Leeds University Business School (UK) confers PhD Marketing Degree to Pakistani woman



Dr. Esra Asif is the first female Pakistani social entrepreneur, to be awarded a PhD degree in Marketing fully funded by the prestigious Marketing Studentship scholarship, at one of the UK’s top ten Business Schools, Leeds University Business School.

Dr. Esra Asif has an illustrious academic background andin light of her these previous academic achievements she was offered two merit based scholarships from University of Leeds (UK)- Marketing Studentship and Leeds Anniversary Research Scholarship.

She accepted the Marketing studentship to work in collaboration with the renowned consumer behaviour Professor J.Josko Brakus (Head of Marketing department of Leeds Business School) and academically acclaimed Dr. Alessandro Biraglia.Dr. Esra Asif, has also been trained at University of Oxford (LMH), and holds MSC International Marketing from Kings College London with distinction.

Dr. Esra Asif, as consumer behavior scientist, has presented her work at the highest rated international marketing academic conferences (ACR, SCP, AMA, GMC) and works on multiple consumer behavior projects. She is also an accomplished academic journal and conference reviewer, and has honor of working with American Marketing Association Doctoral Special Interest Group (AMA Doc Sig) as Vice-chair Special Projects and Partnerships. She has mettle in lecturing and leading a number of marketing and business modules.

Dr. EsraAsif researches one of the most significant financial life decision that consumers make: “getting a mortgage to obtain a house”. Her research is the first in consumer behavior investigating mortgage advertising. Dr. EsraAsif, in her doctoral thesis titled, ‘Home Sweet Home: How Message Concreteness Affects Effectiveness of Mortgage Advertisements’ conclusively discusses the need of developing standardized, effective (concrete) mortgage advertising for diverse income segments (high or low). This is in contrast to existent industry practices of using abstract (mascots, humorous advertising, non-detailed visuals) and concrete (extensively detailed advertisements).

Dr. Esra Asif’s, current research, ‘How large economic market shock and message abstraction affects consumer decision making for Mortgages: Evidence from Field Experiments” expands these findings, presenting standardized mortgage advertisements for diverse income groups when economic shocks are experienced within markets. The research paper investigates this buying behavior of consumers with a novel and current backdrop of the economic shock by the pandemic. The research has been acknowledged and presented in the highest rated Marketing Academic Conference held by the American Marketing Association in 2022.

Dr. Esra Asif research looks into how consumers perceive their finances to be scarce or abundant when responding to different types of message framing (what is said and how it is said) within mortgage advertisements. This has been investigated within the current paradigm of the pandemic, conducting field experiments prior to pandemic (2019), during the height of the Covid pandemic (2020), and during the successful vaccine rollout (2021). As during a vaccine rollout consumers’ experienced a hope of normalization

The research gives insight into how consumers actively look and compare the reality of buying a mortgage (such as house prices, mortgage rates, risks and their income) to an ideal fantasy (a garden, an extra bedroom for the kids’ nursery, or a terraced balcony). Dr. Esra Asif’s research is novel in studying decision making regarding mortgages during an economic shock (Pandemic) also addresses the economists concern, if the economy will return to pre-shock buying behaviour, through the lens of psychological mindsets. The unique perspective of her research is to capture the curiosity of abundant and scarce mindset consumers and their response to concrete vs abstract mortgage advertising. The research concluded through extensive field studies by analyzing a large data set of 67, 316 consumers that abstract mortgage message frames arouse consumers’ curiosity during the period of economic shock for abundant and scarce mindsets.

Dr.Esra Asif found that consumers fantasized and daydreamed more when making mortgage purchase decisions during the economic shock of the pandemic, as a tool for escapism. Dr.Esra Asif suggests that this trend is a predicament of work from home lifestyle. Dr. Esra Asif proves that as the vaccine rollout was successful, consumers’ decision making patterns reflected the post pandemic trend, as seen by the preference of concrete message frames by high and low income consumers.

Thus Dr. Esra Asif shows that consumer’s buying behavior did recover to pre-shock levels with the hope of normalization.

Dr. Esra Asif’s research would have implications for policy makers and financial managers informing them about the effective message frame during an economic shock and post-shock; to effectively nudge better mortgage decisions, to avoid housing and lending bubbles and have muted recessions.

This is especially relevant for global markets ‘dependant on mortgages, and will also benefit Pakistani decision makers (Government, Financial Institutions) as Pakistan is slowly introducing the mortgage financial product to high and low income consumers.

—Dr. Esra Asif is a consumer behavior scientist, marketing academic and researcher. She is also a social entrepreneur.


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