Curiosity Is Key to Understanding Consumers, Says Incoming Anderson Presidential Chair in Business Administration

By By Darin Estep |

Margaret Campbell, Ph.D., has explored and explained consumer behavior around the globein France, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, Germany, Canada and many points in between—and across the United States. 

So, when she arrived at UCR this summer as a professor of marketing and Anderson Presidential Chair in Business Administration, it was a homecoming of sorts. Campbell and her family lived in California until 2000, when she departed UCLA to join the faculty at Leeds School of Business in Boulder, Colorado. 

This fall she is sharing her perspectives on advertising and marketing with undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Business. Her expectation of students is deceptively simple: “Be curious.” 

That’s vital in today’s fast-changing, consumer-driven marketplace—and a worthwhile reminder for the business side as well as the academic side of marketing, she says. 

“When companies and managers get caught up in creating a cool product, sometimes they forget the reality check to make sure what they are doing is creating value for consumers,” she adds, and the same thing can happen in academics. 

This was a point she emphasized during her term as an editor for the Journal of Consumer Research. She and her colleagues introduced themselves to readers with an editorial, “Our Vision for the Journal of Consumer Research: It’s All about the Consumer.” 

The market-driving power of consumers extends to children, an area of recent research focus for Campbell, who examines how children learn to make healthy choices. This includes studying how their pre-existing knowledge shapes the way they view marketing, such as seeing cartoon characters on a box of cereal. 

Campbell, who earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and economics and a Ph.D. in business at Stanford University, says she was drawn to UCR by its strong marketing team. She noted that the marketing program, as well as the business school and MBA program, are on upward trajectories

Yunzeng Wang, dean of the UCR School of Business, says the respect is mutual, citing Campbell’s extensive record of publications, awards, recognitions and research. 

“In the School of Business, we expect our students to understand and embrace the impact they can have on the real world,” says Wang. “Professor Campbell’s work, including her international experiences, are excellent complements to our emphasis on inclusive, global perspectives.” 

Campbell says it is important to equip students with the core concepts and research tools they need to apply to the real world. But she reminds them that world is constantly changing, and they will need to keep up with it. 

“Don’t just read the textbook. Seek out diverse perspectives,” Campbell says. “Whether a student or faculty member, the biggest thing is to come to class thinking about what we are discussing, and to share your own thoughts and views.”