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Rethinking Marketing: Pradeep Chintagunta

Pradeep Chintagunta

Pradeep Chintagunta
University of Chicago

How would research in the quantitative area be affected if we took a “better-world” perspective? The “Three Cs” is a framework we can use to think about this issue: 1) Context, 2) Counterfactuals, and 3) Corporate actions. 

First, context entails leveraging existing research in marketing and applying it to develop knowledge in a new context. For example, prior work has examined the impact of customer referrals as a marketing tactic, investigating the effect of conditional or unconditional incentives. Translating this into a question with “better world” implications, we studied treating patients with tuberculosis (TB) in India. It is very expensive to detect new cases of TB because the health care system is not set up to do this, but because someone with TB is able to recognize the symptoms in others, we found that it was more efficient to leverage the existing patient base to identify new patients. 

Second, counterfactuals entails applying the tools of structural modeling to an outcome pertaining to consumer or societal welfare. For example, in recent work Kim, Ishihara, and Singh studied the Donorschoose platform, which allows teachers to crowdsource donations for classroom supplies. The platform experienced a huge uptake in adoption following the recession, and the authors used counterfactuals to quantify the relative influence of budget cuts separately from peer effects. 


Finally, corporate actions can be leveraged to assess better-world outcomes. For example, when CVS stops selling tobacco, we can examine the impact of these actions. From a consumer perspective, how much does it lower smoking? From a firm perspective, what is the advertising effect? Do nonsmokers demonstrate increased interest in the chain?

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Pradeep Chintagunta is Joseph T. and Bernice S. Lewis Distinguished Service Professor of Marketing, University of Chicago, USA.