Economics Spotlighted Student: Madison Sultan '19
Madison Sultan's '19 thesis explores why a firm may choose to employ a comparative marketing strategy in which they advertise about the traits of a competitor’s product, as opposed to their own.
From the time she was a baby, Madison Sultan’s ’19 father spoke the language of Economics to her, teaching her about smart investing, sharing his thoughts on the principles of economics and incentives. Raised in Silver Spring, MD, Madison attended Quaker based Sandy Spring Friends School. When looking at colleges, Haverford College resonated with her because of its Quaker roots and the Honor Code.
With interests in decision-making and statistical modeling, Madison wanted her major to be a blend of these techniques. She will be graduating with a Major in Economics, with Minors in Psychology and Statistics. After taking Introduction to Economics with Visiting Professor Lauren Lambie-Hanson, she yearned for more economics. Lauren was expressly supportive of Madison, and invited her to attend Claudia Goldin’s 2016 lecture on Putting the ‘Co’ in Education after which Madison became certain that Economics held plenty of opportunities for her.
Highlighted courses that Madison has taken include Visitor Matthew Incantalupo’s Theory of Non-cooperative Games where she learned about game theory and strategic thinking, and Associate Professor David Owens’ Behavioral Economics class, where she studied present-biased preferences, social preferences and behavioral motivations.
Madison has spent her summers interning at various agencies. The summer after her first year she worked at Reston, Virginia based MAXIMUS, where economics alumnus Bruce Caswell ’88 is acting President and CEO. The mission of MAXIMUS is to provide “health and human service programs to a diverse array of communities” by collaborating with state, federal and local governments. Madison thoroughly enjoyed the time she spent working for MAXIMUS, and applauded their mission. Madison worked that summer in MAXIMUS’ quality management sector assisting with project flow-charts, tracking spending, and compiling financial reports. As part of their intern development program, she learned in one conversation with the CTO about an experimental model MAXIMUS was developing that examined how the timing and wording of text-message correspondence with patients could influence their attendance at doctor appointments. This program introduced her to the world of behavioral economics and how small interventions can have profound impacts on people’s lives.
She was awarded a Whitehead Internship the summer following her second year, and worked in New York City at a start-up marketing firm named Reelio (since acquired by Fullscreen in 2018). At the time of Madison’s internship, economics alumnus Mark Brenner ’86 was a senior advisor and business development consultant at the firm. Mark mentored Madison as she learned about ‘influencer marketing’, helping to guide brand advertising decisions in ways to reach target audience through social media. Carrying out sales-pricing models, she delved into the psychological principles of aptly pricing products.
This past summer Madison returned to New York City and furthered her business skills working for Engagious, a marketing research firm focused on developing content and messaging for their clientele. Using tools such as message testing and dial tests, Madison tracked instant feedback, documenting response patterns, which she summarized into reports.
Madison’s thesis explores why a firm may choose to employ a comparative marketing strategy in which they advertise about the traits of a competitor’s product, as opposed to their own. It examines the information that consumers infer about the products of a firm that employs such a strategy. It includes a theoretical component on how products’ exceeding or falling below expectations affects consumer preferences. Finally, it investigates whether consumers properly infer information behind firms’ strategic revelation. These theories will all be tested using an experiment on Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Staying true to her passion, post-graduation Madison hopes to join a large marketing research firm as a market research analyst, or as a data analyst. She is particularly interested in on-line consumer behavior motivations, where she would like to blend both qualitative and quantitative data analytics.
Drawn to teaching and tutoring, Madison has been a Teacher’s Assistant for numerous faculty in the economics department, assisting in seven sections of Introduction to Economics, as well as Professor Richard Ball’s Statistical Methods in Economics course.
During her Junior year she volunteered as an Upper Classman Advisor, providing academic guidance and support to first year students. Furthermore, she served as a representative on Honor Council, paying close attention to the uniqueness of each case brought to Council.