Faculty & Departments

Marketing NEWS

Increasingly, consumers see the world through marketing-colored glasses

How can researchers better understand how people choose products? Embrace Brands? Live their lives?

by Carol Elliott, Director of Newswriting

March 1, 2009

Business Chart


Marketing Professor John Sherry is seeking to find out.

Sherry is a leading researcher in the emerging field of consumer culture theory. Unlike market researchers who work in testing labs and with surveys, consumer culture researchers observe and interact with people out where they live and work and shop.

These immersion methods, which draw from sociology and anthropology, help researchers examine broadly how marketing and culture interact in people’s lives.

The findings can be surprising. “If you’re a typical marketer, you have a good functional understanding of your product and what it’s supposed to do,” Sherry explains “But it turns out that consumers use your product differently than you think they do, or they have different impressions of your product altogether. Understanding what we call the lived experience of consumer behavior, a lot of times completely changes the way the firm will look at its product or its advertising or its retail outlet.”

Sherry points to scented detergents, tactile food containers and how the cluttered interior of a refrigerator inspired designs for soft drink cartons that both store and dispense cans, as examples of converting insights of close observation into marketing practice.

Sherry served as co-editor of the book Explorations in Consumer Culture Theory, in which researchers shared their findings from diverse settings and situations: DNA testing, Wal-Mart, Christmas trees, doll stores, personal training and gambling casinos, to name a few.

To learn more about the research of John Sherry, Herrick Professor of Marketing, visit business.nd.edu/johnsherry.

###