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Xin (Shane) Wang: Using big data to bring consumers what they want

  • Communications
  • |
  • Nov 10, 2014
Xin (Shane) Wang: Using big data to bring consumers what they want

In this ongoing series, we’ll profile Ivey’s faculty, giving you insights into their work and lives.

It certainly wasn’t a stretch for Xin (Shane) Wang to go into the field of academia.  It runs in his family.

His mother and an aunt are physicians, and one of his uncles is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at a medical school. However, Wang differentiated himself by entering the field of business, rather than science. Wang is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Ivey, where his research focuses on big data, methodology, and behavioural economics, and how they relate to marketing and new product development.

“I was attracted to the teaching philosophy at Ivey. I want to introduce students to the real world,” said Wang. “Students have no time to wait. They’ll be in the job market very soon.”

Wang knows firsthand what it’s like to work in the real world. He studied Mathematics and Statistics and worked as a statistician in Seattle, Wash. for a few years before pursuing a PhD in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. While Wang is frequently asked why he made such a dramatic switch in fields, he said it was a natural transition.

“I can use my programming skills and data analytical skills to help firms deal with business problems,” he said. “I want to help consumers make good decisions when buying products and to help firms enable consumers to make those good decisions.”

Wang’s current research involves text data mining of user-generated content, which is the process of deriving information from the patterns and trends in text; and neuroscience, which looks at how consumer behaviour is related to brain activity. For instance, he’ll look at product reviews written by consumers and determine the key words written and what they teach firms about consumers’ needs and preferences.

“Firms need to listen to the voices of consumers,” he said. “When you do commercial ads, you only have 30 seconds or so to introduce some new product features. With text data mining information, you can learn how to tell consumers the most important attributes they want to know.”

Wang moved to London, Ontario with his wife, Coco, who also studied Marketing at the University of Cincinnati.

At A Glance

WHO: Xin (Shane) Wang, Assistant Professor, Marketing

PAST OCCUPATION:  Wang worked as a statistician before deciding to continue his education through a PhD in Marketing.

RESEARCH INTEREST: His research focuses on choice modelling, cognitive psychology, behavioural economics, Bayesian statistics, machine learning, and textual analysis of user-generated content with applications in marketing and new product development. It has been published in Marketing Science, and the Journal of Mathematical Psychology.

FINDINGS: Through text data mining of user-generated content, firms can learn what product features consumers most care about and who their competitors are.

RELEVANCE: By listening to consumers and then promoting the features that consumers want, firms might sell more products.

FUN FACT: Wang is a voracious reader who particularly enjoys reading financial journals and material on high-tech products, such as tablets. He also enjoys playing or watching both soccer and badminton. While in France for his undergraduate studies at the University of Toulouse, Wang developed a wine-tasting hobby. He has tried wines from France, Australia, and the U.S., and Canada is next on his list.