Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp Award


Arnaud De Bruyn and Gary L. Lilien have been awarded the 2018 Jan-Benedict E. M. Steenkamp Award for Long-Term Impact

Arnaud De Bruyn (ESSEC Business School, France) and Gary L. Lilien (Penn State University, USA/University of Technology Sydney, Australia) receive the 2018 Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp Award for Long-Term Impact

The European Marketing Academy (EMAC) and the International Journal of Research in Marketing (IJRM) are pleased to announce the winner of the 2018 Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp Award for Long-Term Impact:

Arnaud De Bruyn and Gary L. Lilien (2008), A multi-stage model of word-of-mouth influence through viral marketing, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Volume 25(3), Pages 151–163


With the growth and evolution of the Internet, electronic peer-to-peer referrals have become an important phenomenon, and marketers have tried to exploit their potential through viral marketing campaigns. At the same time, spam and e-mail-based viruses have cluttered electronic communications, making viral marketing campaigns problematic and challenging to deploy. The key driver in viral marketing is the effectiveness of unsolicited, electronic referrals to create awareness, trigger interest, and generate sales or product adoption. Yet, despite a large literature concerning interpersonal influence, little is known about how this electronic, or, indeed, any word-of-mouth process influences consumers’ actual behaviors, particularly in a cluttered online environment. In this paper, we develop a model to help identify the role word-of-mouth plays during each stage of a viral marketing recipients’ decision-making process, including the conditions that moderate such influence. We then present an innovative methodology for collecting data unobtrusively and in real time. We empirically test the model and methodology via a field study, where we observed the reactions of 1100 individuals after they received an unsolicited e-mail from one of their acquaintances, inviting them to take a survey and in turn spread the word about it. We found that characteristics of the social tie influenced recipients’ behaviors, but had different effects at different stages: tie strength facilitated awareness, perceptual affinity triggered recipients’ interest, and demographic similarity had a negative influence on each stage of the decision-making process. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and methodological contributions of our work and of managerial implications of these findings for online marketers interested in strategies for leveraging peer-to-peer referral networks.

Selection Procedure

The Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp Award for Long-Term Impact is given annually to papers published in IJRM in recognition of their exceptional contributions to academic marketing research by demonstrating long-term impact.

A 4-member Award Committee, formed by the IJRM editor and the EMAC VP of Publications, manages the nomination and selection procedure. For the 2018 Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp Award, the committee was composed of Michael Haenlein (ESCP Europe, France; Chairperson), Tulin Erdem (New York University, USA), Iris Hung (Fudan University, China), and Ajay Kohli (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA).

The selection procedure for the Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp Award for Long-Term Impact is as follows:

  1. All papers published in IJRM 10 to 15 years prior to the year the award is being presented are eligible. Thus, for the 2018 Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp Award all papers published in the years 2003 through 2008 were eligible. Past winners of this award, papers authored or co-authored by Jan-Benedict Steenkamp, and by any of the current IJRM Editors are not eligible.
  2. Nominations are invited from EMAC and IJRM Editorial board members. This year, the Award Committee received nominations for 47 papers. These nominated papers comprise the first ballot from which the IJRM editorial board can vote for up to 5 papers; self-voting is not allowed. The 10 papers that receive the most votes in the first round make up the ballot for the second and final round of voting in which the editorial board can choose only 1 paper.
  3. After receiving the votes, the Award Committee deliberates on the winning paper guided by the following criteria: (1) the votes received from the IJRM Editorial Board, (2) its ISI and Google Scholar citations, and (3) its quality, as assessed by the committee’s in-depth reading. There can be two winners in exceptional cases (not more than once every 3 years on average).

Statement from the Award Committee

Concepts like Word-of-Mouth (WOM) and viral marketing form a central part of the marketing landscape nowadays. While research on the importance of traditional WOM and social influence dates back to the mid-1950s, work on its electronic counterpart is naturally much more recent. The work of de Bruyn and Lilien integrates into this stream in a particularly important way since it analyzes electronic Word-of-Mouth in a more complex manner than prior studies, both conceptually and methodologically. Conceptually, de Bruyn and Lilien look at factors impacting the effectiveness of Word-of-Mouth along a granular multi-stage process of Word-of-Mouth – Awareness – Interest – Final decision instead of a single-stage model. From a methodological perspective, the authors rely on a field experiment with particularly novel and demanding design, especially given the technical feasibilities available a decade ago. This combination of conceptual and methodological innovation allows de Bruyn and Lilien to question some prior results of simpler studies and, in doing so, to provide a series of counterintuitive results.

While the specific applications that were prominent at the time of publication may no longer be the same (in their introduction, de Bruyn and Lilien mention examples like Hotmail, ICQ and AOL – all of which no longer exist in this form), their findings are still relevant and have impacted hundreds of subsequent studies. The article won the 2008 IJRM Best Article Award, is among the top 5 hits on Google Scholar for the topic of “viral marketing” and has received over 800 citations so far, roughly 100 per year of publication. The paper was the unanimous choice by the committee for the combination of the importance of the problem examined, the creativity of the modeling, the managerial implications, and the impact the work has had on other marketing scholars. It also received the highest number of votes from IJRM board members.

We congratulate the authors for receiving this award.

Michael Haenlein
ESCP Europe, France

Tulin Erdem
New York University, USA

Iris Hung
Fudan University, China

Ajay Kohli
Georgia Institute of Technology, USA