Institute of Marketing
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Science meets practice

Marketing is an applied research discipline, which seeks to answer real-world problems that companies face every day. We routinely collaborate with companies as part of Bachelor and Master theses, covering the entire range of marketing topics related to, for example, branding, service design, market research, social media marketing, and many more. The concrete topics in this domain depend on the current collaborations and supervision capacities at the Institute. Students should be interested in the practical application of their marketing knowledge. Theses in this domain are typically empirical in nature.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

TitleTypeMethodContact & Supervisor
Customer Experience Readiness mit Voycer Master Empirical examination Marko Sarstedt
Dynafit Expansion in den Bike Markt: Chancen, Risiken und mögliche Wege der Expansion Master Empirische Arbeit Marko Sarstedt

Traversing the here and now: Effects of psychological distance and mental abstraction on consumer decision-making

This topic domain emphasizes the effects of human perception and thinking on consumer behavior. Specifically, tying in with research on construal level theory (Trope & Liberman, 2010 - Psychological Review), students who write a thesis in this topic domain will focus on the effects of psychological distance (i.e., how far away an action such as a purchase is from the current direct experience) and the mental level of abstraction (i.e., how concrete or abstract an object is represented mentally). Relevant research questions in this domain relate to preference shifts and behavioral inconsistencies that are, for example, evident in the attitude-behavior gap in sustainable and political consumption. Moreover, topics in this domain cover the consumption-relevant effects of different social relationships and perspective-taking.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

TitleTypeMethodContact & Supervisor
Measuring consumer’s perception with Kimchi Palmer tasks: Use and validation Master Empirical examination Marko Sarstedt
Buying here and now vs. far away – an empirical examination of psychological distance on choice Bachelor/Master Empirical examination Susanne Adler
An empirical comparison between construal level manipulations and their effect on consumer decision making Bachelor/Master Empirical examination Susanne Adler
Construal Level and preferences for choice sets with similar and dissimilar options Master Empirical examination Susanne Adler

 

Effects of contextual factors on consumer decision-making

The way people perceive their surroundings is a critical factor in human decision making. Even seemingly unrelated contextual factors such as a product’s relative position to other products, the choice set composition, the ambient temperature, or social cues such as the level of crowding and crowd compositions can influence consumer behavior. Research on this domain puts a special focus on the mechanisms of different contextual factors and their influences on consumption-relevant outcomes, such as product choice.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

Title TypeMethodContact & Supervisor
How does context affect choice? An empirical examination on choice set composition effects on consumer choice Bachelor/ Master Empirical examination Susanne Adler
Examining the effects of social influence on consumer behavior Bachelor/ Master Literature review/ Empirical examination Susanne Adler

 

Effects of sensory factors on consumer decision-making

Since sensual perceptions (seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and tasting) are an essential part of human life, they are crucial for marketers and researchers who aim to understand consumer decision making. Specifically, sensual perceptions affect consumers preferences before and during purchases and are also highly relevant for post-consumption attitudes and – on a broader level – for brand building and communication. Thereby, sensory stimuli such as ambient scents can be examined in isolation or studied in combination with other stimuli to understand interaction effects and create unique consumption experiences. In this topic domain, students will engage in projects that assess how and why sensory stimuli affect consumer’s evaluations, preferences, and behaviors.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

TitleTypeMethodContact & Supervisor
What do we know about consumers touching / smelling / hearing / tasting? Conducting an overview on consumer research in specific sensory domains Bachelor Literature review Susanne Adler
Effects of cool vs. warm scents Master Empirical examination Marko Sarstedt
Insects as future food source: Current research on consumer acceptance Bachelor/Master Literature review Lisa Schreiber
Consumers' perception of plant-based alternatives for meat, fish, milk and egg Bachelor/Master Literature review Lisa Schreiber
Comfort food: Investigating compensatory effects between emotion and food Bachelor/Master Literature review Lisa Schreiber

 

Introducing the science of science to consumer research: Bibliometric analyses on consumer research topics

Researchers increasingly rely on structured bibliometric reviews in addition to other synthesizing articles such as structured literature reviews and meta-analyses. Bibliometric research analyzes the underlying structures of scientific publications, for example, via co-authorship and citation analyses. Thereby, researchers achieve a bird-eye view on a research field and gain an overarching picture of larger patterns that may go unnoticed in articles with a narrower focus. Students who write a thesis in this topic domain will familiarize themselves with bibliometric methods and analyses to put them to use on a predefined topic section within the field of consumer behavior.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

TitleTypeMethodContact & Supervisor
A bird's eye perspective on science: A systematic analysis of methods used in applied bibliometric research Bachelor/Master Literature review Susanne Adler
What are seminal marketing publications really relevant for? An analysis of citing documents Bachelor/Master Bibliometric analysis Susanne Adler
Conducting a bibliometric analysis on scent marketing research Bachelor/Master Bibliometric analysis Susanne Adler

 

Effects of assortment organizations on consumers

This topic domain examines the effects of different assortment organizations on consumers’ decision-making. Products can be organized in many ways within categories, e.g., organized vs. random, brand vs. flavor, expected vs. unexpected or attribute-based vs. benefit-based, or across categories, e.g., complement-based vs. substitute-based, to influence consumers. Possible research questions in this topic domain include consumers’ perceptions of the assortment and the effect of these different perceptions on important marketing outcomes, such as product choice, purchase intention, and willingness-to-pay. Students who write a thesis in this topic domain are encouraged to examine the theoretical basis of consumer decisions, e.g., newness cuing or psychological distance.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

TitleTypeMethodContact & Supervisor
Effects of sustainable products’ assortment organizations on consumers Bachelor Literature review Benjamin Maas
The impact of a hybrid layout on consumers Master Empirical examination Benjamin Maas
Effects of assortment organizations (complement-based vs. substitute-based) and shopping goals with mixed abstraction levels on consumers Master Empirical examination Benjamin Maas


The impact of sustainable cues on consumers

Sustainability is becoming more and more important every day. This holds true for companies as well as for consumers. Therefore, companies and researchers try to boost sustainable consumption. A challenge to this goal is the intention-behavior gap of consumers that is the deviance between consumers’ attitudes (e.g. liking organic products) and behaviors (e.g. buying non-organic products due to their lower prices). Students who write a thesis in this topic domain are encouraged to consider psychological factors when examining sustainable cues’ effects on consumers, e.g., social influence or habit formation. Possible research questions include consumers’ perceptions of sustainable product attributes, e.g., sustainable labels or sustainable packages, and their impact on important consumer decisions, such as purchase intention and sustainable behavior change.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

TitleTypeMethodContact & Supervisor
The impact of the Fair Trade labels on consumers Bachelor Literature review Benjamin Maas
Effects of package designs (sustainable vs. conventional) on consumers Master Empirical examination Benjamin Maas
Effects of communication modes (visual communications vs. text) on consumers’ willingness to behave sustainably Master Empirical examination Benjamin Maas


Effects of psychological ownership on consumers

In recent years, the concept of psychological ownership has increasingly gained importance in marketing research. Psychological ownership describes a phenomenon when people feel that something material or immaterial is their property, irrespective of legal ownership. For example, people might mention “their” office chair although the chair is the property of a company. Possible research questions in this domain include the effects of psychological ownership on important marketing outcomes, e.g., word-of-mouth and willingness-to-pay. Students who write a thesis in this topic domain are encouraged to examine psychological ownership in relation to sports clubs.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

TitleTypeMethodContact & Supervisor
The development of research of psychological ownership since 2017 Bachelor Literature review Benjamin Maas
The effect of psychological ownership in a German sports fandom context Master Empirical examination Benjamin Maas
The effect of psychological ownership in an international sports fandom context Master Empirical examination Benjamin Maas

 

Measurement in marketing

Making good decisions requires marketing practitioners to have a sound understanding of how their activities impact consumers’ perceptions, attitudes, and intentions. Measuring such theoretical concepts therefore occupies a central position in marketing research. We offer various measurement topics related to, for example, higher-order constructs, the choice of measurement mode, and different operationalizations of constructs. Advanced topics deal with ways how to control for metrological uncertainty in marketing measurement. Students wishing to work in this field should have a basic understanding of psychometrics and factor-analytic research methods. Conceptual and empirical theses will be offered.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

Title TypeMethodContact & Supervisor
Corporate reputation’s effects on customer satisfaction and loyalty: Moderators and mediators Master Empirical examination Marko Sarstedt
Metrological uncertainty in marketing measurement: A research agenda Master Literature review Marko Sarstedt

 

Research methods

Given the complexities of the processes involved in consumer research, methodological questions have long been of high interest to researchers working in the field. The Institute for Marketing has a strong background in structural equation modeling (SEM) techniques, which allow for estimating complex cause-effect relationships between constructs (e.g., brand image, corporate reputation, and customer satisfaction) and observable indicator variables. We offer a broad range of topics in this domain, covering various aspects related to partial least squares, which has become a standard SEM technique, but also other methods such as from machine learning. Topics in this domain comprise literature reviews, empirical papers, and simulation studies. Students interested in this domain should have a basic understanding of statistics; profound statistical knowledge is not required.

Listed below are exemplary titles of possible topics. Other topics in this domain are also possible, own suggestions are highly welcome. Final topics will be discussed with the supervisor.

Title TypeMethodContact & Supervisor
PLS use outside business research (e.g., political sciences) Master Literature review Marko Sarstedt
Model comparison and model selection practices in marketing research Master Literature review Marko Sarstedt

 

 Miscellaneous topics

TitleTypeMethodContact & Supervisor
Bragging in an online world Bachelor/Master Empirical examination Marko Sarstedt
Gebrauchte Geschenke Bachelor/Master Literature review Marko Sarstedt
Kognitive Verzerrungen in Urteilsprozessen und deren Anwendung im Marketing Bachelor Literature review Lisa Schreiber