1. Driving positive consumer welfare
Welfare can be understood from an economic, psychological, or social perspective and can be a product of individual and collective consumer behaviors as well as consumers’ interactions with firms. How and under what conditions can firms do well by doing good? Examples include marketing to the bottom of the pyramid, marketing to create environmental and societal outcomes, and marketing in a manner that is mindful of customers’ well-being. How can charitable donations, recycling, and other positive consumer behaviors be encouraged? How can firms create value by simultaneously making consumers better off (i.e., create win-win outcomes)? What are the long-term consequences for firms that focus on extracting short-term consumer surplus (e.g., dynamic pricing)? How do marketing leaders foster organizational capabilities or cultures that drive positive consumer welfare? How should policy approach this issue as it balances the needs of firms and the needs of customers?
2. Connecting for good: mobile, digital, social
The explosion of new ways of reaching and interacting with customers holds enormous opportunity for marketing. However, the area is rife with controversy with limited research to guide consumers, marketers, and policy. How can marketers use these new tools individually or collectively most effectively to create value for their customers and capture value for their firms? How can digital marketing be employed to benefit consumers and society? How can privacy concerns with location-based marketing be overcome? How can data from mobile devices or social media be more effective in generating useful insights for consumers and firms? What interventions or nudges via mobile devices and social media are most effective? What is the consumer’s lived experience of the new digital marketing frontier? How do consumers navigate this new world and how does the use of these tools affect their interactions with firms and one another? Field studies using mobile or social media are particularly welcome.
3. Improving the customer journey and services experiences
The customer journey (CJ) has been disrupted by technology, creating firm and consumer opportunities. What is the nature of that journey in different channels and in an omni-channel environment? At the same time, the field is taking a broader look at the topic of customer experience and how it can facilitate customer satisfaction and important firm outcomes. This is especially important in the services domain where experience is often at the core of the service. What is the interplay between the CJ and the customer experience (CX)? How can a firm identify the most effective CJ touchpoints to focus their CX efforts? Is CX at firm-driven touchpoints less impactful than CX at customer-driven touchpoints? How is CX different from CRM? What is the role of technology in the CX domain? Measurement and construct operationalization of key stages and outcomes in the CJ-CX process are sorely needed. Insights are also needed regarding how firms can most effectively manage the CJ and create the CX. What firm capabilities and organizational structure are most important to getting the job done well?
4. Innovation for good: impact, sustainability, and scale
Innovation is an important source of progress for nations and firms. It can save lives, save time, delight, and extend our interactions in the marketplace in important ways. Managing innovation requires balancing risk and reward and developing new capabilities for developing and leveraging new products, services, and ideas in new markets. How do innovations affect consumers, companies, or societies? How can policy be used as a tool for stimulating innovation? What organizational approaches are most effect in guiding the most important innovations for society? What marketing knowledge and skills prepare marketers to be better innovators? Why are some more successful in penetrating society and creating markets than others? On the consumer side, how do consumers navigate a world of so many innovations? Novel insights on the drivers of innovation, the role of innovation among understudied populations, and the impact of innovation on consumers, firms, and society are especially welcome.
5. Change and dynamics in marketing
The study of change and dynamics in markets is fundamental to marketing. Consumers and firms are dynamic actors that change in response to one another. What important dynamics have not been documented in marketing? What insight is derived from revealing how consumers, firms, and markets evolve over time? On the modeling front, new empirical approaches to improve our understanding of how customers are changing over time are welcome. There is also a need for models that precisely capture shifts in marketing effectiveness over time has never been greater. How can such shifts best be estimated? Can data science play a role in helping firms identify trends in time to react? How can dynamic models be used to generate prescriptions for firm actions? How can concerns about endogeneity be reasonably dealt with? The time seems right for more collaboration between modelers and experimentalists—how can this be fostered?
6. Metrics for making marketing matter
Calls for metrics abound in the discipline. As tools of evaluation and accountability, marketing metrics have taken their position in the pantheon of effective marketing. Investments, strategy change, and even marketing leaders hang in the balance of how marketing performs on key metrics. The marketing-finance interface has brought a new set of metrics and associated questions for the field to consider as we seek to improve marketing’s influence on stock market outcomes. At the same time, metrics for intangible marketing activities remain a challenge as do metrics for marketing’s effect on non-economic outcomes. Metrics should make marketing matter in companies but why are metrics so often ignored and to what end? On the academic side, what are the right metrics to evaluate the quality of academic research?
7. Better food, health, and nutrition
This theme addresses food, health and nutrition from a wide range of perspectives. Consumer decision making and consumption behaviors are critically important given rising obesity and increasing morbidity, as well as the opportunity to improve human life through better decisions and behaviors. The institutional structures and market activities that give rise to food, health, and nutrition activities are also of interest, including access to nutritious food and health care. The supply side of marketing practice is a dominant force affecting health and wellness. We welcome insights into improving food marketing practices, debates on the value and ethics of marketing activities, and the need for and effectiveness of public policy to stimulate either consumer or marketer activities. Field studies that test potential interventions to drive healthier choices or reduce caloric intake are particularly welcome.
8. Communities and collaborations with customers and partners
Communities of customers and networks of partners set the stage for a profoundly complex and interesting marketplace. This theme addresses this topic from the perspective of both consumers and firms, from a psychological, social, and economic perspective, and from a micro, dyadic, social network, and social structure perspective. These communities and collaborations may exist under the purview of marketing or they may arise independently. Either way, marketing plays a key role in firms in fashioning these critically important relationships, networks, and collectives. Networks of partnerships are being woven together to create new forms of competitive advantage. These new forms require complex governance approaches with consideration of relational factors and transaction costs. How will the threat of disintermediation transform long-time partnerships? New concepts and new methods are welcome for this enduring topic in the marketing profession.
9. Managing human capital for better marketing and sales
Human capital—as manifested in the knowledge, abilities, experience, judgment, and connections of individuals—is crucial to the success and failure of marketing and sales. Improved human capital among consumers, employees, leaders, and entrepreneurs can mean better outcomes for themselves as well as those with whom they interact. What is the best way to develop and leverage human capital for the most effective and inspiring interactions? What environmental, organizational, and business factors influence improvements in human capital? The field needs a better understanding of this “people” side of marketing.
10. Marketing and consumption around the world
This theme welcomes research on the role and nature of marketing in international contexts. Taking the perspective of customers, firms, markets, institutions, and policy, this topic is rife with opportunity. What is the nature of consumer behavior across markets? How do customers perceive and interact with a global marketplace? How do firms approach the challenge of marketing across markets? How do they manage the desire to build scalable, global resources and capabilities that can be adapted for local markets? What is the nature of marketing in non-traditional locations? What is the impact of marketing (and marketers) around the world? Insights from emerging or understudied markets are especially welcome, as are insights from novel approaches to the study of marketing and consumption around the world.