By Makarand Mody, Associate Professor of Hospitality Marketing; Director of Research; Chair of Undergraduate Programs, Boston University School of Hospitality Administration
I am delighted to present this special issue on Consumer Behavior for the Boston Hospitality Review. The last two years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic have truly served as an inflection point for companies and brands to rethink their relationships with consumers. Relatedly, consumers themselves have adapted to new lifestyles, behaviors, expectations, and preferences, which has important implications for the companies and brands that market to them.
The three articles in this special issue are as diverse as they are coherent. On the face of it, they address seemingly unconnected issues of branding, the implications of service robots for hospitality, and how to market sustainability to consumers more effectively. However, the thread that runs through all of them is a need to deeply and meaningfully engage with the consumer, understand how their conceptions of value are changing, and design experiences and communication that tap into these changing values.
Jonathan Katz examines the factors that enable brands to connect with consumers through emotions (which, in the world we live in today, are perhaps heightened in every way). His argument for tempering technology with humanity is a perfect segue to Jochen Wirtz, Werner Kunz, and Stefanie Paluch who examine the implications of service robots for the hospitality industry. They present a service robot deployment model that discusses the situations in which human and/or robot-based interactions can be used effectively in different service interactions. Juliette Van Vleck further urges marketers to focus on consumer value when communicating this complex notion of sustainability. She explores the idea of sustainability marketing myopia (read on to see what it means), and how to avoid it! While not providing prescriptive checklists, the three articles encourage those responsible for monitoring and affecting consumer behavior to think through key questions pertaining to each of their issues.
Makarand Mody, Associate Professor of Hospitality Marketing; Director of Research; Chair of Undergraduate Programs, Boston University School of Hospitality Administration