For 14 years, Pankaj Aggarwal created advertising campaigns for high-profile brands from Nestlé to Whirlpool. It was a position he thrived in and a career he loved.
But, says Aggarwal, “I wanted to do something more meaningful. You want to leave behind the world with a little bit of your stamp on it.”
In a high-pressure environment, he rarely had time to thoroughly research a product and the consumer’s relationship to it. Academia, he felt, would afford this opportunity. He left India to complete his second MBA and his PhD at the University of Chicago, and in 2001 began teaching at U of T Scarborough.
A professor in the Department of Management, Aggarwal still focuses on his love of marketing. But, in addition to a legacy of successful advertising campaigns, he will now leave behind a better understanding of what propels people to buy things. In 2014, Aggarwal was ranked as one of the world’s top 25 marketing scholars in consumer behaviour, based on his research impact.
“We almost humanize products and brands. We give them a name and we have feelings for them — whether it’s our car or laptop. We form relationships with them.” Aggarwal asks questions that are anchored, he says, “in real world issues. I try to answer them not through selling more products, but through understanding why people behave how they behave.”