Winner Science Prize of The German Brands Association and the Brand Research Association 2023 for his ground-breaking doctorate on “Dealing with Disruption: Analyzing the Role of Market Share and Financial Brand Value in Times of Change”, Felix Anton Sklenarz outlines his work, its key takeaways, and what set it apart from the rest of the competition. Felix is KLU Alumnus (Class of 2018) of KLU’s Master in International Management and has received the top grade “summa cum laude” for his Ph.D. at KLU in 2023.
First of all, congratulations Felix. Can you explain what your thesis is about?
Felix Anton Sklenarz: Thanks. My Ph.D. is in the area of the marketing-finance interface, and I look at how disruption through digitization and economic crises changes the role of market share and financial brand value for companies. The background here is that marketing since basically forever has been under increasing pressure to justify its expenses and to demonstrate its impact. In my doctorate I try to find ways to measure marketing performance in a better way.
What are its key takeaways?
Sklenarz: My thesis comprises three projects, one focusing on market share and two on financial brand value. The first project of my thesis questions the use of market share as a performance metric, because I find that if you go for market share you are not getting the profitability you would traditionally expect based on older research.
So, in my second project I find support for the use of financial brand value as a marketing performance metric. It's heavily connected to marketing actions and really measures what it is intended to measure, giving marketers a tool to measure and communicate the impact of their actions.
The key finding of the third paper is advertising and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives really improve brand resilience at times of economic crisis. So, if you want to protect your assets and brand, you should keep your advertising expenses up in an economic crisis. You should also focus on CSR, especially the social side of it, because consumers reward this by sticking to your brand.
What made your dissertation stand out from the rest of the competition?
Sklenarz: I think especially the second project is really important work in this area as it relies on one of the most unique brand value data sets that is out there. With co-authors Alexander Himme (Associate Professor of Management Accounting at KLU and my doctoral supervisor) and Professor Mark Fischer from the University of Cologne, we collected a data set of over 40,000 financial brand values from 20 valuators for over 4600 brands globally and covering a time span of over 30 years.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive dataset used for this type of research. Usually, a study would rely on one valuator, maybe two or three, but a study that is really trying to capture the whole picture of the financial brand valuation landscape is something completely new. This is one of the key strengths of my thesis, and its implications are really relevant for brands. Given the impact brands have on the success of today's businesses, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to measure their value in a meaningful and comparable way. And who knows, maybe work like this can pave the way for the development of a uniform standard for brand valuation in the future.
Why did you choose to do your Master and Ph.D. at KLU?
Sklenarz: I did my bachelor’s in engineering and computer science at the Technical University in Hamburg, Harburg, and for my master’s I was looking for an environment that is a bit more practitioner-oriented and has a closer connection to companies that would give me a good networking opportunity.
So, I already did my Master of Science in Management at KLU. I was very happy here because it’s a great place to study and you can work with tremendous people. Then, during my master’s thesis, my supervisor Alexander Himme asked me if I wanted to do my Ph.D. at KLU. It was an easy decision to make, as I’d had an amazing time here because of the freedom you’re given, and the opportunities to really work on the research projects you like don’t exist at every university. It’s a great place to do leading research, because at KLU you always target the top journals and I think that also has a huge impact on how you do your research and what you aim for.
And finally, I would like to thank Alexander Himme for the great support he has given me over the past years. He has been an amazing supervisor and none of this would have been possible without him. And of course, I am also very thankful for the support of my second supervisor, Christian Barrot (Professor of Marketing and Innovation at KLU), and my other co-authors such as Alexander Edeling (KU Leuven) and the above-mentioned Marc Fischer.