Jesper Nielsen, Associate Professor of Marketing
June 8, 2018
Seven Questions with Jesper Nielsen
"How marketplace influences can affect consumers without their awareness is interesting because so many of the choices we as consumers make are affected by things of which we are not aware, and because it helps us understand when we might need to take steps to help protect consumers."
What brought you to the Eller College?
I came to Eller because of the marketing department and its faculty. The department had then, as it does now, a very strong consumer behavior group and after I had the opportunity to visit here I was quickly convinced that this was the best place for me. Not only did the faculty research fit very well with my own interests and approach to conducting research, I really felt at home here with the group. So, it was a quick decision when I was given the opportunity.
How long have you been at Eller?
I arrived at Eller in 2003, so almost 15 years. We moved here right after I finished graduate school at the University of North Carolina.
What is your current research, and what most excites you about that area of focus?
I am a consumer psychologist, meaning I study the psychology of consumer behavior. Primarily, my research looks at emotions that consumers experience but either are not aware of or are not aware affect their preferences and choices.
Recently, I have focused on how thinking about products and brands in the form of stories—either because of how they are advertised or because we are trying to imagine how we would use them—can create emotional reactions similar to the feelings we get when we read a really good book or watch a good movie. That emotional reaction ends up being attributed to the brand or product, thereby affecting how consumers (think they) feel about that product or brand.
I find studying how marketplace influences can affect consumers without their awareness interesting because I believe so many of the choices we as consumers make are affected by things of which we are not aware, and because it helps us understand when we might need to take steps to help protect consumers.
What are you currently teaching, and what do you most enjoy about teaching?
I currently teach the core marketing class in the full-time and online MBA programs and the senior capstone for the undergraduate marketing majors. Teaching the core MBA marketing class is always a challenge as there are a number of students who come to the class with low expectations that may stem from their prior experience with some unfortunate commercials or salespeople, or because they have decided to concentrate in another field such as finance or MIS and feel that marketing is not really for them. So, my favorite thing about teaching that class is trying to turn those students around by showing them what marketing really is and the value that it brings for both the customer and the company.
How do you bring your research into your teaching?
I do this in a few different ways, actually. However, if you ask the students I think many of them will mention my strict ban on electronics during lectures and presentations. Much of my research involves thinking about consumer attention and builds on the understanding that consumers cannot attend to two things at the same time. So, I am pretty strict with students who claim they can multi-task. On the first day I typically talk about some of the research showing that there is no such thing as true multi-tasking as well as the research showing that note taking by hand is better for learning. Then after that, texting or emailing during class will cost you cookies for the whole class.
Beyond research and teaching, what are your passions?
My family for sure. I have three very active tween/teen girls, so supporting their many afterschool activities is my number one passion. I do also try to take advantage of where we live and typically manage to get over to Sabino Canyon a few times a week to run on the trails. Some weekends I am also able to get out on the mountain bike, but it is not as often as I would like these days.
What does the Eller Experience mean to you?
In one word: immersion. It is the integrative and immersive experience that students have with their core content, experiential learning and business communication from the day they step in the door at Eller.