PhD defence of Mirjam van Ginkel - Bieshaar on Tuesday 20 March 2012

On Tuesday 20 March 2012 Mirjam van Ginkel - Bieshaar will defend her PhD thesis entitled 'The Impact of Abstract versus Concrete Product Communications on Consumer Decision-making Processes'. Supervisor is Professor Benedict Dellaert.

Time and location

The PhD defence will take place in the Senate Hall of Erasmus University Rotterdam and will start at 13.30 hrs.

About the PhD thesis

With the growth of online shopping, a new era of market communication is administered. Internet as a combined communication- and sales-channel has blurred the borders between persuasive communications to activate goals (i.e., abstract messages that are traditionally communicated via advertisements, commercials and billboards) and concrete recommendations to activate choices (i.e., concrete messages that are traditionally communicated by promotions on the shop floor). The blurring borders between abstract persuasive communications and concrete recommendations call for new research to gain insight in the interplay between abstract and concrete product messages.

In the first essay, the differential impact of abstract benefit messages and concrete product examples on goal activation and choice behaviour are investigated. In the second essay the cognitive structure in consumers’ minds that underlies the behaviour observed in essay 1 is further unravelled. In essay 3 the applicability of the findings is broadened by investigating the impact of abstract benefit messages versus concrete product messages on consumer behaviour outside the focal product category mentioned in the messages. The findings are based on consumer data gathered in lab-experiments and from a panel survey. All of the essays discuss applications to health related products.

In summary, this dissertation shows some interesting theoretical findings about the relative impact of abstract versus concrete product messages. It is also of particular interest to commercial companies and public policy makers, because it provides suggestions on how to steer consumer decision-making processes with product messages to promote healthier consumer choices.

About Mirjam van Ginkel - Bieshaar

Mirjam van Ginkel – Bieshaar received her doctoral degree in Economics in 1996 from the Erasmus University Rotterdam. She fulfilled different marketing jobs in a leading international fast moving consumer goods company in the Netherlands, and since 2005 she worked as an interim manager in the fast moving consumer goods sector.

Since 2007 she participates in the Mature Talent Program of Erasmus School of Economics of the Erasmus University Rotterdam to pursue a PhD. Her research interests include consumer behaviour and specifically healthy decision making. She presented her work at international conferences, such as the Association of Consumer Research Conference in Jacksonville, the Conference of the Society for Judgment and Decision making in St. Louis and the Transformative Consumer Research Conference in Villanova. Her work has been published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.

See for more information

For more information about this ceremony, please contact Ronald de Groot, Communication Advisor of Erasmus School of Economics phone +31 10 408 1762, e-mail:

Publication date: 05 March 2012