News > 2022 > Sarah Cosby wins the 2021 Award for the Best Master’s Thesis

Sarah Cosby wins the 2021 Award for the Best Master’s Thesis

June 7, 2022

Sarah Cosby, a graduate of the Master of Science (MSc) – Marketing program, has received the 2021 Award for the Best Master’s Thesis from HEC Montréal for The impact of online product and service picture characteristics on consumers’ perceptions and intentions, co-directed by Professors Pierre-Majorique Léger and Sylvain Sénécal.

The jury was particularly impressed by her high-quality methodology, her ability to communicate her ideas clearly and her relevant and counter-intuitive results, which encourage the publication of her findings.


The impact of pictures

Given the infinite number of images of goods and services shared and found online, the goal of her thesis was to better understand why some pictures have a more positive impact on consumers’ emotions, perceptions and purchase intentions.

She evaluated 3 characteristics for this purpose:

  • Level of staging
  • Perception of social presence
  • Source of the picture
Sarah Cosby, lauréate du Prix du meilleur mémoire 2021


Substantial benefits

Her study contributes to advancing research in user experience and electronic marketing, as it found that implicit social presence in a picture has just as much impact on consumers’ intentions as humans in the photo.

The findings suggest a profitable and very persuasive way for companies to communicate and visually promote their goods and services online to their target markets. They are also applicable to many other industries.

In addition to presenting her research at a public lecture at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, she also received extensive media coverage, in particular on The Conversation website. Her article entitled “Ce je-ne-sais-quoi qui fait rêver dans les photos de voyage enfin expliqué” has been viewed online nearly 15,000 times and covered in such Quebec media as Le Soleil and Le Nouvelliste. She has also given several interviews to local media.

The scientific article based on her thesis is being finalized for submission to the Journal of Interactive Marketing. Her research also earned her a position as Consultant, UX Designer with Deloitte Digital.

Congratulations to Sarah Cosby and to the 12 other finalists of the Best Thesis Award 2021 for their excellent work.

First name
Last name
Gilles-Eliot Bankolé Sciences des données et analytique d'affaires
Dina Bellahnid Management
Fran Delhoume Développement organisationnel
Amélie Fontaine Expérience utilisateur
William Gallego Finance
Pierre-Luc Gilbert Économie financière appliquée
Marie-Eugénie Lamarre Affaires internationales
Cassandre Lauzon Économie appliquée
Noémie Marleau Gestion de l'innovation sociale
Ali Muffak Business Analytics
Mélissa Novou Transformation numérique des organisations
Stéphane Stril Stratégie

Read the article published in The Conversation (in French)

Learn more about the maîtrise en gestion (M. Sc.) – marketing (in French)