Carnegie Mellon University
June 09, 2011

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Students Help Industry Find New Ways To Promote Products by Tapping Into Consumer Emotions

New Class Studied Challenges of Quitting Smoking for GlaxoSmithKline

Contacts: Chriss Swaney / 412-268-5776 /
Mark Burd / 412-268-3486 /

PITTSBURGH—Flicking those cigarette ashes across the breakfast table over a steamy cup of java has become a daily ritual for more than 80 million smokers nationwide.
The ubiquitous act of lighting up is addictive and overpowering, but not impossible to kick. At least that’s the consensus of Carnegie Mellon engineers and industrial designers who studied the challenges of quitting smoking for GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Consumer Health Care unit.
“When it comes to smoking, our students studied the challenges surrounding both the functional nicotine addiction and the need to modify the emotion-based behavioral addiction as well,” said Jonathan Cagan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon.
Cagan along with CMU’s Peter Boatwright of the Tepper School of Business base their new Product Emotion Research class on innovative ideas shared in their new book “Built to Love — Creating Products that Captivate Customers.”
“Carnegie Mellon students were not just looking at a product’s functionality, but also at the emotional and behavioral experience that comes into play when dealing with addiction,” said Boatwright, an associate professor of marketing.
The stigma of therapy, peer pressure and self-esteem issues were just a few of the obstacles students found inhibiting smokers to quit. To track and quantify smoking behavior, CMU students developed a dynamic model of emotions and needs that included nicotine cessation and behavior modification.
“We were thrilled not only with the new insights and opportunities delivered by the students, but also the method used to develop them,” said Karen Scollick, vice president of Behavioral Sciences at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health Care of North America. “The students uncovered new insights about the emotion of smoking cessation, insights that have been informative to us in our ongoing work with this challenging category,” she added.
Scollick said the CMU classwork will help inform ongoing development of exciting new products at the Parsippany, N.J.-based GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health Care. GSK already offers a cadre of nicotine replacement therapy products.
Last year, CMU students tackled the issue of weight loss, which like smoking is a major health issue in the U.S.