(UPDATED 8/23/2023)

Best Ways to Reach Me

  • Slack DM (preferred): @srossmktg
  • Email:
  • Phone: x45305 or Google Voice: 413-274-4227

Basic Course Information

Table of Contents

What’s this course about?

What do products and services mean to consumers? How do consumers decide what to buy? What are the effects of the internal (self) and external (society) environments on purchases? This course examines these and other fundamental marketing concerns by blending contemporary theory and research with application to the marketplace. In particular, this course overlays how technology pervades buying behaviors and how consumption can be societally transformative.

Marketoonist comic: Where's Waldo asks "Another irrelevant offer? It's like they have no idea where I am in the customer journey."

What should you be able to know after successfully completing this course?

You’ll know/understand: You’ll be able to:
Understand how consumers’ behaviors advance from pre-purchase ➡️ purchase ➡️ post-purchase Assess the importance of consumer decision journeys as they inform marketing decisions.
Describe the stages of the consumer decision journey.
Critique differences between traditional and recent models of the consumer decision journey.
Know the internal psychological influences that affect consumers’ marketplace behaviors. Recognize how cognition (such as perception, learning, attitudes, and memory) affects consumer behaviors.
Illustrate how individual differences (such as personalities, lifestyles, and values) affect behaviors.
Apply theoretical models to assess how attitudes are formed and affect behaviors.
Know the external situational/sociocultural influences that affect consumers’ marketplace behaviors. Explain how sociodemographic factors (such as age, gender, ethnicity, etc.) impact consumption decisions.
Explain how economic demographic factors (such as income, class) impact consumption decisions.
Examine consumer identities, including those of (sub)cultures of consumption.
Understand the important role of consumption in addressing consumer and societal well-being (transformative consumer research). Identify areas of transformative consumer behavior (e.g., health, sustainability, vulnerable marketplaces) and their relationship strategizing for marketing opportunity.
Critique the positive and negative effects of consumption on individuals’ and society’s well-being.
Know how technology affects consumer decision journeys. Critique the role of technology used by consumers (e.g. web, social media, mixed-reality) in their decision-making.
Discuss how differences in tech platforms impact consumer culture and the decision journey.

Click to jump to top

What materials will you need to be successful in the course?

Cover of Fostering Sustainable Behavior by Doug McKenzie-Mohr

Fostering Sustainable Behavior (3e), McKenzie-Mohr, New Society Publishers, $16.20 (PDF/EPUB), or $12.36 (Kindle) or $14.59 (Amazon Paperback)

Cover of Introduction to Consumer Behaviour by Andrea Niosi

Introduction to Consumer Behaviour (1e), Niosi, BCcampus, FREE Open Education Resource. If you’d like it in PDF or ePUB or other formats, it’s in the link. There are also tips here on how to access and use the web-book. Otherwise, I’ll provide links to the chapters on the course calendar and you’ll want to ensure you read the chapter.

Slack logo

Slack is a business communications tool we’ll be using instead of email/Blackboard. If you’ve ever used Discord, it’s a lot like that, but designed for corporate environments.

The reason I prefer Slack (vs. email/Blackboard) is because it’s available for web/iOS/Android, and has a whole host of contemporary app features. As a collaboration tool, it puts everyone in the course on a level playing field to share media, ask, and discuss. And, it also has the benefit of making virtual collaboration on your team work much easier. People at universities have just started using it, but thousands of businesses and other startups have used it for years now. During COVID-19, it has allowed me to respond to students much quicker, and allowed students to collaborate among themselves much easier while everyone worked remotely. Nearly all course materials and engagement will be posted through the course Slack channel.

I’ll send a registration link to your UML address. Check your spam folder in case you haven’t received it.

If you need to register manually, please do so with your address at (team name: srossmktg). Join the course’s channel by clicking/tapping the + (“plus”) by the CHANNELS,” searching “#23fa-cb”, and clicking “Join Channel.” (you’ll also be automatically added to the default #general-announcements and #newslinks channels). Downloading the app to your phone and turning the notifications on is recommended for easy and quick communication and collaboration.

All my course communications (i.e., Zoom links, cancellations, announcements, discussion) and supplemental course materials (i.e., links, other readings, slides) will be posted through Slack – NO EMAILS.

Blackboard (assignments/grades only)
Blackboard logo

I only use Blackboard for individual assignments (such as the CX promo project) and gradebook purposes.

Supplemental Readings

zip file containing a series of PDFs will be posted and pinned in the course Slack channel. The PDFs are assigned readings, most of which will be discussed in class. Other articles/links may be posted on Slack throughout the semester.

Additional Readings

As business students, you should naturally be visiting business related news sites (e.g., WSJ, FT, Bloomberg, Mashable, Business Insider) and coming to each class ready to share articles and events relating to marketing topics. Part of your course engagement grade will heavily depend on being able to present, discuss, and debate these current marketing topics.

Click to jump to top

How will you be evaluated?

Summary (Points)

Assignment % Contribution to Course Grade
CX Promotional Project (4 @ 5%) 20
Shoebox Collage Project 15
Course Engagement 12
Manning BeHub Research Credits 3
TCR Team Minipaper 1 (Research) 15
TCR Team Minipaper 2 (Strategy) 15
TCR Team Public Service Announcement 15
Project Peer Evaluation (online link) 5

An Appendix of Assignments posted and pinned to the course Slack channel contains more detailed instructions for the Customer Experience (CX) Promo Project (Appendix A), Shoebox Collage Project (Appendix B), TCR Team Public Service Announcement (Appendix C), and TCR Team Minipapers (Appendix D).

Performance Scale (Points)

Excellent to GoodSatisfactoryUnsatisfactory but PassingFailing
94 – 100 = A
90 – < 94 = A-
87 – < 90 = B+
84 – < 87 = B
80 – < 84 = B-
77 – < 80 = C+
74 – < 77 = C
70 – < 74 = C-
67 – < 70 = D+
64 – < 67 = D
60 – < 64 = D-
0 – < 60 = F
I WILL NOT ROUND FINAL GRADES. (Unless I’ve erred in calculation, do not ask for your 89.99999 to be an A-.) All assigned work will be graded based on guidelines provided. Late work will not be graded and instead, will be given an automatic “zero” (0) grade.

Click to jump to top

What’s being evaluated?


Consumer Experience (CX) Promotional Project (4 @ 5% = 20%):

You’ll be 1) critiquing one baseline ad for a brand, 2) creating a customer journey map of that brand, and then 3/4) developing two “print” (or other type of digital, non-video, if you will) touchpoints. Your initial critique will serve as baseline response to consumers’ behaviors, your consumer journey map will employ some consumer research, while your touchpoint creations (usually “print” ads) will reflect ideas learned from the broad course units (psychological/cultural influences). Each part shall be accompanied by a brief (~200-300wd) writeup. You may wish to use Canva or Adobe Creative Cloud Express to create your touchpoints (see Appendix A for specific details). Works are preferred submitted via Blackboard. The point of the CX promo project is to assess your understanding and application of the course material to consumers’ behaviors, as presented through the book, readings, and classes, and allow some creativity in representing them.

Shoebox Collage Project (15%)

As consumers, our decision journeys are affected by both internal and external processes. You’ll be asked to make a shoebox collage with objects that represent the consumer psychological (inside of the box) and consumer cultural (outside of the box) processes that influence your decision journeys. This should contain, at a minimum, 20 unique specific theories/concepts of consumer behavior, with a fully-referenced key (see Appendix B for specific details). The point of the shoebox collage project is to provide a point of creativity for you to relate the theories and concepts from the course directly to your own individuality as a consumer.

Course Engagement (12%)

Communication skills are extremely important in marketing (after all, it’s one of the things we do!), which is why I grade course engagement on active participation and contribution, not mere class attendance (you’ll note I don’t have a formal attendance policy). I also expect everyone to actively engage in class discussions, any class exercises, and make quality contributions/discussions on Slack. All of this counts as engagement. Therefore, course engagement is a function of: (in-class active participation + outside-class on Slack)*(volume)*(quality). Both inside and outside of classtime, I encourage us to work hard to create and maintain a supportive, respectful, and empathetic environment. While I’ll help guide you, the class should be a thought lab to express your critical and analytical thinking, while also considering the backgrounds of others in and out of the class.

While you must be present in classes to be able to participate in them, I guarantee attendance alone will not earn a full 12% engagement mark (for example, attendance but no participation may earn closer to 9% while no attendance but a lot of participation may earn closer to 7%—and obviously, participating on Zoom can be tricky). Your involvement and participation are vital to the success of yours and your peers’ learning experiences; consistency and quality matter. Slack has threaded messaging; rather than mandate Blackboard discussion posts, I encourage actual, real discussion in and out of classtime. The point of course engagement is to foster communication and collaboration skills with peers, as well as to actively engage the content, both inside and outside class lecture.

Manning BeHub (Behavioral Hub) Research Credits (3%)

You’re required to participate in at least 3.0 credits of Manning BeHub research studies (or, if you choose, see me for an alternative credit task) as part of your course grade. 3.0 credits is approximately 4-6 studies in a semester (1.0 credit = 1% of final course grade). Most studies take between 10-20 minutes per study. If you accumulate credits for my course in excess of the 3.0, up to an additional 2.0 credits may be awarded as extra course credit

Many studies will be online studies that can be done at home, though occasionally, in-person “lab” studies will be offered for credit or other incentives. I’ll send out announcements via Slack to the class as the BeHub periodically announces new study availability. You may also direct BeHub questions to me as one of its co-administrators. Study availability may be ongoing through the semester. However, studies are usually only open for limited periods of time before they expire and are then unavailable for participating credit. Please make sure you participate in studies before they are closed. The point of participating in research studies is that these studies will help your professors (including me) generate knowledge and insight about business, as well as give you firsthand experience of how business research is conducted


TCR Team Minipapers (2 @ 15% = 30%)

Whereas “the Shoebox project” (above) gets you to analyze yourself as consumer through all of the behavioral theories/concepts (and is a lot more creative), and whereas the individual/team ads apply theories to consumer practice, these two related research papers will have you in teams analyzing a critical transformative consumer research topic from the inside, out and thinking how to leverage behavioral insights in social marketing.

You’ll be working in teams of ~5, picking a Transformative Consumer Research topic, and exploring that topic’s relationship to both consumer psychology and consumer culture. You’ll be doing some primary customer research/analysis as well as using your knowledge to propose solutions to marketers, policymakers, and consumers (see Appendix D for details).

There will be two minipapers (each ~1500-1750 words (~5-7pgs), excluding references): Minipaper 1 will focus on reviewing background literature related to your topic, and conducting primary research to identify barriers and benefits to well-being behaviors. Minipaper 2 will focus on leveraging consumer psych and consumer culture theory to develop a marketing/non-profit/consumer policy strategy for improving well being.

Groups may meet with me during any class workshops or outside class. As well, students often find Slack private groups or group DMs help with collaboration (and that’s ultimately what the purpose of Slack is in business). If there’s a problem within the group, you should inform me as soon as problems arise, not the week before deadlines. The point of the minipapers is to showcase written communications skills, to work on interpersonal skills in a teamwork collaboration, and to demonstrate research, critical, and analytical thinking skills in a cumulative fashion.

TCR Team Public Service Announcement (15%)

Instead of doing a standard presentation of a paper to the class, your team will create a 2-5 minute video public service announcement (PSA), pertaining to the Transformative Consumer Research issue from your minipapers, which will be critiqued in class at the end of the semester. Critical to the success of your PSA will be your ability to communicate and demonstrate your team’s understanding of how behavioral insights and theory relate to the issue. It may either serve as a public service announcement or advertise a consumer-oriented solution (product or service) that is based on behavioral theory (see Appendix C for details). Tools you could use include OBS Studio, Canva’s Video Maker, or Adobe Spark Video Editor. The point of this presentation brief is to demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate scholarly insights on consumer behavior, analyze their links to marketing strategy and application, to showcase oral communications skills in a visual presentation.

Peer Evaluation (Online Link) (5%)

A link to a rigorous online peer evaluation form will be distributed in the last week of class. Failure to submit the evaluation by the assigned date will be an automatic “0” (zero) for your own evaluation score, as I use your peers’ scores to calculate your own evaluation grade. If you can’t be bothered to give your peers their scores, I won’t be bothered to calculate your score.

Click to jump to top

For general Terms and Conditions of the course, please visit my course policies page