Learn More About Barbara Kahn
For more than a decade, the retail industry has been experiencing unparalleled disruption as digital giants like Amazon, Walmart and Alibaba have made it more difficult for smaller, less digitally powerful retailers to compete.
To help level the playing field, renowned brand marketing strategist Barbara Kahn – executive director of the Marketing Science Institute and the Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School – published her bestselling, award-winning book “The Shopping Revolution: How Successful Retailers Win Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption” in 2018. At the time, Kirkus Reviews called it “a brisk and thought-provoking anatomy of shopping in the 21st century.” It was also featured in The New York Times, Bloomberg and Vox.
Three years later, in response to the dramatic disruption brought on by the pandemic, Kahn released an updated edition of the book to help retailers deal with the extraordinary challenges they were facing. “The Shopping Revolution: How Retailers Succeed in an Era of Endless Disruption Accelerated by COVID-19” (Wharton School Press, April 2021) examines how the most successful companies survived and even thrived during the crisis and offers valuable lessons to retailers on how they can do the same.
“What I think is super interesting is how well Lululemon has done,” says Kahn, whose lively “Marketing Matters” podcast keeps retailers updated on the latest news and trends. “Lulu had built such strong customer loyalty and such deep belief in their brand that when the pandemic came, people just stayed with Lulu, and they very, very quickly pivoted—not only to the physical experience that their stores had always been—but they pivoted to digital in a big way, and they could answer the demand that their customers were requiring of them.”
As an educator, speaker and corporate advisor, Kahn helps retailers improve every aspect of their business from product design, brand loyalty and price promotions to CRM, customization and brand management. She is particularly skilled at addressing such areas as consumer choice, variety seeking and decision making. Her research offers prescriptions for how brands can leverage key strengths to remain competitive through major disruptions, including a pandemic.
Kahn’s practical Kahn Retailing Success Matrix framework provides fresh insights into what can be learned from companies that continued to ascend and transform in the face of unprecedented challenges – and her insights expand beyond U.S. borders, revealing the trends that led to China outpacing many Western competitors.
“Chinese retail is way ahead of U.S. retail. One thing that’s very big in China is this idea of ‘shoppertainment’ and the importance of what are called ‘key opinion leaders’ and ‘key opinion customers,’” explains Kahn, who sees the retail industry moving toward what she calls a “customer-centric, omnichannel experience.” “There are these massive influencers who spend a lot of time on video blogs and live streaming, and they really, authentically sell products. They have incredibly loyal customers or followers who watch what they do on their video, and a lot of the shopping is done through these live streaming events.”
Kahn believes we are only beginning to witness radical changes in retail (now hastened by the pandemic) which are poised to revolutionize shopping in every way. As she continues to follow the trends and build on her research, Kahn offers companies winning strategies for successfully competing in today’s and tomorrow’s retail environment.
Barbara E. Kahn is Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She served two terms as the director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center and now serves as Executive Director of the Marketing Science Institute (MSI) (2019-2021). Kahn spent 17 years at Wharton as the Dorothy Silberberg Professor of Marketing. She was also Vice Dean of the Wharton Undergraduate program. She then served as the Dean and Schein Professor of Marketing at the School of Business Administration, University of Miami from 2007 to 2011.
Kahn has published more than 75 articles in leading academic journals and been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, NPR, Washington Post, Fortune, Fast Company and Forbes, as well as on NPR and The Today Show, among other outlets. In addition to “The Shopping Revolution,” she is the author of “Global Brand Power: Leveraging Branding for Long-Term Growth” and co-author of “Grocery Revolution: The New Focus on the Consumer.”
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. 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 to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Retailing and brand marketing strategist Barbara Kahn offers customized, interactive workshops to both leaders and teams during which she can discuss any or all the following:
• Using the Kahn Retailing Success Matrix to identify key metrics and optimize selling strategies
• How businesses and retailers can succeed in an era of endless disruption – based on her bestselling book
• How to become an omnichannel retailer
• Keys to creating a frictionless shopping experience
• The purpose and look of a future retail store
• The future of retail
• China’s “new retail”
• Emerging technologies and apps in retail
• How to win Generation Z, a growing consumer base
• Visual marketing
• Consumer behavior
• Strategic brand management