NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Fall 2010

Instructor Details

Henry Assael



Tues & Thurs. 12:30-1:30 & 4:45-5:30

Tisch 810


Course Meetings

TR, 2:00pm to 3:15pm

KMC 5-140

Final Exam:

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on: Thurs. Sept. 9
    Class will meet on:


Course Description and Learning Goals

Course Description


We as marketers must develop an understanding of consumer needs and motives and develop marketing strategies accordingly.  Once having developed strategies, we must then understand consumer responses to these strategies.  The basic purpose of this course is to link an understanding of behavioral  principles to developing marketing strategies . 


The link between understanding consumers and developing strategies has become more complicated in the current multi-media web oriented environment.  The ability of consumers to evaluate brands and choose alternatives has multiplied exponentially.  Consumers have also become more empowered to determine the nature of the ads and information they see and the characteristics of the brands they buy.  We will attempt to evaluate consumer responses in an environment that is more consumer empowered.

On this basis, the course depends on two assumptions:  First, that every business's fundamental strategies are designed to satisfy customer needs at a profit to the firm.  Second, that an understanding of these customer needs must be the basis for developing product, advertising, pricing, and distribution strategies.  The premise is that an understanding of the consumer is essential for those pursuing careers in brand, advertising, and strategic management.  This is true, whether the applications are for products or services, domestic or international pursuits, and small or large companies. 


Course Objectives


  1. To provide an understanding of how consumers make decisions
  2. To consider the personal and environmental factors that influence consumer decisions
  3. To understand the strategic implications of consumer influences and decisions for product, advertising, pricing, and distribution strategies
  4. To consider the Web as a vehicle to facilitate consumer decisions and purchases.

Class Sessions

Class sessions will be devoted to lectures and to discussion of  cases and  readings. 


Course Materials


To be picked up from the marketing department: 8th floor Tisch: A packet of three items as follows:

  1. Text:  Henry Assael. Consumer Behavior: A Strategic Approach,  Houghton Mifflin, 2004.   The text will be distributed for free. 
  2. Power Point Slides (part 1 of 2): Provides a complete copy of all the power point slides that will be used in class in the first half of the course..
  3.  Project Guidelines and Outside Readings: Contains guidelines for the course project and a packet of  short articles (usually one or two pages) from the periodical literature. 

Please initial the sign-in sheet when picking up these items. 

To  be purchased from the bookstore: A packet of five Harvard Business School cases.

NOTE: Please turn in the information form on the last page of this syllabus by Session 4, Sept. 16.


Course Ground Rules


1. Attendance and Class Courtesy

  1. Attend all classes with the exception of allowed absences.  I expect all of us to approach the course the same way we would any other professional responsibility.  If you know you will be unable to attend, please e-mail the TA.  The TA will be recording attendance and tracking lateness. 
  2. Arrive on time.  Students are expected to arrive in class on time and stay until the end of the period.  Please be in class at least one minute before the designated time.  Classes will start promptly. 
  3. Please do not leave class during the session unless you absolutely have to.  I recognize that on occasion you may have to leave class.   But going in and out frequently  is disruptive for both students and the professor.
  4. Turn off all electronic devicesprior to the start of class. Laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices are a distraction to everyone

2.  Do Readings and Assignments in Advance of Class.

Make sure that you have read the text, cases and reading assignments for each class in advance.  This will insure you can actively participate in class discussions. 

3. Conform to the date for the final exam

The only basis for taking a make-up exam is for medical reasons.   (Documentation will be required.)   If you miss the final due to illness or injury, a make-up will not be scheduled for you unless I receive a letter from your doctor (on letterhead) indicating the date and time of the medical problem that prevented you from taking the test. 

4.  Hand in written assignments the day they are due

Case assignments will not be accepted once they are discussed in class. There are no exceptions to this rule.  If there is any chance you will not be in class when the case is discussed, e-mail the case to me or leave it in my mailbox before class.  The team project will be marked down one full grade for each session it is handed in late.  The only exception to the above is serious illness or family emergencies.

5.  .Be an Equal and active participant in the group project:

Every member is expected to carry an equal share of the group’s workload. Your professor will not supervise the process any more closely than a manager would in similar circumstances. In the infrequent case where you believe that a group member is not carrying out his or her fair share of work, you are urged not to allow or permit problems develop to a point where they become serious. Try to first address these problems among yourselves. It is recommended that your

group establish your own problemā€solving process for handling conflicts at the beginning of your work together. If you cannot resolve conflicts internally after your best efforts, they should be brought to the attention of your professor who will work with you to find a resolution.

You will be asked to complete a peer evaluation form to evaluate the contribution of each of your group members (including your own contribution) at the conclusion of each project. If there is consensus that a group member did not contribute a fair share of work to the project, the professor will consider this feedback during grading.

Guidelines for Effective Group Work

Research on groups shows that outcomes do not depend on group members liking each other personally, but they do

depend on effective group processes. Here are some guidelines:

1) Focus on achieving the best results rather than worrying about interpersonal relationships

2) Become aware of and respect differences among one another:

a) Demographic (gender, race, ethnicity, national culture)

b) Professional (values, skills, personalities)

3) Meet as soon as possible to:

a) Agree on your group’s ground rules (“Suggested Ground Rules” provided on the next page)

b) Decide on the process of collaboration: when you will brainstorm ideas/approaches, collect

   and analyze data, prepare the group project presentation or paper

c) Assign tasks and identify specific deliverables for each meeting and each person

d) Schedule subsequent meeting times

e) Agree on how you will exchange work and by which dates

f) Determine how your group members will review the combined project and approve it

6.  Grade Rebuttals

The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you feel that an omission  or judgmental error has been made in the grading of an assignment or exam, please write a formal memo describing the error and give it to me (in class or my mailbox) with the original graded document.  Note that you do not need to see me in person to submit a grade rebuttal or receive the decision.  Also include documentation in support of your opinion (e.g., a photocopied page from a case with the relevant information highlighted, or a power point slide).  I will get back to you as quickly as possible with an answer (usually within a week).  Please note that any request for reassessment of a grade usually results in a re-grading of the entire assignment or test.  This means that as a result of my re-evaluation, grades can be revised either upwards or downwards.

Students have one week after an assignment has been returned to them to submit a grade rebuttal.  After that date, no rebuttals will be accepted. 

7.  Check your e-mail regarding the course

I will be e-mailing a summary and requirements for each class session, as well as reminders of class assignments due,  several days in advance of that session.  It is your responsibility to check your e-mail in advance of each class session.  If you miss a class, get copies of materials from classmates.  Do not ask the TA or me to reviewwhat happened in class.

8.Stern Curve

Although there is no official Stern curve, all sections of this course will adhere to the following guidelines:

                                    A                 25- 35% of students

                                    B                 50-70% of students

                                    C  or less     5-15% of students

9. Extra Credit

Please note that there are no opportunities to improve your grade through the completion of work for extra credit. 

10. There are no exceptions to the above policies.

Everyone in class is treated equally.

Fully Understand Your Responsibilities in the Course

Please be aware that the information sheet you are to hand in specifies that you have read this syllabus and fully understand the course requirements and ground rules for this course. The information sheet is due Sept. 16.


Assessment Components


1.  Class Attendance and Participation (15%)

Attendance:  Class attendance is essential to your success in this course and is part of your grade. An excused absence can only be granted in cases of serious illness, grave family emergencies, or religious observance and must be documented. Job interviews and incompatible travel plans are considered unexcused absences. Where possible, please notify the Teaching Assistant in advance of an excused absence.

    Frequent lateness will also adversely affect the class participation grade.  Classes will start promptly at the designated time.

Participation :  In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part    of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall   performance. You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:

  1. - Providing strong evidence of having thought through the material.
  2. - Advancing the discussion by contributing insightful comments and questions.
  3. - Listening attentively in class.
  4. - Demonstrating interest in your peers' comments, questions, and presentations.
  5. - Giving constructive feedback to your peers when appropriate.

Volunteering comments and responding to questions is welcome at all times.  To insure broad-based participations, you may be asked to respond even though you do not volunteer a comment.

2.Team Project:  35% of grade (25% written assignment; 10% presentations.)

The major assignment in the course is a team project that asks you to identify a marketing opportunity,  determine consumer reactions to this opportunity, and develop strategic recommendations on this basis.

You will be asked to form teams of 4-6 students bySept. 21. The project is described in full in the project guide.  Briefly, it requires

  1. Defining a marketing opportunity.  Suggested topics for the project are listed in Appendix A.  You are not limited to these topics and can choose any area of opportunity based on your interests and subject to my approval.
  2. Once you determine your area of opportunity, determine existing information on this subject based on a Web search and other sources.
  3.  Interview consumers to determine their reactions to the area of opportunity.
  4.  Provide strategic recommendations based on your understanding of the consumer.

The project will require

  The specs for the proposal are in Appendix B of this syllabus..

  The specs for the interim report are in Appendix C

  The report  should not exceed 10 pages, not including appendixes.

  Detailed specs for the report are in the Project guide booklet.

-    Class presentations at the end of the term (sessions 26-28.)

3.   Final Exam: 25% of the grade (Date TBA)

The exam will  be based on the lectures and power point slides,  The exam will be composed of essay questions, and will cover material for the entire course.  Text material can enhance your answers, but no questions will be on the exam that were not covered in class.  You will be allowed to bring one page of notes, minimum ten point font.

4.  Case Assignments:  25% of the grade

There will be five individually prepared cases of not more than two pages (double-spaced, one-inch margins).  Each case will represent 5% of the grade.  The cases are:

Cases are in the case packet you purchased from the bookstore.  The questions you should address for each case appear in bold in Appendix D


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom.  

Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges  as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well  you actually perform in this course.



The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me within 7 days of receiving the grade, including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.


Guidelines for Written Assignments


In addition to the content, written assignments will be graded on writing quality. It is important in business writing to be clear, direct, and persuasive. Failure to conform to the following guidelines will adversely affect your grade on written assignments.

(1.) your name (2) the course section,  (3) the date submitted, (4)  the title of the assignment.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes






Course Outline













Assignments Due














Course Introduction





Text:     Chpt. 1


Credit for first guest lecturer











9/14 &






Types of Consumer Decisions





- Text, Chapter 2






Information form due 9/16




Habit and Brand Loyalty

- Chapter 3

Form project groups 9/21



Consumer Involvement

- Chapter 4

- Reading#1 (in reading packet)




A. Project Review

B. Situational Influences

- Text, Chpt. 5















Consumer Perceptions




- Chpt. 6

- Readings #2 & 3




Project Proposals due




Information Search & Processing

- Chpt. 7





A.Info Search &   

    Processing (Cont’d)

B, UnMe Jeans Case


UnMe Jeans Case






Consumer Attitudes

  • Chpt. 8








Post-Purchase Evaluation& Brand Equity_______

Starbucks Case

  • Reading #4
  • Reading #5



Submit Starbucks case





- Chpt. 9




Age Cohorts

  • Chpt. 12, pp. 347-357
  • Reading #6




Interim project due
















Age Cohorts (Cont’d)

Case: The New Beetle


Personality & Life Styles



Dove Case




- Chpt. 10



Reading #7


Submit New Beetles case





Submit Dove Case




















- Guest Speaker TBA;



- Personal Influence

    (Regular class time)









 -    Chpt. 14

  -    Reading# 8 & 9




Word-of-Mouth & Diffusion Processes

- Chpt. 16

- Readings #10 & 11






-Ed Keller, Principal


   “Promoting Diffusion

   Through Buzz”: 12:30-



A.  Tivo Case


B.  Cultural Values

     (Regular class time)











  • Chpt. 11







Submit Tivo Case



Subcultural Influences

- Chpt. 12, pp. 342-47 & 357-73

- Reading # 12




Cross-Cultural & Global Influences


  • Chpt. 13





Credit for second guest lecturer






Final Report on Course Project Due













Appendix A



The following topics are suggestions only.  You are free to pick any topic of interest as long as it identifies an area of potential opportunity that consumers can respond to.  Please consider the following:

  1. Toyota introducing a hybrid Scion car targeted to 18-29 year olds
  2. Amex introducing an online store tied in to its card with frequent shopper points
  3. Sony Music  introducing a line of vinyl record with retro music
  4. Introducing a social networking site designed to communicate music preferences
  5. Apple introducing iTV – a technology that provides interface between the computer & TV set
  6. Anheuser Busch targeting beer to women
  7. Pepsi or Coke introducing a calcium-fortified soft drink
  8. Victoria’s Secret introducing a skin care line
  9. Axe cosmetics introducing a line of men’s casual clothing
  10. Ikea customizing furniture online (or L’Oreal for skin care, or other companies customizing online.)
  11. Targeting videogames to women
  12. Apple introducing a new version of its iPhone to tweens (those between 10-15 years old.)
  13. Introducing Pop-up stores for Adidas (or Apple, or Target, or other marketers)
  14. L’Oreal introducing an organic skin care line
  15. Repositioning Levi’s as a trendier line of clothes targeted to younger consumers
  16. Repositioning Talbots to younger consumers
  17. Personalizing information for magazines (Time magazine, Newsweek) to attract younger readers

 (Should more than one team pick the same project, selection will be on a first come, first served basis.)


Appendix B



(Maximum of two Pages) 

Briefly define

Then provide a preliminary assessment of


Appendix C



(Maximum of three pages)

The interim report will not be graded. It should cover the following five points:

  1. Brief summary statement (no more than two paragraphs) of the nature of your project
  2. A brief description (one paragraph) of your target market based on your preliminary investigation, and why it is the target.
  3. A concept statement of the area of marketing opportunity you are proposing
  4. Brief description of who you will select to interview for your depth interviews (should reflect definition of the target)
  5. A moderator’s guide that you plan to use to conduct your depth interviews (maximum of 10 items in the moderator’s guide.)


Appendix D



UnMe JEANS – Due Oct. 12

Address Questions 2 and 3  only

  1. What are the advantages to consumers in utilizing Web 2.0 media as sources of Information
  2. What are the pros and cons of using Web 2.0 media to advertise UnME jeans (67%)
  3. Should Margaret Foley utilize any or all of the three Web 2.0 media cited in the case? (33%)
  4. At the time of the case, was there a disconnect in the amount of money being allocated to Web 2.0 media.

STARBUCKS – Due Oct. 21

  1. How did Starbucks strategies in the last eight years undermine its original value proposition and brand equity.  How did these changes affect consumer perceptions.
  2. Starbucks would like to appeal to both the original experiential consumers & the newer convenience oriented consumers without alienating one or the other. hat are the pros & cons of a two-store solution differentiating “Experiential” stores from fast-food stores to achieve this objective.


Address Questions 1, 2 & 3

  1. What are the pros and cons of positioning the new Beetle primarily to baby boomers (34-52 years old in 1998?  Assuming it is the primary target, how would you advertise the car to this segment?
  2. What are the pros and cons of targeting the New Beetle to Gen X’ers (20-33 as of 1998) in addition to baby boomers.  How would you advertise to this segment? 
  3. Would you use one ad campaign or two to target  both baby boomers and Gen Xers.  Why?
  4. Should the New Beetle be positioned in the context of the “Drivers Wanted” Campaign?

DOVE – Due Nov. 9

Address Questions 1 and 2

  1. Use self-image theory to describe

a) The problems with traditional, fantasy-oriented themes for beauty care products.

b) How Dove’s “campaign for Real Beauty” has differentiated itself from such a traditional approach.

2. The purpose of the “Campaign for Real Beauty” is to broaden the concept of beauty to be more inclusive.  Conventional wisdom says it is very difficult to change conventional societal norms through advertising.

a) On this basis is the campaign doomed to fail?

b) What other risks are there in the Dove campaign?

3. What are both the advantages and the risks of using non-traditional media such as blogs, You Tube, and viral marketing in promoting the Campaign for Real Beauty


TIVO  - Due Nov. 18

  1. At the time of the case, TIVO had been adopted by less than one-tenth of one percent of all households.  Based on Power Point slide 102, what barriers existed to the future adoption of TIVO.  In particular,  what attitudes and behaviors had to be changed for consumers to adopt TIVO? (67%)
  2. In 2002, a Tivo executive made the following statement:

“ What we observe with our customers is a deep emotional bond.  But to expand our business, we have to reach prospects that are more mainstream and do not view TV as a problem.  There is a mystery in the sharp contrast between the inertia of prospects and the evangelical zeal of current Tivo users.”

Use the concept of the diffusion curve to explain the distinction between users and prospects and the problem of moving prospects from ineria to action.   (33%)


Appendix E




Consumer Behavior

Prof.  Henry Assael                            Fall 2010                                                              Staple

                                                                                                                                           photo if



Your Name:       ____________________________


Major(s):             ____________________________


Stern  e-mail address                                                                      Expected

(print clearly, lower case):  _______________________graduation  


  1. Please read the following statement and indicate your agreement by signing

      below.  (Before signing, make sure to read the syllabus thoroughly).

      “I have read the syllabus thoroughly.  I understand and agree to the requirements associated with this course.”

___________________________________________          _________________

                                Signature                                                                                                          Date

2. What is your recent work experience?

3. Tell me something else about yourself that is important to you and/or makes you unique (your interests, hobbies, background, talents etc.)  Use back of this sheet if needed.

4. What do you expect to get from this course?  How does this course fit in with your career goals?


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