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Kelly Goldsmith

Professor of Marketing

Expert in marketing, market research, and consumer behavior focusing on the impact of scarcity and sales on shoppers' mindsets.


Professor Goldsmith is a behavioral scientist and a marketing professor. Her research is highly interdisciplinary in nature, drawing upon theories and methods from a variety of areas, including anthropology, cognitive and social psychology, economics, evolutionary biology, and marketing. Because her research bridges theory and practice, it contributes not only to more nuanced theories of consumer decision making, but also to new techniques for marketers, firms, and policy makers. Professor Goldsmith’s work has appeared in several top marketing and psychology journals and has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including the BBC, Time Magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many more. She has been recognized as one of the "Top 40 Most Outstanding Business School Professors in the World Under 40" (Poets& Quants) and one of "Eight Young Business School Professors on the Rise" (Fortune Magazine). At Vanderbilt, she is the E. Bronson Ingram Chair, a full professor, the Marketing Area Coordinator, and award-winning teacher and researcher. She recently received both the Research Productivity Award (2021) and the Dean’s Award for Teaching (2020), in addition to being recognized as a Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow. Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, she obtained her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her Ph.D. in Behavioral Marketing from Yale University. She then worked at the Kellogg School of Management as a marketing professor for eight years, where she was a highly decorated researcher and teacher, receiving several awards including the Richard M. Clewett Research Chair, the McManus Research Chair, the Sidney J. Levy Award for Excellence in Teaching (2012, 2014), and two Faculty Impact awards. Fun fact: Goldsmith was once a contestant on "Survivor" and says the lessons she learned about scarcity during that experience have impacted her scholarship today.

Media Appearances

  • Q&A: How peanut butter can be an economic indicator

    As an economic downturn is on everyone’s mind, we wondered how that affects how we spend. So, we talked with Kelly Goldsmith, a Vanderbilt University professor who studies consumer psychology, for her take on consumer spending in an unsure time.

    March 9th, 2023

  • The McRib ‘Farewell Tour’ is McDonald’s latest attempt to cash in on nostalgia

    It’s a strategy that’s designed to create a sense of urgency for customers, according to Vanderbilt University marketing professor Kelly Goldsmith. “McDonald’s is leaning hard on the scarcity marketing tactics right now,” Goldsmith says. “We see it with the McRib, we see it with their adult Happy Meals which had limited-edition toys. McDonald’s is putting scarcity marketing everywhere they possibly can.”

    October 26th, 2022

  • Pumpkin spice foods cost up to 160% more than regular version

    "If there is no shortage of pumpkin spice, you're better served upcharging products you know will be in high demand and hope customers will be insensitive to the price increases," said Kelly Goldsmith, a professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University and an expert on scarcity. "They're taking advantage of the fact that they have an active and excited base of people willing to pay."

    October 24th, 2022

  • With product innovation lagging, Silicon Valley bets on a fresh coat of paint

    “The quality of all phones is so high, it’s getting difficult for consumers to even notice what ‘better’ is anymore,” said Kelly Goldsmith, professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University. “As a result, tech brands need to adopt new strategies. Introducing different, niche colors is just one way to do it.”

    October 17th, 2022

  • Stores clearing out pandemic overstock with clearance sales, sometimes huge markdowns

    Marketing professor Kelly Goldsmith of Vanderbilt University says it's easy for shoppers to get excited about deals, but make sure you're not buying things you already have. "Now the caveat here is, it's only a good deal if you need it," she explained. "The reason these things are on sale is often because so many people don't need them, and if you're one of those people that's doesn't need them, don't buy it."

    June 29th, 2022

  • Despite pipeline restart, thousands of gas stations remain dry

    “There is not data showing that the gasoline shortage will worsen due to supply-side issues,” said Kelly Goldsmith, associate professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University, in an email. “And demand-side issues are under our control – we do not have to hoard gasoline.”

    May 12th, 2021

  • Gasoline Buying Fever Rages as Pipeline Company Begins Restart

    “A lot of people are comparing this to the toilet paper hoarding of a year ago,” said Kelly Goldsmith, a Vanderbilt University marketing professor. “Once the dominoes start to fall, the pace picks up fast and furious.”

    May 12th, 2021

  • It’s Not Marketing. These 18 Products Are Truly Limited Editions

    It’s not about “good taste,” either: The appeal is an instinct hardwired into the human brain. “As things are unavailable, we’ve learned we need to fight harder to get them,” says Kelly Goldsmith, a behavioral scientist and associate professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University whose research focuses on scarcity. “Whether that’s bison meat when we were cave people or A grades at school when you’re marked on a curve.”

    October 1st, 2020

  • Coronavirus rationing: Target, Walmart limit purchases of hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, toilet paper

    Kelly Goldsmith, an associate professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University, has studied consumer behaviors around scarcity and how consumers behave. This panic shopping "is way worse than Black Friday because nobody's going to die if they don't get that flat screen on discount from Walmart," she said.

    March 11th, 2020

  • A Survivor contestant and scarcity expert explains why you're panic-buying

    To her students at Vanderbilt University, Kelly Goldsmith is an expert on consumer behavior in the face of scarcity. To Survivor fans, she's a trooper who lasted 24 days in the searing Kenyan heat on the third season of the reality TV show. But to people anxious about the new coronavirus, she's one of a few people in the world that understand exactly what is motivating the Purell-hoarding and panic-buying that's going on in countries around the world.

    March 10th, 2020


M.Phil., Yale University

Ph.D., Yale University

M.S., Yale University

B.S., Duke University


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