Professor discovers facts about human memory, marketing

Professor discovers facts about human memory, marketing University of South Dakota's Dr. Kyeong Sam Min, assistant professor of marketing, was published in the December 2004 Journal of Consumer Research for his study Altering Experienced Utility: The Impact of Story Writing and Self-Referencing on Preferences. The research was a collaboration with Sam Min, Patricia West of Ohio State University, and Joel Huber of Duke University.�����������

"This research offers new insights into�how�marketers can increase consumer preference for a particular product, service, or�organization over time. What we�initially predicted�was that story writing can play a significant role in facilitating product bonding," said Min. "What we found is that consumers are more likely to become bonded with�a target object over time after they generate a story about the object.�This is primarily because a self-story can produce�an individual's elaborated�thoughts as well as positive and�cherishable memories that can be easily recalled," he said.

In the study, the researchers asked subjects to view German expressionist paintings and write stories about the paintings. The result was that writing a story increases the writer's preference for a given painting. Of particular interest are those stories where the writing focuses on the author.

In addition, while writing stories about paintings may seem far from applicable to the world of consumer research, the authors argue otherwise, stating, "Our results apply most for offerings whose utility resides in their anticipation, consumption, and memory, such as Hawaiian shirts, baseball games, sports cars and family vacations. For such objects stories and dialogs are a central part of the consumption."

Min first became involved in this research as a doctoral student at Ohio State.

"We initially thought that there would be several ways of�assisting people to better appreciate their product consumption experiences.�We observed that many consumers kept buying the same brand over and over again.�This repeated purchase behavior did not necessarily result from the fact that this particular brand had better quality than other brands. Rather, this consumer loyalty resulted from the fact that consumers could relate this brand to themselves," said Min.

Min uses his research to better serve his students.

"As a teacher and mentor at The U, I love to�listen to�stories from�students because these stories help me better understand them and connect me to their experiences and�goals.�As a researcher at The U, I like to study�my�own story�on consumer response to a particular marketing�activity because I can learn from my past experiences and be�a better storyteller in the future.�Thus, it will be a life-time long project," said Min.

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