PhD in Marketing (Consumer Behaviour, Marketing Science or Consumer Neuroscience)

The marketing group at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University seeks highly motivated PhD students looking to study topics in consumer behaviour, marketing science, and consumer neuroscience. Strong applicants typically have backgrounds in psychology, economics, business, statistics, neuroscience, or computer science, and are looking to pursue careers as world-class academic researchers. Students define and execute their own projects in consultation with their advisers, and thus need creativity, self-direction, and a passion for scientific research.

Keywords

Marketing, consumer behaviour, marketing science, consumer neuroscience

Topic

The marketing group at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ranks among the best in the world. Our members publish their research in top journals in marketing and related fields. Our group is diverse, collaborative, collegial.

Our PhD program seeks to train the next generation of marketing academics. We want our students to maximize their potential and become independent marketing scholars. We expect students to become experts in and define a research agenda around a topic of their choosing. As such, PhD positions in our group are open. During their five years of study, students define and execute their own projects. They do this in consultation with their advisers, but also work with other faculty, including those at other institutes.

Students typically enter the PhD program under one of three sub-programs: 

  • Consumer Behaviour. Faculty work on a wide range of topics in consumer behaviour, such as how advertising works psychologically (Steven Sweldens), how technology is changing consumption (Stefano Puntoni), self-control and consumption (Mirjam Tuk), numerical processing (Dan Schley and Christophe Lembregts), judgment and decision making (Gabriele Paolacci), expression modalities and restriction effects on choice (Anne Klesse), biological influences on consumption and goal pursuit (Bram Van den Bergh), and consumer financial decision making (Quentin André). In addition to standard required course work, students typically take courses in experimental design and statistics, and seminars in consumer behaviour and psychology.
  • Marketing Science. Faculty work on a wide range of topics, such as customer analytics (Aurelie Lemmens), marketing strategy (Gerrit van Bruggen), new product introductions (Yvonne van Everdingen), consumer eye tracking (Ana Martinovici), consumer learning (Maciej Szymanowski), media and advertising (Jason Roos), consumer and firm networks (Xi Chen), behavioural economics (Alina Ferecatu), multi-armed bandits (Gui Liberali), and econometric and statistical methods (Pieter Schoonees). In addition to standard required course work, students typically take courses in microeconomics, machine learning, econometrics, statistics, and seminars in quantitative marketing. 
  • Consumer Neuroscience. Faculty work on a wide range of topics in consumer neuroscience ranging from understanding the neurological basis for consumer judgements and behaviours to predicting population-level outcomes from neural response data (Ale Smidts, Maarten Boksem, Alex Genevsky). In addition to standard required course work, students typically take courses in neuroscience, statistics, programming, machine learning, and seminars in consumer behaviour. 

The sub-program, which is chosen in consultation with the student prior to admission, determines the type of courses students take and who their advisors are in the first year.

Prospective students should indicate in their application which sub-program best matches their interests. (Applicants seeking to work at the intersection of two sub-programs should apply to the closest matching sub-program, and discuss their motivation for interdisciplinary research in the application).

Approach

The PhD student will work in close collaboration with the supervisory team and other faculty on tasks that include: 

  • Identifying novel research questions based on real-world phenomena or extant theory
  • Understanding the theoretical foundations and prior literature relevant to understanding the phenomena
  • Identifying the fundamental variables and relationships that are most important to studying the phenomena, and formalizing them in a measurement model or set of experimental hypotheses
  • Gathering experimental or observational data to test hypotheses or measure phenomena
  • Identifying the critical assumptions needed to draw inferences from empirical results
  • Writing computer code to analyse experimental or secondary data
  • Presenting research findings at international conferences
  • Writing up findings for publication in international journals
  • Attending classes and seminars (including those offered at other universities) to further develop thinking and research skills
  • Participating in and contributing to departmental research functions (PhD Day, research seminars, weekly research meetings)
  • Teaching (to a limited degree) students of the department

    Through workshops, research seminars, applied and theoretical research with faculty, and seminars on key disciplines that provide the foundations of the marketing discipline (statistics, economics, psychology), the PhD student will gain the requisite experience for independent work. The actual project will be defined by the student and the supervisory group and thus requires creativity, self-direction, and passion for top-notch scientific research. 
    Students have access to world-class research facilities:
  • Erasmus Behavioural Lab provides facilities to conduct high-quality behavioural research, including sound-insulated cubicles, group labs, video labs, and facilities for eye tracking, EEG/ERP, facial coding, and hormone-administration studies.
  • High-performance computing is available to researchers via SURFSara (a Dutch consortium for scientific computing)
  • Researchers have access to multiple MRI scanners via Erasmus Medical Centre.

Required Profile

We seek candidates with the following qualities: 

  • Intellectual curiosity, eagerness to learn, and openness to criticism and other perspectives
  • Strong commitment to methodological rigor and scientific integrity
  • Strong motivation to pursue an international career as a leading scholar
  • Excellent speaking and writing ability in fluent English, ideally with experience writing for a scientific audience
  • Willingness and motivation to independently formulate research projects and carry them through to completion
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Masters’ degree (preferably a Research Master´s or MPhil degree) 

Candidates should further match one of the following profiles: 

Consumer behaviour

  • Background in psychology, statistics, business, or a related discipline
  • Energy and passion for consumer behaviour, consumer psychology, and marketing
  • Experience conducting experimental research with human participants
  • Statistical skills and command of standard software packages for analysing experimental data (e.g., R, SPSS, SAS, Stata, JASP), and a strong willingness to develop these skills further
  • Command of empirical software packages (e.g., Qualtrics, MediaLab, Authorware, E-Prime) and a strong willingness to develop these skills further 

Marketing science

  • Background in a quantitative field, such as quantitative marketing, economics, statistics, computer science, management science, or operations research
  • Energy and passion for conducting research in quantitative social sciences
  • Experience writing computer code in a language such as R, python, Java, or C++ (no specific language is favoured or required however)
  • Skills in data management, preparation, and visualization, ideally as part of at least one end-to-end data science project 

Consumer neuroscience

  • Background in cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, or biological psychology
  • A definite interest of applying knowledge to the field of decision-making
  • Prior experience analysing fMRI data using techniques such as MVPA and RSA, as well as neural reliability (inter-subject correlations in neural activity), or prior experience working with EEG, facial coding, or eye-tracking techniques.

Expected output

You will generate research that can be published in top-tier peer-reviewed journals in marketing, such as Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Marketing Science, and Journal of Marketing. The research group at RSM has a strong record publishing in these and other top journals in related fields, including Management, Psychology, Neuroscience, and Economics. The final results of the PhD project are published in a PhD dissertation, and most marketing PhD dissertations at RSM find their way into top journals.

Cooperation

To strengthen your international research network and complement your time at RSM, you will receive funding for a 3- to 6-month research visit at a top international university. Past visits have included Stanford, Wharton, Harvard, Florida, Chicago, Colorado, Cornell, Columbia, and UCLA.

Societal relevance

Students are encouraged to pursue topics that not only improve the practice of marketing, but also consumer or societal well-being, and thus align closely with the school’s mission to be a force for positive change in the world.

Scientific relevance

PhD research should be of the highest quality, carried out with scientific rigor and the utmost integrity. The department values openness and encourages students to embrace the principles and tools of open science (e.g., making code and data available to others and pre-registering experiments). The marketing group conducts research in our core field of marketing, as well as related disciplines such as management, psychology, judgement and decision making, neuroscience, economics, and statistics. Our diversity and interdisciplinarity make the department a lively, creative, and intellectually stimulating place to conduct research

Literature references

Please refer to the web pages for individual faculty members (https://www.rsm.nl/research/departments/marketing-management/faculty/) for more information about their current research interests