Research begun by Nicole Palermo (GSB ’11) makes national journal
Alumni | Oct 01, 2012 | Nicole Gesualdo
by Balt Heldring (GSB ’14)
The average consumer probably doesn’t question why companies such as Apple and Social Media LLC use the letters “I” and “my” in brand names such as iPhone and MySpace. People probably don’t think about whether those pronouns have an impact on sales, either.
This intriguing subject, however, caught the attention of Nicole Palermo (GSB ’11) when doing her senior honors thesis project.
Going into her last year at Fordham in 2010, Nicole was finishing up her studies as a marketing major and psychology minor. She met with Luke Kachersky, an assistant professor of marketing, to discuss possible topics for her research project, which she hoped would focus on consumer behavior. Professor Kachersky suggested the recent phenomenon in the usage of pronouns such as “my” and “I” in brand or product names, and Nicole jumped at the opportunity to explore the subject further.
They began to develop questions about why some brand names worked and others did not — and unearthed consumer psychology studies that offered clues. In Nicole’s words, “The rest is history.”
The findings were fascinating, and it’s a good thing they were, given the tremendous amount of her senior year Nicole devoted to getting them. It turns out that when “I” is paired with a verb — such as in a product called “iRead” — it makes people picture themselves using the product. When “my” is paired with a noun — in “myReader,” for example — it makes people feel like they own the product before they’ve even purchased it. Both are great things for marketers.
Nicole kept working on the project after graduation as a joint research effort with Kachersky. Their study has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Brand Management, which will allow it to reach managers and scholars across the globe. Nicole also will present the findings this month at the annual ACR conference, the premier national gathering for consumer researchers.
Since her 2011 graduation, Nicole has been working as a sales and marketing coordinator at the Harvard Business Review. “I have always loved writing and communicating, especially pieces that contribute to people’s understanding of marketing, psychology and management theory,” she said. Her main job is to understand consumer behavior and the psychology behind marketing and advertising — a task clearly aided by her Gabelli School research background.
“I’ve learned so much from this research,” she said. “It was the most exciting and rewarding experience when we found that the findings of the study were significant.” If there is anything Nicole took away from this project that she would like others to know, it’s to “always have confidence in your abilities, and to never ever give up.”