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Marketing NEWS

Professor’s American Girls article honored by retailing journal

by Ed Cohen

January 20, 2011

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University of Notre Dame Marketing Professor John F. Sherry Jr.’s article on how toymaker Mattel fostered a lifestyle around its high-end American Girl dolls has won the 2011 William R. Davidson Honorable Mention Award from the Journal of Retailing, in which the article appeared in 2009.

Sherry, chair of the marketing department in the Mendoza College of Business, and five research colleagues spent more than three years observing and interviewing shoppers at the flagship American Girl Place showroom in Chicago. Described as a “pilgrimage site for girl consumers,” the three-story megastore features an extensive array of dolls, clothes, books and accessories, as well as a theatre, café, doll hair salon and lounge areas.

In his article, "Why Are Themed Brandstores So Powerful? Retail Brand Ideology at American Girl Place,” Sherry described how consumers at these themed stores tend to attach a set of meanings to the product and the retail experience, even creating memories, family stories and values around them.

The Davidson award is given annually to authors of the leading articles in the field of retail marketing that are published in the journal. The awards are based on research appearing two years earlier to provide ample time for the findings to be disseminated. The winners are chosen by vote of the members of the journal’s editorial board.

Sherry joined the Notre Dame marketing faculty in 2005 as the Herrick Professor of Marketing and chair of the department. For the two previous decades, he was a member of the marketing department at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Sherry is an anthropologist who studies the socio-cultural and symbolic dimensions of consumption, and the cultural ecology of marketing. He is a Fellow of the American Anthropological Association as well as the Society for Applied Anthropology, and past president of the Association for Consumer Research.

For more information about the award or the American Girls study, contact Marketing Professor John Sherry at (574) 631-6484 or jsherry@nd.edu.