November 01, 2006

Electronics predicted to lead holiday wish lists

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The holiday shopping season approaches, and analysts predict another strong year for electronics sales. It's an especially exciting time for gadget lovers who eagerly await the introduction of new high-tech toys.

Gadget lovers are the subjects of scientific research conducted at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's College of Business and Administration, and the researchers at SIUC found there is a way to predict who the gadget lovers are.

SIUC marketing professor Gordon C. Bruner II, along with Anand Kumar, associate professor of marketing at University of South Florida, wrote the paper, "Gadget Lovers," which will appear next year in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, one of the marketing field's top scholarly journals.

Sprint, a global provider of voice, data and Internet services, hired Bruner and Kumar to develop a way to determine the relative time in which people adopt technological innovations. Among other things, this would enable Sprint to identify potential customers.

"Males scored much higher on the gadget lover (GL) scale than did females. Younger adults scored slightly higher than older adults and those with greater education scored higher than those with less education," Bruner said. "Ethnicity seemed to play a large role too. The major ethnic groups, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, scored higher than white/non-Hispanics, with Asian-Americans scoring much higher than any other group. Interestingly, GL scores across many income groups did not vary much; in other words, income did not seem to play a big role in explaining the tendency to be a gadget lover."

Scholars and companies will use these results to predict consumer trends and to market certain items to specific audiences. In short, more businesses may start targeting gadget lovers.

"Based on luck, intuition or research such as what we have done, business managers may decide that there are certain people in society who play a larger-than-average role on the process of high- tech products being ultimately successful. So, instead of the company going after everyone, they focus on a very important few, at least up front in their marketing," Bruner said.

Bruner holds bachelor's and master's degrees in marketing from Texas A & M University and a doctorate in marketing from the University of North Texas.

Leading in research, scholarly and creative activities is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.


Gordon C. Bruner II

Gordon C. Bruner II
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