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Zhe Zhang is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Ivey Business School. He holds dual doctoral degrees – a PhD in Marketing from C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Vermont. His research interests lie in branding and marketing communications. His work has appeared in premier academic journals, including the Journal of Marketing; and practitioner outlets, including Harvard Business Review. Before Ivey, Zhang served as an Assistant Professor of Marketing at HEC Montréal. With his diverse background, Zhang is excited to bring his multidisciplinary perspectives to the classroom.
- Master of Management in Analytics
- PhD (Marketing) Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, USA
- PhD (Chemistry) The University of Vermont, USA
Recent Refereed Articles
Zhang, Z. Z.; Yao, A.; Yang, Z., 2023, "EXPRESS: Coach vs. Goldlion: The Effect of Socially- versus Personally-Oriented Motives on Consumer Preference for Foreign and Domestic Masstige Brands in Emerging Markets", Journal of International Marketing Abstract:
The fast-growing middle-class in emerging markets is leading luxury brands to adopt an affordable luxury (aka “masstige”) approach to reach the mass market. However, academic research in this promising area is scarce. Focusing on China, the world’s largest emerging market, this research shows a novel pattern of masstige brand consumption: Instead of preferring foreign masstige brands (e.g., Coach) all the time as what can be derived from previous international marketing literature, consumers in emerging markets prefer domestic masstige brands (e.g., Goldlion) when their personally-oriented motives are made salient. In contrast, consumers prefer foreign masstige brands when their socially-oriented motives are made salient. This stems from domestic masstige brands better manifesting self-focused intangible attributes (i.e., the actual value to please oneself), whereas foreign masstige brands are superior in other-focused intangible attributes (i.e., the symbolic value to impress others). Three studies using a multi-method approach provide converging results that support this phenomenon. The findings bring significant contributions to the literature, and offer actionable implications for managers, including positioning and price promotion strategies for masstige brands in emerging markets.
Link(s) to publication:
Hong, R.; Zhang, Z. Z.; Zhang, C.; Hu, Z., 2022, "Is Brand Globalness Compatible with Brand Country-of-Origin? An Investigation of Hybrid Brand Positioning Strategies for Emerging Market Brands", International Marketing Review Abstract: Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate hybrid brand positioning strategies for emerging market brands based on two positioning elements: brand country-of-origin (COO) and brand globalness. Design/methodology/approach Researchers conducted two studies. In Study 1, a survey of 128 brand managers of emerging market brands were used to examine whether asymmetric positioning strategies improve brand preference more than symmetric strategies, and if so, which type of asymmetric strategies improves brand preference more. In Study 2, a consumer experiment in the USA was conducted to identify the positioning strategy for emerging market brands that improve brand preference the most. Findings For emerging market brands, at any given value of COO or global elements, asymmetric strategies outperform symmetric strategies in terms of brand preference. On average, the best hybrid positioning strategy is the one that highlights brand COO and de-emphasizes brand globalness. Originality/value A large body of branding literature examines COO and globalness separately without considering their co-presence in the same brand positioning strategy. Few studies that examine the joint influence of brand COO and globalness focus on established brands from developed markets and do not examine whether highlighting both brand COO and global elements equally is an effective positioning strategy for emerging market brands. This study introduces a framework to systematically examine the various combinations of COO and global elements in a brand’s positioning strategies for emerging market brands. By conducting two studies, the authors empirically test the influence of various combinations of COO and global elements on brand preference for emerging market brands from both firm and consumer perspectives.
Link(s) to publication:
Li, S. K.; Zhang, Z. Z.; Liu, Y.; Ng, S., 2021, "The Closer I Am, The Safer I Feel: The ‘Distance Proximity Effect’ of COVID-19 on Consumers’ Irrational Consumption", Psychology & Marketing, November 38(11): 2006 - 2018. Abstract: The unprecedented crisis of COVID‐19 posed severe negative consequences for consumers, marketers, and society at large. By investigating the effect of individuals' distance from the COVID‐19 epicenter (i.e., the geographical area in which COVID‐19 pandemic is currently most severe) on consumers' risk perception and subsequent behaviors, this research provides novel empirical findings that can offer practical insights for marketers. While intuitively, people expect individuals closer to the COVID‐19 epicenter to generate a greater risk perception of the pandemic, empirical evidence from four studies provides consistent results for the opposite effect. We find that a closer (vs. farther) distance to the epicenter associates with lower (vs. higher) perceived risk of the pandemic, leading to less (vs. more) irrational consumption behaviors. We refer to this phenomenon as the “distance proximity effect,” which holds for both physical and psychological distances. We further demonstrated that this effect is mediated by consumers' perception of uncertainty and moderated by individuals' risk aversion tendency. The current research contributes to the literature of consumers' risk perception and irrational consumption by highlighting a novel factor of distance proximity. It also offers some timely insights into managing and intervening COVID‐19 related issues inside and outside an epicenter.
Link(s) to publication:
- Zhang, Z. Z., 2021, "The Power of a Nickname – When Judiciously Employed", Harvard Business Review
Zhang, Z. Z.; Patrick, V. M., 2021, "Make Your Brand's Nickname Work for You", Harvard Business Review Abstract: Brand nicknames have been common for years, but it’s not always obvious how (if at all) brands should engage with them, especially online. In this piece, the authors discuss a recent study in which they found that social media posts that used nicknames had significantly higher like and share rates than those that used formal names, suggesting these unofficial names can have a major positive impact on engagement. However, in a series of follow-up studies, the authors found that who uses the nickname matters: When consumers used brand nicknames, it often made the information in their posts appear more credible and authentic to other consumers — but when a brand used its own nickname, it actually had the opposite effect. Based on these findings, the authors share six tactical strategies for how brands can overcome the potential pitfalls and leverage the benefits of a popular nickname.
Link(s) to publication:
Zhang, Z. Z.; Patrick, V. M., 2021, "Mickey D’s Has More Street Cred Than McDonald’s: Consumer Brand Nickname Use Signals Information Authenticity", Journal of Marketing, June 85(5): 58 - 73. Abstract: Consumers often observe how other consumers interact with brands to inform their own brand judgments. This research demonstrates that brand relationship quality–indicating cues, such as brand nicknames (e.g., “Mickey D’s” for McDonald’s, “Wally World” for Walmart), enhance perceived information authenticity in online communication. An analysis of historical Twitter data followed by six experiments (using both real and fictitious brands across different online platforms [e.g., online reviews, social media posts]) show that brand nickname use in user-generated content signals a writer’s relationship quality with the target brand from the reader’s perspective, which the authors term “inferred brand attachment.” The authors demonstrate that inferred brand attachment boosts perceived information authenticity and leads to positive downstream consequences, such as purchase willingness and information sharing. The authors also find that this effect is attenuated when brand nicknames are used in firm-generated content. How consumers’ relationships with brands are portrayed and perceived in a social context (e.g., via brand nickname use) serves as a novel context to examine user-generated content and provides valuable managerial insight regarding how to leverage consumers’ brand attachment cues in brand strategy and online information management.
Link(s) to publication:
- Zhang, Z. Z.; Patrick, V. M., 2018, "Call Me Rollie! The Role of Brand Nicknames in Shaping Consumer-Brand Relationships", Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, April 3(2): 147 - 162.
Honours & Awards
- Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence, Bauer College of Business 2019
- Best Bauer Dissertation Proposal Award, Bauer College of Business 2017
- Bauer PhD Research Grant Winner, Bauer College of Business 2017
- ACR-Sheth Foundation Transformative Consumer Research Grant Winner 2015