Five Questions With: Shannen Pavao

Shannen Pavao serves as research associate director for the Center for Marketing Research at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which recently announced a white paper series funded by BayCoast Bank on social media habits of Fortune 500 companies.

PBN: Please describe a bit about the Center for Marketing Research and its mission regarding economic development.

PAVAO: The Center for Marketing Research, directed by … Nora Ganim Barnes, is part of UMass Dartmouth’s web of distinctive centers committed to economic development. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020, the Center for Marketing Research has conducted nearly 400 projects for hundreds of clients in the region ranging from large, Fortune 500 companies to small, local nonprofits and anywhere in between.

The center prides itself on being a student-led research center, where young professionals gain real-world experience working with some of the biggest names in the region, offering services such as customer satisfaction studies, feasibility studies, focus groups and more.

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PBN: Tell me about your role in BayCoast Bank’s new white paper series.

PAVAO: The Center for Marketing Research has been on the forefront of social media studies for the past decade, with its two staple studies being comprehensive Inc. 500 and Fortune 500 reports released each academic year in the fall and spring semesters.

BayCoast Bank has always been incredibly supportive of the center, and with their recent sponsorship, I was able to develop a package where social media studies, generational studies and topical studies could come together and help businesses make better-informed decisions by understanding the direction in which some of our biggest influences are headed.

PBN: The first study released focused on Generation Z’s privacy concerns. What were the main findings?

PAVAO: Generation Z is estimated to comprise the largest segment of the U.S. population. This generation is also the first in which was entirely influenced by the internet. Born in 1997 and onward, years after the dot-com burst, a world without the internet is only but a thought to them. Because of their level of familiarity with the internet and corresponding technology, Gen Z has been exposed to privacy concerns from a younger age than did their predecessors, making privacy a more pertinent topic among this cohort.

While Generation Z seems to be aware and moderately troubled by the many privacy concerns associated with the tech-immersed world they live in, it does not seem to impact the adoption of the various technologies available to them today. In fact, it seems that Gen Z would rather have access to these connections and assume any risks they may carry than to subject themselves to the inconveniences of not having them.

PBN: Was there anything in the study that surprised you?

PAVAO: Generation Z, as a whole, seems to be unfazed by the dangers associated with the ever-growing tech world we live in, yet [is] more influenced than generations before them. As noted in the study, 78% of Gen Z uses at least one mobile payment app, yet more than half of respondents indicated they were very concerned about privacy when using mobile payment services and online banking.

Because the majority of Gen Z and their friends are using mobile payment services, it is no surprise that the second-most common reason Generation Zs use these apps is because it became inconvenient not to have them. It seems to be a trend among Gen Zs that convenience is valued more than privacy concerns in regard to mobile payment services and beyond.

PBN: What are some future areas of study the center is planning to pursue?

PAVAO: The center is focused on studying Generation Z on a variety of different topics in the future, including financial literacy and consumer misbehavior. The uniqueness of this generation makes them an interesting group to dissect as they transition from students to the latest generation in the workforce with unbound purchasing power.

Understanding the largest generation in the U.S. holds major implications to where the country is headed, and the center is dedicated to providing research that is relevant and topical in the business world.

Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at