Business professors win national award for consumer literacy research

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 6, 2006 – Julie L. Ozanne, marketing professor in the Pamplin College of Business, and her former student Natalie Ross Adkins, an assistant professor at Creighton University, have received the 2006 Robert Ferber Award for their article, “The Low Literate Consumer,” published in the June 2005 Journal of Consumer Research.

The Ferber award is given annually for the best article based on a dissertation published in the Journal of Consumer Research during the past year.

“Almost half of all U.S. consumers read below a sixth-grade level, yet we know little about how these consumers get their needs met in a text-filled marketplace,” says Ozanne. In the study, she and Adkins examined how “low-literate” consumers adapt to the marketplace. “Those who could challenge the stigma of low literacy and employ a range of coping skills were better able to get their needs met.”

Their study, Ozanne says, supports the view that consumerism is a social practice of identity maintenance and management. “Our findings suggest that consumer education must expand beyond disseminating information to include developing consumers’ confidence and abilities to engage socially when their needs are being denied, thwarted, or opposed.”

Ozanne received a doctorate from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1985; Adkins received a doctorate from Virginia Tech in 2001.

Virginia Tech’s nationally ranked Pamplin College of Business offers undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting and information systems, business information technology, economics, finance, hospitality and tourism management, management, and marketing. The college emphasizes the development of ethical values and leadership, technology, and international business skills. A member of its marketing faculty directs the interdisciplinary Sloan Foundation Forest Industries Center at Virginia Tech. The college’s other centers focus on business leadership, electronic commerce, and organizational performance. The college is committed to serving business and society through the expertise of its faculty, alumni, and students. It is named in honor of Robert B. Pamplin (BAD ’33), the former CEO of Georgia-Pacific, and his son, businessman and philanthropist Robert B. Pamplin Jr. (BAD ’64).