstrate that disclosure alters how fair consumers perceive defaults to be but does not attenuate default effects because consumers do not understand how to counter the processes by which defaults bias their judgment. Given that defaults lead consumers to focus disproportionately on reasons to choose the default even with disclosure, debiasing default effects requires that consumers engage in a more balanced consideration of the default and its alternative. Encouraging people to articulate their preferences for the default or its alternative, as in a forced choice, shifts the focus away from the default and reduces default effects.

The 2020 Summer Academic Conference explored how marketing has been affected by disruption in ways that nobody could have foreseen. From big data to social media to the sharing economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has disrupted product innovation, pricing structures, branding strategies and distribution platforms. Current disruptions continue to transform how educators interact with students and encourage effective learning.

Following the Summer Academic Conference, the AMA assembled a repository of teaching tools to help faculty and doctoral student instructors engage students in either brick and mortar or virtual classroom settings. Access the on-demand events to learn more about individual tools and strategies.