Happy Holidays – and all the issues that come with them

December 17, 2018

No matter what holiday – Christmas, winter solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year – is being celebrated, we all deal with thePhoto Credit: University of Southern California Libraries and California Historical Society. same situations: the focus on food, the focus on family, and the focus on shopping.

Whether it’s Christmas cookies or latkes or Chinese food and a movie, the holidays are about food. And it’s about seeing family members once-a-year and keeping the peace. Plus, we go shopping. 

For the holiday spirit, we have gathered USC experts to help with your last-minute holiday stories. Happy Holidays!

Contact: Jeremy Pepper, (213) 740-8606 or pepper@usc.edu

You don’t need to overeat during the holidays

“Overeating will be a part of this holiday season, as it is every season. It is a societal issue and affects the well-being of the people (as a group, and as an individual).

“From my research and experiments, I found that people will protect themselves from feeling guilty and will go to various lengths to overindulge. Whether it’s rationalization (exercised already today) or outsourcing responsibility (being served versus having others serve you), people will manage to go overboard during the holidays.

“Want to not fall into that path? Serve yourself during the holiday meals, as it keeps you more accountable and forces you to make healthier choices.”

Linda Hagen is an assistant professor of marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business. She conducts research on consumer behavior, where she is particularly interested in how consumers use various strategies to prevent feeling bad about their consumption decisions (for example, with respect to their eating choices).

Contact: Hagen can be reached at (734) 834-6340 or linda.hagen@marshall.usc.edu.

Think before you speak

“The holidays offer an opportunity in what might otherwise be a busy work period to break away from the usual everyday pressures.  Interaction with family and friends may inspire discussion of topics and perspectives which are a bit freer than one may find elsewhere, such as school or the workplace.

“In this politically and socially charged time we may be surprised at the perspectives our friends and relatives voice. Comments made by others may incite or inspire. We may be inclined to share points of view on people and issues we might not share elsewhere.

“It is important to be mindful of the repercussions. Think before you speak. That’s not to say you can’t say something, it’s whether what you have to say reflects good judgment. Is it good for the group? Are you looking to trigger a reaction, as siblings may have done years before? Or are you looking to have a positive experience around people you care about and who care about you?

“If good judgment and discretion can be used to bring people together, rather than to inflame differences and anger, the depth and meaning of the holiday time spent together will magnify. Intentional efforts to look each other in the eye, to listen respectfully, to reflect on the points of view of others, and to find common ground seem more valuable now than ever before.”

Thomas Lenz handles all aspects of labor and employment law issues and heads the traditional labor and National Labor Relations Board practices at Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo. He works with employers in all major industries across California and the West. Lenz currently serves as chair of the Labor and Employment Section for the State Bar of California, and is a lecturer at USC Gould.

Contact: Lenz can be reached at (562) 274-5755 or tlenz@aalrr.com or Gilien Silsby at (213) 740-9690 or gsilsby@law.usc.edu.

If sales are bad, expect big discounts post-holidays

“With the relatively strong economy and early occurrence of Thanksgiving this year, consumer spending on holiday items will likely be high. Although consumer confidence appears to have recently decreased slightly, the overall outlook appears reasonably optimistic.

“The potential of lower prices is not the only motivation for shopping online. Some customers value the convenience and potentially greater selection available. Another benefit is that stock-outs are less likely as fluctuations in demand that would happen at the store level tend to cancel out each other when a distribution center serves a large area and, by extension, a large number of customers.

“A large portion of the merchandise retailers have bought for holiday sales will decline dramatically in value after the holidays, further creating an incentive for retailers to heavily discount if sales run behind expectations.”

Lars Perner is an assistant professor of clinical marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business. Perner’s research interests focus in non-profit marketing, sponsored fundraising, consumer behavior, consumer price response, branding, and bargain hunting. He currently serves as a faculty coordinator for the Department of Marketing’s undergraduate introductory marketing course sections, which serve approximately 1,600 students every academic year.

Contact: Perner can be reached on his office phone at (213) 740-7127, on his mobile at (213) 304-1726 and by email at perner@marshall.usc.edu.