Gaurav Jain, assistant professor of marketing at the Rensselaer Lally School of Management

As consumers and individuals, how do items in our daily life get our attention and influence our decisions? This is a vital question faced by many organizations and businesses, advertisers, and even public policymakers.

Companies and brands try to decide what will be good to invest in for their marketing, as they face compressed timelines and shrinking budgets in a fast-paced, digitally- and technology-driven age. From social media, websites, commercials, billboards, postcards, radio, retail spaces, and more, people are faced with many stimuli as part of their daily decision-making experiences.

At the Rensselaer Lally School of Management, students interested in marketing take a variety of classes including those that provide them with an understanding of what customers want and how to effectively offer and commercialize products and services to meet this demand. These Lally students also conduct actual product research and concept testing, vital sources of information for businesses to be able to reach and serve customers while achieving their goals or mission.

A new assistant professor of marketing at Lally, Gaurav Jain, was recently the featured speaker at the Lally Research Workshop. He received his Ph.D. in marketing from the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa; an MBA from the Management Development Institute in Gurgaon, India; and a Bachelor of Engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology in Manipal, Karnataka, India.

“The complex world of marketing in business is an important one. However, gone are the days consumers’ decisions were merely based in perceptions of product quality and cost,” said Jain. “For a growing number of today’s consumers, views of social good, ethical behaviors, and transparency of a manufacturer’s or retailer’s business practices can also play a large role. So how brands stay mindful of consumer decision-making is important.”

This semester Jain teaches the course Marketing Research, which challenges students to identify and solve marketing problems through the systematic gathering and analysis of market information. He can draw from his own experience, as his research in marketing examines how individuals make judgments, estimates, and decisions in the absence of complete information.

More specifically, his research spans the fields of numerical cognition and judgment, working memory capacity, and attention limitations. Using psycho-physical methods, such as eye tracking and facial expression analysis, Jain makes novel predictions about how various cognitive biases influence consumer choices.

His recent research finds evidence for numerical landmarks in human minds, which are conceptually similar to physical landmarks. These cognitive numerical landmarks will bias several numerical estimates and judgments that individuals make on a daily basis. Specifically, numerical landmarks are certain numbers which are stored differently in our mind and can grab more of a person’s attention, be perceived to be bigger and more distinct than they actually are, and can prime a person to make a decision.

“This research can be applied to various marketing implications as organizations can choose to use numerical landmarks in print advertisements and product packaging to catch potential consumers’ attention,” said Jain. “Additionally, in communication messages, numerical landmarks can be associated with information that marketers want consumers to remember, and thus, increase attribute recall.”

Jain’s work also finds that these concepts could apply to create items, such as surveys, that could alter individuals’ responses thus further influencing their attitudes, and ultimately their own behaviors and responses. Additionally, as he is investigating in one of his research efforts, these concepts can be used to design brand logos that can enhance consumers’ attitudes towards the associated brands.