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5 Questions with Faculty: Aleksandra Kovacheva

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 31, 2017) — Aleksandra Kovacheva, an assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business, is in her first year at UAlbany. A Ph.D. graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Kovacheva teaches marketing analytics and researches customer decision making. Before joining academia, she worked in marketing, at Nielsen, a publishing company and the National Theater of Bulgaria.
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Aleksandra Kovacheva, a native of Bulgaria who received her Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Pittsburgh, joined the faculty of the School of Business at the start of the semester.

 

“What attracted me to UAlbany, and the School of Business in particular, was the outstanding research support and the extremely collegial and warm departmental and school culture,” she said. “Throughout my interview process, I felt inspired by everyone's commitment to give their best both in terms of teaching and research and to contribute to the UAlbany community.”

What are your working on now?

One of the projects that I am really excited about at the moment seeks to understand consumer’s motivations to purchase surprise products. These are products that involve a significant amount of uncertainty at the time of purchase — for example, purchasing a surprise vacation, a box of mystery snacks, or a mystery cocktail. This project is particularly relevant to marketers because in the last 5-7 years we have witnessed an increase of products and services that involve some element of surprise.

In this work, in collaboration with my co-authors from Boston College and University of Pittsburgh, I demonstrate that the extent to which consumers desire to be in control over their purchase decision influences their attitudes towards surprise products. For example, in one study, I observed people’s purchases at a charity bake sale: Women (who tend to have lower need for agency) were significantly more likely to purchase a surprise baked treat than men (who, in general, desire greater control).

Right now I am collaborating with a start-up company to understand what factors predict consumers’ satisfaction with and purchase of surprise vacations.

What made you decide to pursue your field?

I love marketing because it involves a mix of creativity, ingenuity and strategic insight and requires making decisions in complex and uncertain situations. It becomes increasingly challenging to capture consumer’s attention or motivate a desired action, which makes being in this field fascinating and thought-provoking. And while I enjoyed working in the industry as a marketing analyst and consultant, I found that research and teaching are my passion, and this led me to become a consumer behavior scholar.

What’s your favorite class to teach and why?

I am thrilled to be teaching marketing analytics at UAlbany’s School of Business. Given the amount of data that companies collect nowadays and the fact that marketing managers are increasingly being held accountable for the effectiveness of marketing investments, it is crucial for business students to be comfortable with analyzing data and to know how to extract insights and make marketing decisions grounded in data.

I love teaching the class because it provides students with a set of practical skills and hands-on knowledge that they can list on their CVs. I think it is also a super fun class because we talk about a wide range of cool topics — from how to tell a convincing story with marketing data to the ethics of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

What’s the best thing about working at UAlbany?

My colleagues at the marketing department and the School of Business! I feel proud to be part of such an outstanding group. I also hear that there are a lot of excellent hiking and skiing spots in the region, so I look forward to exploring all of them!

What’s your favorite food, to eat or cook, and why?

I am originally from Bulgaria, so I love Balkan and Mediterranean food. I strongly dislike cooking, but I make an exception from time to time in order to cook something that reminds me of home. However, my dishes never turns out as good as my mom’s or my grandma’s.

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