A look at the Invisible Forces of Diffusion

Jacob Goldenberg
Jacob Goldenberg
  • Speaker
Columbia Business School, Columbia University

Event Information

Research Seminar
Mon. 12 Feb. 2007
12:30-14:00 hours
Mandeville Building T3-14


Consumer interactions constitute a fascinating processes working beneath the surface to ultimately find expression as marketing effects. The talk will cover few papers in which we tried to uncover facets of invisible yet powerful forces operating beneath the surface of the market. Our attempts focus on innovation adoption processes where the invisible forces are consumer interactions (e.g., word of mouth).

 The way in which information spreads in a given social system may be described as “an adaptive complex system”, i.e., a system that consists of a large number of individual entities which interact with each other (in a manner that is sometimes indiscernible), ultimately generating large-scale, collective (macro), visible behavior. Although in many such adaptive systems the interactions themselves may be simple, the magnitude of the system’s scale admits the emergence of patterns which are hard to predict, hard to track empirically and often almost impossible to study analytically.

The talk will cover few researches and findings in which this paradigm helped to get a closer look at the invisible forces and allow for predictions as well.

The main focus of the presentation will be on spatial analyses at early stages of penetrations and how spatial divergence measures (in this case cross-entropy) can predict takeoffs long before their occurrence. Using both simulated and real-life data, we find that this approach has been capable of predicting success in the beginning of the adoption process, correctly predicting 14 out of 16 actual product introductions in two product categories. In addition the role of resistance (and negative word of mouth) will be examined through its interaction with social networks structure. Few counterintuitive effects of marketing activity in the presence of negative word of mouth will be discussed.
Contact information: 
Dr. B. Donkers
Bas Donkers
Professor of Marketing Research
  • Coordinator