Alex Mari

Research Associate

Tel.:  +41 44 634 92 07

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim
is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."
Michelangelo Buonarroti


Alex Mari is a Research Associate, PhD candidate and Teaching Fellow at the Chair for Marketing and Market Research, University of Zurich. He studies the adoption of AI-based voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home for marketing (voice marketing) and their effect on shopping behavior (voice commerce).


Alex worked as a global director of digital marketing and e-commerce (medical), brand manager (consumer goods; media tech) and startup CEO (digital health; social media). He teaches Digital Marketing and AI for marketing while he regularly serves as a guest speaker in business schools (e.g., SDA Bocconi, Uni Oxford, Northwestern Uni).


Alex supports the Marketing Group Zurich, a joint research initiative of three marketing chairs at UZH and ETH Zurich.

Thesis Supervision


Start of the thesis: February 2023; Application Deadline: December 10th. 


1. Voice assistant and social influence in the decision-making process

Individual and collective decisions are increasingly affected by digital consumer technologies powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Among these, in-home voice assistants (VAs) such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home is physically placed at the core of a consumer's domestic life, allowing for repeated, ongoing interactions that fulfill functional and social needs. While performing complex tasks with consumers, VAs become a more human-like exchange partner. In this context, the relationship between humans and VAs activates emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions usually found in human-to-human relationships. If people treat technological artifacts not only as a medium but also as a social actor, what happens when other humans are involved in the decision-making process? The objective of this thesis is to examine how the outcome of a decision-making process enabled by VAs differs when carried out by a single individual rather than with the involvement of other household members. Furthermore, this thesis explores how the effect changes when the VA is capable or not of agentic communication increasing the consumer's sense of human warmth and sociability.


The unit of analysis: consumer; methodology: descriptive and experimental research methods; type of work: theoretical and empirical.


2. Adoption of AI-based voice assistants in consumer goods companies

The rapid adoption of AI-based voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home introduces consumer heuristics likely to affect marketing practices. Voice-based technologies open up a full set of communication possibilities for managers, from custom voice apps to actionable audio ads. At the same time, the simultaneous growth of several voice platforms, the explosion of provider-specific business services, and the fast-changing supplier ecosystem produce mixed feelings in incumbent firms. Individual and collective sense-making guide the managerial decision on ‘if’ and ‘how’ to implement voice-based marketing initiatives. These strategic responses to the diffusion of AI-based voice assistants are likely to be affected by the manager’s beliefs and emotions toward the technology and its suppliers (Amazon, Google, Apple). This thesis explores managers’ perceptions and decisions toward adopting AI-based voice assistants in consumer-facing functions (marketing, sales, and service). This research aims at enabling managers to make unbiased strategic decisions in the context of consumer-oriented AI technologies.


The unit of analysis: manager; methodology: qualitative research methods; type of work: theoretical and empirical.


2022 Teaching

  • Personal Branding and Digital Marketing Bachelor
  • Digital Marketing Applications Master 

2022 Awards

2022 Stanley C. Hollander Award for Best Retailing Paper by the Academy of Marketing Science. News 

2022 Invited Guest Lectures 

  • SDA Bocconi, School of Management - Digital Communication (Executive; Online Program)
  • Northwestern University in Qatar - Digital, Social and Mobile Marketing (Bachelor)
  • SDA Bocconi, School of Management - Big Data and AI in Marketing Programme (Executive; Emeritus Online Program)
  • SDA Bocconi, School of Management - Digital Customer Experience (Executive; Online Program)
  • Säid Business School, University of Oxford - Oxford Platforms and Digital Disruption Programme (Executive; Esme Online Program) 
  • Bocconi Asia Center - Digital Marketing and Web Analytics (Master)

2022 Conference Presentations

  • Mari, A., Mandelli, A. & Algesheimer, R. (2022, June). FoMO in Platform Ecosystems: How Emotions Affect Complementor’s Strategic Adoption Decisions. Strategic Management Society (SMS) Special Conference. SDA Bocconi, Milan, Italy. 
  • Mari, A., Mandelli, A. & Algesheimer, R. (2022, June). Balancing Breadth and Depth in Platform Adoption Strategy: Exploring Voice Assistant Ecosystems. Strategic Management Society (SMS) Special Conference. SDA Bocconi, Milan, Italy. 
  • Mari, A., Mandelli, A. & Algesheimer, R. (2022, May). Shopping With Voice Assistants: How Empathy Affects Decision-Making Outcomes. Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference. Monterey Bay, California, US. 
  • Mari, A., Mandelli, A. & Algesheimer, R. (2022, May). AI-Driven Platform Ecosystems: How Emotions Affect Strategic Adoption Decisions. 2nd Annual Artificial Intelligence in Management (AIM) Conference. Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California US (remote).

Most Recent Publications

  • Mari A., Mandelli A. & Algesheimer R. (2023, forthcoming). Voice-based Digital Corporate Communication. In V. Luoma-aho & M. Badham (Eds.). Handbook of Digital corporate communication, Edward Elgar.
  • Mari A. (2022). Artificial Intelligence-based Voice Assistants as Social Media Platform: Anticipated Effect on Brands During Shopping. In Annual IMMAA Conference, Journal of Creative Industries and Cultural Studies.
  • Mari A. & Algesheimer R. (2021). AI-based Voice Assistants for Digital Marketing: Preparing for Voice Marketing and Commerce. In Contemporary issues in Digital Marketing, Routledge, UK.
  • Mari A. & Algesheimer, R. (2021). The Role of Trusting Beliefs in Voice Assistants during Voice Shopping. In Proceedings of the 54th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, pp. 4073 - 4082.
  • Mari A., Mandelli A. & Algesheimer R. (2020). The Evolution of Marketing in the Context of Voice Commerce: A Managerial Perspective. In: Nah FH., Siau K. (eds) HCI in Business, Government and Organizations. HCII 2020. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 12204. Springer, Cham.
  • Mari A. (2019). Voice Commerce: Understanding shopping-related voice assistants and their effect on brands. In IMMAA Annual Conference. Northwestern University in Qatar, Doha (Qatar).