Research Expertise: Competitive strategy, game theory and applied optimal control
Associate Professor Olivier Rubel is fascinated by two related questions: How can firms make better decisions in highly competitive environments? And what are the optimal strategies for implementing these decisions over time?
Rubel’s research examines how companies can best determine and allocate resources to marketing activities when facing a realistic chance of encountering a product harm crisis such as the SUV rollover controversy faced by Ford and Firestone in 2000 or the many product recalls Mattel was forced to make in 2007. His findings point to no single, simple answer to “invest less” or “invest more.” Rather, each firm’s best solution depends on the characteristics of the crisis, including its likelihood, its impacts on sales and on the effectiveness of marketing instruments.
A native of France, Rubel earned his master’s degree in operations research at the Université Paris–Dauphine and completed his Ph.D. at HEC Montreal (the affiliated business school of the Université de Montréal). He focused on the design of dual-marketing channels, exploring how to manage direct and indirect sales to consumers. He has also studied competitive online marketing.
Rubel has presented his work at international conferences in marketing and management science and published in Automatica and in the book Advances in Dynamic Game Theory (Springer, 2007). He authored a monograph for the French Ministry of Finance that explored the economic relationship between Japan and China in Southeast Asia. He was previously a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University.
Salesforce Compensation with Network Effects
“Salesforce Compensation under Network Effects”, Workshop on Information Systems Economics (WISE), Dallas, TX, 2015
This paper examines the management problem of “selling” platforms, i.e., designing appropriate salesforce management and incentives schemes to obtain participation by paying customers. The paper shows that network effects increase not only the mean, but also the variance of the performance metrics used to compensate sales agents.
Super Bowl Commercials
Assistant Professor Olivier Rubel tackles a Super Bowl ad from Nationwide that stirred controversy as people were offended by a commercial discussing a child’s death. The ad was part of Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen campaign, which aims to reduce childhood home accidents. It has a child narrating life experiences they won’t be able to experience before finally revealing he died in an childhood accident.
Sleep Train Inc. was among the first companies to advertise with Rush Limbaugh when he began his radio career, and the company was also among the first to pull out following his controversial statements on air. In this article, Assistant Professor Olivier Rubel says that advertisers who pull out later face less risk of backlash than those who respond first.
In this article about the recent Rush Limbaugh controversy and how it reflects the social media marketing landscape, Assistant Professor Olivier Rubel says that if you are the online data backup provider Carbonite, for example, and you also invest heavily in online media, the Limbaugh controversy increases the risk that you will get pulled in.
Companies use in-store music services to enhance the shopping experience and stave off retail’s enemy: an uncomfortable silence that might make customers head for the door. Research has shown “music is going to have an impact on the way people shop,” said Olivier Rubel, assistant professor of marketing at the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management.
Marketing managers and their companies are better served by spending less on building brand loyalty up front and maintaining a reserve for advertising during a post-crisis period. Further, ad spending after a crisis is more effective in building brand interest than before a crisis.
How should forward-looking managers plan advertising if they envision a product-harm crisis in the future? To address this question, Professor Olivier Rubel, Professor Prasad Naik and Professor Shuba Srinivasan propose a dynamic model of brand advertising in which, at each instant, a nonzero probability exists for the occurrence of a crisis event that damages the brand’s baseline sales and may enhance or erode marketing effectiveness when the crisis occurs. Because managers do not know when the crisis will occur, its random time of occurrence induces a stochastic control problem, which they solve analytically in closed form. More importantly, the envisioning of a possible crisis alters managers’ rate of time preference: anticipation enhances impatience.
- Professor of the Year 2013, UC Davis Graduate School of Management
- UC Davis Small Research Grant, 2009, 2010, 2011.
- UC Davis Travel Grant, 2009, 2010.
- Doctoral Workshop Fellow, Duke Theory Rich Modeling, 2007.
- Doctoral Fellow, American Marketing Association Sheth Foundation, 2006.
- Doctoral Fellow, Marketing Dynamics Conference, 2005, 2006.
- Doctoral Fellow, Marketing Science Conference, 2006.
“Complacency is suicide.”
That’s the bottom line for Mario Alioto, senior vice president of revenue for San Francisco’s 2010 World Champion–winning Giants. Alioto leads the marketing at AT&T Park, the force behind a record-breaking sales strategy that has kept the Giants one of the top sponsorship-revenue-generating teams in Major League Baseball.
A spontaneous acceleration problem led Toyota to recall eight million cars globally and suspend sales of several models in November 2009 and in January. To make matters worse, in February Toyota suffered another blow when reports surfaced of faulty brakes on the Prius hybrid. The defects have battered the company’s reputation, resulting in huge losses and sinking consumer confidence.
Comstock’s article on selling to big chain stores: Assistant Professor Olivier Rubel says when products from small businesses and entrepreneurs are picked up by major chain stores, it can be “both a blessing and a curse.” It can lead to greater exposure and, potentially, new markets. Selling to large retailers is proof that these small businesses are selling competitive products and able to manage larger orders. But these deals aren’t without risk, he says.
Millions of Californians are unemployed this holiday season. Many will see their unemployment benefits expire today. So when it comes to buying gifts, most people out of work are scaling back spending. Kelley Weiss reports and interviews Assistant Marketing Professor Olivier Rubel, who comments on consumer purchasing habits and consumer credit.
That some 138 million U.S. shoppers will open their wallets this Black Friday weekend may have a lot to do with a bountiful feast and the need to feel in control. At least, that’s one theory offered by Olivier Rubel, an assistant professor of marketing at UC Davis Graduate School of Management.
Assistant Professor Olivier Rubel says naming a new city is not unlike a new product or service. Consumers’ perceptions, he said, are based on three factors – functionality, cost and psychological value. “You go to a party and you say you live in Arden Arcade; it’s not the same as saying you live in San Francisco,” Rubel said. “It immediately puts you on a social scale, especially when the notion of suburbia can be negative.”
Why are Target and Walmart jumping into the grocery business? “Because they can,” said Olivier Rubel, assistant professor of marketing at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. “They are super giants. They have the supply chain to allow them to bring the supplies into the store,” Rubel noted. “It’s a way to build up traffic and expand their market.”
Months into its recall crisis, Toyota Motor Corp. launched a counterattack, bringing out a panel of experts to debunk the claims of an academic who says he has found an electronic defect in its vehicles related to sudden acceleration. Assistant Professor Olivier Rubel, who specializes in corporate decision making, comments on Toyota’s strategy.
This paper considers an infinite-horizon differential game played by two direct marketers. Each player controls the number of emails sent to potential customers at each moment in time. There is a cost associated to the messages sent, as well as a potential reward. The latter is assumed to depend on the state variable defined as the level of the representative consumer’s attention.