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) 

    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 on Multiple Platforms – Following the Footprint of the Digital Consumer. In their everyday lives, people tend to switch more and more between multiple devices. For example, they access newspaper articles on their tablets, laptops, PCs and/or smartphones. This seminar thesis aims at understanding consumer behavior across multiple devices by providing an extensive overview of relevant recent insights.
    •  Topic 2The Freemium Business Model – Insights and ChallengesDue to fluctuations in revenue, more and more companies opt for more traditional revenue models for digital goods and introduce paid content. One prominent model that is implemented in various industries is the freemium business model, where consumers can use pre-specified content for free, but have to pay a fee in order to get access to the premium content. The freemium model increasingly has gained attention from marketing researchers and practitioners alike over the past few years. The aim of this seminar thesis is to provide an extensive overview of recent literature on the freemium business model.
    •  Topic 3Paying for Online News. 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 4Personalized Content. More and more media platforms as well as firms personalize the content and messages towards charactersitics and needs of customers. How to develop tailored content using individual insights and automated campaign management? What content needs to be personalized and what doesn’t?
    •  Topic 5:  Personalization from a Firm’s versus a Customer’s Perspective. A wide variety of firms tailor their services or products to consumers’ characteristics and preferences in order to improve customer satisfaction and experience. Personalization can help to grow the returns on branding and advertising and to boost sales. At first glance, personalization seems to benefit consumers in that services or products are tailored specifically to target their needs. But in some contexts, like for example social media and recommendation systems, personalization can potentially also be disadvantageous for customers. This seminar thesis aims at distinguishing the positive and negative outcomes of personalization – both from the perspective of the firm as well as consumers’ perspective.


    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 6Viral Marketing and Social Media Strategies: How to Seed and Target Meessages. How can managers measure the success of seeding campaigns?
    •  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 8Big Data and Customers' Journey in B2C. Identifying the critical paths to purchase in B2C environments using causal models. 
    •  Topic 9Text Mining as an Approach to Market Research. The current data deluge offers more and more valuable insight for Marketers. Especially written text as it appears in e.g. reviews could potentially tell a company how to improve their products. In this thesis you are expected to summarize methods to analysis huge amounts of textual data with the help of computer power. 
    •  Topic 10: Brand Differentiation as a Tool for Market Segmentation in the Digital Age. VW Tiguan and Skoda Yeti or T-Mobile and Congstar - basically the same product or service but different branding. In this thesis you are asked to summarize noteworthy literature around brand differentiation as a way to segment the market. You should also cover potential pitfalls of doing so. 
    •  Topic 11: Authenticity in Online Communications - Can it be measured in written text? In this thesis you are asked to summarize methods around the measurement of authenticity. Both in f2f conversation and in written online conversations. 


    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 12Field Experiments. Large scale field experiments and A/B Tests are experiments carried out outside of a laboratory in a setting that is not created by the researcher. The seminar paper aims to give a review of the existing literature describing this method and its application in Marketing and digital settings.
    •  Topic 13Conjoint Analysis. Conjoint Analysis is an empirical method aimed at understanding how people value different attributes that make up a product or service. The seminar paper aims to give a review of the existing literature describing this tool and its different specifications.
    •  Topic 14The 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 15Images and Videos: Which Insights can Mareketers' Reveal with Data Mining? Images and videos contain many hidden information about consumers' preferences, needs and behavior. How far can data mining reveal this hidden information and help marketers to better characterize the customers in a praticular market?
    •  Topic 16The Value of Data in Defining Marketing Strategies and Marketing Management. Which type of insights can managers derive from all available data? What type of questions can we address with data gathered from mobile channels that companies were not able to address before, or can be better answered than it was possible before?
    •  Topic 17Methods for Real-Time Decisions. What methods can be used to make real-time decisions in a data-rich environment? What are scalable methods to analyze large amounts of data (in real time)?
    •  Topic 18: Leveraging Digital Fingerprints. Anonymous online interactions will no longer be anonymous. Your portfolio of installed apps, your browsing behavior, your texts in comments and messages  etc. will all come together to provide your personal digital fingerprint. How do marketers leverage these digital fingerprints for effective communication while balancing privacy and intrusive content?”
    •  Topic 19: The Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Hype. Currently all businesses try to apply machine learning and AI to improve e.g. autonomous driving or marketing practices. Journalists and politicians are talking about opportunities and possible threats for society at large. The aim of this seminar thesis is to address the following questions: what distinguishes machine learning algorithms from simple statistics or other kinds of algorithms? Or, is it only a buzz word?
    •  Topic 20: Statistical Significance: Curse of Heterogeneity. While performing market research and other social experiments, researchers hunt for statistical significant results. A lot of papers have been published criticizing this trend and identifying bad habits like p-hacking and publication bias. However, not much attention has been focused on the role of heterogeneity as a drawback of achieving statistical significance. The aim of this master seminar thesis is to give a general overview of the literature on bad habits in obtaining statistical significant results and then to discuss the role of heterogeneity.

    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 21The Experience of Regret. Existing literature in consumer psychology shows that inactions, more than actions, generate feelings of regrets (especially in the long term). The objective of this seminar paper is to review fundamental and more recent research articles, in consumer behaviour and marketing, about the feeling and experience of regret, it’s causes and it’s effects. 
    •  Topic 22Weber’s Law and Marketing. Weber’s law suggests that consumers’ ability to detect changes in stimulus intensity (perception difference) is strongly related to the intensity of that stimulus. In other words, it is a description of the “just noticeable difference” that can be perceived by an individual. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the existing literature in consumer behavior that applies this theory in marketing.
    •  Topic 23Priming and Unconscious Influences on Decision Making. 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 bout priming and unconscious influences on choice.
    •  Topic 24Antecedents and Outcomes of Ego-Depletion. The reservoir of regulatory resources that govern self-control is finite and, consequently, individuals’ cognitive capacity becomes temporarily depleted or fatigued by different situational self-control demands (a state known as ego-depletion). On the one hand, the aim of this seminar thesis is to analyze how ego-depletion affects consumer behavior. On the other hand, the paper should provide an overview of experimental methods designed to deplete participants’ processing resources.
    •  Topic 25Situational versus Dispositional Impulsivity. Impulsiveness is a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behavior characterized by little or no forethought. Some people generally tend to be more impulsive than others. But impulsivity is not only related to personality – an impulsive state can also be the consequence of various situational variables, such as mood, workload, and even time of the day. This seminar thesis aims at providing an overview of factors leading to impulsivity and how the latter manifests itself in behavior.
    •  Topic 26Recent Topics on Impulsive Buying Behavior. Impulse buying has been studied for about seventy years now. Given the pervasiveness of impulse buying in the marketplace, this type of purchasing behavior is of great interest not only to academics but also to marketers and advertisers. The objective of this seminar thesis is to provide an overview of recent (past decade) theoretical and empirical work on impulse buying. 
    •  Topic 27The Role of Risk Aversion in Consumer Behavior. Consumers differ with respect to the amount of risk they are willing to incur in a given situation. Risk aversion is a concept that has received much research attention not only in Marketing, but also in Economics and Finance. This seminar thesis aims at analyzing risk aversion as an individual difference variable and the strategies marketers can employ to reduce consumers’ uncertainty.
    •  Topic 28Spillover 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 29Preference for Flexibility. Often future preferences are uncertain, which leads consumers to value the chance to maintain more opportunities to choose from. Different decision-making contexts exist in which individuals derive some utility from preserving flexibility instead of committing to a particular course of action. The aim of this seminar thesis is to provide an overview of the research on consumers' need for flexibility.
    •  Topic 30: The Future of Physical RetailMore and more consumers are digital natives today. One question that arises out of this development is how physical stores should be designed and how the in-store experience should be, given the digitized consumer.
    •  Topic 31: Sponsoring – What’s In for the Company? Non-profit organizations, sport clubs, single athletes – only a few examples of groups who rely on sponsoring. But is there a scientific proof that companies also profit from such sponsoring engagements?
    •  Topic 32: Leadership research and its relevance in marketing. Today the field of leadership focuses not only on the leader but also on followers, peers, supervisors, work setting/context, and culture. The aim of this seminar paper is to give an overview of relevant theories in leadership research, of research streams, and outline the importance and appearance of this concept in marketing.
    •  Topic 33: 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

  • 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.