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Oklahoma State University

Spears Wentz Scholar explores business research

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Spears Business student Lexi Barry (right) reads instructions to a group of students participating in a research study through the Spears Behavioral Lab where she works. Barry was named a 2019-2020 Wentz Research Scholar and has begun a study of consumer behavior.

Lexi Barry describes herself as endlessly curious, so there’s little wonder that since coming to the Spears School of Business, she has become passionate about research. That passion was fueled last spring when Barry was named a 2019-2020 Wentz Research Scholar and began a study of consumer behavior, a key component of her marketing major.

“I love research because I like to know why people do things,” she said. “I want to know what kind of things affect their decisions, especially in business.”

Oklahoma State University offers undergraduates numerous opportunities to conduct research guided by professors in nearly any discipline. Barry, from Oklahoma City, applied and was chosen as a Wentz Research Scholar, receiving a $4,500 grant.

“The Wentz Scholar program allows some of our most gifted students to further sharpen their thinking and analysis skills by working with faculty members on original research,” said Dr. Tom Brown, head of the School of Marketing and International Business. “These skills serve them well regardless of whether they choose academic or industry careers. And our faculty get to engage with terrific students. Everyone wins!”

Spears student Lexi Barry
Lexi Barry, a marketing and nonprofit management major, says she is fascinated by research into why people choose what to buy.

Barry was encouraged by her research advisor, former Spears assistant professor of marketing Dr. Sarah Whitley, to apply to the Wentz program. Barry said her imagination was opened to the world of research when she took Whitley’s consumer marketing class.

“It was so interesting because we learned about why people buy things. I loved that,” Barry said. “The day I finished her final I asked her if she does research with students.”

The answer was yes, and last semester Barry launched a marketing study of how consumers value product samples provided either free or that must be purchased. Barry said the study is valuable because it tests the commitment of customers to a product or brand.

Barry recruited fellow marketing students to sample chocolates and conducted the study in the Spears Behavioral Lab. She was so fascinated by the research process that she applied and was hired by the Behavioral Lab as a student employee.

Barry said the study has given her a glimpse into the consumer mind and that it was amazing to see the initial data from their experiment converted into graphs that began to tell a story. Her research continues this year funded by her Wentz grant. She will present her findings next April at the annual Wentz Research Symposium.

“It’s so unique to do human research because there's so many factors behind why a consumer buys stuff, like how it’s placed, the package and branding, what associations they have,” Barry said. “Why do some people always buy Jif peanut butter?”

Media contact: Jeff Joiner | Communications Coordinator | 405.744.2700 | jeff.joiner@okstate.edc

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