The Cranfield PhD - Risk and return in marketing

Cranfield School of Management

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PhD Opportunities

Risk and return in marketing

Supervisor: Lynette Ryals MA (Oxon) MBA PhD FSIP

Which customers to acquire and to retain is a fundamental issue facing businesses today. The customers of a company can be thought of as a portfolio, analogous to a financial portfolio of stocks and shares. Many of the same principles apply to their management: how much should be invested in each customer or customer segment? Where are the greatest risks and greatest returns? How should marketing resource allocation decisions be made?

This is a new field that offers several intriguing areas for doctoral research:

  • How can companies maximise the returns on their marketing investment?
  •   What customer portfolio management strategies do companies use? What strategies could they use?
  • Could Real Options, Sharpe Ratios or other portfolio management techniques be useful in managing the customer portfolio?
  • What does it mean to talk about the risk of the customer?
  • What are the financial and non-financial sources of value in customer relationships?

Candidate profile

Candidates should ideally have at least three years? marketing or sales experience however, candidates from other disciplines will be considered. Note: these topics require candidates to be numerate. A masters degree is desirable but not obligatory.  Candidates with interests in this area are invited to make contact with Professor Lynette Ryals (, setting out a preliminary research agenda as a guide to discussion and indicating what reading you have so far done around your topic.

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