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Gabelli School senior researches millennial nostalgia

Undergraduate | Apr 10, 2018 |

By Stephanie Sapienza

Student-loan delinquency. Password strength for online accounts. Solar energy in the Bronx.

What do all of these have in common? They’re student-research topics that will be featured at this week’s Gabelli Undergraduate Business Research Conference. At the seventh annual conference, held this year in collaboration with Fordham College at Rose Hill’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, students will present competitively reviewed, original research from all major business disciplines.

Below, one of the presenters, Kayla MacDermott, BS ’18, describes how she approached her research study, Marketing to Millennials: Employing Nostalgic vs. Contemporary Strategies via Social Media.

Can you describe your research study?
My research study focuses on the millennial generation and its relationship with nostalgia—specifically, the strength of that relationship and any changes that occur when seeing nostalgic brands on social media.

For my research, I ask half of the participants to name a nostalgic TV show and half of the participants to name a contemporary TV show that they enjoy. They are then asked survey questions about the show they named. I also ask them to imagine a scenario in which they see a post about the show on social media and measure their likelihood to share or write about the post, as well as what they think their peers would do when viewing the post. I want to see how their willingness to engage and connect with the show is affected by what they think their peers would do in that scenario.

What research methods did you use?
I’ve used surveys exclusively. I did a few pre-test surveys with Amazon Mechanical Turk via Qualtrics to get a sense of how I wanted to word my questions. Amazon Mechanical Turk is a survey platform on Amazon where respondents take surveys in exchange for a small incentive, usually one to two dollars. Because it’s such a popular service, it’s not very hard to get a great amount of participants in a small amount of time.

How did you recruit participants?
My final survey was distributed in the Fordham Behavioral Lab. Participants are Fordham students who participate in various surveys as a class requirement.

Did anything surprise you about participating in the Honors Thesis Seminar and completing the accompanying research thesis?
I knew that it would be a big commitment in addition to all of my other classes and that it would last for three semesters. What I didn’t realize was exactly how difficult it would be to finalize my idea. I came in fairly set on what I wanted to do, but once I got an advisor and started talking it out with her, I realized I needed to fine-tune it to ensure that the results would make an actual contribution to business.

Are you planning to submit your research for publication after the final presentation?
That’s something that my advisors and I think would be a really great opportunity, but that would likely happen later down the line. We’ve agreed it would be amazing to submit it to the Journal of Product and Brand Management.

What advice would you give to a student starting the Honors Thesis Seminar?
Don’t let the three-semester commitment intimidate you. It’s not as if you are expected to finalize your topic and get an advisor and have a survey ready immediately; it’s spread out very well. Also, don’t be intimidated by other students’ progress in the program. We’ll all have our research completed around the same time, so just go at a pace that works for you and your advisor.

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