Associate Professor of Marketing Mathew Isaac, PhD, is doing his part to advance the marketing field through research that uncovers the psychology behind consumer behaviors and purchasing decisions. Since joining the Albers School of Business and Economics in 2011, Isaac has co-authored multiple research articles that help explain consumer decision-making and provide marketing insights to companies.
“We don’t always make a rational decision,” Isaac says. “What are the biases we might be guilty of? That’s really interesting to me.”
Leading scientific journals have featured Isaac’s work, as have Time, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and Fast Company. His study of masculine versus feminine branding of eco-friendly products landed him a guest spot on New Zealand’s National Public Radio.
Isaac’s research is cutting-edge. He helped to develop the Digital Satisfaction Index™ that corporations worldwide now use to gauge consumer attitudes and perceptions of their online marketing experience.
In a project for Microsoft in which he collaborated with Northwestern University and marketing agency Performics (a subsidiary of Publicis Media), Isaac helped develop a way to evaluate how close consumers were to making a purchase based on the keywords they entered into Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
The study found a link between more specific, concrete language (e.g., “near,” “shipping,” “fast”) in searches and a readiness to purchase. By contrast, more general, abstract language (e.g., “reviews,” “best,” “information”) in searches indicated that consumers were further away from making a purchase decision. Isaac and his co-authors recommended that marketers deploy different strategies for serving content and advertisements based on where consumers were in their search process.
“Companies now have such specific data on each customer and can do a better job of tailoring content that meets each customer’s unique needs,” Isaac says. “Ultimately, that is the goal of marketing.”
A researcher-at-heart, Isaac weaves “high-level findings” from his studies through the undergraduate and MBA courses he teaches.
“I like that educating our students [at SU] is not an afterthought. I use a lot of project-based learning in the classroom. So, even though we’re not a research institution, we truly are balanced in a way a lot of universities are not,” says Isaac.
Isaac also values Seattle U’s emphasis on ethics, given that sensitive, personal information is often in the hands of marketers today. “Companies have access to all this information about the consumer and need to take care to use it wisely but appropriately.”