University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

In Case You Missed It: Our Top Marketing Articles

Drawing of marketing strategy
July 14, 2022  |  By Stephen Caldwell

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Note: This article is the second in an ongoing series of “in case you missed it” articles. We know you’re busy, so we will run ICYMI articles routinely to help you catch up with anything you might’ve missed. Be sure to check out the first article in the series.

Articles on trends in business since 2020 have typically included some connection to the pandemic and its impact, which is understandable given the global shockwaves the pandemic created. The breadth and depth of those shockwaves not only has generated lots of articles, but lots of variety of approaches to the articles.

In reviewing the most recent marketing-focused articles on Walton Insights, for instance, writers summarized research on the complexities of relationships between firms, the lingering effects of misinformation, how to help students navigate ambiguity and uncertainty, lessons on crisis management communication, and keys to delivering the right messages to shoppers at the right time. 

Not all the research was anchored to the pandemic, but it was clear that the pandemic had an impact on every topic of discussion.  

Here are some highlights: 

Improving corporate alliances 

The pandemic added new layers of complexity to business, and navigating those layers often involves collaborations and partnerships with others who have specific information and expertise. Ashish Sharma, Anindita Chakravarty, and Chen Zhou explored the nature of direct and indirect ties that firms create with each other in an effort to understand when and under what conditions alliances should be formalized.  

Their research, summarized in this Walton Insights article, clarifies the costs and benefits of such partnerships and provides a fuller picture of how they work. 

The lingering effects of misinformation 

Second-hand smoke apparently isn’t the only thing that lingers way too long and often leaves you with a headache. So, too, does deceptive marketing.  

The growing influence of the internet has given rise to significant campaigns in misinformation, and correcting such bad information is a growing challenge for marketers. But it’s not a new challenge, so there are lessons to learn from case studies with roots that pre-date the pandemic.  

In 2006, for instance, a judge ruled that tobacco companies had engaged in a pattern of misleading consumers about the adverse health outcomes of nicotine addiction when marketing “light” cigarettes. After several years of appeals and efforts to undermine the court’s order to set the record straight, the tobacco industry launched a court-ordered marketing campaign using ads in newspapers and on television.  

A research team led by Scot Burton of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, however, found that the campaign had very little impact on individual’s anti-smoking beliefs. This Walton Insights article provides background on that seminal case and summarizes the lessons the researchers learned that marketers can apply when launching campaigns to combat misinformation today. 

Navigating ambiguity and uncertainty 

Remote learning wasn’t invented during the pandemic but adjusting to a remote-only approach to higher education was emotionally challenging for everyone involved.   

Educators, who faced personal challenges with ambiguity and uncertainty, were charged with helping their students navigate the disruptions to their routines. Researchers Sarah C. Grace, J. Manuel Mejia, Molly Inhofe Rapert, and Anastasia Thyroff examined the impact the sudden shift to online learning had on students and the lessons educators and institutions can learn so that they can better prepare for such events in the future. 

Many of those lessons, highlighted in this article, apply to companies and other organizations because issues involving “tolerance for ambiguity, worry, perceived stress, and helpful communication” aren’t unique to a university environment.  

Managing the crises of the future 

One of the few upsides to a crisis is that it helps you learn how to prepare for and manage the next crisis – if, of course, you learn from it. So, to learn what the pandemic can teach us about marketing’s influence on public policy, researchers Maura L. Scott, Kelly D. Martin, Joshua L. Wiener, Pam Scholder Ellen, and Scot Burton examined articles on crises that had been featured in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

Disasters, they found, involve four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. The world was not prepared for the magnitude of COVID-19 and its consequences in part because leaders largely overlooked mitigation strategies that might have minimized the negative effects of the pandemic. 

The chief takeaway from the research they reviewed, summed up in this article, is that marketers need to acknowledge and account for the interdependence that exists among consumers, businesses, local, state, and federal governments, nations, and other constituencies. None of those groups are solely responsible for creating any crisis, and none can resolve all the issues created by a crisis. Instead, they have to account for each other and work together. 

Effectively delivering messages 

The shopper’s journey is a well-known framework, but technology is changing how marketers connect with customers during that journey and the pandemic has changed many habits customers have when making buying decisions. 

This article, summarizing research by Daniel Villanova, Anand V. Bodapati, Nancy M. Puccinelli, Michael Tsiros, Ronald C. Goodstein, Tarun Kushwaha, Rajneesh Suri, Henry Ho, Renee Brandon, and Cheryl Hatfield, examines the changing realities retailers face when communicating in each of the three phases: the “consider and evaluate” phase, the “buy” phase, and the “loyalty” phase. And it looks at some of the strategies and best practices for communicating more effectively. 

Post Author:

Matt WallerStephen Caldwell is Chief Word Architect for WordBuilders, Inc., where he spends most of his time helping clients discover, craft, and share the messages of their hearts. In addition to writing and editing for newspapers, magazines, and on numerous book projects, he has developed leadership and functional training for Fortune 500 companies. He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.