Sanjay K. Dhar studies strategic marketing management, advanced marketing strategy, brand management, new product development, pricing strategy, promotion strategy, advertising strategy, product placement strategy, retail price advertising strategies, retail management best practices, consumer and retail sales promotions, trade promotions, private labels, category management, loyalty reward programs, EDLP pricing, assortment management, purchase incidence, and brand choice. His research has been selected as a finalist for the 2012 William O’Dell Award, which awards an article published in the Journal of Marketing Research in the last 5 years that has made the most significant long-term contribution to marketing theory, methodology, and/or practice, awarded the 2008 Paul Green Award which recognizes the best article published in the Journal of Marketing Research, the John D. C. Little Award in 1995 for the best paper in marketing published in an INFORMS journal and he was a runner-up for the Davidson Award in 2003 for the best paper published in the Journal of Retailing. Dhar has published articles in the Journal of Political Economy, Marketing Science, the Journal of Marketing Research, the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Retailing, Management Science, Marketing Letters, Quantitative Marketing and Economics, and Pricing Theory and Practice.
In 2010, Veritas Prep listed Dhar as one of 6 “Must Have” professors at Chicago Booth based on student input. In 2006, the Economic Times in India identified Dhar as one of twelve "Indians who have made a global impact on marketing research and thought." He received the 2012 Hillel Einhorn Teaching Award voted by executive MBA students in North America, the 2008 Hillel Einhorn Teaching Award voted by executive MBA students in Asia, the McKinsey Award for Teaching Excellence in 2000 awarded once every 2 years, was cited among the outstanding faculty in Business Week's Guide to Best Business Schools (McGraw-Hill, 1997, 1999, and 2001), and in 1994 he was awarded the Emory Williams Teaching Award by students for his outstanding teaching performance. "I stress the importance of learning fundamentals in my classes, which enables my students to address any marketing problem - no matter how complex - because they can apply the principles to dissect the problem."
Dhar received a bachelor's degree in technology (mechanical engineering) with honors from the Indian Institute of Technology of India in 1983. His MBA is from the Indian Institute of Management, India. He also worked in several management positions for Lipton India Limited, a subsidiary of Unilever. He then came to the United States, where he studied at the University of California in Los Angeles. He earned a PhD in management in 1992. He has been a Chicago Booth faculty member since 1992.
Dhar also has extensive industry based executive teaching and consulting experience and regularly advises firm on strategic marketing, pricing and new product development.
In addition to teaching and research, Dhar enjoys working with his two children and taking care of their several pets, as well as his three tropical fish aquariums.
2016 - 2017 Course Schedule
My family, basketball, tropical fish aquarium, and reading.
Advertising strategy; brand management; consumer promotion evaluation and planning (bonus buys versus in-store coupons, package coupons, free-standing insert (FSI) coupons, cross-ruff coupons); e-commerce strategy; marketing strategy; new product development, management and strategy; product placement strategy; retail management best practices (promotion and merchandise planning and evaluation, store formats, impact of private labels, efficient consumer response (ECR) initiatives, category management, efficient assortment management, loyalty reward programs, every day low pricing (EDLP); trade promotions.
With B. Bronnenberg and J.P. Dube, “Endogenous Sunk Costs and the Geographic Differences in the Market Structures of CPG Categories,” Quantitative Marketing and Economics (2011).
With Y. Wang, J.S. Raju and U. Subramanian, “The Competitive Consequences of Category Captain Arrangements,” Management Science (2010).
With S. Ramanathan, “The Effect of Sales Promotions on Size and Composition of the Shopping Basket: Regulatory Compatibility from Framing and Temporal Restrictions” (2010).
With B. Bronnenberg and J.P. Dube, “Brand History, Geography, and the Persistence of Brand Shares,” Journal of Political Economy (2009).
With A. Bonferer and P. Danaher, "The Effect of Competitive Advertising Interference on the Sales of Packaged Goods," Journal of Marketing Research (2008).
For a listing of research publications please visit
’s university library listing
Update: Brand Performance Across Store Formats: Beyond Walmart's Low Prices
We study whether certain types of brands are more likely to perform better at Walmart supercenters as compared to supermarkets. We correlate the variation in brand sales performance at these two store formats (over time and across markets) with marketing mix variables such as prices, promotions, assortments, and competition while controlling for market and time specific trends, and differences in consumers shopping at different formats. Based on data from four product categories in the Nielsen homescan panel, we consistently find that value brands perform better at Walmart supercenters, while premium brands perform better at supermarkets. We find substantial differences in assortments carried at Walmart supercenters and supermarkets. On average, assortment explains 30% of the variation in relative brand shares while prices and promotions explain 24% of the variation. Importantly, this pattern persists among consumers not loyal to either format i.e., who split their spending at ...
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Update: Food Purchases During the Great Recession
Using the Nielsen Homescan data, we describe what happened to household purchase behavior during the Great recession (Dec 2007-June 2009). Our specific objectives in this study are to understand how the recession impacted: households’ grocery spending in a broad cross-section of 31 food categories; prices paid and quantities bought by households in these categories; the types of outlets they made purchases in; the composition of the food basket in the choice of more expensive brands and less expensive brands and private label products; product volume purchased with retailer discounts and coupons; and, whether there were differences in these behaviors across different demographic groups. We find that during the recession, households purchased more in these food categories, and substituted to cheaper outlets and items sold on deal. However, contrary to expectations, we do not find evidence that the recession was the primary driver behind the increases in store brand share and coupon ...
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Update: Brand History, Geography, and the Persistence of Brand Shares
We study persistence in the geographic variation in market shares of branded goods in consumer packaged goods industries across 50 U.S. city-markets. We match scanner data on local market shares and survey data on local quality perceptions for the largest brands in 34 consumer packaged goods industries. These data are then matched with historic information on the year and US city-market in which each brand was first launched. We find that these consumer brands have persistently higher market shares in markets closest to their respective cities-of-origin than in markets farthest from their respective cities-of-origin, where they were typically launched later. For 6 of the 34 industries, we collected more complete historic entry data with which we can determine the local order of entry among the top brands in each of the 50 U.S. city-markets. We find a persistent effect from differences in the order-of-entry of competing brands on their current relative brand shares and quality ...
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New: The Optimal Choice of Promotion Vehicles: Front-Loaded or Rear-Loaded Incentives?
We examine the key factors that influence a firm's decision whether to use front-loaded or rear-loaded incentives. When using price packs, direct mail coupons, FSI coupons or peel-off coupons, consumers obtain an immediate benefit upon purchase or a front-loaded incentive. However, when buying products with in-pack coupons or products affiliated with loyalty programs, promotion incentives are obtained on the next purchase occasion or later, i.e., a rear-loaded incentive. Our analysis shows that the innate choice process of consumers in a market (variety-seeking or inertia) is an important determinant of the relative impact of front-loaded and rear-loaded promotions. While in both variety-seeking and inertial markets, the sales impact and the sales on discount are higher for front-loaded promotions than for rear-loaded promotions, from a profitability perspective, rear-loaded promotions may be better than front-loaded promotions. We show that in markets with high variety-seeking it is ...
REVISION: Competitive Consequences of Using a Category Captain
Many retailers designate one national brand manufacturer in each product category as a “category captain” to help manage the entire category. A category captain may perform demand-enhancing services such as better shelf arrangements, shelf-space management, and design and management of in-store displays. In this paper, we examine when and why a retailer may engage one manufacturer exclusively as a category captain to provide such service and the implications. We find that demand ...
Endogenous Sunk Costs and the Geographic Distribution of Brand Shares in Consumer Package Goods Indu
This paper describes industrial market structure in consumer package goods (CPG) industries using a unique database spanning 31 industries and the 50 largest US metropolitan markets. A general set of stylized facts is documented pertaining mainly to the geographic patterns in brand shares. A connection between the patterns and a model of endogenous sunk costs in advertising is established by testing several predictions of the theory. We establish that concentration is bounded below in ...
The Role of Retail Competition, Demographics and Account Retail Strategy as Drivers of Promotional S...
We study the determinants of sensitivity to the promotional activities of temporary price reductions, displays, and feature advertisements. Both the theoretical and empirical literatures on price promotions suggest that retailer competition and the demographic composition of the shopping population should be linked to response to temporary price cuts. However, datasets that span different market areas have not been used to study the role of retail competition in determining price sensitivity.