Olesia Nikulina

PhD researcher in visual storytelling

I combine my art background, consulting experience, and research passion to study how visual marketing affects consumer behavior

About me

I combine methods from computer science (e.g., image and text mining) with theories from psychology and marketing to study how image design elements affect consumer behavior and decision-makingMy systematic review of visual narrative transportation is currently under review in the Journal of Advertising; two more manuscripts are being finalized for submission to the Journal of Marketing Research and the Journal of Consumer ResearchBefore starting my PhD (joint project of UHasselt and Maastricht University), I worked as a consultant at EY, as an overseas marketing manager (MENA countries) at a large IT company, and as a research project manager (text mining for business schools impact) at Maastricht University SBE

But outside of work, I am also a:

PhD council member

Certified yoga teacher · YTT200

Twitter writer

About my research

My research explores how image design elements affect consumer behavior, with a special focus on social media images. I use computer vision to analyze various image design elements (e.g., color, composition, texture) and statistical analysis to build predictive models of consumer behavior. My research projects are aligned to create a theory-informed and data-driven visual theory of digital media

I have independently secured my doctoral research funding from the Research Foundation Flanders (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, FWO), Special Research Fund of the University of Hasselt (Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds, BOF), and other funding agencies

I am passionate about storytelling, branding, social media, visual marketing, and consumer psychology. Get in touch with me if you'd like to collaborate

About my teaching

I teach marketing and management courses, both in PBL (problem-based learning) and traditional lecture-based approaches. Students value course interactivity, my involvement, and continuous feedback. I am passionate about teaching Master's students and executives, especially using case studies, for which I was awarded Paul R. Lawrence Fellowship from Case Research Foundation 2023Currently, I'm completing University Teaching Qualification (UTQ) at Maastricht University with modules focused on course development, teaching delivery, student assessment, educational vision, and quality assurance

University teaching

Introduction to Business Management 2020-2023 · Hasselt University (Belgium)
Market Research Methodology 2020 · Hasselt University (Belgium)
Master's Theses Supervision (11 students in total, average grade: 8.4/10) 2019-2023 · Maastricht University, Hasselt University (the Netherlands & Belgium)

Extracurricular teaching

International Case Teams Coaching 2019-2023 · Hasselt University (Belgium), Higher School of Economics (Russia)
CBS Case Competition Global Ambassador 2021 · Copenhagen Business School (Denmark)
CV Workshop for Students 2022 · Hasselt University (Belgium)


Read the selected testimonials from my students below or check my LinkedIn page for more

completed research

Nikulina, O., Grewal, D., van Riel., A., Lemmink, J., Wetzels, M. "Narrate, Act, and Resonate to Tell a Story: Systematic Review of Visual Narrative Transportation". 2nd round revision in the Journal of AdvertisingThe systematic review focuses on visual storytelling through the lens of narrative transportation theory. It proposes the NAR framework of visual narrativity (narrate, act, and resonate) and specific visual features marketers can use to tell a compelling story. Future research directions for visually-driven studies are suggested

working papers

Nikulina, O., Grewal, D., van Riel., A., Lemmink, J., Wetzels, M. "Getting in Visual Touch with the Consumer: How Visual Texture Affects Engagement"Manuscript is being finalized for submission to the Journal of Marketing Research
The research focuses on how visual texture affects consumer behavior in digital settings. Using visual big data from 60 Instagram and Facebook brand pages, we identify marketing-relevant dimensions of visual texture and their effect on engagement. The findings are confirmed in a series of lab experiments

Nikulina, O., Grewal, D. "Does It Look Certain? Mining Visual Confidence to Predict Consumer Engagement"Data collected, literature review completed. Targeted outlet: the Journal of Consumer Research
The research focuses on visual confidence as a predictor of consumer behavior. First, we rely on art theory to propose visual features that can facilitate attitude confidence. Then, we test the effects of the proposed visual features on consumer behavior using visual big data from large social media platforms

conferences & invited talks

Throughout my consulting career, I've given more than 300 presentations and designed over 10 000 slides. I'm passionate about presenting and advocate for simplifying academic presentations

Conference talks

1American Academy of Advertising 2023, Denver, CO · Narrate, Act, and Resonate to Tell a Story: Systematic Review of Visual Narrative Transportation
2ACR 2022, Denver, CO · Visual Storytelling: How Images Transport Us Into the Narrative World
3AMA Winter Academic Conference 2022, Las Vegas, NV · Keep It Simple? Mining Social Media Images to Reveal the Optimal Visual Complexity Level
410th AIM-AMA Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium 2022, online
5Interactive Marketing Research Conference 2021, online · Visual Storytelling: How Images Transport Us Into the Narrative World
67th RME Research Conference 2020, online · A Road Through the Sustainability Assessment Jungle: Text Mining Social Media Communications of Business Schools

Invited talks

1Maastricht University SBE 2022 · Brown bag seminar "Visual Storytelling: How Images Transport Us Into the Narrative World"
2Maastricht University SBE 2023 · Guest lecture at Unstructured Data Analysis course (technical applications of image mining and their practical relevance)