Contact: Allison Benner, College Relations Associate – Media, 610-740-3790



Local Business Students Scour Mall for Examples of Commercial Influence

Allentown, PA (March 17, 2006) – Sales, flashy ads, free samples – these are just a few of the techniques merchants employ every day to entice consumers to buy their products. On Tuesday, March 21, 2006, a group of business students from Cedar Crest College will comb that mecca of retail merchandising, the mall, for concrete examples of the persuasive tactics that have us grabbing for our wallets. Students will conduct the exercise from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. at The Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall.

The eight students involved in this experiential project are currently enrolled in "Power, Influence and Negotiation," a new class offered by the Cedar Crest Business Department. The course examines how influence, power and organizational politics are related to effective negotiation and development of leadership style and is intended for future business leaders who want to explore and hone their potential to stimulate innovation and creativity in others.

"The power to persuade and influence your audience is key contributing factor to a successful business or product," says Gaetan Giannini, chair of Business, Management and Economics at Cedar Crest. "This exercise allows the students to experience first-hand and in a familiar environment how a particular business group, in this case retail merchandisers, utilizes that power to achieve business goals."

To complete the project, students will have to find and document clear examples of each of six specific types of influence in the mall, which include scarcity, commitment and consistency and social proof. They then have to analyze each example's effectiveness and even offer suggestions of how consumers can defend themselves against the techniques.

"We want the students to understand how influence is used in a positive manner, but in class we also acknowledge the ethical repercussions of tactics that go too far or are inappropriate," says Giannini. "Having concrete examples to draw from gives students base from which to explore the possibilities of influence from every angle."

Both Professor Giannini and students will be available for interview at the mall or for follow-up. Along with his position at Cedar Crest, Professor Giannini is a local businessman and frequent contributor to the Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal who is available as a resource for related topics including the theory and practice of influence in the commercial world.

For more information, please contact the College Relations Office at 610-740-3790.



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