Shelle M. Santana - Faculty & Research - Harvard Business School
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Shelle M. Santana

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Shelle Santana is an assistant professor of business administration in the Marketing Unit at Harvard Business School, where she teaches the Marketing course to first-year MBA students. Before pursuing her academic career, she held a variety of senior marketing roles at American Express Company, ultimately as head of U.S. corporate card marketing and global product strategy.

In one stream of research, Professor Santana explores how consumers respond to various pricing strategies in the marketplace. In one of her current projects, she examines how “drip pricing,” where sellers gradually reveal individual price components for a product or service, affects consumers’ current choices and future behavior intentions. In another, she shows how individual and contextual factors influence prices paid by consumers in pay-what-you-want settings. Professor Santana’s work has been published in the Journal of Retailing, and she co-authored “Consumer Financial Protection Legislation” in Regulating Wall Street: The Dodd-Frank Act and the New Architecture of Global Finance.

A second stream of research looks at consumers’ subjective value of money—or how people tend to spend and save differently depending on the type and form of currency that they are using. Currently, she is examining how consumers value credit card loyalty points relative to cash as a form of currency.

Professor Santana earned her Ph.D. and M.Phil. in marketing from the Stern School of Business at New York University. She holds an M.B.A. from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a B.S. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.


Cases and Teaching Materials
  1. Membership Rewards® from American Express

    Shelle Santana, Frances X. Frei and Lauren G. Pickle

    Credit and charge card issuer American Express (Amex) had developed a strong reputation among consumers due in part to its Membership Rewards (MR) loyalty program, first established in 1991. Through MR, all Amex cardholders could accumulate and redeem “points” based on how much they spent, while customers with Amex’s Gold and Platinum Cards received additional perks. By 2016, however, the U.S. credit card market had become increasingly competitive, with many credit card companies increasing their sign-on point bonuses for new customers. Chris Cracchiolo, Amex’s vice president of U.S. loyalty, strategy, and global partnerships, had to decide how to position the MR program in the face of this competition. Should Amex begin offering more competitive sign-on bonuses and point redemption rates, or would this dilute the company’s strong brand?

    Keywords: Credit Cards; financial services; customer loyalty; brands and branding; marketing strategy; Credit Cards; Marketing Strategy; Product Marketing; Brands and Branding; Customer Value and Value Chain; Value Creation; Financial Services Industry; Banking Industry; North America; United States;


    Santana, Shelle, Frances X. Frei, and Lauren G. Pickle. "Membership Rewards® from American Express." Harvard Business School Case 518-079, June 2018.  View Details
  2. Chase Sapphire: Creating a Millennial Cult Brand

    Shelle Santana, Jill Avery and Christine Snively

    The launch of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card was enthusiastically received by millennial consumers, a cohort that had previously eluded JPMorgan Chase and its competitors. With the one-year anniversary of the launch approaching, managers are focused on retaining customers attracted by a one-time signup bonus of 100,000 reward points and on acquiring new customers now that the bonus had been reduced to 50,000 points. They were also refocusing on the remainder of the Chase Sapphire product portfolio to assess differentiation among the products and to identify white space in the market that could support additional new product launches.

    Keywords: marketing; Brand & product management; brands and branding; marketing strategy; Product Strategy; New Product Development; financial services industry; credit card; customer acquisition; consumer behavior; customer relationship management; CRM; millennials; Marketing; Marketing Strategy; Brands and Branding; Product Development; Product Launch; Customer Relationship Management; Consumer Behavior; Demographics; Financial Services Industry; Service Industry; Banking Industry; United States; North America;


    Santana, Shelle, Jill Avery, and Christine Snively. "Chase Sapphire: Creating a Millennial Cult Brand." Harvard Business School Case 518-024, September 2017. (Revised November 2017.)  View Details
  3. Apple Pay

    Shelle Santana and Sunil Gupta

    Keywords: marketing; technology; digital services and strategy; product launch; launch; mobile; mobile payments; Apple; Credit Cards; finance; payments; smartphone; apple pay; eddy cue; jennifer bailey; iOS; iphone; Marketing; Product; Mobile Technology; Product Launch; Finance; Credit Cards; Wireless Technology; United States; United Kingdom;


    Santana, Shelle, and Sunil Gupta. "Apple Pay." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 517-038, September 2016.  View Details
  4. Apple Pay

    Sunil Gupta, Shelle Santana and Margaret L. Rodriguez

    On September 9, 2014, in front of a packed audience in Cupertino, CA, Tim Cook, the chief executive officer of Apple, announced the much anticipated launch of Apple Pay. "Our vision is to replace this [wallet] and we are going to start with payments." Cook then invited Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, to the stage to explain how Apple Pay would transform the mobile payments industry. He explained how Apple Pay would allow consumers to complete the check-out process within apps with a single touch, and without needing to repeatedly enter credit card information, the billing address, or shipping address.
    On October 20, 2014, U.S. consumers could start using Apple Pay in stores with their iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus (and later Apple Watch) and within apps using iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. By March 2015, Apple Pay was accepted in 700,000 retail locations including Coca-Cola vending machines. "We are the fastest adopted mobile payment service by a long shot," noted Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay. However, Cue and Bailey were aware that the landscape of mobile wallets and payment services was littered with failures. Reflecting on these challenges, Bailey wondered, "What should Apple do to continue the early momentum for the adoption and use of Apple Pay?"

    Keywords: marketing; technology; digital services and strategy; product launch; launch; mobile; mobile payments; Apple; Credit Cards; finance; payments; smartphone; apple pay; eddy cue; jennifer bailey; iOS; iphone; Marketing; Product; Mobile Technology; Product Launch; Finance; Credit Cards; Wireless Technology; Technology Industry; Banking Industry; United States; United Kingdom;


    Gupta, Sunil, Shelle Santana, and Margaret L. Rodriguez. "Apple Pay." Harvard Business School Case 516-027, August 2015. (Revised December 2016.)  View Details