School of Marketing and International Business


On this page:

Media commentary from SMIB academic

12 December 2014

Daniel Laufer, Associate Professor of Marketing and Head of the School of Marketing and International Business, was invited by the Wall Street Journal to provide commentary on a crisis facing Walgreen, the largest drug retailing chain in the world.

The former Chief Financial Officer of the company filed a defamation lawsuit again the company, and the Wall Street Journal turned to a panel of leading experts to comment on how the company handled the crisis in terms of its crisis communications.

The same panel of crisis management experts commented in a following article looking at the situation involving state-run Brazilian oil company Petrobras, which is at the center of major bribery allegations.

Dr Laufer is a worldwide expert in crisis communications, with articles in leading academic journals in the fields of marketing and public relations.

He has also generated interest among the business community, with the leading practitioner magazine in Europe for public relations and corporate communications, Communication Director, inviting Dr Laufer to discuss the implications of his research to practioners in their strategic thinker column.

Dr Laufer is also serving as the sole guest editor for the well-known managerial journal Business Horizons on a special issue on Crisis Management scheduled to appear in March 2015.

Back to top ^

Insights into permission-based mobile advertising

12 December 2014

Dr James Richard, PhD Director – Marketing at Victoria’s School of
Marketing and International Business.

Dr James Richard, School of Marketing and International Business

You're walking down Courtenay Place and your phone beeps as you approach your favourite bar: 'Two for one drinks for one hour only', the message reads.

This could be our future, according to researchers Dr James Richard, PhD Director – Marketing at Victoria’s School of Marketing and International Business and then postgraduate student Paul Meuli.

A technology that is gaining popularity in Europe and North America, permission-based location-aware mobile advertising (PBLAMA), which involves users signing up to receive marketing messages from local businesses, is likely to reach our shores soon, says Dr Richard.

The two researchers surveyed 260 undergraduate students from New Zealand aged between 20 and 24 to find out what would motivate them to sign up, with somewhat surprising results.

Out of the eight influencing factors that survey respondents were asked to rank in order of preference 'entertainment' came out as the number one influencer.

"I expected incentives such as discounts or two for one deals to be at the top, but, while important, it actually was fourth on the list," he says.

"Young people felt that if they were going to have ads pop up on their mobile phones they needed to be entertaining. This might include interactivity such as games or fun applications.

"Second, they wanted their friends to think it was cool, so clearly a marketer would need to focus their promotion accordingly.

"Next up, they wanted the message to be informative, so it would be important to ensure that any messages are up-to-date, convenient and accurate."

The research also indicated that the messaging needs to be portrayed as attractive, not only to the individual who is planning to use it, but to the referent people surrounding that individual.

"So if you were to market PBLAMA, any advertising should show more than one person using the technology to show that 'everybody’s doing it'."

Perhaps not surprisingly, irritating' messages featured at the bottom of the list, and Dr Richards expects the research will be useful to any business looking to adopt PBLAMA as a marketing tool to young people.

Back to top ^

Celebrity baby bumps affect pre-natal attachment

23 September 2014

Obsessing over celebrity baby bumps can have a negative impact on women’s attachment to their babies during pregnancy and after birth, Victoria Business School research has found.

In a study of 468 pregnant New Zealand women, recently published in Psychology & Marketing, Dr Jayne Krisjanous, Dr Aaron Gazley and Dr James Richard, all from the School of Marketing and International Business, demonstrate the potentially unhealthy link between images of pregnant celebrities in the media and the disturbance to the important prenatal attachment developed during pregnancy.

While those women with a minimal or moderate interest in following pregnant celebrities weren't seen as being at risk, there are some groups of women who are more vulnerable to these images.

"These include the young, those unable to gain information about pregnancy from established reliable sources, or women who have a non-healthy level of regard, or obsession, with celebrity culture," says Dr Krisjanous.

"These women tend to worry about their weight – leading to a negative pregnant body image and then a reduced level of pre-natal attachment, which can carry over after the baby is born."

Dr Krisjanous says the popular press tends to applaud celebrities who maintain ideal body shape, while those who don't are shamed.

"Pregnant celebrities are expected to continue to look attractive, with a perfect bump being the only change to their usual figure."

The manner in which pregnant celebrities are reported on should be approached with caution, suggests Dr Krisjanous.

"We are not suggesting that pregnant celebrities should not be in the media – but it would be great to see them having a greater role in promoting healthy lifestyles and attitudes.  

"We also advise maternity health practitioners to be aware of the sources women receive information from and the influences that form attitudes about pregnancy lifestyles and appearance.

"Practitioners should ensure that they discuss and explore this with their clients and patients, pointing out where reliable and trustworthy information can be sourced."

Back to top ^

Winning essay may lead to internship

25 August 2014

Winning an essay competition could see marketing student Sophie Speakman spending a week at SenateSHJ, learning first-hand how a busy communications consultancy operates.

Sophie was the successful Victoria University candidate in Senate’s annual essay competition, which won her a cash prize and qualifies her to compete with students from four other New Zealand universities for a one-week paid internship.

"I must admit I am a little nervous but am willing to give it my best shot," says Sophie, who will be interviewed by the consultancy in September.

Sophie's essay analysing and reflecting on Contiki’s 'This way to amazing' advertisement won over the CEO from Senate, who called it "theoretically sound, concise and written with a voice of authority and conviction".

Marketing lecturer Dr Michelle Renton says winning the internship would provide Sophie with valuable work experience.

"The insights she would gain from their experience would help her understand and apply many of the concepts we teach, and hopefully give her an extra edge in the job market."

Sophie is excited at the prospect of working in Senate’s healthcare area.

"I do a Biomedical Science degree as well as Commerce, so am looking for a way to join to two together."

Back to top ^

Renowned marketing scholar a guest at SMIB

22 August 2014

Professor David W. Stewart, editor of the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.

Professor David Stewart, speaking at the Distinguished Lecture Series

Professor David Stewart, one of the most well-known scholars in the field of Marketing, spoke in the School of Marketing and International Business (SMIB) Distinguished Lecture Series last week.

The topic of his presentation, Business Models and Marketing Accountability in a Global Economy, explored the characteristics of successful business models. 

Professor Stewart commented that firms may employ quite dissimilar business models with very real differences in how they realise income, define costs, and organize their activities.

For example, Walmart has been highly successful targeting customers in rural areas, whereas other retailers successfully focus on other segments as their target markets.

Another example Professor Stewart gave related to companies reorganising the value chain, and he mentioned Dell as an example of a company that removed the retailer by selling directly to the consumer.

Benneton was another example, outsourcing low margin activities such as manufacturing, and focusing on high margin activities such as branding and design.

Both of these business models have proven to be successful for the respective companies.

Professor Stewart is currently the editor of the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing and has previously served as the editor of the Journal of Marketing and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, all top journals in the field of marketing.

SMIB's distinguished lecture series will continue in 2015, with John Cadogan, editor of International Marketing Review, scheduled to be the school’s next speaker in the series.

Distinguished Lecture Series: Bringing the leading global scholars in Marketing and International Business to Wellington

In 2012, the School of Marketing and International Business decided to create a Distinguished Lecture Series.

A key objective was to invite editors from the leading international journals in Marketing and International Business to share their cutting edge research with Victoria Business School staff, students, and alumni, as well as the local business community.

The lecture series has proven to be very successful, with editors from the European Journal of Marketing, the Journal of International Management, and the Journal of Consumer Research (the leading journal in the area of Consumer Behavior), visiting Wellington since the lecture series started.

Back to top ^

Inaugral Newletter for SMIB Connect goes live

18 August 2014

The inaugural issue of SMIB Connect – the School of Marketing and International Business Postgraduate Alumni Newsletter – is now available.

The purpose of this newsletter is to keep you informed of activities in the school, as well as celebrate success stories of our students, alumni and staff.

In our inaugural issue we feature staff research success, the establishment of the BNZ Chair in Business in Asia within our school and coveted opportunities enjoyed by two of our postgraduate students.

We would like to hear about your achievements, and welcome your suggestions for alumni we can profile in future newsletters. Our graduates' successes are also the school's success, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Back to top ^

Peter Thirkell - a journey of curiousity

7 August 2014

Emeritus Professor Peter Thirkell

Emeritus Professor Peter Thirkell

From a student in the 1970s when he first discovered marketing, to his recent change in focus with semi-retirement and part-time teaching of marketing honours, Peter Thirkell's story reflects the story of the School of Marketing and International Business (SMIB).

For around 21 years Peter has influenced through leadership, teaching, direct supervision, diplomacy and advice – including four years as founding Head of School, and three years as Dean of Commerce.

Last year he decided to end full-time teaching and academia to pursue other projects, but that doesn't mean any loss in curiosity; Emeritus Professor Peter Thirkell is just finding other ways of challenging contemporary thought.

I am hooked:
"Back in the 70’s an American guy turned up advocating something everyone kind of thought was advertising. It sounding interesting and I was curious so I signed up to discover that yes, advertising was in there but it was so much more.

"It is the endless possibilities and the fact that the discipline [marketing] is quite hard to define that continues to fascinate me."

Implementation is key:
"The challenge with planning and strategy is not only found in achieving quality of thinking but also in finding the right people to execute. Working in industry really brought it home to me that of the key to successful planning and strategy is implementation."

Persistence pays:
"In 1989 I was appointed Professor of Marketing within the School of Business Policy and Management with about 55 academics. However I wasn’t that happy, as a Professor of Marketing, I wanted an actual School of Marketing. So I argued for and lost that battle, but I quietly persevered.

 In the end Neil Quigley (PVC at the time) said "why are you always on about this school of marketing?" and I said, I think you need it if you want to flourish and have a distinct profile ….

Enter international business
At the time there were relatively few departments of international business so we thought there could be an opportunity here. I think there still is. We’re one of only a few universities in New Zealand with a nominated school or department of international business. I think that is important.

"Slowly an undergraduate programme for IBUS was developed and that was a big undertaking. It was exciting and it was also a little unnerving because we had to tool up and we were quite short-staffed. Student numbers took off more than any of us expected because it coincided with the increase in international students from China.

"We were fortunate that this wave came along that we could ride. It was a bit like riding a slightly run-away train for two or three years"

On marketing…and sustainability
"Some would say that marketing has done its job, it has stimulated demand and in some ways we’ve got too much demand so let’s shut it down. But I can’t really see that happening. The question becomes: Can we reconcile what we might think of as the core elements of marketing with sustainability imperatives?

"Marketers need to rethink the basic frameworks, overlay another couple of sets of operations and ask questions around customer focus. Is customer focus still relevant in sustainability? Absolutely! But what do we mean by customer focus and how do we integrate it with sustainability?

"Our approach needs to be holistic; it needs to go outside the boundaries of the enterprise. We’ve seen bits of this already – triple bottom line is one attempt and governments are now looking at quality of life and happiness.

"The marketing concept still holds up but we have to rethink how we define and practice the primary elements. It’s a rethinking of the basic frameworks we have been using."

And the question of value?
"Yes, value is still at the heart of it, so in that sense I’m still a traditionalist and a bit of a fan of Peter Drucker. One thing I would add to Drucker’s original thoughts though is to emphasise the question of timeframe. If design is handled well there are implications because value, particularly for a consumer durable, is timeframe bound.

We all know about planned obsolescence, the vagaries of fashion and so on, but for true sustainability some of those things need to change. But do we regulate change? Or do we look for different opportunities?

"There are creative solutions but I think business may need to partner with public policy around these questions."

On databases and digital
"I loved the emergence of databases and the move to digital, the constant change in channels and their fragmentation I also find fascinating. If a student asked I’d still say stay close to the database. Pay attention to the changes in channels, channel structures and networks."

The price of interruption
"What is the interruption price today’s marketers are prepared to pay for getting something? Marketers using mass advertising are still persevering with an intrusion model and I don’t quite understand why.

"There is a legitimate place for creating awareness but it needs to be done in a more sympathetic way. How we become more sympathetic to consumers is a key question facing future marketers."

There and back again:
"Quite a number of our postgraduate students do end up off-shore. I don’t mind as long as they come home again. Stay and learn as much as you can but please, please come home again at some stage. We still need you. We need you here as much as anywhere!"

Back to top ^

India-New Zealand grant for SMIB researcher

23 June 2014

Dr Revti Raman, Scool of Marketing & International Business

Dr Revti Raman from the School of Marketing and International Business

A grant from the India New Zealand Education Council (INZEC) will enable Dr Revti Raman, a senior lecturer in the School of Marketing and International Business, to conduct research that will provide practical advice on doing business in India.

Dr Raman has received $56,500 to collaborate with Dr Balwinder Singh from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, for the 18-month joint research project.

They will investigate the main institutional challenges businesses and organisations face while operating in New Zealand or India and how these changes can be effectively overcome.

"Trade with India has doubled in the last five years in New Zealand, so it’s important to be aware of this emerging market," says Dr Raman.

"While New Zealand and India are both democratic systems with colonial backgrounds, there are significant differences, including regulations, justice systems, not to mention cultural and language differences, which pose challenges to anyone doing business in these two countries.

"Success depends upon understanding these differences and then being able to manage them effectively. We will be looking at non-market strategies to help minimise these gaps."

In the course of their research, Dr Raman and Dr Singh will interview business people in both countries. As well as academic papers, they plan to publish a small, non-academic book for practitioners.

"It's satisfying to be doing research that people in the field can use, and also exciting to think this research could be replicated with other emerging economies," says Dr Raman.

Dr Raman’s application was one of seven proposals selected from more than 60 applications.

Back to top ^

Students create their own league to find legends

28 April 2014

Victoria University of Wellington will play host to an e-sport tournament over the holidays, with students both co-ordinating and competing in online games.

Organised by the Victoria Engineering Club (VEC), teams of students will play League of Legends which, with 27 million active players, is currently one of the most popular video games worldwide.

After battling it out for two weeks from 21 April, the final on 2 May will be screened on campus for students to watch. VEC organiser Kieran Carnegie says the entertainment of e-sports isn't just for those playing.

"Commentary of games is much the same as with sports, and it's something that's really blossomed within e-sport culture. So we're going to have students within the club commentating every game for those wanting to watch, and then some professionals for showing the final on campus," says Carnegie, a computer science Master’s student.

Victoria Business School researcher Dr Yuri Seo says that as computer gaming has grown worldwide, a spectator element has developed, as is the case with any other professional sport.

"There are people who want to watch the game, and it becomes a form of performance. And because you have increased spectatorship, you then have companies which want to sponsor events, and they just grow from there," says Dr Seo.

According to Dr Seo, a lecturer at the School of Marketing and International Business, a lot of the industry is consumer driven, and the tournament at Victoria is a good example of how the industry is working in a variety of ways to engage with consumers.

"The thing with e-sports is that community is a really big thing, and plays a very important role. This means it's common to see companies try and engage with them, and leads to both large and small scale events."

Dr Seo says that although the local market is currently quite small, because it's youth and technology driven, people living in New Zealand can still be a part of the growing international e-sport culture.

Victoria's first big e-sport tournament is open to students of all abilities and there are a number of prizes being offered to competitors by both Riot, the company behind the successful game, and the VEC.

"This isn't a tournament where we're expecting everyone to be amazing. Whether you've only played a little bit or a lot, get together with a couple of mates and have a lot of fun," says Kieran.

Back to top ^

It ain’t over ’til it’s over: Winning back customers

16 April 2014

Dr Annie Lui.

School of Marketing and International Business senior lecturer Dr Annie Liu

A sales firm inevitably loses customers no matter how well it is doing -- but is it worth trying to win them back?

A recent study by Dr Annie Liu from the School of Marketing and International Business, and Mark Leach from Loyola Marymount University in the US, evaluates customer reacquisition in business-to-business markets, and proposes a formula that sales companies can use to evaluate whether to invest time in wooing lost customers.

According to Dr Liu, previous research shows it is seven to 10 times more costly to gain a new customer than to retain one.

"It's very important to hold on to what you’ve got rather than invest energy in finding new customers."

Sales executive and sales account managers from 98 New Zealand companies and 50 firms in the United States were interviewed to find out what methods they had found most successful in winning back customers.

"We found that only about 10 percent of sales companies have a formal procedure when they lose an account," says Dr Liu.

"Without guidelines, most account executives end up going with their instincts, but our research advocates a formal process."

The first step, says Dr Liu, is to make contact with the customer and assess the likelihood of winning them back. It is important to know who or what is responsible for losing the customer, and to identify what type of customer they are.

"Generally there are four different types of customer: those who are unhappy because of negative experience or perception; those who have been bought away by another company; those who have decided to move to a competitor that is more aligned with their values; or those who don’t need your product or service any more."

The approach of a salesperson should differ according to customer type.

"For instance, unhappy customers may require an apology and a price discount to restore good faith, whereas those customers seeking different values may lead you to re-evaluate your strategy, which could lead to long-term success."

Dr Liu says customers that are motivated by getting the cheapest deal may not always be the most desirable.

"If they are easily bought away and can be easily bought back how much do you want to play this price war game? If they are a high maintenance customer that calls every day and wants everything customised, low price, and special delivery it might be better to let them go.

"However, if they bring in a lot of money for your business or connect you to other customers it’s worth going the extra mile."

Dr Liu says active engagement with customers is essential, to resolve any issues before they reach crisis point.

"It's important to maintain good relationships so you understand your customer's needs. Also, you need to be aware of their purchasing patterns -- if you see a decrease you need to find out why before you completely lose them."

Back to top ^

Marketing student completes coveted Sydney internship

27 March 2014

Commerce student Mathew Rex

VBS student Mathew Rex completed an internship in Sydney with HKETO

This summer, Victoria Business School student Mathew Rex did an internship at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) in Sydney, Australia.

"The internship has definitely given me insight into the inner workings of a diplomatic office, which is something I've considered as a career for a while," says Mathew, who is in his honours year in a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing.

Mathew's duties included assisting the research and project team on several projects, mostly relating to New Zealand.

"I helped write briefs for upcoming visits to New Zealand by Hong Kong dignitaries, updating current information on our country as well as general research tasks."

There were many ‘first time’ experiences at HKETO. For example, this was the first time he lived and worked away from home and it was also his first work experience in a government environment.

"This internship is my first experience of working full time and I’ve since experienced a range of different challenges like learning how to manage projects and deal with a wide range of stakeholders," says Mathew.

Mathew, who heard about the internship on the university’s careers website, said the experience has helped him master real-life applications of knowledge he’s acquired from his studies.

He said the highlight of the eight week internship was his work on the youth strategy, a project aimed at promoting Hong Kong to Australian and New Zealand working young professionals, university students and high school students.

Mathew strongly recommends other Victoria University of Wellington students to apply for future HKETO internships.

"The people here are lovely and the office and location are fantastic. The work at HKETO is interesting and challenging and best of all you get to live in Sydney for two months. What's not to like?"

About the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office

The Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (HKETO) in Sydney is the representative office of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, established in 1995 to strengthen economic and cultural ties with Australia and New Zealand.

Back to top ^

Helping students get smart with money

19 February 2014

Summer scholar Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes, Bachelor of Commerce with Honours in Marketing

A Victoria Business School student has played a key role in designing a new tertiary student banking package which is being launched as part of orientation activities.

Matt Barnes, who completed a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours in Marketing at Victoria in 2013, has worked on the project for The Co-operative Bank as part of Victoria’s Summer Research Scholarships programme, with academic supervision provided by staff from the School of Marketing and International Business.

Now in its fifth year, the programme sees Victoria partner with companies, government agencies and professional groups to help fund a research placement for some of its top performing students, while also helping organisations tackle research projects they want carried out.

As part of his work in helping to design a student-friendly package, Matt convened a focus group of other students from Victoria to find out more about how they manage their finances and what they want from their bank.

"It was interesting to see that there are gaps in some students’ knowledge about controlling their finances," says Matt.

"A number of them didn’t know the extent of the fees they pay, how the services they get compare to what’s offered to other customers or how they go about switching banks."

As well as gathering feedback from people who might sign up for the package, Matt had to explore ways in which The Co-operative Bank could compete with bigger players in the tertiary student segment of the market.

The package developed, which will be available nationally but introduced at the University of Canterbury initially, is designed to help students manage their money through the ups and downs of a university year.

"What students tell us is that their finances are cyclical -- at the start of the year they usually have funds in their account from summer employment but that changes as the year progresses," says Matt.

"What we are doing, which is a point of difference, is offering a high interest savings account which gives students a better return in the up parts of the cycle."

Grant Pritchard, Deposits Portfolio Manager for The Co-operative Bank, says using Victoria’s summer research programme gave the bank a fresh perspective.

"As well as bringing new ideas, the rapport Matt was able to create with the focus group of other students was priceless. He got much more out of that group than our staff or even a professional facilitator could have."

Matt says one of the best things about his involvement in the project was the opportunity to put what he had learned at university into practise.

"I did my Honours dissertation on retail banking so it was a perfect opening for me. Overall, it's been a great experience to be involved in something that has been made for students with the help of other students."

For further information, please contact Matt Barnes on  or Dr Jayne Krisjanous, Senior Lecturer in Marketing.

Back to top ^