You are here


Modeling Customer Behavior for Revenue Management

Matulya Bansal, 2012
Faculty Advisor: Costis Maglaras


In this thesis, we model and analyze the impact of two behavioral aspects of customer decision-making upon the revenue maximization problem of a monopolist firm. First, We study the revenue maximization problem of a monopolist firm selling a homogeneous good to a market of risk-averse, strategic customers. Using a discrete (but arbitrary) valuation distribution, we show how the dynamic pricing problem with strategic customers can be formulated as a mechanism design problem, thereby making it more amenable to analysis. We characterize the optimal solution, and solve the problem for several special cases. We perform asymptotic analysis for the low risk-aversion case and show that it is asymptotically optimal to offer at most two products. Second, we consider a revenue-maximizing monopolist firm that serves a market of customers that are heterogeneous with respect to their valuations and desire for a quality attribute. Instead of optimizing the net utility that results from an appropriate combination of product price and quality, as in the traditional model of customer behavior, we consider a setting where customers purchase the cheapest product subject to its quality exceeding a customer specific quality threshold. We call such preferences threshold preferences. We solve the firm's product design problem in this setting, and contrast with the traditional model of customer choice behavior. We consider several scenarios where such preferences might arise, and identify the optimal solution in each case. In addition to these product design problems, we study the problem of identifying the optimal putting strategy for a golfer. We develop a model of golfer putting skill, and combine it with a putt trajectory and holeout model to identify a golfer's optimal putting strategy. The problem of identifying the optimal putting strategy is shown to be equivalent to a two-dimensional stochastic shortest path problem, with continuous state and control space, and solved using approximate dynamic programming. We calibrate the golfer model to professional and amateur player data, and use the calibrated model to answer several interesting questions, e.g., how does green reading ability affect golfer performance, how do professional and amateur golfers differ in their strategy, how do uphill and downhill putts compare in difficulty, etc.

Download Dissertation

Doctoral Program News

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 >


Application Deadlines

Master of Science in Marketing >

For Fall 2015 Entry:
Deadline: January 5th, 2015


Master of Science in Financial Economics

For Fall 2015 Entry:
Deadline: January 5th, 2015


Master of Science in Management Science and Engineering

For Fall 2014 Entry:
Early Decision: Jan 6, 2015
Regular Decision: Feb 15, 2015


Apply Now
Sept 2015

Deadline: 01/05/15

MS Marketing
Deadline: 01/05/15

MS Financial Economics
Deadline: 01/05/15


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