Marketing Associate Professor Carlos Torelli shares answers to five questions that reveal the issues he's studying, following, teaching, and reading about today. Plus a peek into the life he imagines, were he not teaching at the Carlson School. 

Q: What is/are your current area(s) of research? What business challenges are you helping to solve?

A: In my research, I develop theories to address important issues faced by global marketers, such as uncovering cultural factors that refine our understanding of consumer behavior; identifying brand concepts likely to resonate among consumers with different cultural values; determining which layers of abstract meanings should be added to a particular brand when crossing cultural boundaries; assessing the cultural symbolism of a brand in order to leverage its equity into new products and markets; and understanding consumer reactions to globalization.

Q: What current business issues or stories in the news are you following and why?

A: As many people, I am following the political campaign. Attitudes toward political brands are excellent indicators of cultural changes experienced by a society. This Spring, I have enjoyed  discussing with my students how cultural and persuasion theories can be used to explain some of the outcomes of the primaries in both political parties.    

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Attitudes toward political brands are excellent indicators of cultural changes experienced by a society

Q: What is your favorite class to teach?

A: My favorite class to teach is Brand Management. This is a class that offers an excellent context for integrating theory and practice in order to provide students with an actionable theoretical framework that they can use in the workplace. Thus, I focus this course on providing theoretical tools for uncovering and understanding the associations that consumers from different cultures establish with their brands, and for predicting the effects of these associations on their judgments and behaviors. This course draws heavily on theories of consumer behavior to explain how consumers react to a firm’s brand strategy.

Q: If you weren’t a business school professor, what would you be doing?

A: I would probably go back to my engineering roots building highways. I truly enjoyed that time in my career. There is something unique about conquering the landscape for building a highway. Highways are projects that can take a long time (years) and that involve great challenges. However, it is extremely satisfying once you drive on it and remember how the landscape looked before all started, and how major obstacles were overcome during the process. I still enjoy this feeling of accomplishment when I drive on highways in my native Venezuela that I built more than 20 years ago.

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[If I weren't a professor] I would probably go back to my engineering roots building highways

Q: If you weren’t a business school professor, what would you be doing?

A: I am a science freak, so the best book that I have read this year is The Martian by Andy Weir. I could not put it down and read it over a weekend.