Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Naveen Donthu

Second Advisor

Yi Zhao

Third Advisor

Alok Saboo

Fourth Advisor

Neil Anthony Morgan

Fifth Advisor

Koray Cosguner


Wearable fitness trackers (wearables) (e.g., Apple Watch, Fitbit) are taking the wellness industry into the age of big data that is accessible at a customer level. The devices are popular but evidence for their effectiveness in driving customer behavior is surprisingly limited. Wearables are shown to be facilitators, not drivers, of wellness. To achieve the intended goal of promoting wellness, firms often send motivational or informational digital marketing interventions (i.e., digital nudges) to encourage customers in achieving their health goals. Studies rooted in behavioral economics demonstrate overwhelming evidence for nudging to influence customer decision-making; however, research is yet to examine digital nudges' influence on wellness, which can be facilitated by wearables. Combining the technology of wearables with behavioral research could help firms design interfaces that will be more effective. Additionally, the existing studies orbit around the public health domain and cater to specific groups (e.g., individuals with obesity and diabetes). Wearable effectiveness in our everyday lives from a marketing perspective remains unearthed.

Through panel data obtained from multiple wearable brands, the study investigates the effectiveness of digital nudges on customer wellness using a mixed model specification. Data includes the timing and content of the digital nudges, along with customers’ subsequent physical activity behavior in the form of steps taken and exercise duration. These variables are observed daily over four months for 517 global customers. We find that type of nudge the firm sends matters in driving behavior; further, firms should be careful when sending too few or too many nudges. Recommendations on the interaction effects of focus area with nudges are also provided. We provide an alternative approach to measure habitual behavior in a sub-analysis using a recent modeling approach MBG/CNBD-k to measure and predict wearable usage behavior.

The use of rich archival data could not only shed light on how digital nudging can encourage healthy behavior but also offer solutions to sustain this outcome. The study provides insights for practitioners to improve their product’s features (e.g., mobile app notifications) and to identify churn based on wearable usage regularity. Academic research can also benefit from this study since it enriches the recent research priorities in customer wellness, identified by top marketing journals. Further implications can be indirectly derived through the preventative nature of wellness, including avoidance of depression and cancer as well as proactively lowering health expenses for customers.


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Available for download on Thursday, June 22, 2023