Schedule: 10.09.2019 - 05.12.2019
Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
Teaching Period (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
II 2018–19 (autumn) Otaniemi campus
I-II 2019–20 (autumn) Otaniemi campus
Learning Outcomes (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
By attending the course, participants will be better equipped to analyze and interpret decision-making in varying consumption contexts, as well as the foundational elements of those contexts. In particular, after having attended the module, participants will be able to better understand:
1. To introduce current knowledge of both substantive findings and theory about consumer behavior.
2. To provide concepts for understanding consumer reactions to marketing stimuli and how consumer decision-making is structured
3. To provide an understanding of how consumer research is conducted from a methodological perspective
4. To improve the ability to identify potential applications of consumer behavior concepts and to utilize those concepts in analyzing marketing problems and determining marketing strategy.
Content (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
Consumer psychology, consumer culture, consumer research methods.
Out of all the subjects that you as a business student might encounter during your studies, consumer behavior is the one you have the most intimate first-hand knowledge with. You were all consumers long before stepping into the hallowed grounds of Aalto University. Yet this familiarity with consumption sometimes makes it difficult to develop a necessary critical or analytical distance. The purpose of this course is to fundamentally challenge the way you understand consumption as an activity and as a topic of study. We will move you beyond colloquial or taken-for-granted understandings of consumption such as conceptually limited tropes like shopping. Understanding consumption is essential for marketing managers in developing effective marketing strategies. That said, we will repeatedly emphasize that to study consumption is not the same as studying customers. The class explores a multitude of concepts and theories from different behavioral sciences to fully appreciate what drives consumption choices and experiences. The course is split into two main paradigms of consumer research: consumer psychology and consumer culture.
The consumer psychology side inform participants on psychological processes and biases underlying the decisions made by individuals, with a special emphasis on how to incorporate such insights into consumption-related decisions. As consumers, we are challenged by a large amount and variety of choices every day. These decisions can be as trivial as deciding between Cappuccino or Latte Macchiato for breakfast, but they can also be as impactful as deciding on a job offer or taking a loan for buying a new apartment. Current research estimates that an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. Each choice we make, i.e., a decision between various options, bears consequences, positive or negative. During decision-making, we generally attempt to estimate – with varying degrees of intuition and elaboration – the likelihood of an outcome as well as the ramifications of that outcome. Research analyzing such decision-making is typically referred to as Behavioral Science. The module gives participants a broad overview of important results from two major Behavioral Sciences: Behavioral Economics and Consumer Research. To do so, it discusses seminal theories from Economics and Cognitive and Social Psychology, which explore how people make decisions. Moreover, the module offers participants advice about applying these insights to topics in Marketing and Management. Although a number of important concepts will be covered throughout the module, the focus will be largely on understanding heuristics (mental shortcuts or rule of thumbs that are used to increase the efficiency of decision-making) and biases (a systematic error in thinking, in the sense that a judgment deviates from what would be considered a rational choice).
In the consumer culture side, we move beyond the individual decision-making brain and investigate the cultural, social, and historical underpinnings of consumption. Here, culture is not to be understood in the colloquial sense (“Finnish culture is like this, Swedish culture is like that”). The view of culture we adopt in this course sees consumer culture as the way in which we, as consumers, make sense of and organize our lived experiences through the various resources provided by the marketplace. We investigate issues like how social class structures consumption, how consumption informs the construction of identity, how gender is performed through consumption, and the inner workings of consumer collectives like subcultures and brand communities, just to name a few.
Though the concepts presented during the course will be numerous, we will actively encourage reflection, criticism, deeper exploration, and creative applications based on your own interests. This should also sensitize you to understand that when it comes to understanding consumer behavior, there is no one correct answer; rather different perspectives and explanations are often complementary.
Assessment Methods and Criteria (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
Students will be evaluated based class exams on specified texts, analyses on the assigned readings, a lecture/presentation + student led class-activity or discussion, and group projects. Participation and contribution to discussion (in class and online) will also be taken into account in evaluation. The group project will be the largest contributor to the overall grade. In the final assignment, students will have to create a concrete for a large-scale consumer research project that addresses either a societal issue or solve a marketing challenge of a company.. Groups are expected to complete peer evaluations to ensure balanced participation.
Class participation and class exams 20%
Consumer Research Article Analysis 20%
Student-led presentation and class activity 20%
(done in groups)
Research proposal project 40%
(done in groups)
Contact session are highly interactive. Students are expected to contribute actively in classroom discussions and assignments. Active participation can earn extra credit.
Workload (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
6 credits, 160 hours
Lectures and Workshops (compulsory) (48 h)
Reading textbooks and articles (35 h)
Individual assignments (35 h)
Group assignment (42 h)
Study Material (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
Ariely, Dan. (2008) Predictably irrational. New York: HarperCollins.
McCracken, Grant. (2011) Chief culture officer: How to create a living, breathing corporation. Basic Books
In addition, students are expected to read articles from leading consumer research journals (will be provided by the instructor).
Grading Scale (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
Registration for Courses (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
Registration via WedOodi. Check registration time in WebOodi.
NOTE: Mention your group of priority upon registration.
Further Information (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):
The number of students admitted to the course is restricted to 50. Priority is given to (1) Aalto students studying in MSc Program of Marketing, (2) IDBM-studens, (3) other Aalto students.
NOTE: Students are required to write own group of priority to further information field of course registration!
Course Policies and Procedures:
Because the in-class experience is an integral part of this course, attendance is required. You are allowed one absence. Starting with the second absence, each one is a 4 percentage-point reduction in your participation grade. Based on my discretion, late arrival to class can also count as an absence.
Professional Classroom Decorum
I will not tolerate IM’ing, text messaging, email checking, or cell phone use of any kind during class. I find this behavior personally offensive and disrespectful. If I perceive you to be engaging in any of these activities, you will receive a zero for participation that day. Three “zeros” result in a 4 percentage-point reduction in your grade. You are guilty if I think you’re guilty. That’s the only way I see to enforce the rule.
Some examples of practices that are forbidden in class:
1. Checking your phone underneath the desk
2. Checking your IM on your laptop during class
3. Checking any website that is not related to course content during class
4. I also don’t find it too useful when people sprint to Wikipedia whenever a question arises.
5. Doing homework for other classes.
Think of it this way: some jobs let you do this while at work. Some don’t. Consider my class in the latter category. According to a recent study, 73% of “phone checking” is done out of boredom or habit, almost like a muscle memory impulse. Break the habit. You’ll thank yourself later.