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Markus Giesler | Consumer Sociologist | One of The 40 Best Business Professors Under 40
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Markus Giesler is something of a rockstar in the world of business academia, and not just because he regularly consults for top-tier brands like Apple, Google, and BMW. Named one of the best business professors under 40, Gielser is actively turning the traditional world of marketing on its head by using sociological insights—rather than economic research—to design better markets and customer experiences. In talks, this marketing firecracker shows us how to leverage technology and culture to create a captivating customer journey that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

“Markus Giesler is fast becoming a bright light in high-tech consumer research.”

Wired Magazine

Markus Giesler created two of the most sought-after electives at York University’s Schulich School of Business. The first, the wildly popular Entertainment Marketing, is the longest-standing course in the school’s BBA program. The second, “Customer Experience Design,” is downright historic: it is the world’s first MBA course on customer experience, and the only marketing course to be endorsed by the American Marketing Association. Giesler is a pioneer of the academic theory “Big Design”, which suggests that a market's evolving economic, technological, and cultural fabric shapes—and is shaped by—multiple actors and institutions. In his class, and through his work as the Director of the Big Design Lab, he uses this multifaceted approach to understanding what drives product success. “Stop looking at needs. Stop looking at the psychologically oriented idea of what the consumer wants. That’s almost Fruedian,” Giesler explains. “Start developing a more sociologically oriented understanding of how cultures change, and how new energies can be captured and turned into economic capital.”


Named “one of the best recognized experts studying high-technology consumer behavior” by WIRED, and dubbed a “young business school star professor on the rise” by CNN, it’s unsurprising that Giesler is in high demand among business leaders, entrepreneurs, and policy makers. Rational concerns about consumer behavior rarely tell the whole story, he says. Instead, his groundbreaking talks help us unravel the deeply intimate, and deeply ingrained, motivations for consumption that lie beneath the surface.


Giesler is an associate editor at the Journal of Marketing and on the editorial review boards of the Journal of Consumer Research, Consumption, Markets and Culture, Marketing Letters, and Business & Society.  His research is frequently cited in The New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and WIRED, among others.


“Markus was a guest and speaker at the Fireside Conference two years ago and was both incredible and inspiring! I highly recommend him!”

Daniel Levine, Co-Founder of Fireside Conference

Speech Topics

Artificial Intelligence
The Human Experience of AI Making Machines Work for Us
Most companies think of Artificial Intelligence as technology. But as Markus Giesler explains, it’s much more than smart objects and algorithms: it’s a force that has tremendous influence on our social reality—one that many people are afraid of. AI has fully entered the consumer marketplace and business landscape, and it has a profound influence on shaping who we are, in our everyday reality: influencing how we navigate, choose, discover—but many people have fears. How do we understand these anxieties, and more importantly, what do they mean for business, as more and more of our work and our lives converge with machine learning? In a groundbreaking study, Giesler compared news stories about AI to six decades of science-fiction, to pinpoint precisely people’s fears about robots and machines—and now, he offers tips on how to address them. AI is a human experience, not a technology: drawing from advisory cases with Facebook and IBM, Giesler explores ways that organizations can understand peoples’ aversion to AI—and offers strategies on how to make machine learning more appealing and trustworthy, both within your business and to consumers. 
The Culture Question Designing Better Markets for a Better World
Markus Giesler encourages us to approach consumption as a sociological design challenge—a passionate plea rooted in both research and practice. “Culture is probably the most underestimated success factor in business,” he says. Whether you need to sustain an existing market, convince local governments to legalize a new technology such as ride sharing, or establish yet another yogurt brand, “the winner will always be whoever has the best strategy for managing the cultural, moral, and political factors that structure what consumers think they want at a given point in time.” In this talk, Giesler will show you how our choices, preferences and goals as consumers are never natural. Rather, they are embedded in systems of people and things, carefully constructed to support a particular idea or innovation. “It’s the marketer’s job to properly recognize and navigate these systems,” and Giesler will help you do it.