|Anne-Sophie Lenoir is studying for a PhD in marketing at the Rotterdam School of Management, where her research focuses on developing a better understanding of bilingual and bicultural consumers. She also holds a BSc and MSc in Business Engineering from the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. She won ESOMAR’s Young Researcher of the Year Award in 2013 for her paper Targeting Ethnic Minorities: Intergenerational differences in consumer response to targeted advertising.|
Your research focuses on developing a better understanding of bilingual/bicultural consumers. What interests you about this area? For many years, I've wanted to help Europe leverage its linguistic and cultural wealth to its full potential. I believe that linguistic and cultural diversity should be an asset: a source of wealth, creativity, and cognitive flexibility - not conflict. I want to play a part in making this possible by conducting research that helps the business world leverage the benefits of diversity. Language is central to almost every type of marketing communication - it really is not surprising that the study of language effects would constitute a growing research area in marketing. Ours is an age of globalisation: our societies are becoming ever more diverse. In a post-industrial knowledge economy, this linguistic and cultural diversity constitutes a great opportunity. Among other benefits, it translates into more diverse world views, increased creativity, and a greater ability for divergent thinking. But to be able to make the most of it, we need to understand how it affects our behaviour and perceptions.
Your research was undertaken in an academic environment. What can universities learn from market research practitioners? I think we as academics have a lot to learn from practitioners. It's a pity there isn't more exchange between the two worlds. Research practitioners know first-hand the problems that organisations are facing. By communicating more, we could identify new, relevant issues and directions to investigate more quickly. But I think practitioners can also learn from academia. We would all benefit from more practitioner engagement with universities.
Who’s your biggest influence? At RSM, I am surrounded by a team of incredibly talented and inspiring researchers. We exchange ideas all the time - it's a very stimulating environment and I feel extremely lucky to be a part of it. But I also get ideas from looking at the world around me and of course from the literature.
What would you do with a £1million research budget? It wouldn't take a million, but I would love to be able to collect data among consumers of various linguistic and cultural backgrounds more easily. As it is, finding participants is always a challenge, and as a result we are often limited in our ambitions. For example, I am very interested in studying lower-literacy consumers, as I think their importance is routinely underestimated, but this has not been feasible so far.
What three words should researchers live by? Integrity, curiosity, impact. In that order.
What’s your most hated buzzword? Any iteration of "Generation <insert letter>". I understand it is tempting to indulge in sweeping generalisations every now and then, but I'm not quite sure this kind of stereotyping is actually helpful. Throughout history, people have been calling those younger than them lazy, selfish, and entitled, and yet so far human nature hasn't fundamentally changed. We could all use some perspective in this regard.
What’s the next big thing? I believe concerns for consumer welfare will become more prevalent throughout the world. Or at least I hope so.
What’s the best opening line from a novel? Can we make this a last line? I vote for "Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" ("Yesterday's rose endures only in its name; we hold empty names"), from Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, my favorite novel. The hexameter itself is taken from De contemptu mundi by a twelfth-century Benedictine called Bernard de Morlaix. It means that of all the lost beauty of the past, we can only know the name. The only imperishable things are pure names. I think it says a lot about the power of language.
What’s your advice for other young researchers? Work hard, but mostly do work you believe in. Life is too short to be spent studying things you don't genuinely think matter.
Finish this sentence; if I wasn’t sitting here right now I’d be… A medievalist. It was my childhood ambition, and it has never quite left me. I would love to have more time to study how society has evolved over the centuries. It fascinates me how some of the things that we take for granted are actually very new in the grand scheme of things, whereas phenomena we like to think of as modern have in fact been around for many centuries.