In the months leading up to last fall’s presidential election, even Obama’s supporters mourned his lack of a vision for the next four years. They haven’t taken much consolation from developments since then, despite the moment of unity over the shootings in Newtown, and the rhetorical uplift of the second inaugural address. At first glance, that speech seems merely to confirm the President’s conventionally liberal intent on multiple fronts: the war in Afghanistan, immigration, health care and education reform, climate change and social justice. Republicans see little or no effort at the bi-partisan solidarity the President had announced—perhaps naively—in his first inaugural address.
And yet, the form of engagement that he at one point calls “collective action” does surface repeatedly in the speech: so, if not a bridge across the aisle in Congress, what collectivity does the President have in mind?
Gift giving can be fraught with anxiety, and Valentine’s Day gifts are no exception. If you decide to give a luxury item like jewelry or a designer handbag, the stakes can seem even higher. Naturally, it can be tempting to look for a “deal,” but buyer beware: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, especially when it comes to counterfeit luxury goods. My research on the impact of counterfeiting on brands shows that the greatest risk in buying knockoffs is not to the brand, but to the user.
Why is this? First, counterfeits do not serve as substitutes for the real thing. Perhaps the biggest things that set luxury products apart from their imitators are quality and service. Design elements may be copied, but craftsmanship is difficult to replicate. That handbag found at a deep discount on eBay or at a street market may soon show signs of poor quality like frayed threading, broken straps, or ripped lining. Replacement time will be quicker since the counterfeit’s shelf life is shorter. Read More »
January 1st is a popular time of year to make resolutions. The U.S. government even tracks the most popular resolutions, which include drinking less alcohol, eating healthy foods, getting fit and getting a better job.
However, research shows that these types of resolutions are prone to failure. Perhaps the biggest reason is that they aren’t actual goals, but rather lifestyle changes. To increase your likelihood of following through on a resolution, you need to develop a plan in addition to the ultimate goal.
My latest research* has to do with how people express themselves through the brands they consume. It’s a topic that has interested me for some time.
I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., the daughter of immigrants in a happy but definitely modest household. I didn’t go to a fancy high school — although, living in New York, I was very aware of fashion and labels. In fact, while riding the subway to school, I was regularly exposed to conspicuous consumption — from Wall Street bankers in their custom suits, to fashionistas who sported the latest styles. I got the distinct impression that “when you got it, you flaunt it.” So when I arrived for my freshman year at Harvard — the ultimate ivory tower and in a way itself a luxury brand — I had some pretty clear expectations of how people would signal their status. I had in mind something like Dan Ackroyd’s country club-going character Winthrop in the movie Trading Places. But what I saw got me thinking about what status signals really mean. Read More »
Much of the attention on Facebook’s initial public offering this week has been on whether the social networking giant is valued too highly. But whatever its current worth, Facebook has a potentially huge new source of revenue coming its way from “social advertising.” According to a new research paper I’ve just published, Facebook itself is only just beginning to realize the untapped potential of social advertising, in which marketers use online social relationships to improve ad targeting using data on Facebook users’ friend networks.