As part of the "Marketing During and After COVID-19" track of the 7th International Conference Emerging Markets 2020, a round table was held at the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg State University (GSOM SPbU) “Bridging the gap between science and practice: What do we know what consumers know? How do they learn? And how can we educate our consumers? "
Maria Smirnova, the leader of the track, Associate Professor of the Marketing Department was the main moderator of the discussion. According to her, the peculiarity and relevance of the purpose of the event is to combine the efforts of both marketing practitioners and theorists, as well as information technology specialists in management. The problem of interest to all the participants lies at the intersection of marketing, knowledge management and business informatics.
The moderators of the round table were four participants of the ONTARIS research project (Consumers of innovative services and products consumer knowledge) representing the Departments of Marketing and IT in the management of GSOM SPbU.
The project manager and at the same time the first moderator Tatiana Gavrilova, Professor of IT in Management, addressed the discussion participants with a welcome speech. She explained: “We are busy with something that rarely happens in academic life: we are here representatives of two scientific paradigms. One of them is the traditional for GSOM paradigm, which is used in social sciences — management and marketing, and innovative marketing. On the other hand, this is a fairly new branch of computer science called ontological engineering. We are engaged in knowledge, and ontology is a model of knowledge that allows us to see disparate knowledge as an integral structure. I love this metaphor: imagine we are designing a tree with different leaves hanging on it. Previously, these leaves may not have had a chance to even learn about each other. It is easy for science to deal with one leaf. It is another matter to study the tree as a whole, which requires a special systemic view."
Participants discussed the risk of a possible loss of a consumer in favor of a competitor after the company had invested energy and money in its education and the question: what consumer can be considered knowledgeable and to why companies should educate them? Oksana Yuldasheva, Head of Department of Marketing, St. Petersburg State University of Economics, considered that there is a fundamental difference between training and consumer education: it makes sense for marketers to take care of the former, but the latter is the task and prerogative of independent experts and institutions.
Some experts considered that educational activity for business is a tool for gaining consumer loyalty, since it shows the openness and confidence of a company, the absence of fear of “losing” their unique knowledge. The educational project "SberUniversity" was cited as one of the examples. Another thing is that such options are available only to the largest players in the economy — resources that the bank has, a manufacturer of custom-made furniture does not have, it can fear that the client will choose a company that is dumping.
Business innovators share their knowledge with clients more often. Commercial structures can be at the forefront of progress, ahead of independent educational institutions providing fundamental education. The specificity of the new products of such enterprises forces them to train clients, otherwise they simply will not understand the meaning of the offer. For exampleTinkoff Bank announced a free educational program in investment to support sales of investment packages — ordinary consultations of employees of the bank are no longer enough. There are products and services for which there is enough training, but there are also those where education is essential.
The conversation turned to the more ambitious and even socially significant social effects of consumer education. All this can teach people to critically evaluate products and thus educate a more demanding consumer. Some companies may even have an educational mission.
At the end of the discussion, Maria Smirnova presented results of the ONTARIS project, which demonstrate a variant of the classification of consumer knowledge. GSOM scientists believe that they can be subdivided, firstly, according to the degree of specificity - into knowledge about a specific brand and about a category of products / services; secondly, in depth on knowledge of the basic use of the product, its advanced use and new ways of using it. Thirdly, according to the way of assessment, consumer knowledge can be subjective (“I think I know”) and objective (actually confirmed). Finally, according to the degree of professionalism, this can be everyday knowledge (marketing stereotypes like “The more expensive, the better”) and professional knowledge (marketing literacy and expertise, for example “It's expensive because they use a premium pricing strategy”). They obtain feedback and an assessment of the classification from practitioners and fellow theoreticians.
Researchers and marketers from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod took part in the round table. The moderators were Ksenia Golovacheva, Assistant of the Marketing Department, and Dmitry Kudryavtsev, Associate Professor of Information Technologies in Management. During the round table, various software tools were used to obtain quick feedback and activate participants, which made it possible to minimize the negative effects of online work.