Understanding Consumer Behavior: U of L Conference Offers New Insights

Understanding Consumer Behavior: U of L Conference Offers New Insights

Against the backdrop of international saber-rattling and economic uncertainty over new trading tariffs now in play, it’s not all bad news for retailers and marketers. The reason: some of the brightest minds in consumer behavior research recently came together at a conference hosted by the College of Business at the University of Louisville, unveiling the latest studies into more effective ways to connect brand messages with customers.

The breadth of attendees at the conference was remarkable. Leading researchers came not only from the University of Louisville and regional neighbors such as the University of Kentucky, Indiana University, the University of Cincinnati and Kent State, but also from Northwestern, the University of Minnesota, the University of Washington and the University of Western Ontario.

And they brought fascinating insights with them. Just a few examples:

  • How we respond to discounts offered throughout any given store is heavily influenced by the first discounts we see.
  • Political party affiliations may tell us more than you think about how consumers may respond to the introduction of new products, updates and loyalty programs.
  • Common sales techniques actually can hurt the prospect of closing a sale with some of us.
  • We put more stock in automated messages (like the suggestions served up by Amazon, Netflix and Pandora) when they offer immediate, tangible benefits than when they are about bigger-picture concepts like happiness or satisfaction.

And there was much more.

The kinds of insights shared at U of L’s conference are intended to go beyond academic discussion and be applied to real-world retail environments and marketing strategies. That’s the reason Doe-Anderson got involved as a partner in the conference. As one of the longest-established marketing firms in the country, we’re constantly looking for fresh thinking and opportunities to help develop what will become the next best practices in how to understand and act upon consumer behavior patterns. From the convening of the conference to the credentials of the attendees – attracted from Louisville and beyond – to the quality of the presentations, we were impressed by the initiative shown by the Department of Marketing at U of L’s College of Business. It’s exciting to see, firsthand, the brilliance of those doing deep dives into the complexities of human behavior, and then applying their findings in ways that can help make businesses more successful in a constantly evolving marketplace.

Just for fun, Doe-Anderson threw a wrinkle into the conference by asking small groups of participants, on short notice, to “Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know.” Participants were asked to provide us with brief factoids from lesser-known (to us) studies that could have specific, actionable applications for retailers or marketers. These experts were as quick as they are smart. Immediately they cited research that numbers and shapes have genders, and that posting a photo from a restaurant could make the food taste better. Good to know.

Our congratulations to U of L College of Business Dean, Dr. Todd Mooradian; Department of Marketing Professor Dr. Michael Barone, who organized the conference; and new U of L President, Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, who, as a marketing professor herself, understands all of this far better than we do. Congratulations also goes to all the participants whose inspired ideas and penetrating questions are leading us toward a better understanding of ourselves and our collective customers. We can’t wait to see what you come up with next.


Todd Spencer is President and CEO of Doe-Anderson, Inc., a full-service marketing firm based in Louisville, Ky., which helped underwrite this year’s Consumer Behavior Conference at the University of Louisville. Doe-Anderson’s clients include Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam bourbons, Utz potato chips, Maui Jim sunglasses, Louisville Slugger, Carrier, Norton Healthcare, OhioHealth, Franciscan Health, Central Bank, Independence Bank, the Galt House, Bluegrass Cellular and Louisville Gas & Electric.