Faculty & Research

Sanjay Dhar

Sanjay K. Dhar

James H. Lorie Professor of Marketing

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 2017 Faculty Excellence Teaching Award voted by Evening and Weekend MBA students, 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.


2020 - 2021 Course Schedule

Number Title Quarter
37000 Marketing Strategy 2021  (Summer)
37800 Marketing Management 2021  (Winter)
37800 Marketing Management 2021  (Spring)

Other Interests

My family, basketball, tropical fish aquarium, and reading.


Research Activities

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 the university library listing page.

REVISION: Marketing Mix Response Across Retail Formats - The Role of Shopping Trip Types
Date Posted: Dec  04, 2020
We study differences in the effects of prices, non-price promotions, and brand line length on brand shares at different retail formats. Our conceptual framework rests on the presence of trip level fixed and category level variable utility components and shows how the trade-off between these components results in (i) different formats visited on different types of shopping trips; and (ii) differential marginal sensitivities of brand shares to changes in marketing mix variables across trip types. Together, these provide predictions on how marketing mix variables differentially impact brand shares at various retail formats. We use Nielsen Homescan and store level data from 2011-2014 and analyze the top ten spending product categories across four retail formats - convenience stores, drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchandisers, in over 200 Nielsen markets. We then describe how our findings linking the effects of marketing mix variables with different retail formats has implications ...

REVISION: Income and Wealth Effects on Consumer Packaged Goods Purchases
Date Posted: Mar  03, 2020
When economic cycles cause changes in household income and wealth, consumers change their budget allocations across store formats, product categories, and brands. Using Nielsen Homescan data for the years 2004 to 2014, we investigate the impact of income and wealth changes on households' budget allocations to (i) alternative store formats; (ii) food and non-food categories; and (iii) private labels and national brands. Since budgets can be reallocated across formats, categories and brands simultaneously, we measure the causal effects on the "joint' (e.g., grocery store - food - national brand budget shares) budget allocations of households. This allows us to decompose income and wealth effects on the "marginal' (e.g., grocery store) shares, which previous literature has focused on, into those on its joint components (e.g., grocery - food - national brand, grocery - food - private label, etc.). This joint analysis reveals situations in which managers of a specific brand-type in a ...

New: The Effect of the WIC Program on Consumption Patterns in the Cereal Category
Date Posted: Nov  12, 2019
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federally-funded food assistance program for low income participants who are at nutritional risk. Beneficiaries receive vouchers for specific foods and brands, selected for their nutritional value. While the program is designed to improve nutrition, it may also induce changes in consumption behavior that persist beyond participation in the program. In this paper, we study how participation in WIC impacts the consumption patterns and preferences during and after the program. Our analysis focuses on the cereal category, in which the subsidized brands must meet certain nutritional guidelines. As expected, during the program households increase cereal consumption volume and shift their choices towards the WIC-approved brands. More interesting is that once households exit the program, the higher category consumption rate and elevated share of WIC brands persist. To understand the behavioral mechanism ...

REVISION: Point-of-Sale Marketing Mix and Brand Performance - The Moderating Role of Retail Format and Brand Type
Date Posted: Feb  21, 2018
In this paper, we study the role of point-of-sale (POS) marketing mix variables in explaining variation in brand shares (i) at different retail formats, and (ii) across national and store brands in different price tiers. Stores in different retail formats differ in their positioning, the clientele they attract, and types of shopping trips made to the store. Further, national and store brands in different price tiers differ in the quality perception, and the contracts between the retailer and the manufacturer. Together, this implies that POS variables may influence brand shares very differently in different retail formats and for different brand types, which has important implications for retailers and manufacturers. We use Nielsen store level data from 2011-2014 and analyze the top ten spending product categories spreading across four product departments - dry grocery, non-food grocery, dairy and frozen, and across four retail formats - convenience stores, drug stores, supermarkets ...

Update: Food Purchases During the Great Recession
Date Posted: Aug  28, 2016
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
Date Posted: Aug  21, 2016
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?
Date Posted: Jan  21, 2015
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
Date Posted: Sep  28, 2011
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
Date Posted: Jan  20, 2005
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...
Date Posted: Nov  28, 2003
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.