Marketingseminar (Masterthesis)

MKT 720

Lecturer Prof. Dr. Florian Stahl
Course Format Seminar
Credit Points 6 ECTS
Hours per Week 2
Semester Spring/ Fall
Language English
Registration Application and registration required!
Accepted Participants Mannheim Master in Management, Mannheim Master in Business Research (MMBR), M.A. Culture and Economy / Business, M.Sc. Business Education, M.Sc. Business Informatics, M.Sc. Business Mathematics, M.Sc. Economics, Diplom Business Administration, MaKuWi (MaKuWi: in order to write the master thesis in Marketing, the “Prüfungsausschuss” has to approve this matter)

    Further Information

  • General Information

    The seminar thesis is prerequisite for writing a master thesis at our chair. It primarily addresses Master of Management (MMM) students but is also open to students in Culture & Economics, Business Informatics, in Mathematics as well as in Economics. Master students will explore a topic by reviewing literature to a specific research question in the field of marketing. Each student will prepare an individual seminar paper (approx. 22-25 pages) on the allocated topic. 

  • Requirements

    Participation in modules MKT 510 as well as MKT 520, and in one of the following modules MKT 531/MKT 540/MKT 545/MKT 560 (parallel attendance possible).

  • Application

    In order to apply, please hand in the following as one (!) pdf-document to Dr. Sabrina Haas (sabrina.haas(at) until August 31, 2018

    1. List of 3 seminar topics in order of preference (in english)
    2. CV (in english)
    3. Current grades (master/diploma studies)

    Please do not apply at the other marketing chairs in parallel; the four marketing chairs will compare their lists. Seminar participants at our chair (MKT 720) will be informed via e-mail on  September 4, 2018. 

  • List of Topics

    Digital Business, Pricing and Product Strategies

    Nowadays, the application of digital technologies in order to achieve marketing objectives is more relevant than ever. Big data allows to improve customer knowledge tremendously, which, at best, culminates in the profitable acquisition and retention of customers. Nevertheless, classical marketing approaches cannot be transferred directly, but have to be adapted to the characteristics of the digital market, e.g. especially when it comes to pricing or product management. Therefore, rethinking marketing in the era of unlimited data is of utmost importance. If you are interested in developing strategies for the marketing manager of tomorrow, have a look at the following topics:

    • Topic 1News Consumption via Social Media – Following the Footprint of the Digital Consumer. In their everyday lives, people tend to retrieve news articles more and more from their social media news feed. For example, they read the headlines displayed on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter, from which they can access the original newspaper article. What does this imply for newspaper websites and both the breadth and depth of information users get? This seminar thesis aims at understanding consumer behavior across multiple platforms by providing an extensive overview of relevant recent insights.
    • Topic 2: Paid Subscriptions to Online News – A justifiable means of generating revenue? Due to fluctuations in revenue, more and more companies opt for more traditional revenue models for digital goods and introduce paid content. However, it is questionable who can afford a costly subscription to a prominent online news outlet. Low-income consumers might be excluded from at least parts of the news outlet by freemium or metered business models and hence more drawn towards alternative, potentially more biased outlets. This seminar thesis will, among others, address the following question: Are business models in the media world accountable for the social divide in news availability?
    • Topic 3Loyalty of The Digital Customer – Consequences of Variety versus Consistency-seeking Behavior. The possibility to tailor marketing efforts to particular customers or customer segments helps in making a company’s marketing strategy more effective. One way to identify different customer segments is by looking at the consistency versus variety they include into their consumption patterns. Whether a consumer seeks for consistency or variety when making multiple choices among a set of options may have a considerable effect on how loyal the consumer behaves towards an item, company or brand. The purpose of this seminar thesis is to provide an extensive overview of the relevant literature on the link between consistency versus variety seeking behavior and customer loyalty.
    • Topic 4Paid News Content – What is the Value of Surprises in Sports? At the beginning of a sports season, it is mostly unpredictable which team will be the winner. Whenever a sports tournament is determined in the final rounds before the end of the season or when the winner won very unexpectedly, newspaper websites will observe a surge in traffic. Articles covering the tournament will be highly demanded, especially paid articles that offer exclusive information. Starting from the “measure of unexpectedness” (Baker and Bloom 2013), the aim of this seminar thesis is to provide an extensive overview of recent literature on the value of surprises for the revenue generation of newspaper platforms.
    • Topic 5:  Managing Promotion across Channels. Which is the right channel, right content, and right time to reach a customer? What analytics are needed to address multichannel promotion? This seminar thesis aims at providing an overview about existing literatur about the (spillover-)effects of promotions on consumers' choice and demand in an omni-channel context.


    Digital Communications Strategies

    In this day and age, companies face decreasing advertising effectiveness. On the other hand, social media have become ubiquitous in everyday life. Therefore, companies try to increase their brand awareness by exploiting the vast potential that social media offer. If you are curious about how marketers capitalize on social media most effectively, you should consider the below topics:

    • Topic 6Cross-Channel Promotion and Distribution. Both communication as well as retail channels are fragmenting. On the one hand, this enables firms greater options for reach and creates new business opportunities within the channel. On the other hand, fragmentation makes channel management substantially more complex. Typical questions are: What is the right product mix and pricing in the right channel? Which is the right channel, right content and right time to reach a customer via certain channels? Which promotions best align with which channel?
    • Topic 7Omni-Screen and Omni-Channel. How does the inceasing number of screens and channels change decision making and behavior? In partucular, what is the impact of mobile on: search, networks, choice, behavior, the overall journey/path to purchase?
    • Topic 8: Managing Customer Experience: How to Measure Customers' Journey in B2C. Identifying the critical paths to purchase in B2C environments using causal models. Which methods exist to reveal customer's journey and to improve customer experience across channels and time.
    • Topic 9Assessing Causality in the context of Marketing campaigns. Secondary data are limited in their ability to disentangle causal outcomes (for example, there may be no independent variation in two causals, or there may be reverse causality). Using such data to guide marketing decisions can lead to wasteful spending. How can a marketer attribute and apportion outcomes to various causal factors? How can one measure long-term branding effects? How does one disentangle long- and short-term effects of media (including looking beyond direct-response to branding)?
    • Topic 10Channel structure. Radical changes in distribution raise questions about whether or how marketers should partner with channel members. As demand becomes more fragmented with a larger number of retailers, how should retailer and manufacturer partnerships evolve?


    New Data, New Methods

    The ongoing change in firm's marketing can best be seen in the plethora of new types of data and new analytic approaches to gain insights. If you are interested in developing an understanding of new approaches that enable firms to gain insights from Big Data and multiple methodological approaches, and to bring together disparate methods to drive action, you should choose and focus on the following topics: 

    • Topic 11Machine Learning Methods used in Marketing Research. The aim of the master seminar thesis is to identify current machine learning methods used in marketing research. One or two of the methods should then be explained in more detail.
    • Topic 12The Use of Artificial Intelligence for Creating Customer Experience. Technology continues to radically and rapidly change the nature of service, customers’ service experiences, and customers’ relationships with service providers.  How is and how can artificial intelligence change these experiences.
    • Topic 13The Future of Statistical Significance in Marketing Research. Statistical significance tests are used widely in marketing research and other areas. However, current trends in psychological research suggest that statistical significance should play a different, perhaps less important role in the future. The aim of this master seminar thesis is to summarize the basics of statistical significance testing and current trends in psychological and marketing research.
    • Topic 14“A picture is worth a thousand words” [1]. Images play an increasingly important role on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Social media users love to post pictures additionally or instead of text. The aim of this work is to investigate why users often prefer images instead of or in addition to text and to characterize the information transmitted by the image between the sender and the recipient of the message.
    • Topic 15“A picture is worth a thousand words” [2]. Images play an increasingly important role on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The aim of this work is to identify image characteristics that can be automatically extracted from images and which can be used to classify images posted on social media platforms.


    Branding and Brand Management

    Brands are viewed as one of the most valuable marketing assets and are a core concept in marketing. Building brands creates incredible value for companies and corporations. Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility, and experience and are, therefore, critical for businesses to stand apart from the competition in today’s global market. Moreover, the world has come online, so a strong brand and brand website strategy are crucial to generating referrals or viral traffic. Finally, in the face of the current economic challenges, it is worth noting that brands do better in tough times compared to unbranded products. Therefore, it is easy to see why branding is now more important than ever.

    • Topic 16Impact of Brand Perception on Usage and Consumption. Past research has extensively demonstrated how brand associations affect buying behavior. A relevant issue for marketers, however, is to understand how brand perceptions connect with consumers’ usage and/or consumption behaviors. This seminar thesis aims at establishing how different brand characteristics translate into different behaviors.
    • Topic 17The Impact of Brand Characteristics on Customer Acquisition and Retention. Customer acquisition and retention rates are two key components of customer lifetime value and widely accepted as a financial performance measure and firm objective. This seminar thesis aims at analyzing how different brand associations affect a prospect’s decision to try out a new product versus an existing customer’s repurchasing decision.
    • Topic 18Recent Research on Branding and Brand Management. Brands stand at the core of marketing and are central to marketing communications, WOM, and firm profits. Therefore, branding has been studied for decades now. The objective of this seminar paper is to provide an overview of recent (past decade) theoretical and empirical work on branding and brand management.

    Consumer Behavior and Psychology and Its Relevance for Marketing Practice

    Recent developments in digital/mobile technologies have created a data-rich environment that offers both new challenges and opportunities to marketing managers and researchers. The study of consumers helps firms and organizations improve their marketing strategies by understanding issues such as how…

    • The psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different alternatives (e.g., brands, products, and retailers);
    • The psychology of how the consumer is influenced by his or her environment (e.g., culture, family, signs, media);
    • The behavior of consumers while shopping or making other marketing decisions;
    • Limitations in consumer knowledge or information processing abilities influence decisions and marketing outcome;
    • How consumer motivation and decision strategies differ between products that differ in their level of importance or interest that they entail for the consumer; and
    • How marketers can adapt and improve their marketing campaigns and marketing strategies to more effectively reach the consumer.

    If you are interested in this area of research, have a look at the following topics:

    •  Topic 19Thinking, Fast and Slow. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman sees human thinking and decision making in two forms that he calls System 1 and System 2. The former is an automatic, fast, and often unconscious way of thinking, whereas the latter is effortful, slow, and controlled. The aim of this seminar thesis is to analyze the implications of these two modes of thinking for consumer decision-making. 
    •  Topic 20Subconscious Preference Formation. Existing literature about the characteristics of conscious and unconscious thought shows that people are sometimes unaware of the existence of a stimulus that importantly influenced a response. Also, that simple choices (such as between different towels) produce better results after conscious thought, but that choices in complex matters (such as between different houses) should be left to unconscious thought (‘‘deliberation-without-attention’’ effect). The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the existing literature in consumer behavior about subconscious preference formation.
    •  Topic 21: Cognitive Biases [1]: Decision-making, belief, and behavioral biases. In this seminar thesis you summarize and provide an overview about cognitive biases studied in marketing research with respect to belief formation and perception.
    •  Topic 22Cognitive Biases [2]: Decision-making, belief, and behavioral biases. In this seminar thesis you summarize and provide an overview about cognitive biases studied in marketing research with respect to decision making.
    •  Topic 23: Cognitive Biases [3]: Social biases and Attributional Biases.  In this seminar thesis you summarize and provide an overview about cognitive biases studied in marketing research with respect to social biases and attributional biases.
    •   Topic 24: Decision-making, belief, and behavioral biases in Advertisments: In this seminar thesis you summarize and provide an overview about the literature studying how perceptual, behavioral and decision-related biases are used in advertisments.
    • Topic 25: Social and Attributional Biases in Advertisments: In this seminar thesis you summarize and provide an overview about the literature studying how social and attributional biases are used in advertisments.
    •  Topic 26Spillover effects in consumer behavior: To what extent do customer perceptions and experiences spill over from one domain or context to another? Does a customer’s experience with a provider in an unrelated category influence their expectations of and experience with a brand? These exemplary questions should be answered by giving an overview of existing research and theories in the seminar paper.
    •  Topic 27: The Future of Online Retailing. Online retailers (especially fashion retailers) increasingly rely on videos instead of simple photos for demonstrating their merchandise. Many retailers also encourage customers to share private pictures of product usage on the retailer’s website. The goal of the seminar thesis is to analyze the effectiveness of such emerging trends in online retailing.
    • Topic 28: Customer satisfaction after delays and waiting time. How unsatisfied do customers get when e.g. their call is placed on hold. Are there situations where customers are less likely to be unsatisfied when a delay occurs? For example: Do travellers show more acceptance for flight delays when the cause is a volcanic eruption versus a broken aircraft?
    • Topic 29: Consequences of Product Recalls. The number of product recalls has dramatically increased over the past years. Dependent on the reactions of the market, product recalls can have a significant impact on the respective producer’s competitive position, both short- and long-term. The goal of this seminar thesis is to study the impact of product recalls by thoroughly analyzing the link between consumer perceptions and their consequences for the firm.



  • Procedure

    • Starting point of the seminar will be the kick-off meeting. We will give you a short introduction into academic writing and will present the allocation of topics. All participants are required to participate in this meeting. Afterwards we expect you to contact your advisor to receive a starter package of literature as well as to coordinate your individual timeline.
    • You write your seminar paper as an individual assessment.
    • The presentation of the seminar papers will take place in a block course. Every participant has approx. 15 minutes to present his/her seminar paper. Subsequently, there will be a discussion of 5 minutes for each presentation. Exact presentation times for every participants will be send out via email in the days after handing in the seminar paper.
  • Timetable

    Announcement of topics Beginning of August 2018 (homepage)
    Application period August 20 to August 31, 2018
    Announcement of participants via e-mail September 4, 2018
    Kick-off meeting (allocation of topics and introduction to academic work) September 11, 2018 at 4:00pm
    Handover date of seminar papers Week of November 6, 2018
    Presentation of seminar topics Mid November 2018; participants are required to participate in this meeting
  • Guidlines


    Academic Writing and Editing Services provided by Tanvi Mehta: 

    The Academics? Little Helper: A Writing Guide

  • Grading

    The grade for the seminar paper accounts for 70%, the one for the presentation for 30% of the seminar's final grade. For passing the seminar, a minimal grade of 4.0 in both parts has to be achieved.