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Reto Hofstetter



Reto Hofstetter is Professor of Marketing at the Faculty of Economics and Management of the University of Lucerne and lecturer at the Institute of Marketing and Communication Management of the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI). His research and teaching is related to digital marketing, new product, and price management. Current research topics include crowdsourcing and online creativity, consumer engagement and incentivation, and consumer self-presentation and self-reports. Articles out of this research got published in journals like the Journal of Marketing Research, Management Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or the Journal of Product Innovation Managment.

Reto Hofstetter got his PhD in Marketing and an MSc and BSc in BA with a minor in Economics from the University of Bern, Switzerland. He also holds a BSc in Computer Science. During his PhD and as a post-doc, he visited the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) and Stanford University. At Lugano, he teaches digital marketing management.

Selected Work

Temporary sharing prompts unrestrained disclosures that leave lasting negative impressions, Hofstetter, R., Rueppell, R., John, L. K. (accepted for publication), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

With the advent of social media, the impressions people make on others are based increasingly on their digital disclosures. Yet digital disclosures can come back to haunt, making it challenging for people to manage the impressions they make. In field and online experiments in which participants take, share, and evaluate “selfies” (self-photos), we show that paradoxically, these challenges can be exacerbated by temporary sharing media—technologies that prevent content from being stored permanently. Relative to permanent sharing, temporary sharing affects both whether and what people reveal. Specifically, temporary sharing increases compliance with the request to take a selfie (study 1) and induces greater disclosure risks (i.e., people exhibit greater disinhibition in their selfies, studies 1 & 2). This increased disclosure is driven by reduced privacy concerns (study 2). Yet observers’ impressions of sharers are insensitive to permanence (i.e., whether the selfie was shared temporarily versus permanently), and are instead driven by the disinhibition exhibited in the selfie (studies 4 - 7). As a result, induced by the promise of temporary sharing, sharers of uninhibited selfies come across as having worse judgment relative to those who share relatively discreet selfies (studies 1, 2, & 4-7)—an attributional pattern that is unanticipated by sharers (study 3), persistent days after the selfie has disappeared (study 5), robust to personal experience with temporary sharing (studies 6A & 6B), and holds even among friends (studies 7A & 7B). Temporary sharing may bring back forgetting, but not without introducing new (self-presentational) challenges.

Should You Really Produce What Consumers Like Online? Empirical Evidence from an Online Innovation Community, Hofstetter, R., Aryobsei, S., Herrmann, A. (accepted for publication), Journal of Product Innovation Management

In open innovation, firms increasingly rely on online consumer votes to evaluate ideas for new products and services. Votes can represent cost-effective external information about idea quality that can inform and facilitate a firm’s task of evaluating and screening of ideas at the early stages of the innovation process. Challenging this perception, we proposed that consumer votes provided in open innovation contests can be socially biased by reciprocal voting. On the basis of theories related to cooperation and social influence, we argued that both gregarious consumers (those who solicit social ties) and consumers who initiate direct reciprocity (those who vote for others) signal a willingness to cooperate that stimulates reciprocal voting from peers. We empirically investigated consumer voting behavior using a unique dataset with information obtained from actual open innovation contests in which consumers could submit their own ideas and see and vote for the ideas of others. We found that both gregariousness and the initiation of direct reciprocity positively influence votes received. Such cooperation pays off for consumers because firms indeed use votes to inform internal idea evaluations. We also found, however, that the votes an idea receives during an innovation contest cannot significantly explain its later revealed quality. Reciprocity may be an effective form of cooperation among consumers, but it has potentially negative implications for firms’ evaluations. Our results also indicated that beyond reciprocity, consumers and firms value different types of ideas, which further differentiates their evaluations. Thus, firms should not only be aware of social biases in votes but also account for the diverging idea preferences of customers.

Social ties and user-generated content: Evidence from an online social network 

Shriver, S. K., Nair, H. S., Hofstetter, R. (2013), Management Science, 59 (6), 1425-1443.

We exploit changes in wind speeds at surfing locations in Switzerland as a source of variation in users' propensity to post content about their surfing activity on an online social network. We exploit this variation to test whether users' online content-generation activity is codetermined with their social ties. Economically significant effects of this type can produce positive feedback that generates local network effects in content generation. When quantitatively significant, the increased content and tie density arising from the network effect induces more visitation and browsing on the site, which fuels growth by generating advertising revenue. We find evidence consistent with such network effects.


Consumer behavior and new media, consumer creativity and engagement, consumer self-presentation and self-reports, willingness-to-pay, behavioral pricing, user-generated content, social networks, crowdsourcing.

Aree di competenza