Shreya Kankanhalli

I am an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Cornell University's SC Johnson College of Business. I graduated from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business with a Ph.D. in Quantitative Marketing in 2021. 

I conduct randomized field experiments and econometric analysis to investigate firm strategies and consumer behavior in emerging markets. Substantively, my current research focuses on how traditional small-scale retail firms can modernize and adopt digital technologies. I aim to do policy-relevant and managerially-relevant research that uncovers mechanisms by which emerging market retailers can improve their performance. I create novel datasets in my research by collecting primary field data on understudied marketing variables, algorithmically analyzing images of firms, and obtaining electronic transaction data from traditional firms.



Phone: (650) 285 7436


This paper studies, for the first time, the impact of business modernization on the sales performance of traditional retailers. We define modernization as adopting tangible structures and business practices of organized retail chains (for example, exterior signage with store name and logo, or a database to record product-level information) and adapting these to the practical conditions and constraints of traditional retailers such as small shop size. To address our research question, we implement a randomized field experiment in Mexico City with 1148 traditional retail firms. Our sample is randomized into three groups: 385 firms that we externally modernize in ways that are visible to customers; 383 firms that we internally modernize in ways that are not visible to customers; and 380 firms form a control group. We find a significant and persistent main effect of modernization on sales: firms in both treatment groups increase monthly sales by 15% to 19%, even 24 months after study recruitment. In terms of novel mechanism evidence, we find that externally-modernizing firms improve their store-level branding, while internally-modernizing firms strengthen their product management. These results have important implications for multinational managers who distribute products through traditional retail channels, and for policy stakeholders interested in improving firm performance in the retail sector of emerging markets.
  • Vishal Narayan and Shreya Kankanhalli (Journal of Marketing, 2021)
Households sending members to work away from home often receive information about lifestyles and consumption behaviors in those migration destinations (i.e., social remittances) along with economic remittances. We investigate the effect of having a migrant household member on household brand expenditures in rural India—a market characterized by substantial consumption of unbranded products. We collect and analyze household-level survey data from 434 households across 30 villages using an instrumental variable strategy. Economic remittances result in greater brand expenditure and this level is higher for poorer households. After controlling for economic remittances, the effect of migration on brand expenditures is more positive for households residing in more populous villages, with greater access to mobile phones, lower viewership of television media, and with less recently departed migrants. We demonstrate how marketing resource allocation across villages can be improved by incorporating migration data and provide insights for household targeting in the context of door-to-door selling in villages. Our results are robust to alternate, public policy-based instruments, and can be generalized to expenditure on private schools. Using additional survey data from 300 households in 62 new villages, we replicate our results by comparing within-households brand expenditures before and after migration.

Working Papers

Fintech Failure: Examining B2B and B2C Solutions for Two-Sided Platform Adoption

Across emerging economies, physical cash is the ubiquitous means of transaction for retailers and their consumers. Despite the widespread availability, affordability and benefits of Fintech solutions for digital payments in these regions, there is an observed failure by the vast majority of retail firms to accept digital payments. Our paper examines this puzzle to uncover causes and solutions for such two-sided platform adoption failure in offline retail contexts. Using evidence from a random audit of a nationwide `Fintech-drop' public program in Mexico, we propose that two critical frictions constrain the adoption (i.e., initial take-up and usage) of two-sided Fintech platforms: (i) on the supply-side, platform onboarding is highly complex; and (ii) on the demand-side, retailers do not perceive enough consumer demand to justify adoption. We design two novel interventions in the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) channels targeting the respective frictions and test their efficacy through a randomized controlled field experiment with 479 retailers in Guadalajara, Mexico. The B2B intervention increases successful Fintech solution adoption by 21.4 percentage points versus the control group, while the B2C intervention has an additional positive impact in increasing adoption rates by 13.4 percentage points versus the B2B group. The B2B intervention effect is driven by overcoming critical onboarding challenges to promote initial take-up of Fintech, while the B2C intervention effect is driven by growing local consumer demand to use digital payments when shopping. These results have implications for managers and policymakers promoting two-sided platform adoption and driving payment digitization in emerging economies.