Barbara Kahn

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Leading Authority on Retailing, Marketing and Branding in an Age of Uncertainty; Expert on Brand Loyalty and Management and Consumer Decision-Making; Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School; Executive Director of the Marketing Science Institute

Biography

New digital platforms – chief among them Amazon – are disrupting every industry and sending long-time incumbents running for cover. How do formerly strong brands compete in this new and unforgiving landscape? Wharton’s Barbara Kahn had a front row seat to massive disruption in the retail sector – a foretaste of what is coming to every area of business. In response, she successfully analyzed and mapped out precisely what makes companies like Amazon successful, and how threatened competitors should respond. With a relentless emphasis on shifting from product to customer focus, Kahn equips companies in every industry with the tools and perspective they need to fend off disruption, capitalize on their unique strengths and build solid foundations for a riskier future world.

Kahn, the Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and executive director of the Marketing Science Institute, is an internationally recognized scholar on retailing, variety seeking, brand loyalty, product assortment and design and consumer decision-making. Having extensively researched and written acclaimed books on branding and the powers of visual marketing, Kahn’s experience studying retail as two-term director of the Baker Retailing Center led to her groundbreaking framework on retailing/marketing success – the Kahn Retailing Success Matrix. Kahn’s matrix places companies on a scale measuring their competitive advantage and retail proposition, charting where they stand when it comes to product benefits (brand and pricing) and customer experience (a combination of enhancing pleasure and eliminating friction). Explaining how different successful companies like Amazon, Walmart and Warby Parker compete on each of these measures, Kahn offers insights on how audiences’ brands can remain competitive on the scale while leveraging a key strength to build superior value.

Kahn, whose consumer-focused outlook was explained in her book “The Shopping Revolution: How Successful Retailers Win Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption” (Wharton Digital Press, June 2018), has expanded beyond retail to communicating the relevance of her matrix within every industry. This includes health care, where she says the consumer-focused revolution which upended retail is fast emerging on the horizon. Patients, after all, are consumers as well – and they will soon hold health care providers to the same standards as they do retailers.

In addition to her Retailing Success Matrix, Kahn speaks and advises on topics related to brand-building and using visual marketing to influence consumer buying decisions. These subjects touch on Kahn’s books “Global Brand Power: Leveraging Branding for Long-Term Growth” (Wharton Digital Press, March 2013) and “Grocery Revolution: The New Focus on the Consumer” (Pearson, February 1997). Kahn’s research-driven insights and recommendations allow sellers of goods and services to better understand the minds and desires of customers, positioning their offerings as more desirable than those of competitors within a crowded marketplace.

Prior to rejoining Wharton in 2011, Barbara served as the Dean and Schein Professor of Marketing at the School of Business Administration, University of Miami (from 2007 to 2011). Before becoming Dean at UM, she spent 17 years at Wharton as the Dorothy Silberberg Professor of Marketing. She was also Vice Dean of the Wharton Undergraduate program. Kahn has been elected president of the Association for Consumer Research, elected president of the Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) Policy Board and selected as a Marketing Science Institute (MSI) Trustee. Kahn will begin a two-year term as executive director of the MSI beginning in June 2019. She is or has been an associate editor at the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Marketing, and Marketing Science. She is a Fellow for both the Association of Consumer Research and the Society of Consumer Psychology.

Kahn received her Ph.D., M.B.A. and M.Phil. degrees from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Rochester.

Barbara Kahn is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

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Kahn, Barbara

Biography

New digital platforms – chief among them Amazon – are disrupting every industry and sending long-time incumbents running for cover. How do formerly strong brands compete in this new and unforgiving landscape? Wharton’s Barbara Kahn had a front row seat to massive disruption in the retail sector – a foretaste of what is coming to every area of business. In response, she successfully analyzed and mapped out precisely what makes companies like Amazon successful, and how threatened competitors should respond. With a relentless emphasis on shifting from product to customer focus, Kahn equips companies in every industry with the tools and perspective they need to fend off disruption, capitalize on their unique strengths and build solid foundations for a riskier future world.

Kahn, the Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and executive director of the Marketing Science Institute, is an internationally recognized scholar on retailing, variety seeking, brand loyalty, product assortment and design and consumer decision-making. Having extensively researched and written acclaimed books on branding and the powers of visual marketing, Kahn’s experience studying retail as two-term director of the Baker Retailing Center led to her groundbreaking framework on retailing/marketing success – the Kahn Retailing Success Matrix. Kahn’s matrix places companies on a scale measuring their competitive advantage and retail proposition, charting where they stand when it comes to product benefits (brand and pricing) and customer experience (a combination of enhancing pleasure and eliminating friction). Explaining how different successful companies like Amazon, Walmart and Warby Parker compete on each of these measures, Kahn offers insights on how audiences’ brands can remain competitive on the scale while leveraging a key strength to build superior value.

Kahn, whose consumer-focused outlook was explained in her book “The Shopping Revolution: How Successful Retailers Win Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption” (Wharton Digital Press, June 2018), has expanded beyond retail to communicating the relevance of her matrix within every industry. This includes health care, where she says the consumer-focused revolution which upended retail is fast emerging on the horizon. Patients, after all, are consumers as well – and they will soon hold health care providers to the same standards as they do retailers.

In addition to her Retailing Success Matrix, Kahn speaks and advises on topics related to brand-building and using visual marketing to influence consumer buying decisions. These subjects touch on Kahn’s books “Global Brand Power: Leveraging Branding for Long-Term Growth” (Wharton Digital Press, March 2013) and “Grocery Revolution: The New Focus on the Consumer” (Pearson, February 1997). Kahn’s research-driven insights and recommendations allow sellers of goods and services to better understand the minds and desires of customers, positioning their offerings as more desirable than those of competitors within a crowded marketplace.

Prior to rejoining Wharton in 2011, Barbara served as the Dean and Schein Professor of Marketing at the School of Business Administration, University of Miami (from 2007 to 2011). Before becoming Dean at UM, she spent 17 years at Wharton as the Dorothy Silberberg Professor of Marketing. She was also Vice Dean of the Wharton Undergraduate program. Kahn has been elected president of the Association for Consumer Research, elected president of the Journal of Consumer Research (JCR) Policy Board and selected as a Marketing Science Institute (MSI) Trustee. Kahn will begin a two-year term as executive director of the MSI beginning in June 2019. She is or has been an associate editor at the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Marketing, and Marketing Science. She is a Fellow for both the Association of Consumer Research and the Society of Consumer Psychology.

Kahn received her Ph.D., M.B.A. and M.Phil. degrees from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Rochester.

Barbara Kahn is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

The Kahn Success Matrix: How Successful Companies Win Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption

Amazon disrupts everything it touches and upends any market it enters. In the era of its game-changing dominance, how can any company compete? For some brands, the changes will push customers permanently out of their reach—and their companies out of business. But others are successfully competing. In her book, “The Shopping Revolution: How Successful Retailers Win Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption,” Barbara Kahn offers a practical framework that any company can use to create a competitive advantage to survive and thrive in today’s—and tomorrow’s—retail environment. In this presentation, which can be extended into a workshop session for hands-on learning and application, she presents this framework and shows how it can be used to analyze and learn from the companies that have been most successful.

How to Power-Up Your Brand

In this noisy, fickle consumer world, compelling branding is more important than ever. Products and services based not just on quality but also on recognition, adaptability and trust will be the winners. People look to brands to tell a story bigger than just the product or service they offer. In this presentation, based on her book “Global Brand Power: Leveraging Branding for Long-Term Growth” (2013), Barbara Kahn shows marketing managers how to build a powerful brand that is globally recognizable and serves as a strategic asset in and of itself. In a world where the radical transparency of social media and a 24-hour news cycle can sink a corporate reputation in minutes, building durable brands is crucial. Let Kahn’s extensive research and expertise illuminate the steps you must take to make that happen.

The Magic of Marketing: Managing Consumer Perceptions

Is your buying behavior influenced by the perceived variety of products within a box? Or by where the picture of food is positioned on packaging? You may not think so, but Barbara Kahn’s research indicates that people do make purchase decisions based on these subtle, psychological nudges – whether they are there intentionally or not. In this presentation, Kahn draws on her research to illustrate multiple ways that marketers influence and shape consumer behavior beyond advertising overt product benefits. She equips you with a new point of view when considering such seemingly mundane factors as store displays and the number of offerings on a menu. In learning these crucial lessons, marketers can capitalize on the workings of the human mind to gain a competitive advantage.

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Recommendations

Praise for “The Shopping Revolution”

“In The Shopping Revolution, Barbara Kahn reveals what has enabled today’s most successful retailers to thrive in the face of these challenges. An essential read for anyone … who wants to understand the massive changes underway in retail.”

—Neil Blumenthal, co-CEO and co-founder, Warby Parker

“A masterful storyteller, Barbara Kahn expertly unpacks the strategies of today’s seemingly unbeatable retailers. An indispensable guide for anyone who has a product to sell in the retail world.”

—Stuart Weitzman, Founder, Stuart Weitzman LLC

“As Barbara Kahn powerfully argues, it is possible to compete in the era of rapidly changing shopping behavior. A must-read for anyone who aspires to reach customers today—and tomorrow.”

—Marc Lore, CEO, Walmart eCommerce US

“Ideal for those who want to gain insight into the dynamically changing retail industry. This great read covers the mechanics at play in a straight-forward manner and will help readers understand the direction retailers must take to succeed.”

—Al Sambar, Managing Director, Kurt Salmon, part of Accenture Strategy

“Sharing the stories of successful companies, Barbara Kahn offers a framework to structure strategic thinking and set the path for success. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand how to compete in retail—now and in the future.”

—Pierre-Yves Roussel, Member of the Executive Committee, LVMH (Louis Vuitton – Moët Hennessy)

“Barbara Kahn zeroes in on how a few formidable retailers have gained ascendance and offers advice to retailers on how to develop their own winning strategies…. Provides a thoughtful framework on how to innovate in the new world of retail.”

—Oliver Chen, Managing Director, Cowen and Company

“Barbara E. Kahn reveals how leading retailers are generating strong growth and offers strategies for competing in an ever-shifting marketplace. I highly recommend The Shopping Revolution to anyone who wants to … learn how to outperform the competition.”

—Thomas Kingsbury, CEO, Burlington Stores

“A brisk and thought-provoking anatomy of shopping in the 21st century.”

Kirkus Reviews

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