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 (or Marketing Fundamentals Bachelor-Level resp. equivalent) and MKT 520 (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 February 1, 2019

    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 February 4, 2019. 

  • 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. Consumers tend to switch more and more between multiple devices. For example, they access newspaper articles on their tablets, laptops, PCs and/or smartphones. Does a different way of access induce a different way of usage behavior? This project aims at understanding consumer behavior across multiple devices by providing an extensive overview of relevant recent research insights.
    • Topic 2News 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 3: Mapping the Digital Consumer Lifecycle – Opportunities from Big Data. Based on the availability of huge amounts of various types of data, a company that offers digital goods can continuously map the behavior of its consumers. Tracking the consumer journey and analyzing the consumption of digital offers are of utmost importance in order to develop a successful strategy for the profitable management of customers on websites, in apps or online shops. This masters seminar thesis aims at analyzing the possibilities and challenges a company faces when it tries to understand the lifecycle of its customers and aims at outlining potential tools for this endeavor. 
    • Topic 4:  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.
    • Topic 5The link between online reviews and sales - A literature review- Many platforms come with star ratings. One can find these ratings for products, services and employers. Even medical doctors, cake recipes or beers can be rated. However how do these star ratings influence potential buyers in their decision process? This seminar thesis aims to give a comprehensive overview of the literature about the link of online reviews to sales. 


    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 6Assessing 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 7: Different strategies of how to respond to electronic word-of-mouth. More and more online platforms introduce the functionality of review responses. This allows companies to respond to feedback they have received in such star ratings. This seminar thesis aims to summarise relevant literature about how to reply to reviews. 
    • Topic 8: Racial stereotyping in advertising. Racial stereotypes are used frequently in advertising. But how are they defined and what are consequences for viewers. This seminar thesis aims to summarise existing literature on racial stereotyping in print advertising. 
    • Topic 9: Gender stereotyping in advertising. Our society has a set of ideas about how we expect men and women to dress, behave, and present themselves. A stereotype is a widely accepted judgement or bias about a person or group - even though it’s overly simplified and not always accurate. Do we experience for certain advertisements certain patterns of gendering? What is the underlying cause?
    • Topic 10: The role of females in advertising. A women’s role has changed tremendously and is making its greatest impact in our society today. Many years ago, women’s contribution to society was limited and controlled by men. Has also the role of females in advertising changed over time? What differences exist among industries?
    • Topic 11: The role of children in advertising. Children belong in a commercial when their presence is integral to its proposition, or they relate to the target market. In what context do children play a dominant role in advertising? Is there an industry specifically involved?


    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 12Machine 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 13: The intersection of Computer Vision and Marketing - A literature review. Computer vision is about extracting useful information from images. This is a recent trend that has been made possible thanks to machine learning and convolutional neural networks. This seminar thesis aims to research how Marketing departments can leverage this new technology?
    • Topic 14: Best practices in computer vision. Computer vision is concerned with the automatic extraction, analysis and understanding of useful information from a single image or a sequence of images. In marketing more and more applications run with the help of computer vision. Which mechanisms exist to retrieve information from images? Is there a best practice?
    • Topic 15The 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 16The 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 17“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 18“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 19The Impact of Product-Harm Crises on the Effectiveness of Marketing instruments. Product-harm crises and product recalls are common in various industries. A product-harm crisis may easily cause major revenue losses and destroy brand equity. Marketing managers are often unprepared to react to such crises appropriately. The seminar thesis aims at providing an overview of the research regarding the effectiveness of different marketing strategies in the context of product-harm crises.
    • Topic 20:  The Relation between Brand Characteristics and the Pillars of the Brand Asset Valuator. Young and Rubicam’ s BAV is the world’s largest and leading empirical study of brands. Not only scholars use BAV data for research purposes, but also practitioners heavily rely on this tool in order to better understand their brands’ strengths and weaknesses. The objective of the seminar thesis is to provide an overview of the academic research dealing with the relation between BAV’s pillars and other brand characteristics.
    • Topic 21Recent 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.
    • Topic 22: Managing Customer Equity. Customer acquisition and customer retention are two key components of Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), which is widely recognized as a relevant metric to segment and manage customers profitably. Since CLV captures customers’ past and projected future behavior together with the respective marketing costs, CLV models have been well accepted by business practitioners as tools for guiding tactical and strategic decisions. The aim of this seminar thesis is to provide an overview of the research dealing with customer management and the factors that drive customer acquisition and retention.
    • Topic 23: Marketing in the Automotive Industry. The automotive industry is a major industry of great economic importance. Individuals interested in purchasing a new car carefully consider various (sources of) information before making a final choice (e.g., the brand, past product recalls, product quality, price etc.). This seminar thesis aims at analyzing the factors that drive car purchases and the respective marketing tools employed by automobile manufacturers.


    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 24Subconscious 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 25: 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 26Cognitive 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 27: 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 28: 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 29: 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 30: Non-price promotions: “Buy 1, get 1 free!” “Subscribe for 1 year and get 3 months free!” Several marketing promotions are framed in non-monetary terms. In this seminar thesis you summarise and provide an overview about non-price promotions studied in recent marketing research.
    • Topic 31Spillover 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 32: 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 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 January 2019 (homepage)
    Application period January 21 to February 1, 2019
    Announcement of participants via e-mail February 4, 2019
    Kick-off meeting (allocation of topics and introduction to academic work) February 12, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.
    Handover date of seminar papers Week of April 8, 2019
    Presentation of seminar topics April 29, 2019, 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.