From Biology to Brands: Pureum Kim ’23 PhD (Marketing)

June 20, 2019

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Pureum Kim

If you asked Pureum Kim ’23 PhD (Marketing) in high school what she wanted to do when she grew up, she probably wouldn’t consider mentioning marketing or even business in general. At that time and throughout her undergraduate career at the Georgia Institute of Technology, she was focused on pursuing a career in biology. “After graduation, I quickly learned that I wasn’t passionate about the biology path that I had begun,” she says. “I started a job in retail to give myself time to plan out my next steps—either start a degree in a new field or continue biology in grad school.” During this stage of reflection, her life changed unexpectedly when her father, Soo Hyun Kim, was offered a new job at the University of Arizona as a professor of practice in the Retailing and Consumer Sciences program.

“I never thought I would leave the East Coast to live on the West Coast, but I decided to move with my dad for his new job here in Arizona,” says Kim. “While working in retail I developed an interest in marketing and decided to apply for the Master’s in Marketing program at Eller.”

What started as a curiosity for marketing developed into a passion, and she started to see her coursework reflected in her daily interactions. 

“While working at Starbucks I was fascinated by the price that people were willing to spend on a single coffee,” she says. “And what those transactions and interactions between consumers and employees say about a business or a brand.”

Kim has since finished her master’s degree and recently completed her first year in Eller’s doctoral marketing program, where she is developing research of her own, centered around consumer psychology. “Younger generations seem to be more interested in experiential purchases than materialistic purchases,” says Kim. “For example, increasingly, people seem to invest in backpacking trips, cruises or hiking at a national park instead of buying physical objects. I want to learn more about this shift in purchasing behavior.” 

She is currently researching the subject in-depth before she starts conducting her own experiments in the fall. 

After the drastic career switch, Kim seems happy with her work in marketing, and has started developing long-term goals for her new career. 

“I would love for my future research to be published in prestigious marketing publications like the Journal of Consumer Research or the Journal of Marketing Research,” she says. “I can’t imagine a better feeling than seeing my own work reflected in a top journal and having others read it.”