Terry Ph.D. student wins Bearden Award at Southeast Marketing Symposium

Lan Anh Nu Ton recognized for her research into consumer product packaging

Merritt Melancon | May. 28, 2021

Lan Anh Nu Ton
Lan Anh Nu Ton

For the third year in a row, a Ph.D. student from the Terry College’s Department of Marketing has won the William O. Bearden Doctoral Student Research Award as part of the Southeast Marketing Symposium.

Third-year doctoral student Lan Anh Nu Ton won first prize in the marketing research competition.

“Lan Anh is a meticulous and passionate researcher,” said John Hulland, the Emily H. and Charles M. Tanner Jr. Chair in Sales Management and graduate coordinator for the Department of Marketing. “The Bearden Award is a well-earned recognition of her hard work and intellectual curiosity. We are all very proud of her achievement.”

Marketing Ph.D. candidate Youngtak Kim won the award in 2020, and Ph.D. students Vincent Zhang and Seoyoung Kim shared the award in 2019.

The Bearden Award was established in 2007 as a way to recognize the best research coming out of marketing doctoral programs. The symposium itself was launched to encourage marketing doctoral students to build and maintain their academic networks with fellow students and faculty from other universities in the southeast.

The University of Georgia joined the symposium in 2017. Today the symposium includes a network of 11 schools: the University of Florida, Florida State University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Tennessee, the University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, the University of Memphis, and the University of Arkansas.

Ph.D. students from participating universities are invited to submit their research papers to the annual Southeast Marketing Symposium, a student-focused showcase for scholarly research. Ton presented her research virtually to the symposium audience.

Ton graduated with her master’s degree in marketing from the University of Southern California before coming to UGA in 2018 to pursue her doctorate. She’s interested in the role of both aesthetics and emotions in marketing.

Ton won the Bearden Award for her research focusing on how consumers assess products with minimalist packaging designs. She, along with marketing professors Rosanna Smith and Julio Sevilla, used both experiments and data from a national grocery store chain to examine when and why consumers gravitate toward products in packages with simple designs.

They found that consumers infer that products in less complex packages contain fewer ingredients, which enhanced the perception of product purity and value. However, they also found that consumers don’t always prefer minimalist packaging. For instance, consumers who had an indulgence (vs. health) goal preferred products with more complex designs. Ton’s work not only unpacked why minimalist packaging is valued, but also identified some of its limitations.


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