Profiles from the Academy: Sarang Sunder

Matt Weingarden, Curator
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Sarang Sunder, Texas Christian University
Key Takeaways

​​Sarang Sunder received the 2015 John A. Howard/AMA Doctoral Dissertation Award for his dissertation, Measuring the Lifetime Value of a Customer in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Industry.

​Sarang Sunder is currently an Assistant Professor at Texas Christian University. His dissertation, Measuring the Lifetime Value of a Customer in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Industry, received the 2015 John A. Howard/AMA Doctoral Dissertation Award. Professor Sunder is originally from Chennai in Tamilnadu, India. After meeting V. Kumar (VK) at the University of Connecticut, he would eventually enroll as a Masters student at Georgia State University and earn a PhD under the guidance of Professor Kumar. 

What attracted you to marketing as a discipline of study?

My interest in the marketing discipline began when I was a research assistant for VK at the University of Connecticut. I was fascinated by how one could use state-of-the-art research methodologies to predict and understand how consumers made decisions! The more I studied, the more fascinating the discipline became, especially with the application empirics to marketing.

Has there been a key person in your career thus far?

VK. I consider myself very fortunate that I had a great mentor during my PhD student life. VK has been instrumental in my career at a professional and personal level. He took me under his wing when I was a Masters student and mentored me throughout the PhD program. Whether it be in the framing of research problems, the scientific method, positioning of research papers or simply preparing for the job market, VK’s guidance and support has been critical. ​

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What are three key ‘take-away’ points that marketers and business people could learn/apply from your Howard Award-winning research​​?

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is very applicable to the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. This study enables CPG managers to get a long-term view of the customer, the first step toward customer centricity in the CPG setting. 

  • We provide a novel framework to model CLV by explicitly addressing major modeling challenges such as multiple discreteness and heavy brand switching. The modeling framework also allows for managers to have a deeper understanding of the household budget constraint and its relationship to CLV.

  • The results show that customers are very different depending on their CLV and CPG firms need to pay attention to the distribution of CLV when devising marketing strategies.

How would you describe the transition from PhD Student to Faculty Member?

Other than the fact that students now refer to me as “Professor”, I wouldn’t say there were too many surprises. I think I am still getting used to that one!

I think there are more responsibilities from a research, teaching and service standpoint. As responsibilities grow, the less time you have. I think it is important to plan well and allocate your time efficiently. This is something I am still learning. 

What about you surprises new students and colleagues?

Some people think I'm too energetic, and sometimes theatrical, especially I present to an audience.

Coffee or Tea? And how do you take it?

Coffee. My favorite is the South Indian filter coffee (with Milk and Sugar)

Author Bio:

Matt Weingarden, Curator
Matt Weingarden serves as AMA's Community Content, Senior Manager
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 About the Howard Award


The American Marketing Association (AMA) began recognizing excellent dissertations in 1960 by inviting top candidates to present their papers at the annual Marketing Educators' Conference.  In 1967, the process was formalized with the establishment of the Doctoral Dissertation Awards.  Since that time, AMA has continued to annually invite all candidates to submit their dissertations to the competition.

Past Recipients of the Award


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