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Niraj Dawar is a Professor in marketing at the Ivey Business School. He earned his PhD from Pennsylvania State University.
Niraj Dawar's research currently focuses on brand equity and brand management issues. His published papers on brand extensions, consumers use of brand and other signals as well as international consumer behaviour have appeared in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Marketing Letters, Journal of Business Research, the Journal of International Business Studies, and other outlets.
Niraj Dawar teaches PhD, MBA and undergraduate courses in marketing management and brand management, as well as in Executive Education programs. Prior to joining the Ivey Business School, he was Associate Professor of Marketing at INSEAD, France. He was also visiting scholar at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology during the fall of 1994 and 1995. During the Spring of 2000, he was the William Davidson Visiting Research Professor at the University of Michigan Business School. During the 2005-2006 academic year, he was Visiting Professor at INSEAD's Asia campus in Singapore.
- PhD, Penn State
- BCom, India
- PGDBM, India
Recent Refereed Articles
Whelan, J.; Dawar, N.,
2016, "Attributions of Blame Following a Product-Harm Crisis Depend on Consumers' Attachment Styles", Marketing Letters, June 27(2): 285 - 294.
Abstract: This research examines consumers’ attachment styles as a predictor of attributions of blame following a product-harm crisis. Though the interpersonal attachment literature suggests that consumers with the secure attachment style should attribute the least amount of blame to the brand, we introduce a novel and seemingly contradictory hypothesis. Because of the unique nature of brand relationships, we hypothesize that consumers with the fearful attachment style will attribute the least amount of blame to the brand. In an experiment, we find support for both hypotheses. Further, we find that these effects occur via different mechanisms. Whereas the secure attachment style decreases attributions of controllability, the fearful attachment style decreases attributions of stability. Though many relationship tendencies have been transferred from the interpersonal domain to the consumer domain, our findings remind researchers that brands are a distinct type of relationship partner.
Link(s) to publication:
Bagga, C.; Noseworthy, T. J.; Dawar, N.,
2016, "Asymmetric Consequences of Radical Innovations on Category Representations of Competing Brands", Journal of Consumer Psychology, January 26(1): 29 - 39.
Abstract: A cognitive level account of when and why radical innovations impact category representations of competing brands is developed and tested. The results suggest that competing brands are affected only when a dominant brand introduces a radical innovation that alters a core category attribute. Such an innovation leads consumers to see competing brands as less typical of the category with diminished evaluations. Crucially, neither core radical innovations introduced by a non-dominant brand nor equally radical innovations that alter peripheral (non-core) attributes have any impact on consumers’ perceptions of competing brands. Implications for consumer preference formation and competition in the context of radical innovation are drawn.
Link(s) to publication:
Dawar, N.; Bagga, C.,
2015, "A Better Way to Map Brand Strategy", Harvard Business Review, June 93(6): 90 - 97.
Abstract: Companies have long used perceptual mapping to understand how consumers perceive their brands relative to competitors’ and to find gaps in the marketplace and develop brand positions. But the business value of these maps is limited because they do not link a brand’s map position to market performance variables such as pricing and sales. In contrast, strategic tools such as the Boston Consulting Group matrix map brands on business measures such as market-share and market-growth rate, but do not map consumer perceptions of the marketplace. In this article, Niraj Dawar and Charan Bagga, present a novel type of brand map that captures brands’ relative position in the marketplace according to perceived centrality (how close they are to the core of category) and distinctiveness (how well they stand out from other brands). Where a brand falls on the C-D map has implications for sales, pricing, risk, and profitability. They show through an analysis of dozens of brands how this mapping can help firms determine a brand’s current and desired position, predict its marketplace performance, and devise and track marketing strategy and allocation.
Goedertier, F.; Dawar, N.; Geuens, M.; Weijters, B.,
2015, "Brand Typicality and Distant Novel Extension Acceptance: How Risk-Reduction Counters Low Category Fit", Journal of Business Research, January 68(1): 157 - 165.
Abstract: To increase consumer acceptance of novel products, firms often employ extension strategies, that is, launching new products under familiar brand names. Prototypical brands are among the most familiar in any product category, and, therefore, seem attractive candidates for extension efforts. But, by definition, prototypical brands and their product category show a strong association. Starting from a categorization theory perspective, prior research suggests that this association may hinder the extendibility of prototypical brands to products that belong to distant categories. Yet counter-intuitively, results from two studies focusing on novel extensions demonstrate that brand prototypicality increases rather than decreases consumer acceptance of novel extensions, in close as well as distant product categories. A mediation analysis provides evidence for the underlying mechanism by indicating that the risk-reducing advantage of prototypical brands outweighs their category-anchored rigidity.
Link(s) to publication:
Dawar, N.; Stornelli, J.,
2013, "Rebuilding the relationship between manufacturers and retailers", MIT Sloan Management Review, December 54(2): 83 - 90.
Abstract: In the perennial tug of war between manufacturers and retailers, retailers seem to be winning. But manufacturers can benefit by understanding what type of business model a retailer emphasizes and tailoring their approaches accordingly.
2013, "When Marketing is Strategy", Harvard Business Review, November 91(12): 100 - 105.
Abstract: In many industries today, upstream activitiessuch as sourcing, production, and logisticsare being commoditized or outsourced, while downstream activities aimed at reducing customers’ costs and risks are emerging as the drivers of value creation and sources of competitive advantage. Downstream activitiessuch as delivering a product or information for specific consumption circumstancesare increasingly the reason customers choose one brand over another, and are the basis for customer loyalty. They also now account for a large share of companies’ costs. Yet business strategy continues to be driven by the ghost of the Industrial Revolution, long after the factories that used to be the primary sources of competitive advantage have been shuttered and off-shored. Companies are still organized around their production and their products, success is measured in terms of units moved, and organizational hopes are pinned on product pipelines. Production-related activities are honed to maximize throughput, and managers who worship efficiency are promoted. Businesses know what it takes to make and move stuff. The problem is, so does everybody else. This article outlines how companies that shift downstream need to shed fundamental assumptions inherent to the upstream business model.
Lei, J.; Dawar, N.; Gurhan-Canli, Z.,
2012, "Base-Rate Information in Consumer Attributions of Product-Harm Crises", Journal of Marketing Research, June 49(3): 336 - 348.
Abstract: Consumers spontaneously construct attributions for negative events such as product-harm crises. Base-rate information influences these attributions. Our findings suggest that for brands with positive prior beliefs, a high (vs. low) base-rate of product-harm crises leads to less blame if the crisis is similar to others in the industry (referred to as the discounting effect). However, in the absence of similarity information, a low (vs. high) base-rate of crises leads to less blame toward the brand (referred to as the sub-typing effect). For brands with negative prior beliefs, the extent of blame attributed to the brand is unaffected by the base-rate and similarity information. Importantly, the same base-rate information may have a different effect on the attribution of a subsequent crisis depending on whether discounting or sub-typing occurred in the attribution of the first crisis. Consumers who discount a first crisis also tend to discount a second crisis for the same brand, whereas consumers who sub-type a first crisis are unlikely to sub-type again.
Link(s) to publication:
Muylle, S.; Dawar, N.; Rangarajan, D.,
2012, "B2B Brand Architecture", California Management Review, February 54(2): 58 - 71.
Abstract: Among B2B firms, conventional wisdom is that building brands makes sense only when a firm needs to reach large numbers of consumers simultaneously with a consistent and simple message. In B2B markets where smaller numbers of customers with more specialized knowledge and complex needs are to be served, managers tend to believe that personal selling trumps brand building. Success is thought to reside in the ability of firms to deliver on technical specifications to hard-nosed customers, through a well-defined selling process, in which brands have no role. We suggest that branding and personal selling should not be seen as substitutes, but rather as complements. Managers tend to underestimate how powerful brands can be in non-mass markets. Our goal in this article is to demonstrate how sound brand architecture for B2B firms is not just a means of differentiating from competitors, but also that it underpins customer relationships, and sustains trust with customers. This article is developed in two parts. In the first part, we highlight the risks customers perceive at each phase in the evolution of a B2B customer-seller relationship and explain how the design of a sound brand architecture by the seller can serve to mitigate the customers’ risks. In the next part of the article, we introduce general principles that B2B firms can apply to design brand architecture that reduces customer perceptions of risk.
Link(s) to publication:
Mark, T.; Niraj, R.; Dawar, N.,
2012, "Uncovering Customer Profitability Segments for Business Customers", Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing, February 19(1): 1 - 32.
Abstract: A central premise of relationship marketing theory is that economic benefits flow from retaining customers. However, the early research focus on the duration of the relationship may obscure other important aspects of the interaction with the customer that drive profitability. Borrowing from the branding literature, where different types of customer relationships have been described (but not empirically examined), we segment customers based on their buying behaviors over time and uncover several distinct patterns of profitability. To arrive at a refined measure of customer profitability, we allocate costs using Activity Based Costing. We then segment customers using a finite mixture model relating customer buying characteristics over time to profitability over a three year period. Our analysis yields six segments, each with its own unique relationship profile. We find that determinants of profitability vary across the six segments. Interestingly, in none of these segments does longer duration correlate with higher profitability. Our research provides insight into the importance of recognizing different types of buying patterns over time and their impact on profitability. This research also provides managers with a method to allocate resources across customer segments that are identifiable using readily available transactional data. Finally, we contribute to the segmentation literature by adapting and empirically validating buying behaviors as an appropriate basis for segmentation. Specifically, we build on prior research that uses buying behavior to micro-segment customer bases in industrial markets.
Link(s) to publication:
Dawar, N.; Lei, J.,
2009, "Brand Crises: The Roles of Brand Familiarity and Crisis Relevance in Determining the Impact on Brand Evaluations", Journal of Business Research, March 62(4): 509 - 516.
Abstract: Brand crises, defined as well-publicized claims of unsubstantiated or false brand propositions can do severe damage to brands. Yet, the damaging effects of brand crises may not always be uniform. In other words, the effects of crises may be subject to moderators such as the relevance of the crisis to the brand and brand familiarity. We propose a framework that helps us understand the effects of brand crises on consumers' brand evaluations. We test the hypotheses that crisis relevance interacts with familiarity in its effect on brand evaluations, and that this effect is mediated by perceptions of the seriousness of the crisis. Results from two experiments support these predictions.
Lei, J.; Dawar, N.; Lemmink, J.,
2008, "Negative Spillover in Brand Portfolios: Exploring the Antecedents of Asymmetric Effects", Journal of Marketing, May 72(3): 111 - 123.
Abstract: Marketers cultivate brand relatedness in their brand portfolios to increase marketing efficiency through positive spillover of brand equity. However, creating linkages between brands may also make them vulnerable to negative spillover. This research investigates the structure of relatedness in a brand portfolio to understand the nature of spillover effects. The results of two experiments show that the magnitude of spillover between brands is a function of not only the strength of brand associations but also their directionality. The results also show that the directional strength of association is influenced by the number and salience of associations linked to each brand. The authors draw implications for a theoretical understanding of spillover effects in marketing, as well as for the management of brand portfolios.
Klein, J.; Dawar, N.,
2004, "Corporate Social Responsibility and Consumers' Attributions and Brand Evaluations in a Product-Harm Crisis", International Journal of Research in Marketing, December 21(3): 203 - 217.
Abstract: A growing body of research on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in marketing has shown that (1) CSR plays a role in consumers' brand and product evaluations, over and above economic or rational' considerations such as product attributes and (2) CSR has a spillover or halo effect' on otherwise unrelated consumer judgments, such as the evaluation of new products. Yet CSR's halo on consumer behavior may extend beyond product evaluations, into non-routine types of judgments such as attributions. We examine the possibility that the CSR halo affects consumer's attributions in a product-harm crisis situation. In two studies that employ experimental manipulations of prior CSR on a sample of consumers, we examine whether attributions that are influenced by CSR mediate the impact of product-harm crises on consumers' brand evaluations. The results of Study 1 support the hypothesis. Study 2 introduces a boundary condition on the results of Study 1, showing that mediation effects are only found for consumers that are CSR-sensitive. The findings point to a role of CSR in consumer behavior that is more complex than previously conceptualized.
Dawar, N.; Vandenbosch, M. B.,
2004, "The seller's hidden advantage", MIT Sloan Management Review, December 45(2): 83 - 88.
Abstract: Sellers, unlike their customers, can see the forest for the trees in an industry. Drawing on examples from Hilti, Algorithmics, McCain Foods and others, the authors describe three strategies for putting that unique view to use and discuss how these strategies can be implemented.
2004, "What are brands good for?", MIT Sloan Management Review, September 46(1): 31 - 37.
Abstract: Brands are an indispensable part of modern business. That is true in large measure because of a brand's remarkable efficiency in "aggregating" consumers - reaching large numbers of people with a promise to deliver a clearly stated benefit that sets it apart from competitors. But the information revolution is undermining the logic of aggregation, the very source of brand power. In fact, it is becoming evident that in an information-rich environment, consumer disaggregation is vastly more efficient and profitable than aggregation. Using customized publications, e-mail, direct mail, Web sites and call centers that are based on a common platform of consumer information, companies are demonstrating that they can effectively and efficiently drive consumer behavior through two-way communications. Common underlying databases ensure that each interaction is personalized, regardless of the channel through which it occurs. And each interaction with the consumer builds the consumer database further, making future interactions even richer. The implications of the information revolution for the role of brands in business are far-reaching. Many of the strategic and tactical tasks entrusted to brands can now be performed better, less expensively and more profitably at the level of consumer segments. And companies' brand-centric structures are not suited to marketing initiatives that are based on reaching segments or individuals. Given this changed environment, the author calls on companies to rethink three core areas of brand management: the consumer relationship, the channel relationship and the organization of brand management. To support his case, he draws on detailed examples involving Kraft, Procter&Gamble and Tesco.
Vandenbosch, M. B.; Dawar, N.,
2002, "Beyond better products: Capturing value in customer interactions", MIT Sloan Management Review, June 43(4): 35 - 42.
Abstract: Why do customers choose to buy from a company rather than its competition? More than 1,500 senior executives were asked that question in interviews and group discussions. The executives agreed almost universally that offering great products, technologies or services is merely the entry stake into the competitive arena. Most spoke of the need to maintain an edge in the way their companies interact with customers. As the main drivers of customer choice, the executives cited cost-oriented factors. Strategies built around reducing customers' interaction costs and risk are strategies that offer a systematic way to tap into new sources of customer value while avoiding the often futile attempt to compete on product innovation. The study illustrates five different strategies that some companies are using to build a sustainable advantage through their approach to customers.
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