Describe your reasons for pursuing graduate study and your academic and professional interests and goals
I am applying to master’s program of Stan Richards school of advertising and PR in pursuit of a career in academic research. With a deep interest in social media advertising and consumer behavior, I hope to acquire deeper knowledge and further research on the very subject by joining your institute.
My interest in advertising and consumer behavior built up during my undergraduate years. Being introduced to various modes of communication and media effects studying in the school of communication and media, courses like Political Communication and Media Campaign Planning triggered my admiration for persuasion. On a realization that much of persuasion studies are interconnected with psychology, I decided to double major in psychology. Learning what constitutes human mind and how persuasion works, I channeled my initial interest over political campaign to advertising communication. Courses like Advertising Psychology and Consumer Behavior&Strategic Communication elaborating my knowledge, I was committed to the topic of consumer behavior and motivation.
Understanding the needs and motivations underlying consumer behavior is a crucial part when it comes to developing the marketing strategy and designing appropriate advertising appeal. Working as an intern of KAKAO, the biggest social network service provider in Korea, I was in charge of an online promotion for Kakao mini, the AI(Artificial Intelligence) speaker of the company. Based on the demographic data of previous purchases, I figured out that young women(in their 20-30s) and middle-aged men(mainly 30-50 years old) are the two major groups who bought the speaker. The majority of the young female consumers were members of single-person households, which lead to an assumption that they bought the speaker expecting it to be their friend that helps them feel less lonely. On the other hand, for men, their main channel for purchase was ‘kakao gift. I predicted their motivation for purchasing to giving a present to others. Confirming the assumptions by conducting a focus group interview, I tailored the persuasive messages according to the motivations of each targeted group. As a result, the efficiency of the advertising grew sufficiently, which lead to increased ROI. Knowing that accurate understanding of the motivation is a key to build successful marketing strategy that can affect consumer decisions, I was challenged to explore further with consumer motivation.
Even though motivation is one of the areas of most interest to researchers studying consumer behavior, it is not yet to be fully understood. Such limitation is partially due to the fact that motivation study mostly relies on self-reports as it is not easy to measure the human mind from the outside. In case of social media, however, a door is opened for researchers examining user motivation without directly asking them. Unlike traditional media, users are actively engaged in the social media by expressing their feelings, interacting with others, even generating their own contents. That is, with investigation over their involvement, tracking their social media use or analyzing the contents generated, researchers can elicit meaningful information about the individuals. For example, in New Media Psychology course, I conducted a content analysis of 30 female participants’ Instagram feed in order to find out the relationship between Instagram posting behavior, narcissism and relationship satisfaction. The result proved that the total number of photos posted and the number of selfies could be the indicator of narcissistic traits. Acknowledging that there is a possibility of better understanding the consumer mind with incorporation of analyzation over contents into the research, I become committed to the particular topic of exploring the consumer mind embedded in the social media sphere.
I truly believe that of University of Texas Austin is the perfect place to start this journey of academic pursuit. Unlike other institutes providing only minor or elective courses in advertising, Stan Richard school of Advertising and PR focuses solely on diverse dimensions of advertising itself, with enhancement programs that could navigate me through the sea of advertising studies. Especially the Planning and Strategy program will prepare me with the proper tools to analyze the social media user behavior and motivation underlies it, as well as sturdy academic background to understand the complex nature of human mind.
Of course, I cannot bypass with not mentioning the faculty of Stan Richards school, being one of the strongest in US and internationally. Although I have never visited or met professors in person, the fact that the professors I admire the most, Yong Jun Sung, Sejung Marina Choi and Young Min, all started their career as distinguished scholars and lecturers in UT Austin, adding to the fact that Angeline Close Scheinbaum, Matthew Eastin, who are the experts of advertising and consumer behavior are teaching at your institute, gives assurance to my belief that this is the right place that could train me as the scholar I have dreamed to be. Combining my work experiences in the field and interdisciplinary academic background with strong support from University of Texas Austin, I sincerely hope to become a scholar who is well-structured and organized but not old-fashioned, creative and young but insightful.
After finishing the Master’s degree, I am planning to continue my journey by getting Ph.D. in Texas Austin. Your institute, fully understanding the highly interdisciplinary nature of advertising and providing integrated program with more than two fields combined, will pave the road to the accomplishment of my ultimate goal of becoming a prominent scholar and a caring teacher just like my predecessors from Texas Austin.
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Attribute Value Ideal
Final score: 4.5 out of 6
Category: Good Excellent
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