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URPP Social Networks

Projects within "Networks & Consumers"


Research within this pillar aims at investigating the role networks play for consumers and revealing the basic mechanisms behind the formation of attitudes, preferences, values and opinions.


The influence of social networks on consumer behavior

Analyzing the influence of social networks on consumer behavior, we go beyond product adoption and customer churn and focus on customer development. Our research addresses whether social effects only affect customer behavior directly, or whether they additionally induce customers to ignore private information in case of a conflict. That is, do customers follow the behavior of their peers, even when own product or service experience suggests doing otherwise? Answering this question reveals when it is more efficient to shape customers’ private information directly, e.g. by mitigating negative experiences, or rather leverage social effects, e.g. by increasing exposure to peer behavior.

The monetary value of social networks

Valuing customers enables marketers to identify the most important customers. A central metric for measuring customer value is the customer lifetime value (CLV). Although the CLV has gained in significance over the last decade, the customer is still often regarded as an isolated individual. This contrasts strongly with empirical findings in support of the relevance of word-of-mouth advertising and the role of customer recommendations as a success factor for products and services. To close this research gap, we examine how social ties might impact an individual customer’s lifetime value.

Men vs machine influence

Human-machine interactions are becoming increasingly prevalent at customer-firm touchpoints, as machines are taking over many tasks that used to be performed exclusively by human beings. However, most theories in the field of psychology, cognitive science, and marketing are not considering interactions between machines and humans but are based on traditional human-human interactions. In our research we analyze and explain the psychological, behavioral and societal consequences of the increasing dehumanization, digitization and automation.

News consumption on social networks

Individuals read news content on social media on a daily basis. However, they often feel better informed than they objectively are. This research analyzes whether social signals on social media trigger a feeling of being well-informed without actually reading. This research is of high interest for marketers, news providers and social media companies. By now, marketing recommendations mostly focused on attracting attention on social media. However, to increase the number of visitors to websites, social media posts should not only trigger liking but also reading.

Privacy and personalization preferences and the behavior in social contexts

The privacy paradox claims the contradiction between individuals' worries about lack of privacy and their careless sharing behavior of private information for small benefits. The privacy calculus theory argues that individuals compare cost and benefits of sharing private information and that they often overweight the advantages of data sharing over the risks concerning their privacy. In our research, we examine individuals’ awareness of data collection and usage, question the anticipated costs and benefits, observe irrational behavior and shed light on the triggers that set the threshold between personalization benefits over privacy threats. We further look into the boundary effects of social and cultural values and social visibility.