Areas of Study / Marketing > Stephen M. Ross School of Business PhD Program

The field of marketing focuses on the basic questions of how consumers make choices and how the companies that compete for the business of those consumers ought to design their marketing programs. Marketing scholars thus research hundreds of topics, from the role of emotions in consumer decisions to the sales response to sales promotions and pricing, the management of distribution channels, the creation and optimization of customer satisfaction and competitive marketing strategies.

Like the field itself, the marketing program at the Ross School of Business is extraordinary in its breadth. We accept only a few students each year, but our faculty is large and diverse.

Faculty research is both behavioral and quantitative, and neither a psychological nor a microeconomic/modeling paradigm dominates. Indeed, much of the work done here combines both approaches, and students are encouraged to draw on the strengths of relevant University departments as they develop their own interests. This ability to draw on world-leading scholarship in the basic disciplines—psychology, economics, and statistics, for example—from other University of Michigan Schools is one key differentiating factor of our program.

A sampling of faculty research projects would include work on consumer evaluation and choice, stereotype and attitude formation, information processing, emotion and consumer behavior, and measurement of consumer response to marketing elements like sales promotion and advertising. The School is one of the leading world centers for the study of consumer satisfaction. Faculty also work in the areas of new product development and market segmentation, distribution channel management, pricing decisions, competitive strategies and customer orientation in firms.


It’s rare to find something that immediately has an impact on business. But much of the work on customer satisfaction being done here is finding its way pretty fast to companies. For instance, you might believe in the beginning that companies should always maximize customer satisfaction, and yet, that need not be true. There may be a point of diminishing returns, and to maximize profitability, maybe you need to optimize and not maximize customer satisfaction.

Rajeev Batra, Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing