DBA Dissertation: Price Promotions Do Not Work for Professional Retail Buyers

Jyrki Isojärvi's DBA dissertation compares the contemporary behavior of professional retail buyers and individual consumers regarding certain branded consumer goods. Professional retail buyers and consumers have different attitudes toward price promotions.

Jyrki Isojärvi's work is the tenth doctoral dissertation to be completed from the Aalto DBA program. Photo: Tina Lindroos


The primary target of MBA Jyrki Isojärvi's DBA dissertation was to investigate how different marketing strategies and claims affect the purchase decisions of both professional retail buyers and consumers. The dissertation applies a field experiment research method in three separate studies.

"The consumer retail market has changed a lot. Previously, there was a clear chain manufacturer-wholesaler-retailer-buyer. Nowadays, a manufacturer can have its own online store, and the buyer acquires products directly from there," Isojärvi describes. He himself is an experienced entrepreneur who manufactures and sells oral hygiene products.

The marketing claims were extracted from trending phenomena in the consumer retail markets, which include, on the one hand, manufacturing methods such as automation and robotics and, on the other hand, emphasis on organic marketing. In addition, the impact of price promotions on purchasing behavior was examined.

It turned out that the behavior of professional retail buyers and consumers is markedly different from each other, and there are also differences between different types of professional retail buyers. Based on the first field experiment, price promotion, especially for a new fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) product, had a negative effect on professional retail buyers’ demand for the product.

"The strength of this finding was surprising. My interpretation is that retailers behave rationally like industrial buyers and are skeptical of continuous new product launches, particularly if the new products are promoted with discounts. They obviously doubt the motives for the discount," says Isojärvi.

When the method of manufacturing a product was used as a marketing claim, differences in attraction towards the product were found, depending on the type of retailer. In particular, buyers of independent, non-chain drugstores and buyers of stores that also operate online store prefer products produced by automation. In contrast, buyers of chain stores and buyers of stores without online operations favored handcraft products.

"This could possibly be because buyers in chain stores and brick-and-mortar stores are tired of the automation hype that is prominent in the markets and media at the moment."

In the third field experiment, a combination was found that strongly increased non-professional consumer purchasing decisions: organic advertising claim, the green color of the packaging, and price promotion. Without price promotion, the organic claims and the packaging color did not work.

Isojärvi's doctoral dissertation has been supervised by professors Jaakko Aspara from Hanken and Henrikki Tikkanen from Aalto University, for whom Tikkanen is responsible for the entire Aalto DBA program. Isojärvi's work is the tenth doctoral dissertation to be completed from the program, and the next one will be reviewed already in June.

“Aalto DBA program has established its position as the only Finnish 'practical doctorate' where the work of a DBA candidate is guided by Finland’s most experienced researchers in their field. The topics are positioned in all areas of business economics, from strategy to marketing, leadership, accounting, and finance”, says Henrikki Tikkanen, Academic Director of the Aalto DBA program and Professor at the Department of Marketing at the Aalto University School of Business.

According to Isojärvi, his doctoral dissertation and its findings can be utilized in many ways in his business. The scientific study of marketing turned out to be in-depth and detailed compared to commercial market research. Previous research in the field was also closely examined.

"Already during the process, I have understood the importance of certain things. Methodological learning, analyticity, and statistical methods bring added value to product development, for example."

You can read the dissertation here.

The DBA defense

The DBA dissertation of Jyrki Isojärvi ”Essays on Retail Buyer Behavior Vis-à-Vis Contemporary Retail Market Phenomena: Field Experiments among Professional Retail Buyers and Individual Consumers” is examined by Aalto University School of Business at 12.00 on Friday, May 12, 2023, at Aalto University Töölö.

Professor Tommi Laukkanen, University of Eastern Finland, is the opponent, and Professor Henrikki Tikkanen, Aalto University School of Business, is the custos. The DBA defense will be held in Finnish.

The defense can be followed via Zoom.

Meeting ID: 850 9818 3909

DBA dissertation orders and further information on research

Jyrki Isojärvi
DBA Candidate
Tel. +358 40 738 8916

Aalto University Executive Education and Professional Development

Aalto University Executive Education and Professional Development (Aalto EE) offers impactful education, development, and training services. Aalto EE combines a wide range of practical expertise with the latest research from Aalto University. We aim to provide a sustainable platform for lifewide learning at different stages of a career. Furthermore, we operate as a strategic partner for organizations, enabling renewal in a rapidly changing business environment. Our unique portfolio of programs offers concrete solutions, intellectual capital, and professional head start for both individuals and organizations.

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What is the Aalto Executive DBA - Doctor of Business Administration program?

The Aalto Executive DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) program is designed for experienced executives who wish to complete a doctoral degree alongside their work. This working-life oriented program involves applied research. The DBA, which is recognized around the world, is offered by several leading institutions, such as Harvard Business School.

Like the Aalto Executive MBA and Aalto MBA degree programs, the DBA is not part of the Finnish degree system. However, it is conferred by the accredited Aalto University School of Business. The Aalto Executive DBA program can be completed, alongside work, in three to six years. This fee-based program was launched at the beginning of 2013.

Henrikki Tikkanen, Professor of Marketing at Aalto University School of Business, is the academic director of the DBA program. Read more on the program website.

Further information on the Aalto Executive DBA program

Patrick Furu
Director of Customized Design, PhD.
Aalto University Executive Education and Professional Development
Tel. +358 10 837 3719

Henrikki Tikkanen
Professor, Department of Marketing
Aalto University
Tel. +358 50 573 4174