You are here


Essays in consumer choice driven assortment planning

Denis Saure, 2011
Faculty Advisor: Assaf Zeevi


Product assortment selection is among the most critical decisions facing retailers: product variety and relevance is a fundamental driver of consumers' purchase decisions and ultimately of a retailer's profitability. In the last couple of decades an increasing number of firms have gained the ability to frequently revisit their assortment decisions during a selling season. In addition, the development and consolidation of online retailing have introduced new levels of operational flexibility, and cheap access to detailed transactional information.

These new operational features present the retailer with both benefits and challenges. The ability to revisit the assortment decision frequently over time allows the retailer to introduce and test new products during the selling season, and adjust on the fly to unexpected changes in consumer preferences, and use customer profile information to customize (in real time) online shopping experience.

Our main objective in this thesis is to formulate and solve assortment optimization models addressing the challenges present in modern retail environments. We begin by analyzing the role of the assortment decision in balancing information collection and revenue maximization, when consumer preferences are initially unknown. By considering utility maximizing consumers, we establish fundamental limits on the performance of any assortment policy whose aim is to maximize long run revenues. In addition, we propose adaptive assortment policies that attain such performance limits. Our results highlight salient features of this dynamic assortment problem that distinguish it from similar problems of sequential decision making under model uncertainty.

Next, we extend the analysis to the case when additional consumer profile information is available; our primary motivation here is the emerging area of online advertisement. As in the previous setup, we identify fundamental performance limits and propose adaptive policies attaining these limits.

Finally, we focus on the effects of competition and consumers' access to information on assortment strategies. In particular, we study competition among retailers when they have access to commonproducts, i.e., products that are available to the competition, and where consumers have full information about the retailers' offerings. Our results shed light on equilibrium properties in such settings and the effect common products have on this behavior.

Download Dissertation

Application Deadlines

Master of Science in Marketing >

For Fall 2016 Entry:

Available: August 1st, 2015
Deadline: January 4th, 2016


Master of Science in Financial Economics >

For Fall 2016 Entry:

Available: August 1st, 2015
Deadline: January 4th, 2016


Master of Science in Management Science and Engineering >

For Fall 2016 Entry:
To be determined


Available 8/1/15
Sept 2016

Deadline: 01/05/16

MS Marketing
Deadline: 01/04/16

MS Financial Economics
Deadline: 01/04/16


Doctoral Program News

Young Alumni Balseiro wins George B. Dantzig Dissertation Award

At the 2014 Informs national meeting, Santiago Balseiro was honored for his work in "Competition and Yield Optimization in Ad Exchanges". We congratulate Santiago on his accomplishment.

Read More Here

Ethan Rouen wins Deloitte Doctoral Fellowship in Accounting

The Deloitte Foundation has awarded $25,000 grants to 10 top accounting Ph.D. candidates through the Deloitte Foundation’s annual Doctoral Fellowship program. Given to students who plan to pursue academic careers upon graduation, the award will support the 2015 recipients’ final year of coursework and the subsequent year to complete their doctoral dissertation.

Read More Here

Honigsberg featured in Ideas at Work

The August issue of Ideas at Work features research that doctoral candidate Colleen Honigsberg led in conjunction with Sharon Katz.

Read More about Colleen

Wazlawek featured in Ideas at Work

Abbie Wazlawek's joint research with Professor Daniel Ames is featured in the June 24th, 2014 edition of Ideas at Work

Read More about Abbie

Ethan Rouen featured in Ideas at Work

Ethan Rouen's joint research with Professor Dan Amiram is featured in the May 15th, 2014 edition of Ideas at Work

Read More about Abbie

Rivas Wins Fellowship

The PhD program is proud to congratulate Miguel Duro Rivas, who was awarded the Nasdaq Educational Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

Read More about Miguel

Wong wins Deloitte Fellowship

We are proud to announce that Yu Ting (Forester) Wong is one of the recipients of the 2014 Deloitte Foundation Doctoral Fellowship in Accounting.

Read More About Yu Ting >

The PhD Program Congratulates John Yao

PhD student John Yao was a finalist in the 2013 M&SOM (Manufacturing & Service Operations Management) student paper competition.

Read More About John >

Honigsberg Named Postdoctoral Fellow

The PhD program is proud to congratulate Colleen Honigsberg, who was named the Postdoctoral Fellow in Corporate Governance at the Millstein Center at Columbia Law School in October 2013

Read More about Colleen >


Check Application Status

Students listening to classroom lecture

Once you've submitted your application, you can login and track your status by using the link below.

Check Status