Leveraging Consumer Insights to Innovate Experiences in a Pandemic

Recorded On: 12/07/2020


Melissa Archpru Akaka, PhD,  Daniels College of Business | University of Denver
Julie Fossitt, City of Kingston
Cristin Cornell Tarr, Teaching Assistant Professor, University of Denver; CEO, BSC Group

About this Session

The global spread COVID-19 has changed the way consumers live. From work, to school, to daily lives – regular routines, rituals and relationships have been disrupted. Consumers are forced to change the way they make decisions and how they behave. What are the implications of these changes for the Arts community? Marketers need to rethink events like performances and places like museums to create safe, but memorable experiences. Co-directors of the University of Denver’s Consumer Insights and Business Innovation Center, Melissa Akaka and Ali Besharat, talk about the short-term and long-term implications of these changes and what marketers need to consider to strengthen their brands and maintain their community engagement during these uncertain and rapidly changing times.    

Learning Objectives
  • Describe the changing consumer landscape in the COVID-19 pandemic and potential short- and long-term consequences on consumer behaviors.
  • Identify different research methods for leveraging consumer insights with limited budgets and developing innovative experiences in a rapidly changing world.


This session is a part of the 2020 National Arts Marketing Project Conference.

Julie Fossitt

Manager, Cultural Marketing

City of Kingston

Currently living on the traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Peoples, Julie is a passionate advocate for access to arts, culture and heritage for everyone. She has held marketing positions at the National Arts Centre, the Victoria Symphony and the City of Kingston. In 2015 Julie was awarded the John Hobday Award in Arts Management by the Canada Council for the Arts and in 2016 she earned both her Certificate in Cultural Planning from the University of British Columbia and her Masters Certificate in Marketing Communications Leadership from the Schulich School of Business. In 2019, she completed the Cultural Leadership Program at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Julie is also a part-time professor of Marketing Research and Analytics at St. Lawrence College. You can find out more about Julie on social media @juliefossitt and at JulieFossitt.ca



Melissa Archpru Akaka, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Marketing|Co-Director, Consumer Insights and Business Innovation Center|Academic Director, Project X-ITE, Elizabeth and Ali Machado Faculty Fellow, Daniels College of Business | University of Denver

Melissa Archpru Akaka is Associate Professor of Marketing at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. She is a Co-Director of the Consumer Insights and Business Innovation Center and the Faculty Advisor for Entrepreneurship @ DU. She teaches courses that focus on marketing research, qualitative research methods, and leveraging consumer insights to support innovation. Dr. Akaka’s research investigates how consumption experiences, journeys and collectives create value for both firms and consumers and explores the social drivers and consequences of innovation. Her scholarly work has been published in a variety of academic journals, including the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science and the Journal of Service Research, and has been recognized for being “highly cited” (in the top 1%) by Thompson and Reuters.

Cristin Cornell Tarr

Teaching Assistant Professor at the University of Denver; CEO at BSC Group

University of Denver & BSC Group

Cristin Cornell Tarr is a teaching assistant professor at the Universty of Denver in the marketing department and a founder and CEO at BSC Group. BSC assists organizations with brand management strategies and high-impact community engagement programs. Its client portfolio includes—but is not limited to—financial, education, construction, health care, tourism, and nonprofit organizations. 

Prior to BSC Group, Tarr was on staff at the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. She was instrumental in building multisector collaborations to promote tourism in the South Denver region, where she launched the brand “Best Trails,” nominated for top tourism initiative in Colorado. Tarr founded and led the nonprofit business partnership committee at the chamber. She has worked with multiple for profit organization from large multi-million dollar companies on brand development and community engagement; to smaller nonprofits in the areas of arts, culture and community development and education.

Cristin is a founder and past president of CISV Denver an international education nonprofit promoting global citizenship and a member of B:Civic and serves on the Leadership Council for The Posner Center for international development.  She is also strategic advisor to a Washington D.C based global management consulting company promoting ethical leadership, economic prosperity & social good.

Tarr completed an Executive Certificate in Global Corporate Social Responsibility from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a Certification Program in Effective Facilitation and received an executive MBA University of Denver Daniels College of Business.   

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Leveraging Consumer Insights to Innovate Experiences in a Pandemic
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