Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2008

Allocating Marketing Resources

by Sunil Gupta and Thomas J. Steenburgh


Marketing is essential for the organic growth of a company. Not surprisingly, firms spend billions of dollars on marketing. Given these large investments, marketing managers have the responsibility to optimally allocate these resources and demonstrate that these investments generate appropriate returns for the firm. In this chapter we highlight a two-stage process for marketing resource allocation. In stage one, a model of demand is estimated. This model empirically assesses the impact of marketing actions on consumer demand of a company's product. In stage two, estimates from the demand model are used as input in an optimization model that attempts to maximize profits. This stage takes into account costs as well as firm's objectives and constraints (e.g., minimum market share requirement). Over the last several decades, marketing researchers and practitioners have adopted various methods and approaches that explicitly or implicitly follow these two stages. We have categorized these approaches into a 3x3 matrix, which suggests three different approaches for stage-one demand estimation (decision calculus, experiments and econometric methods), and three different methods for stage-two economic impact analysis (descriptive, what-if and formal optimization approach). We discuss pros and cons of these approaches and illustrate them through applications and case studies.

Keywords: Investment Return; Resource Allocation; Marketing; Demand and Consumers; Mathematical Methods;


Gupta, Sunil, and Thomas J. Steenburgh. "Allocating Marketing Resources." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 08-069, February 2008.