Funded Phd Research

Tong (Joy) Lu

Managing the Dynamic Flow of Consumer Experiences During Product Search and Media Consumption

Marketing Department; Faculty Adviser: J. Wesley Hutchinson and Eric Bradlow

Retail firms are increasingly interested in collecting detailed information about their customers’ offline and online consumption behaviors. For example, radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensors placed on store shelves or shopping carts can be used to track customers in a physical store, while clickstream data is commonly used as a measure of online activity. Using three unique datasets from different product domains, we address specific ways in which firms that provide either products or services (or both) can use this rich information to manage the flow of customer experiences through (1) the physical positioning of products, (2) product recommendations, and (3) the timing of product release.

First, we explore how consumers visually search through and learn about product options using an eye-tracking dataset from a field experiment conducted at American Apparel, which can inform retailers on how to position products on a virtual webpage or a physical store. Second, we examine how consumers’ preferences for variety change depending on past consumption outcomes within the context of an online multi-player video game, which can improve retailer’s recommendations to customers regarding future consumption occasions and purchase of additional content. Third, we use clickstream data from an online courseware provider and take advantage of the natural variation in the firm’s policies to inform retailers on the best way to release media content over time (i.e., simultaneously or sequentially). I plan for this work to comprise the three essays of my dissertation. The unifying theme is that consumers are dynamically updating their preferences over time based on information learned about products and prior consumption experiences. By empirically modeling these dynamic preferences, we can recommend ways for retailers to manage the flow of their customers’ experiences by responding to these preferences in terms of product positioning, recommendations, and release.


In the Press:

New research from Wharton marketing professors Eric Bradlow and J. Wesley Hutchinson, along with Wharton doctoral candidate Tong (Joy) Lu, examines the effects of heavy content consumption in the context of online learning:

“Beyond Netflix: How Binging Impacts Online Learning,” Knowledge at Wharton (September 12, 2017).

“Penn Research Finds that Cramming Might Make You Learn More, but not Better,” the Daily Pennsylvanian (September 27, 2017).