Vanitha Swaminathan joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 2002. She is the director of the Katz Center for Branding. Her research focuses on branding strategy and the conditions that foster consumer-brand relationships. Additionally, her research investigates how firms can successfully design brand strategies—such as co-branding, brand extensions, brand acquisitions, marketing alliances—to strengthen customer loyalty as well as firm stock market performance. More recently, her focus is on understanding how brand managers can leverage the power of social media to build stronger relationships with customers.
Professor Swaminathan has published in various leading marketing and management journals including Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Marketing Science, and Strategic Management Journal. She is currently serving as Area Editor of Journal of Marketing, and is on the Editorial Review Board of Journal of Marketing Research. She has won awards for her research including the Lehmann award for the best Dissertation-based article, Journal of Advertising’s Best Paper Award, and has been selected as Marketing Science Institute’s Young Scholar. Professor Swaminathan is currently a member of the Executive Committee of American Marketing Association's Academic Council during the period 2017-2020, has served as President of AMA’s Academic Council (2018-2019) and is currently serving as Past-President of American Marketing Association’s Academic Council (2019-20).
Professor Swaminathan’s research and commentaries on branding and digital marketing are quoted in various international media outlets such as Forbes, The Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, U.S. News & World Report, NPR, Sirius Radio, Science Daily, Slate, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Economic Times (India), Frontline (India), BBC Brasil (UK), and Último. She has worked with companies such as The Hershey Company, KraftHeinz, StarKist, AC Nielsen, GlaxoSmithKline, and P&G, on marketing and branding consulting projects. She has also extensively worked with small businesses on advising them regarding their digital marketing efforts.
Courses Recently Taught
- Marketing Management
- Brand Management
Awards and Honors
- 2018-2019 Excellence in Teaching Award
- 2018-2019 Excellence in Research Award
- Christian Hughes and Vanitha Swaminathan received the Best Paper in Theme award at the Winter 2018 AMA Conference in New Orleans for “Communicating in a Melting Pot: How Audience Diversity Impacts Word of Mouth Valence.”
- Katz and Center for Branding PhD student Christian Hughes wins Answers in Action Grant
- Interview with Vanitha Swaminathan, President of AMA Academic Council
- 2018-19 President, American Marketing Association Academic Council
- 2018 Faculty at 2018 AMA’s Sheth Doctoral Consortium, Leeds University, June 2018
- 2018 Best Paper Award for “Connected Consumers and Social Media” Track, 2018 AMA Winter Academic Conference, New Orleans (Co-winner with PhD Student, Christian Hughes)
- 2015 Distinguished Research Award, Katz Graduate School of Business
- 2015 Distinguished Service Award, Katz Graduate School of Business
- 2015 Co-Chair, American Marketing Association's Winter Educators' Conference
- 2014 Katz Excellence in Service Award
- 2014-2017 Member, American Marketing Association's Academic Council
- 2011 AMA Doctoral Consortium Faculty
- 2009 Faculty Participant, Academy of Marketing Science Doctoral Consortium, Oslo, Norway
- 2006 Best Paper of the Year Award, Journal of Advertising.
- 2003 Marketing Science Institute, Young Scholar Program Participant.
- 2002 Lehmann Award for the Best Dissertation Article in Journal of Marketing or Journal of Marketing Research in 2000 and 2001.
- Best Special Session Award, 2002 Winter Educators' Conference (Session Chair and Organizer).
- Recipient of the 1997-98 dissertation award from Procter & Gamble's Innovation Research Fund.
- PhD in Business Administration, University of Georgia
- MBA XLRI, Jamshedpur, India
- BA, Economics, University of Madras
Swaminathan, Vanitha, Alina Sorescu, Jan-Benedict Steenkamp, Thomas O’ Guinn and Bernd Schmitt (2020), “Branding in a Hyperconnected World: Refocusing Theories and Rethinking Boundaries,” forthcoming, Journal of Marketing.
Keller, Kevin Lane and Vanitha Swaminathan (2019) Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity, 5th Edition, Pearson Education.
Paharia, Neeru and Vanitha Swaminathan (2019),"Who is Wary of Cocreation? The Hazards of Empowering Power-Distant and Conservative Consumers”, 83 (3), Journal of Marketing, 91-107.
Christian Hughes, Swaminathan, Vanitha and Gillian Brooks (2019)," Driving Brand Engagement Through Online Social Influencers: An Empirical Investigation of Sponsored Blogging Campaigns ", forthcoming, Journal of Marketing.
Swaminathan, Vanitha (2016), “Branding in the Digital Era: New Directions for Research on Customer-Based Brand Equity,” AMS Review, 6, 33-38.
Casey Newmeyer, Vanitha Swaminathan and John Hulland (2016), “When Products and Brands Trade Hands: A Framework for Acquisition Success,” Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 24 (2), 129-146.
Kubat, Umut and Vanitha Swaminathan (2015), “Crossing the Cultural Divide through Bilingual Advertising: The Moderating Role of Brand Cultural Symbolism,” International Journal of Research in Marketing, 32 (4), 354–362.
Thomaz, Felipe and Vanitha Swaminathan (2015), “What Goes Around Comes Around: The Impact of Marketing Alliances on Firm Risk in Highly Embedded Networks,” Journal of Marketing, 79 (5), 63 - 79.
Swaminathan, Vanitha, Zeynep Gürhan-Canli, Umut Kubat and Ceren Hayran (2015), “How, When, and Why Do Attribute-Complementary versus Attribute-Similar Cobrands Affect Brand Evaluations: A Concept Combination Perspective,” Journal of Consumer Research, 42 (1), 45 - 58.
Winterich, Karen Page, Vikas Mittal and Vanitha Swaminathan (2014) "Friends and Family: How In-Group-Focused Promotions Can Increase Purchase," Customer Needs and Solutions, 1:333–344.
Swaminathan, Vanitha, Christopher Groening, Vikas Mittal and Felipe Thomaz (2014), “ Dual Emphasis and Financial Performance in Horizontal Mergers,” 17 (2), Journal of Service Research, 182-194.
Dommer, Sara Loughran, Vanitha Swaminathan, and Rohini Ahluwalia (2013), "Using Differentiated Brands to Deflect Exclusion and Protect Inclusion: The Moderating Role of Self-Esteem on Attachment to Differentiated Brands," 40 (4), Journal of Consumer Research, 657-675.
Dommer, Sara Loughran, and Vanitha Swaminathan (2013), "Explaining the Endowment Effect through Ownership: The Role of Identity, Gender, and Self-Threat," Journal of Consumer Research, 39 (5), 1034-1050.
Kopalle, Praveen K., Scott A. Neslin, Baohong Sun, Yacheng Sun, Vanitha Swaminathan (2012), "A Dynamic Structural Model of the Impact of Loyalty Programs on Customer Behavior," Marketing Science, 31 (2), 216-235.
Swaminathan, Vanitha, Srinivas K. Reddy and Sara Dommer (2011), "Spillover effects of ingredient branded strategies on brand choice: A field study," Marketing Letters (21 October),1-15.
Swaminathan, Vanitha and Christine Moorman (2009), "Marketing Alliances, Firm Networks and Firm Value Creation," Journal of Marketing, 73 (5), 52-69.
Swaminathan Vanitha, Karen Stilley and Rohini Ahluwalia (2009) "When Brand Personality Matters: The Moderating Role of Attachment Styles," Journal of Consumer Research, 35 (6), 985-1002.
Shah, Reshma and Vanitha Swaminathan (2008), "A Contingency Framework of Factors Influencing Partner Selection in Strategic Alliances: Exploring The Moderating Role of Alliance Context," Strategic Management Journal, 29 (5), 471-494.
Swaminathan, Vanitha, Feisal Murshed and John Hulland (2008) "Value Creation Following Merger and Acquisition Announcements: The Role of Strategic Emphasis Alignment," Journal of Marketing Research, 45(1), 33-47.
Swaminathan, Vanitha, Karen Page and Zeynep Gurhan-Canli (2007), "My Brand or Our Brand: Individual-and Group-Based Brand Relationships and Self-Construal Effects on Brand Evaluations," Journal of Consumer Research, 34(2), 248-259.
Leigh, James, George Zinkhan and Vanitha Swaminathan (2006), "Dimensional Relationships Of Recall And Recognition Measures With Selected Cognitive And Affective Aspects Of Print Ads," Journal of Advertising, 35(1), 105-122. Received the Best Paper of the Year Award, 2006 from the American Academy of Advertising
Swaminathan, Vanitha, Richard J. Fox and Srinivas K. Reddy (2001) "The Impact of Brand Extension Introduction on Choice," with Richard J. Fox and Srinivas K. Reddy, Journal of Marketing, 65 (4), 1-15 (Lead Article). Winner of the 2002 Lehmann Award for the Best Dissertation-Based Article published in the Journal of Marketing or Journal of Marketing Research in the years 2000 and 2001.
Reddy, Srinivas K., Vanitha Swaminathan and Carol M. Motley "Exploring the Determinants of Broadway Show Success (1998)," Journal of Marketing Research, 35 (3), 370-383.
Book Chapters and Press Mentions
Experts Weigh in On Instagram Hiding Likes. Pittwire, November 13, 2019.
Webinar: How to Drive Better Engagement From Sponsored Blogging. AMA, August 7, 2019.
Virtual Influencers are Becoming More Real, Here’s Why Brands Should be Cautious. AMA, June 20, 2019
Sell to Voters, Not Consumers. AMA, June 13, 2019.
Kylie Jenner is richer than Jay-Z. And Diddy. And Kim, too. The Washington Post, July 13, 2018
Online retailer Brandless is popping up in West Hollywood - but not to sell you anything, Take Two.
Supercharge that Tesla and Pick up a hot dog? Sheetz makes room for the brand's loyal drivers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Quinn, Cathal, Managing your Business’ Reputation – Crisis Management Research, September 7, 2016, https://www.enablemarketing.ie/managing-business-reputation-crisis-manag....
American Marketing Association and LinkedIn Learning Launch Digital Marketing Certification Program, May 10, 2017, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/05/prweb14320688.htm.
American Marketing Association. Marketing Experts Discuss the Outcome of the Presidential Race.
CMU website, others targeted by hackers to toy with Google Search Results. Oct 7, 2016. http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/11266643-74/search-google-site. Accessed May 17, 2017.
Smart Business News Online http://www.sbnonline.com/article/bridging-cultural-divide-bicultural-con...
Lost in Translation? Marketing to Bilingual Consumers, March 31, 2016, Strategy and Business Blogs, https://www.strategy-business.com/blog/Lost-in-Translation-Marketing-to-...
Bridging the Cultural Divide, Katz School of Business Alumni Magazine, 2016.
Casey Newmeyer and Vanitha Swaminathan. Should Companies Seek Growth by Acquiring Products or Brands? https://www.ama.org/resources/Pages/growth-by-aquiring-products-brands.aspx
Lost in Translation? Marketing to Bilingual Consumers. http://www.strategy-business.com/blog/Lost-in-Translation-Marketing-to-B...
WESA (NPR Pittsburgh) Interview for Essential Pittsburgh on Marketing to a Multicultural Population, November 19, 2015.
Forbes, Understanding The Bicultural Consumer: Crossing The Cultural Divide Through Bilingual Advertising, November 17, 2015.
Science Daily.com, Marketing partnerships: Stock prices don't always run with the bulls
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150923182202.htm#, September 23, 2015, American Marketing Association
Realbusiness.co.uk, Marketing alliances can reduce equity risk and impact investor expectations, claims study, http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/31592-marketing-alliances-can-reduce-e...
Business Insider.com. Shamers on the prowl in social media jungle.
--also quoted in Kuwaiti Times, Bharat Press, Jenkers.com
Did Earth Day Go Corporate by Reid Frazier, http://www.alleghenyfront.org/story/did-earth-day-go-corporate, April 15, 2015
Slate.com, Off Brands: Understanding the terrible spelling and punctuation in corporate names. By Matthew J.X. Malady
The Rancher Don't Forget the Customers After Mergers. http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/ranch/living/don-t-forget-the-customers-a...
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Who Needs a Turkey When There’s Black Thursday http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2013/11/24/BLACK-THURSDAY/stories/2...
Forbes Magazine “The Most Undervalued Brand In The World”, http://www.forbes.com/sites/christophersteiner/2013/05/20/the-most-under...
Chase Strikes Rewards Sharing Deal With Virgin Atlantic http://www.cardhub.com/edu/chase-strikes-rewards-sharing-deal-with-virgi...
Miami Herald, Garage Sales: Is It Worth It (April 20, 2013)
Press Coverage for "Explaining the Endowment Effect through Ownership: The Role of Identity, Gender, and Self-Threat", Journal of Consumer Research, February 2013, (co-authored with Sara Dommer):
Los Angeles Times (November 1, 2012). AMC Leaves Moviegoers in the Dark on Rewards Program Change.
ABC News (June 18, 2012) “Republicans, Democrats Can't Even Agree On Coffee”.