Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)
Hofmann-Stölting, Christina, Michel Clement, Steven Wu and Sönke Albers (In press): Sales Forecasting of New Media Entertainment Products, Journal of Media Economics.
Köhler, Christine, Murali K. Mantrala, Sönke Albers and Vamsi K. Kanuri (2017): A Meta-Analysis of Marketing Communication Carryover Effects, Journal of Marketing Research, 54 (6): 990-1008.
Abstract: To optimally set marketing communication (“marcom”) budgets, reliable estimates of short-term elasticities and carryover effects are required. Empirical generalizations from meta-analyses of prior field studies can help guide these decisions. However, the last such meta-analysis of marcom carryover effects was performed on Koyck model–based estimates collected before 1984 and was confined to mass media advertising. The authors update and extend extant empirical generalizations via two meta-analyses of carryover estimates compiled from studies encompassing personal selling, targeted advertising, and mass media advertising, using diverse model forms, until 2015. The first is focused on and utilizes 918 estimates of the carryover proportion of the total effect, termed long-term share of the total effect, and the second focuses on 863 derivable estimates of 90% implied duration intervals. The authors find the mean long-term shares of the total effect for personal selling (.687) and targeted advertising (.650) are distinctly larger than that for mass media advertising (.523) and the corresponding median 90% implied duration intervals are 12.6, 2, and 3.4 months, respectively. The authors conclude by discussing differences by model type and the implications for marcom budget-setting and analyses.
Becker, Jan U. and Sönke Albers (2016): The limits of analyzing service quality data in public transport, Transportation, 43 (5): 823-842.
Abstract: In recent years, management and academics have increasingly focused on quality management in public transport. In particular, many public transport operators regularly monitor their service quality over time and use these data to assess quality performance (e.g., for performance-based quality contracts) and to determine managerial decisions (e.g., budget allocations for service improvements). However, despite the widespread applications of service quality data in practice, it is unclear whether cross-sectional analyses and cross-temporal comparisons of service quality data provide valid insights for quality management purposes. In this study, we investigate the usability of cross-sectional analyses and cross-temporal comparisons of service quality data by conducting an empirical study that tracked a panel’s perceptions of the service quality of public transport and its choice over the course of three consecutive years. The results demonstrate that cross-sectional analyses provide valid insights for quality management. However, cross-temporal comparisons should be interpreted carefully because the results of these comparisons are surprisingly unreliable. In fact, we find that service quality data do not provide reliable results over time and therefore conclude that cross-temporal comparisons of service quality data must be interpreted with caution for quality management in public transport.
Albers, Sönke (2015): What Drives Publication Productivity at German Universities?, Schmalenbach Business Review, 67 (1): 6-33.
Abstract: How well universities prosper depends on their reputations, which in turn depend on high-level published research. I investigate German data from Handelsblatt and Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung (CHE) for university business faculties and show that publication productivity is characterized by increasing returns to scale, which stem from the number of professors a university employs, and that a higher ratio of students per professor does not usually hurt productivity. Third-party funds show only a small and weakly significant impact. My analysis of the total costs of universities indicates that publications, student education, and contract research all exhibit significant economies of scale.
Albers, Sönke, Kalyan Raman and Nick Lee (2015): Optimization Models in Sales Force Management: Review and Trends, Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 35 (4): 275-291.
Abstract: In the last half-century, significant advances have been made in directing sales force behavior with the use of optimization and decision models. The present paper both presents the current state-of-the art in sales force decision modeling, and also discusses key issues and trends in contemporary modeling of relevance to sales force researchers. The paper begins by exploring critical concepts regarding the estimation of the sales response function, and then discusses critical problems of endogeneity, heterogeneity, and temporal variation that are faced by modelers in this task. Modern approaches to dealing with these issues are presented. We then discuss areas of importance concerning finding model solutions, including closed form versus simulation, and optimization versus heuristic solutions. The paper next moves to areas of practical importance where models can help, including call planning, sales force size, territory allocation, and compensation design. Finally, we discuss trends that will likely impact on sales force modeling in coming years, including the use of big data and data mining, the possible breakdown of rationality, the rise of the Internet and social media, and the potential of agent-based modeling.
Albers, Sönke (2014): Preventing Unethical Publication Behavior of Quantitative Empirical Research by Changing Editorial Policies, Journal of Business Economics, 84 (9): 1151-1165.
Abstract: Recent cases of unethical publication behavior have raised the question of how to address it. Because scientific misconduct (conduct inconsistent with accepted scientific standards) can occur on a continuum ranging from honest errors to outright fraud, there is a need to change editorial policies to reduce the existence of any gray areas. In the case of quantitative empirical research, misconduct begins with honorary and ghost authors, plagiarism and self-plagiarism, and extends to manipulation or even fabrication of data and the reporting of biased or false results. It is suggested that journals should retract articles, inform retraction watch more frequently, use plagiarism software, ask for better and more detailed documentation of procedures so that research can be replicated and potentially analysed as manipulation, and reveal possible affiliations that might lead to biases. These policies will also facilitate faster learning, which will be beneficial to society.
Albers, Sönke (2012): Optimizable and implementable aggregate response modeling for marketing decision support, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 29 (2): 111-122.
Abstract: The methodological discussion on the calibration of aggregate marketing response models has shifted away from how to obtain usable input for optimization toward how to avoid biases in statistical estimation. The purpose of this article is to remind researchers that such calibration is performed either to support managers in their marketing-mix decisions or to create general knowledge that leads to a better understanding of marketing relationships and thus indirectly supports decisions. Both goals require response models that are optimizable. The models must also be implementable if actual decision support is the objective. Herein, I identify several aspects for which these requirements are not always fulfilled: First, the appropriateness of the chosen functional form of the marketing response models is rarely discussed, although different forms imply quite different optimal solutions. Second, endogeneity is taken into account by structural equations, even though we lack sufficient information on how managers reach their decisions. Third, estimation methods for response models are often evaluated based on goodness-of-fit, while an assessment of their usefulness for subsequent optimization is neglected. Therefore, I provide recommendations for improving the current practice by better specifying the response function and undertaking more simulation-based evaluations of the best estimation method for use in subsequent optimization. With respect to implementation, usability can be facilitated using spreadsheets and heuristics. Moreover, gaining generalizable and replicable knowledge requires better documentation of results, which can be achieved through providing elasticities and as many details as are necessary to replicate a study, thereby enabling faster learning.
Fischer, Marc, Sönke Albers, Nils Wagner and Monika Frie (2012): Dynamically Allocating the Marketing Budget: How to leverage profits across markets, products and marketing activities, GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 4 (1): 50-59.
Abstract: Marketing budget decisions are critical and should be fact based rather than intuitive. Profit can be improved by better allocating a fixed budget across products or regions. The Excel-based decision support model presented in this article makes it possible to determine near-optimal marketing budgets and represents an innovative and feasible solution to the dynamic marketing allocation budget problem for multi-product, multi-country firms. The model accounts for marketing dynamics and a product's growth potential as well as for trade-offs with respect to marketing effectiveness and profit contribution. It was successfully implemented at Bayer, one of the world's largest firms in the pharmaceuticals and chemicals business. The profit improvement potential in this company was more than 50 % and worth nearly EUR 500 million in incremental discounted cash flows.
Albers, Sönke and Caren Sureth (2012): Editorial: What Is and What Is Not a Substantial Contribution?, Business Research, 5 (2): 131-132.
Albers, Sönke (2011): Esteem Indicators: Membership in Editorial Boards or Honorary Doctorates - Discussion of “Quantitative and Qualitative Rankings of Scholars” by Rost and Frey, Schmalenbach Business Review, 63 (1): 92-98.
Fischer, Marc, Sönke Albers, Nils Wagner and Monika Frie (2011): Practice Prize Winner - Dynamic Marketing Budget Allocation Across Countries, Products, and Marketing Activities, Marketing Science, 30 (4): 568-585.
Abstract: Previous research on marketing budget decisions has shown that profit improvement from better allocation across products or regions is much higher than from improving the overall budget. However, despite its high managerial relevance, contributions by marketing scholars are rare.In this paper, we introduce an innovative and feasible solution to the dynamic marketing budget allocation problem for multiproduct, multicountry firms. Specifically, our decision support model allows determining near-optimal marketing budgets at the country--product--marketing--activity level in an Excel-supported environment each year. The model accounts for marketing dynamics and a product's growth potential as well as for trade-offs with respect to marketing effectiveness and profit contribution. The model has been successfully implemented at Bayer, one the world's largest pharmaceutical and chemical firms. The profit improvement potential is more than 50% and worth nearly €500 million in incremental discounted cash flows.
Albers, Sönke, Sonja Gensler and Jörg van de Bergh (2010): Entscheidungsunterstützung unter Berücksichtigung der Anforderungen von Entscheidungsträgern am Beispiel der Gestaltung von optionalen Girokonto-Tarifen, Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft, 80 (6): 617-638.
Abstract: Quantitative decision models are used only if managers’ implementation conditions are met. Decision makers want tools that offer a set of good solutions so that they can evaluate different solutions according to various objectives without being forced to make their trade-offs explicit in a functional form. This also allows taking into account strategic aspects that cannot be modeled otherwise. In such situations, heuristics are needed which derive solutions from the structure and not so much from the mathematical properties. We present such a decision support tool for the problem of determining a menu of optional tariffs for checking accounts. The heuristic is based on the idea that for reasonably separable preferences across segments it is the best to offer for each segment the most preferred product. We use latent class choice-based conjoint analysis to estimate customer preferences and develop a customized choice-based conjoint design to take differences in individual demand into account. The proposed heuristic was used to support an actual decision problem for which the profit contribution has been increased substantially without having faced a considerable loss of customers.
Becker, Jan U., Goetz Greve and Sönke Albers (2010): Left Behind Expectations: How to prevent CRM implementations from failing, GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 2 (2): 34-41.
Abstract: This article discusses performance drivers of CRM projects and is particularly relevant for managers seeking to optimize their companies CRM efforts. Despite the billions of dollars that have been spent on the implementation of customer relationship management (CRM) systems, many of the adopting companies are unhappy with the results. This can be due to two reasons: first, either the CRM projects are poorly implemented and thus do not perform accordingly, or, second, companies expect too much from CRM systems. This research examines how technological and organizational implementations as well as internal support affect the objectives of CRM with regard to initiating, maintaining, and retaining customer relationships. The results indicate that internal support is an important factor for the performance of CRM implementation. Further, it helps to have a clear focus for a CRM system to specifically address diverse functions such as the acquisition, maintenance, and retention of customers and to tailor implementation effort to the needs of the major functions.
Albers, Sönke, Murali K. Mantrala and Shrihari Sridhar (2010): Personal selling elasticities: A meta-analysis, Journal of Marketing Research, 47 (5): 840-853.
Abstract: This article presents a meta-analysis of prior econometric estimates of personal selling elasticity—that is, the ratio of the percentage change in an objective, ratio-scaled measure of sales output (e.g., dollar or unit purchases) to the corresponding percentage change in an objective, ratio-scaled measure of personal selling input (e.g., dollar expenditures). The authors conduct a meta-analysis of 506 personal selling elasticity estimates drawn from analyses of 88 empirical data sets across 75 previous articles. They find a mean estimate of current-period personal selling elasticity of .34. They also find that elasticity estimates are higher for early life-cycle-stage offerings, higher from studies set in Europe than from those set in the United States, and smaller in more recent years. In addition, elasticity estimates are affected significantly by analysts' use of relative rather than absolute sales output measures, by cross-sectional rather than panel data, by omission of promotions, by lagged effects, by marketing interaction effects, and by the neglect of endogeneity in model estimation. The method bias–corrected mean personal selling elasticity is approximately .31. The authors discuss the implications of their results for sales managers and researchers.
Fischer, Marc and Sönke Albers (2010): Patient- or physician-oriented marketing: What drives primary demand for prescription drugs?, Journal of Marketing Research, 47 (1): 103-121.
Abstract: The authors analyze primary demand effects of marketing efforts directed at the physician (detailing and professional journal advertising) versus marketing efforts directed at the patient (direct-to-consumer advertising). The analysis covers 86 categories, or approximately 85% of the U.S. pharmaceutical market, during the 2001–2005 period. Primary demand effects are rather small, in contrast with the estimated sales effects for individual brands. By using a new brand-level method to estimate primary demand effects with aggregate data, the authors show that the small effects are due to intense competitive interactions during the observation period but not necessarily to low primary demand responsiveness. In contrast with previous studies, the authors also find that detailing is more effective in driving primary demand than direct-to-consumer advertising. A category sales model cannot provide such insights. In addition, a category sales model likely produces biased predictions about period-by-period changes in primary demand. The suggested brand-level method does not suffer from these limitations.
Söhnchen, Florian and Sönke Albers (2010): Pipeline management for the acquisition of industrial projects, Industrial Marketing Management, 39 (8): 1356-1364.
Abstract: The management and controlling of the industrial project acquisition process, with its staged, funnel-like structure, has been neglected in empirical research so far—even though an effective acquisition process is crucial for economic success. In addition to profitability, the main goal of industrial companies is to implement a pipeline process that ensures that the pipeline is always filled with acquisition projects and results in a constant stream of orders over time. The projects considered are characterized by complexity, uniqueness, and discontinuity. Based on a large-scale survey among German industrial companies, we describe the industrial project acquisition process, where the projects mentioned above are sold on a non-continuous basis to industrial customers. We assess how the industrial project acquisition process is really structured, whether a sales funnel management is applicable and utilized by sales management to monitor and control this process, and whether a sophisticated sales funnel management contributes to enhanced economic success.
Barrot, Christian, Sönke Albers, Bernd Skiera and Björn Schäfers (2010): Vickrey vs. ebay: Why second-price sealed-bid auctions lead to more realistic price-demand functions, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 14 (4): 7-38.
Abstract: Knowledge of consumers' willingness-to-pay (WTP) is critical for marketing managers when designing optimal pricing policies. The large-scale applicability, reliability, and validity of Vickrey auctions as an incentive-compatible method for eliciting WTP in a real-world setting were tested empirically. The results of 6,548 sealed bids in 28 auctions of costly durables on a popular auction Web site show that regular on-line shoppers have little problem understanding and applying the Vickrey auction bidding strategy. As a result, Vickrey auctions can easily produce a reliable and valid distribution of WTP based on several thousand consumers. A comparison of Vickrey auctions with the more commonly used English or eBay auctions shows, both conceptually and empirically, that the latter formats do not fully reflect the complete range of potential customers' WTP and, therefore, lead to systematic overestimation of price-demand functions. In contrast, WTP information elicited through Vickrey auctions is undistorted by strategic behavior such as bid-sniping and incorporates the full range of WTP information, suggesting that it is better suited for estimating realistic price-demand functions for market research purposes.
Kübler, Raoul V. and Sönke Albers (2010): Communication Behavior of Companies in Product Recalls Without Customer Identification Information, Marketing - Journal of Research and Management, 6 (1): 59-70.
Abstract: Although companies that sell products such as automobiles can easily track down their clients, companies that produce consumer goods usually lose direct contact with their customers at the retailer’s cash register. This anonymity results in the obligation to communicate any product failure and/or recall action to a wide range of anonymous and potential customers, while running the risk of scaring off future buyers. Hypothesizing that companies know how to best communicate a recall, we investigate a sample of 104 German recall campaigns to identify common dimensions of recall messages and behavioral drivers that may minimize the risk of alienating future customers and reduce potential sales losses due to the product crisis. We identify six major underlying dimensions of recall messages and find empirical evidence for existing recall routines of companies depending on the degree of hazard and the probability of a product defect.
Mantrala, Murali K., Sönke Albers, Fabio Caldieraro, Ove Jensen, Kissan Joseph, Manfred Krafft, Chakravarthi Narasimhan, Srinath Gopalakrishna, Andris Zoltners and Rajiv Lal (2010): Sales force modeling: State of the field and research agenda, Marketing Letters, 21 (3): 255-272.
Abstract: Inspired by Erin Anderson’s contributions to sales force research, this paper focuses on research that utilizes quantitative models to investigate important questions in sales force management. The purpose is to summarize several significant developments in knowledge over the last 40 years and identify major opportunities for impactful theoretical, empirical, and decision model-based research in the future.
Albers, Sönke (2009): Misleading rankings of research in business, German Economic Review, 10 (3): 352-363.
Abstract: The attempts by Schulze and colleagues and Ritzberger to develop a joint ranking of journals for economics and business research are critically evaluated. Their lists suggest that the quality of top business journals is substantially lower than that of many economics journals. If, however, the authors of these lists do not want to claim a general superiority of one discipline (economics) over another one (business), they should give a clear indication that these lists are only applicable for economists. This warning appears to be necessary because Fabel and colleagues derive a ranking of universities and departments with respect to research productivity in business from the business research discriminating list RbR_IMP by Schulze and colleagues. While Diamantopoulos and Wagner already show a lack of face validity of these results, this article explains that the reason for this lies not only in the downgrading and also biased weighting of the business journals across subfields, but even more importantly, in a remarkable incompleteness of the database.
Becker, Jan U., Goetz Greve and Sönke Albers (2009): The impact of technological and organizational implementation of CRM on customer acquisition, maintenance, and retention, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 26 (3): 207-215.
Abstract: In recent years, customer relationship management (CRM) has been a topic of the utmost importance for scholars and managers. Despite the evidence provided by numerous empirical studies, many companies that have implemented CRM systems report unsatisfactory levels of improvement. This study analyzes what influence companies can expect CRM implementation to have on performance and how they can leverage its impact. The authors propose a conceptual model that investigates the link between technological and organizational implementations, as well as the implementations' interactions with management and employee support and CRM process-related performance. By measuring CRM performance in terms of the initiation, maintenance, and retention of customer relationships, the study provides a detailed picture of what CRM implementations are capable of achieving. The results of the empirical study, conducted across four industries and ten European countries, indicate that CRM implementation does not impact performance equally for different aspects of the CRM process, and that it has an impact only if adequately supported by the appropriate company stakeholders.
Albers, Sönke (2009): Editorial: Well Documented Articles Achieve More Impact, Business Research, 2 (1): 8-9.
Abstract: This issue offers for the first time supplementary material to articles. It consists of Excel files providing data the research is based on, calculation sheets, and optimization tools. Moreover, text files with pseudo code of algorithms and data of instances used for testing these algorithms as well as a video file with a demonstration of the use of a system in experiments are supplied for download. This material facilitates the understanding of the published articles and the replication of their findings to the benefit of scientific progress. And last but not least, such well documented articles will achieve much more impact.
Peters, Kay, Sönke Albers, Daniel Asselmann and Björn Schäfers (2009): E-Commerce Revisited: The Impact of an Uncoupled Consumer Buying Process on Retailing, Marketing - Journal of Research and Management, 5 (2): 85-104.
Skiera, Bernd and Sönke Albers (2008): Prioritizing sales force decision areas for productivity improvements using a core sales response function, Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, 28 (2): 145-154.
Abstract: The time and budgets that managers can devote to enhancing sales force productivity are limited, so sales managers must decide where it is worthwhile to invest in productivity improvements—to improve salespeople’s current effort allocation, realign territories, enhance sales force sizing, or provide more training. To prioritize these alternatives, management must assess the outcomes of investments on the basis of a common metric—profit. This paper proposes to estimate a core sales response function that allows for quantifying the profits derived from each possible action and demonstrates the benefits of this approach through an actual case study.