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Science award for master thesis at IMC Krems

Katharina Holland is a graduate of the master degree programme in Marketing at IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems. She was granted the Science Award 2021/22 of the Austrian Retail Association in the category “Master Thesis” for her scientific paper titled “VOICE COMMERCE IN AUSTRIA: an Analysis of Factors that Influence the Purchase Intention when Using Smart Speakers for Voice Shopping”.

Portrait von Katharina Holland

Katharina Holland was granted the Science Award 2021/22 of the Austrian Retail Association for her master thesis.

After graduating from BHAK St. Pölten, Katharina Holland, MA, completed a bachelor’s degree in Media and Communication Consulting on the subject “International Business with Foreign Languages and Culture”. Afterwards, she enrolled in the master degree programme in Marketing at IMC Krems and decided to focus on Retail & Shopper Marketing. Part-time jobs, internships and then her first permanent positions all focused on marketing. Since 2021, Katharina Holland has worked as a Client Success Manager at Smarter Ecommerce in Linz and is well anchored in the e-commerce industry.

She acquired the basic knowledge for her master thesis during her marketing studies at IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems. The Austrian Retail Association justifies the Science Award with the fact that “the paper was outstanding, has a high degree of relevance for the retail sector and was thus clearly stood out from the other submissions”. The prize is endowed with 1,000 euros.

Marketing programme with unique offers

The international environment and “above all English as the language of instruction as well as the diverse spectrum of courses – from storytelling to the creation of mobile apps” were decisive factors in choosing the master degree programme in Marketing at IMC Krems, says Katharina Holland. She is happy about her choice: “Another plus was the exciting specialisation in Retail & Shopper Marketing – this combination was not offered in any other master degree programme.” The specialisation was obvious from the start, as she had already developed a great interest in retail and e-commerce during her bachelor’s degree. “The specialisation thus covered my interests perfectly,” says Holland.

Holland has particularly positive memories of the practical exercises, especially the Capstone Project in the third semester, which involved working on a real market expansion for a company as a client: “It gave us the opportunity to combine theory and practice and establish initial customer contacts.” The international, dynamic environment was also very positive – on the part of the professors, but also in the study cohort. “I also particularly like the fact that you can network with the lecturers on LinkedIn and make contacts outside of your studies. That way you can put down roots in the industry,” adds the e-commerce expert.

Accordingly, Holland was able to take away a lot from the master degree programme, especially “sound knowledge across all marketing disciplines. Through the Capstone Project, we learned to create connections between different subjects and to apply them in practice. Even though I am now working in the e-commerce sector, I need a good overview of the entire marketing industry. It’s not enough to focus on just one area.” In addition, she has been able to pick up soft skill subjects like Acting & Performing, Negotiation Skills and others. “These are essential in my job as a client advisor,” she says.

Distinction through Science Award of Austrian Retail Association

The Austrian Retail Association recognised Katharina Holland with the Science Award 2021/22. For Holland, the award means two things above all: “Firstly, I have written a very good scientific paper at a high level and my knowledge of writing scientific papers has been confirmed. The many hours and efforts that went into the work have paid off twice over. Secondly, I chose a topic that is significant for the retail industry and can make companies aware that they need to be ready for new technologies and shopping opportunities.” However, the award means even more to her: in the future, she would very much like to work at a university of applied sciences as a part-time lecturer. “The award is a small step in this direction for me, as it allows me to show that I also have good scientific knowledge,” says Holland, aware of the plus points she has gained.

Her master thesis is about “voice commerce” or “voice shopping” – in other words, shopping with intelligent voice assistants such as Alexa or Google Home. In the USA, retailers already cooperate with smart speaker manufacturers such as Walmart or Google. They give consumers the opportunity to order a product via smart speaker and then pick it up on site. “The world is becoming increasingly fast-paced and interconnected. As a result, new technologies are used to shop and make consumers’ lives easier,” Holland explains. The jury decided that this topic is extremely relevant for Austria’s retail industry and therefore awarded the prize. “In the course of my work, I wanted to know whether Austrians would also be willing to shop via a smart speaker and if so, which factors influence the purchase decision,” adds the award winner. “I investigated my hypotheses with an online experiment. Participants listened to dialogues between a consumer and Alexa or watched a video of a smart speaker device with a display.” This showed that “voice shopping” still has plenty of development potential in Austria.

Combine theory and practice

Holland has a few tips for young people who consider studying marketing at IMC Krems: “It’s best to combine your studies with a job in the respective industry. In my opinion, marketing lives from practical experience and ‘learning by doing’. The content of the degree programme is a good, theoretical basis giving you a holistic overview of the marketing industry. However, to be able to put the theoretical knowledge into practice right away, I recommend combining study and practice!” Holland worked 20 to 30 hours as an online marketing manager during her studies and knows about the advantages of practical relevance.

Since October 2021, Holland has worked as a Client Success Manager at Smarter Ecommerce in Linz and is thus right in the middle of the e-commerce industry. Her task is to support large online shops and retail companies such as Billa, Intersport and others in performance marketing or SEA (Search Engine Advertising) with a focus on Google Ads – this includes text ads, banner ads, YouTube ads and the like. “We develop e-commerce strategies and offer special, automated solutions and products based on artificial intelligence for our customers and thus increase their performance in the e-commerce sector,” explains the award winner.

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