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Kelly  Goldsmith - Vanderbilt University. Nashville, TN, US

Kelly Goldsmith

Professor of Marketing | Vanderbilt University


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







Are shoppers getting used to scarcity? How to Make the Most Out of Not Having Enough | Kelly Goldsmith | TEDxNashville Professor of Marketing at Vanderbilt Kelly Goldsmith TEDx Nashville



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.

Areas of Expertise (6)


Consumer Behavior

Market Research




Accomplishments (5)

Faculty Impact Award Winner (professional)

Faculty Impact Award Winner

Marketing Science Institute (MSI) Young Scholar (professional)

Marketing Science Institute (MSI) Young Scholar

Sidney J. Levy Award for Excellence in Teaching (professional)

Sidney J. Levy Award for Excellence in Teaching

Grant Winner (professional)

Provost Research Studio

JCR Outstanding Reviewer Award (professional)

JCR Outstanding Reviewer Award

Education (4)

Yale University: M.Phil.

Yale University: Ph.D.

Yale University: M.S.

Duke University: B.S.

Affiliations (3)

  • Co-Editor, Journal of Consumer Psychology
  • Co-editor, Journal of the Association for Consumer Research
  • Editorial Review Board, Journal of Consumer Psychology

Selected Media Appearances (10)

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

Nashville Business Journal  online


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.

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

CNBC  online


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.”

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

CBS News  online


"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."

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

CNN  online


“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.”

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

Scripps  tv


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."

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Despite pipeline restart, thousands of gas stations remain dry

NBC News  online


“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.”

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Gasoline Buying Fever Rages as Pipeline Company Begins Restart

New York Times  online


“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.”

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

Bloomberg  online


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.”

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

USA Today  online


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.

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

Business Insider  online


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.

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Selected Articles (5)

Matters of Time (Scarcity): Do Offline Theories Predict Online Effects?


Jillian Hmurovic, Cait Poynor Lamberton, Kelly Goldsmith

2019 Can past theory about offline marketing tactics be presumed to hold in the contemporary online world? In this paper, we present a systematic approach to answering this question, focusing on theory related to time-scarcity promotions. First, we identify theoretically-important differences between the contexts in which original time-scarcity theories were developed and the current marketplace where they are applied.

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The effects of scarcity on consumer decision journeys

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

Rebecca Hamilton, Debora Thompson, Sterling Bone, Lan Nguyen Chaplin, Vladas Griskevicius, Kelly Goldsmith, Ronald Hill, Deborah Roedder John, Chiraag Mittal, Thomas O’Guinn, Paul Piff, Caroline Roux, Anuj Shah, Meng Zhu

2019 Research in marketing often begins with two assumptions: that consumers are able to choose among desirable products, and that they have sufficient resources to buy them. However, many consumer decision journeys are constrained by a scarcity of products and/or a scarcity of resources.

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A Self-Regulatory Model of Resource Scarcity

Journal of Consumer Psychology

Christopher Cannon, Kelly Goldsmith, Caroline Roux

2019 Academics have shown a growing interest in the effects of resource scarcity—a discrepancy between one's current resource levels and a higher, more desirable reference point. However, the existing literature lacks an overarching theory to explain the breadth of findings across different types of resources.

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You Don’t Blow Your Diet on Twinkies: Choice Processes When Choice Options Conflict with Incidental Goals

Journal of the Association for Consumer Research

Kelly Goldsmith, Elizabeth Friedman, Ravi Dhar

2019 Consumers often have multiple goals that are active simultaneously and make choices to satisfy those goals. However, no work to date has studied how people choose when all available options serve a goal (e.g., a choice-set goal) that conflicts with another goal they hold (e.g., an incidental goal).

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When Does Altruism Trump Self-Interest? The Moderating Role of Affect in Extrinsic Incentives

Journal of the Association for Consumer Research

Uzma Khan, Kelly Goldsmith, Ravi Dhar

2018 Extrinsic incentives play a key role in motivating behavior. However, conflicting findings have been observed with respect to the effectiveness of various extrinsic incentives (eg, a cash reward vs. a donation to charity) in motivation.

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