Chris Manolis decided early in life, growing up in a small family distribution business in the San Francisco Bay area, that, really, he’d pass on studying business. He already had an education in that world.
“In a small, family-owned business, you do everything,” he says. “The last thing I wanted to do was business, so I went to school as a psychology undergrad at UCLA.” It turns out, though, that even with a degree in psychology, he couldn’t get business out of his mind. “After hanging out and relaxing after graduation, a buddy of mine convinced me to get my MBA. He said it was a good degree to have.”
So Manolis enrolled at San Francisco State University, and while working on a research project on store image with one of his marketing professors, he stumbled upon a defining moment: There was a need for people who could mix business and psychology. It was known as consumer behavior.
“I saw this marketing we were researching in the real world and applied it to psychology,” he says. “Consumer behavior draws traditional businesspeople, social scientists, anthropologists and psychologists. It’s all about behavior.”
The dual degrees, along with a PhD from the University of Kentucky, landed him a job as associate professor of marketing at Xavier and co-researcher of a study on the psychology of shopaholics—compulsive buyers who were once pigeonholed as an extreme negative behavior.
“There’s the guilt factor within compulsive buying, there’s dysfunctional spending and there’s money. The scale we used to measure focused on three components, suggesting that shopaholics be placed on a continuum scale, rather than an either-or extreme.”
It’s knowledge he now takes to his students. “I ask them, ‘When are you not a consumer?’ The answer is never.”