Sawyer Business School Opens First-of-its-kind Marketing Lab

New facility gives students cutting-edge tools to understand customer behavior
Professor Mujde Yuksel with her X-Lab assistants
Professor Müjde Yuksel flanked by her X-Lab Squad, graduate and undergraduate students who will assist in research and lab operations. Pictured: Dahlia Bryan, Alan Victor Fernando, Sofia Sanchez-Erazo, Yuksel, Nathaniel Edward Weaver, and Saleel Jayant Churi.

"What are they thinking?"

Marketing students at Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School have a powerful new way to help understand how customers make decisions: the recently opened X-Lab.

It’s the first human behavior facility in Massachusetts to be integrated into a business school curriculum while also advancing academic research.

The on-campus space, featuring Boston-based iMotions’ leading biosensor research platform, will provide graduate students with unique opportunities to study and analyze consumer experiences using tools and technologies that are becoming increasingly important to business success.

iMotions’ multimodal technology measures eye metrics, facial expressions, and electrodermal activity (aka finger sweat). As a participant looks at a picture or watches a video, a computer integrates their bio-measurements to provide more objective insights into a person’s responses to, say, a Superbowl ad or a package design.

“The X-Lab will not only equip Suffolk students with a front-line technique for user-experience analysis, but also provide additional research opportunities for Suffolk faculty in the ever-growing field of behavioral research,” said Sawyer Business School Dean Amy Zeng at the lab’s opening. It will also give students additional ways to be workforce ready: UX design ranks No. 14 on CNNMoney/PayScale list of the top 100 Best Jobs in America.

Or as Peter Hartzbech, founder and CEO of iMotions, said in his remarks, “Companies are screaming for this kind of knowledge.”

iMotions equipment

Learn More About the New X-Lab

Transcript 0:05 Welcome all to this celebration to  acknowledge the opening of our brand  

0:11 new lab, the X-Lab. This past June,  we signed a contract with iMotions,  

0:16 so a powerful and impactful partnership started. At Sawyer Business School, our educational  

0:24 approach is centered immersive learning. We  strive to provide real world scenarios and  

0:32 an engaging opportunity and environment to allow  our students to learn by doing and by discovery.

0:40 That's a big part of iMotions DNA. That is right  here in Boston. That's the funny part. It took  

0:45 us five minutes to walk from our downtown office  with 60 people down here. So we are very close,  

0:51 and then it's going to keep very  close to you guys in the future,  

0:54 it's not only going to be used for a lot  of research, but it's also going to be integrated  

0:59 into the curriculum. The only business school  we have seen doing that in all of Massachusetts,  

1:05 congratulations to you guys for being the  pioneers and the first movers in that.

1:10 And they came up with a lab assistant position  and she was able to hire four step students for  

1:15 this project. So needless to say, tech support  is very, very excited to support the teaching  

1:21 and learning mission of Suffolk University  and obviously initiatives like the X-Lab.

1:28 We are very, very grateful for this  opportunity for our faculty to engage  

1:33 with these new research opportunities, but we  are also very, very grateful for our students.  

1:39 We have started our lab sessions last week  and had an amazing hour with the students,  

1:46 getting to learn this specific software,  and adding up to their competencies.

1:54 As a first-generation student, opportunities  like this are life-changing and provide me  

1:59 with the chance to learn about how the  business industry is evolving into a  

2:02 more technological world. Neuromarketing brings  psychology, science, and marketing all into one, 

2:07 something that I've been interested in for a while  now. As a student here at Suffolk University,  

2:12 the opportunities are endless. Suffolk is  the best decision I've made in my life.  

2:16 I'm very grateful to have the chance  to learn from Professor Yuksel and to  

2:22 put what we learn in the classroom to  work here in the lab. With the X-Lab,  

2:25 I can take the skill sets that I've learned in  class as well as my work, assisting in studies  

2:30 into the workforce. The world is changing, the  future is near, and I'm excited to be part of it.

Plumbing the Unconscious

X-Lab will be used in a STEM-designated Master of Science in Marketing program (MSM) led by Professor Müjde Yuksel, a consumer behavior researcher who examines digital consumption. The course will focus on understanding the influences, emotions, and reasoning that occur in consumers’ nonconscious brains and how that can be used to improve customer experiences.

“Great marketing necessitates understanding the human condition on a deeper level, beyond just what people can tell or show you,” Yuksel said. “With X-Lab, we’re preparing the next generation of marketers and market researchers to look at the driving influences and emotions behind consumers’ decisions and actions.”

Hartzbech praised the Business School for developing a curriculum that provides students with access to tools, technologies, and information that will be central to success in business. “It’s no longer enough for marketers to know what decisions consumers made; they need to understand why those decisions were made—the reasoning, influences, and motivations behind behavior that ultimately can unlock greater success,” he said.

Also in attendance at the opening were Suffolk President Marisa Kelly, Suffolk Provost Julie Sandell, members of Suffolk’s Information Technology Services team, who were instrumental in supporting the X-Lab from its inception, and members of Suffolk in the Hub, the University’s student-run marketing agency, which designed many of the X-Lab’s marketing materials.

Other images from the X-Lab Opening


Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs

Ben Hall
Office of Public Affairs