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 Andreas Bayerl (andreas.bayerl(at) until August 30, 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 September 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 1: The Freemium Business Model – Recent 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 2: Mapping the Digital Consumer Lifecycle  Opportunities from Big DataBased 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 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 4: Adaptive Recommendation Systems  Understanding the Impact of Artificial Intelligence in the Case of NewsRecommendation systems are the contemporary form of artificial intelligence put into practice. Recent examples are Netflix’ section “Because You Watched movie x”, Youtube’s “Recommended Videos” or Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought …”. News websites that are now more than ever trying to excite users with their news content in order to master the digitalization of news consumption can benefit from sophisticated recommendation systems. This master seminar thesis aims at analyzing whether an AI-driven recommendation system could serve as a profitable tool to ensure that the user gets to see content that is relevant to her taste and preferences and at uncivering potential negative consequences.
    • Topic 5Digital Customer Experience: Which Impact has Customer Experience Excellence on Customers' Word-of-mouth and Brand Image? The main purpose of this master seminar thesis is to investigate the impact of customer experience on on customers' word-of-mouth and brand image. Which quantitative KPIs are known? How can companies track and measure quantitatively this impact on customers' word-of-mouth and brand image in real-time and over time?
    • Topic 6Digital Customer Experience. To what extent do brand perception, customer orientation and customer relationship management form the foundation for customer experience excellence?
    • Topic 7Approaches to Measure Digital Customer Experience.Customer Experience especially in a digital context is one the big buzz words right now. But how can you actually measure it? What are ingredients of Customer Experience that help to assess if a company is in fact showing digital customer experience or not. 


    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 8: Digital Audio Advertising  The Next Big Thing?Online audio consumption is booming: Radio consumption is moving from offline to online, the podcast market is exploding and the number of voice home assistants in use is continuously growing. Advertising budgets naturally follow the consumer’s attention, resulting in more than 2 billion dollars spent on digital audio advertising in the US in 2018. The aim of this seminar thesis is to provide an overview the current state of the digital audio advertising market and a summary of the existing literature from across different research areas. 
    • 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 10Motivations for Review Writing and How Companies can influence that. Online reviews and user-generated content are huge drivers in influencing purchase decisions. Therefore there are some companies that hope to get as many good reviews as possible for their products. Other companies aim to transparently depict the market with their reviews and thus focus more on review quality instead of review valence. Two different underlying motives, but what are ways to motivate review writing behavior accordingly? 


    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 11: Economic Characteristics of Big DataIn this master seminar thesis you explore economic characteristics of data such as cost or value characteristics of data, the increasingly reduced time pf processing data or new data-driven forms of trade and exchange.
    • Topic 12: 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 13: The Economic Value of Big Data. In this master seminar thesis, you study and summarize how companies can capture value from data by creating transparency, data-driven discovery, segmentation and customization or automation.
    • Topic 14: The Economic Value of Information. The aim of this topic should be to clarify the value of data and compare and assess methods that are currently used. The focus should be on the value of user-generated content that is floating around in the World-Wide-Web. How do companies monetize on that? Is it possible to come to a conclusion that 5 additional reviews for a product are worth X€?
    • Topic 15: Pricing and Trading of Data. In this master seminar thesis, you explore pricing mechanism and pricing strategies to monetize, sell and trade data across companies and industries.
    • Topic 16: Visualization and Storytelling with Data. Visualization has proven to be effective for not only presenting essential information in vast amounts of data but also driving complex analyses. Big Data analytics and discovery present new research opportunities to the computer graphics and visualization community. 
    • Topic 17: Privacy and the Protection of Big Data. An emerging research topic in data mining, known as privacy-preserving data mining (PPDM), has been extensively studied in recent years. The basic idea of PPDM is to modify the data in such a way so as to perform data mining algorithms effectively without compromising the security of sensitive information contained in the data. 
    • Topic 18: Social Media Data Mining. The increasing reliance on social networks calls for data mining techniques that are likely to facilitate reforming the unstructured data and place them within a systematic pattern. In this context what can be inferred about the users’ personality? What does the content of social media accounts (e.g. Instagram) tell us about its user?
    • Topic 19: Data Strategy. In this master seminar thesis, you explore and summarize fundamental components of a data strategy and principles to set up such a strategy within a company.
    • Topic 20: Data Marketplaces. Trading data as a commodity has become increasingly popular in recent years, and data marketplaces have emerged as a new business model where data from a variety of sources can be collected, processed, enriched, bought, and sold.  In this master seminar thesis, you study economic characteristics, incentive systems and pricing mechanisms of data market places and show for which type of data different types pf data marketplaces will emerge.


    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 21The 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 22The Outcomes of Employer Branding With Regard to Recruiting. This topic is at the intersection between Marketing and Human Resources. The task is to research the various consequences of good versus bad employer branding with a special focus on recruiting. Do firms with a good employer brand receive more applications, better applicants, and have a shorter-time-to-hire? What are common metrics and KPIs that are used in HR departments to assess success. 
    • Topic 23:  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 24: 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 25: 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.
    • Topic 26: Brand Functions Within Different Product Categories. The choice among different brand strategies strongly depends on the characteristics of the particular product or service category in which the firm operates. The aim of this seminar thesis is to analyze the implications of specific category features for branding decisions and why, in turn, the importance of brands differs across categories.
    • Topic 27: Longitudinal Data Analysis in Branding Research. Research on branding increasingly uses longitudinal study designs, for example, to assess how and, more importantly, when brand-related investments start paying off. The objective of this seminar thesis is to provide an overview of statistical approaches to longitudinal data analysis used in the recent branding literature.
    • Topic 28: The Impact of Brand Image Associations on Financial Outcomes. For many companies the brand is the most valuable asset. Research has shown that certain brand image dimensions are strong drivers of consumer-based brand equity and, consequently, of firm performance. This seminar thesis aims at summarizing how customers’ brand perceptions can translate into financial benefits for the firm.

    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 29The Psychology of Data Visualization: Cognition, Perception & Persuasion. Data visualization is the graphical display of abstract information for two purposes: sense-making (also called data analysis) and communication. Important stories live in our data and data visualization is a powerful means to discover and understand these stories, and then to present them to others. In this master seminar thesis you explore and study the persuasive effects of visualization. In particular you study data visualization in the context of human perception with a focus on preattentive visual processing or mechanisms and limitations of attention and memory.
    • Topic 30: 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?
  • 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 2019 (homepage)
    Application period August 19 to August 30, 2019
    Announcement of participants via e-mail September 4, 2019
    Kick-off meeting (allocation of topics and introduction to academic work) September 9, 2019 at 3:00 p.m., in Room 107 in L5,2, participants are required to participate in this meeting
    Handover date of seminar papers November 4, 2019
    Presentation of seminar topics November 12/13 in Room 107 in L5, 2, 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.