New Center Uses Marketing to Boost HappinessContact: Nicole LaRosa
Business school may seem an unlikely place to contemplate happiness. Yet that was one of the first orders of business for the Center for Positive Marketing (CPM) at Fordham, officially launched on April 27 at a luncheon meeting on the Lincoln Center campus.
The center aims to promote the positive view of marketing shared by the business schools’ marketing faculty: "That it exists to help people," said Luke Kachersky, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing and the project coordinator for the center, which hopes to dispel the notion of marketing as a four-letter word.
"Marketing should deliver value," Kachersky said, which can be broken down into two components—well-being and happiness.
By examining these notions, the research of CPM’s faculty and student fellows aims to shed light on how marketers can deliver greater value to, and receive greater value from, consumers. The center also plans to develop an index for measuring consumer value and well-being that can be used in industry and across cultures.
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|Dawn Lerman, Ph.D., director of the center, uses a bag of SunChips to explain that it is sometimes difficult for businesses to do good.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert
CPM’s undergraduate research fellow Robert Pigué, a senior in Fordham College at Rose Hill, found that people measure their happiness and success relative to the success of others. A key question for marketers then, he said, is "How do you make everyone feel better than those around them?"
Emotional measures are crucial to understanding value in a developed country like the United States, said Kachersky, where most people’s basic needs are met with ease. To that end, CPM will focus on marketers’ efforts to promote value through another feel-good concept—social responsibility.
Dawn Lerman, Ph.D., area chair of marketing and the center’s director, brought up the example of a recent attempt at eco-friendly packaging by SunChips. Despite this effort to make chip eaters feel good, the new bag was deemed too noisy and the company pulled it.
"Business gets criticized even when we try to do good," Lerman said, adding that CPM should take charge in determining how all parties in the value exchange can do their part to make it mutually beneficial.
"This is a national conversation—the balance between profitability and well-being," she said. "As a Jesuit business school, with the potential to influence future business leaders, we shouldn’t just be simply recipients of this conversation, or even just part of it. We should be leading it."
The Center for Positive Marketing has been operating since its soft launch at the beginning of the spring semester. Lerman and Kachersky run the center, along with Marcia Flicker, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, but as Lerman pointed out, it was conceived by all of the marketing faculty members—with their varied expertise—upon realizing that they shared a common goal: to put forth a positive view of an oft-maligned field.
Faculty will not be the only force behind the center. CPM is recruiting an executive in residence, a business leader who can bring cutting-edge practices to the classroom and connect students with opportunities in the business world. In addition to Pigué, the center also supports undergraduate research fellow Caitlin Zwick and graduate fellow Ann Bobel of the Graduate School of Business Administration.
"They are setting the foundation for us," Kachersky said. Future fellows will collect primary data and be involved in one of the center’s most important projects: the index measuring consumer value and well-being.
If marketers want to deliver value, they need to have a formal way to measure consumers’ perception of value. "Intuitive understanding is not sufficient," Kachersky said.
The index will be used to look at fluctuation in these perceptions over time, much like the consumer confidence index. Kachersky also views it as a tool to examine consumer value in other cultures where basic daily needs are not always met.
"And we can get brand specific," he said, by approaching a company and helping it explore the success of a particular marketing campaign.
Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to approximately 14,700 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in Westchester, the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre at Heythrop College in the United Kingdom.