Marketing

As China's economy grows and stringent travel restrictions are relaxed, urban middle- to upper-class Chinese are increasing looking beyond their borders for travel. While a staggering 31 million Chinese traveled abroad in 2005, only 100,000 visited the United States. One reason is political — the U.S. has yet to apply to the Chinese government for "approved destinations status," a bilateral agreement allowing Chinese tourists to bypass consular formalities by allowing travel agents to handle all visa applications. Another reason is cultural: U.S. hotel, airline, and tourism industries should prepare for the new wave of Chinese tourists by studying up on their preferences — or risk losing out on the 50 million Chinese tourists expected to be traveling abroad annually by 2010.

You wouldn't expect to see a scrawny, spectacled, beak-nosed Chippendale dancer any more than you'd expect Hooters to hire an obese waitress. But, surely, looks don't matter for the highly educated and trained sales professionals that pharmaceutical companies send to doctors' offices. Or do they? As it turns out, research co-authored by a W. P. Carey School marketing professor shows that looks do make a difference even when the salesperson is selling something as serious as medication to someone as scientifically-minded as a physician.

Did you ever notice how shoppers often thumb through magazines, but when it comes to making a purchase, they never pick the one at the front of the rack? The reason is perceived "product contamination." A W. P. Carey School of Business marketing professor was among a group of researchers interested in exploring the phenomenon of product contamination and the costs to retailers. Their findings confirmed that consumers are significantly less likely to buy an item they believe was touched by other consumers. The results, the researchers say, should hold obvious interest for retailers and merchandisers, who probably lose an untold amount of money each year due to product contamination.

Since 1980, the proportion of overweight U.S. children ages 6 to 11 has more than doubled, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Childhood obesity doesn't stop at our nation's borders; it's a global trend. The usual suspects ­— poor eating habits, lack of exercise, parental obesity, genetics, and even demographics all play a role — but one controversial "x-factor" is emerging as a primary catalyst for the explosive growth of overweight children: television food advertising. Numerous studies at the W. P. Carey School of Business and around the world have found a link between the number of TV commercials children watch and the amount and type of food children consume.

A smart customer service employee knows there is a fine line between a pleasant, efficient discussion of the customer's needs leading to the discovery that she would be better served with the company's upgraded service ... and an exchange resulting in that same customer canceling her service, slamming down the phone in frustration. In either case, the result depends largely on the qualities of the individual employee. But how many companies realize the value in acquiring and retaining a top-flight front line of service employees? A marketing professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business and her colleagues believe that successful companies do more than come up with a strategy to provide customized customer service — they know it is the employees on the front line who have to implement that strategy.