Aggregate level simulation procedures have been used in many areas of marketing. In this paper we show how individual level simulations may be used support marketing theory development. More specifically, we show how a certain type of simulations that is based on complex systems studies (in this case Stochastic Cellular Automata) may be used to generalize diffusion theory one of the fundamental theories of new product marketing.
Cellular Automata models are simulations of global consequences, based on local interactions between individual members of a population, that are widely used in complex system analysis across disciplines. In this study we demonstrate how the Cellular Automata approach can help untangle complex marketing research problems. Specifically, we address two major issues facing current theory of innovation diffusion: The first is general lack of data at the individual level, while the second is the resultant inability of marketing researchers to empirically validate the main assumptions used in the aggregate models of innovation diffusion.
Using a computer-based Cellular Automata Diffusion Simulation, we demonstrate how such problems can be overcome. More specifically, we show that relaxing the commonly used assumption of homogeneity in the consumers? communication behavior is not a barrier to aggregate modeling. Thus we show that notwithstanding some exceptions, the well-known Bass model performs well on aggregate data when the assumption that that all adopters have a possible equal effect on all other potential adopters is relaxed. Through Cellular Automata we are better able to understand how individual level assumptions influence aggregate level parameter values, and learn the strengths and limitations of the aggregate level analysis. We believe that this study can serve as a demonstration towards a much wider use of Cellular Automata models for complex marketing research phenomena.
Goldenberg, Jacob, Barak Libai, and Eitan Muller. "Using Complex Systems Analysis to Advance Marketing Theory Development: Modeling Heterogeneity Effects on New Product Growth through Stochastic Cellular Automata." Academy of Marketing Science Review 9 (2001): 1.
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