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David Bell
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Customer Experience & Consumer Behavior / Strategy / Technology / Must-Read Books / Digital Transformation, Information Technology & Data Analytics / Entrepreneurial Thinking & Investment Strategies / Marketing, Branding & Sales


  • David Bell: The Branding And Direct-To-Consumer Revolution | OMR Festival 2019 | #OMR19
    David Bell: The Branding And Direct-To-Consumer Revolution | OMR Festival 2019 | #OMR19
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    How the Offline World Affects Online Commerce
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    Nailing it in Retail - David Bell - Mastercard LAC Innovation Forum 2017
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    Clicks & Mortar: Driving Information and Fulfillment
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    David Bell discusses Spring Festival spending phenomenon
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    Consumers look to reduce waste, expand wardrobe through subscription services
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    David Bell takes a look at the rising trends in China's growing retail market
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    Prof. David Bell explains Alibaba's new retail strategy
  • Professor David Bell on Digital Marketing: Wharton Lifelong Learning Tour
    Professor David Bell on Digital Marketing: Wharton Lifelong Learning Tour
  • Wharton Global Forum Bangkok 2015: Innovation: Online and Offline with David Bell
    Wharton Global Forum Bangkok 2015: Innovation: Online and Offline with David Bell
  • David Bell on luxury brands going e commerce
    David Bell on luxury brands going e commerce
  • David Bell: The Branding And Direct-To-Consumer Revolution | OMR Festival 2019 | #OMR19
    David Bell: The Branding And Direct-To-Consumer Revolution | OMR Festival 2019 | #OMR19

Learn More About David Bell

Digital transformation is moving at breakneck speed, and businesses in every sector must embrace the changes or risk getting left behind. How do companies that excelled in the “old economy” adapt to the new? How do they leverage their traditional strengths while embracing new ones? David R. Bell is a pioneering scholar and thinker on the changes brought about by the digital economy and a specialist in integrating the digital world with the real one. He equips companies with new methods for surviving challenges and harnessing opportunities in a world that is radically different from the one in which their business models were formed.

A widely-acknowledged authority on consumer trends in the digital economy, Bell was referred to in Inc. Magazine in 2018 as the “guru of the direct to consumer movement” and heralded as “The man who kick started the direct brand economy.” Bell’s research has led him to actionable conclusions on how firms can compete in the digital economy. These range from understanding the psychology of younger shoppers to building powerful brand narratives that compete on more than just product, as well as merging “brick-and-mortar” stores with digital experiences. Essentially, Bell argues that companies in every industry must raise their efforts to compete in an ever more hyper-competitive landscape. These are not just observations on digital transformation – they are concrete solutions. Bell’s formulas and frameworks – from the B.O.S.S. Model for reaching Millennial consumers to the G.R.A.V.I.T.Y. Model/metaphor for thinking about how real world-virtual world interaction drives business success – are methodological, practical and can be implemented by companies straddling the digital divide across multiple industries.

Bell’s best-selling book, “Location Is (Still) Everything” (New Harvest, 2014), focuses on how we use the Internet to shop and search for information. Its key thesis – that real-world factors systematically drive virtual world behaviors – is reinforced though rigorous analysis and countless proven examples. Most recently, he co-authored “Pharma 3D: Rewriting the Script for Pharma Marketing in the Digital Age,” an e-book revealing how pharma companies can capitalize on patient engagement through digital marketing.

An entrepreneur, author and scholar, Bell is president and co-founder of Idea Farm Ventures, a  permanent capital consumer lifestyle venture studio based in New York City. Previously, he had a twenty-year academic career at the Wharton School where he held the Xinmei Zhang and Yongge Dai Professorship, was an award-winning teacher and researcher, and created the school’s first MBA and executive education courses on digital marketing and e-commerce. His engaging and provocative style is popular with students and business leaders alike in both the physical and virtual classrooms. More than 550,000 students worldwide have signed up for his online marketing management course on Offline, he has taught thousands of executives and students not only at Wharton, but also MIT, INSEAD, UCLA, and the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and Skolkovo School of Business in Moscow.

A sought-after advisor and seed investor, Bell invested in and worked with such transformative brands as Bonobos, Cotopaxi, Harry’s, Jet and Warby Parker, among numerous others. A New Zealand citizen, he received his doctorate from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

David Bell 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®.

David Bell was last modified: August 18th, 2022 by Justin Louis

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The B.O.S.S. Model: Appealing to Millennials in a Digital World

The Millennial consumer is transforming and upending the economy, and yet the nuances of how these consumers behave, and the outsized influence they wield, are poorly understood. As a result, large incumbent firms are being outperformed by nimble younger companies led by Millennial executives, who naturally have far greater insight into this generation’s spending habits, impulses and values. According to digital marketing expert David Bell, the relationship between the rise of Millennial customers and the disruption of traditional businesses is symbiotic: both drive and inform each other. Based on deep research of successful startup companies, and the subject of his forthcoming book, Bell devised the “B.O.S.S. Model,” a framework to help companies develop ways to understand, relate to and ultimately compete for the business of Millennials. The framework – Bonding, not branding; Orators, not customers; Showrooms, not stores; Science, not service – requires leaders to completely rethink how they approach and sell to this unique generation, and covers the connection, people, physical spaces and data science needed to appeal to Millennials (and the generations they influence). Millennials represent the buying patterns and values of the future, and companies must begin transforming their approach to marketing and sales now. Bell’s grounded and practical B.O.S.S. Model will be the first comprehensive blueprint for thriving during this wave of transformation.

The Future of Retail

Notwithstanding Niels Bohr’s maxim that, “It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” the next five years of retail will be remembered for a transition from historical to future models. That transition, says David Bell, will be powered by twin revolutions in tactile experience and digital efficiency. Historical retail combines all the elements of the customer journey—product search, customer service, and product fulfillment, in one physical location (like department stores or car dealerships twenty years ago). Future retail is a seamless customer experience that parses this journey into a new, optimal mix of online and offline components (like Bonobos Guide Shop pop-ups and Tesla Showrooms). In particular:

  • The tactile experience when offline becomes more relevant, not less. Digitally-native brands (from Away, Bonobos and Casper to Warby Parker) lead the way with showrooms, pop-ups, and offline innovations that drive deep and lasting brand relationships. Brands born on the Internet, including Amazon, double down on physical spaces.
  • The digital efficiency of search is uncoupled from physical fulfillment. Customers “pre-shop” seamlessly on the path to purchase, BOPS (“Buy Online Pick up in Store”) is ubiquitous in legacy retail, and shoppers customize pricing, delivery, and return options to suit their needs (e.g.,

Specialists emerge across all elements of the customer journey for curation, customization, financing, servicing, delivery and returns. In this presentation, Bell shows how the key factor will not be that the components of the retail journey change, but that “who does what” will turn upside down.

Location is Still Everything: Transforming Commerce

Conventional wisdom holds that the internet has made the world flat and erased the impact of the physical world on what we buy and where we buy it (online or offline). Paradoxically, the rise of internet-connected devices and commerce innovation have made it more important to understand physical world geography and relationships, not less. Drawing from his award-winning book, “Location Is (Still) Everything,” David Bell provides a powerful and practical metaphor and framework – GRAVITY – for thinking about how real world-virtual world interaction drives business success. GRAVITY embodies the levers executives must understand (Geography, Resistance, Adjacency, Vicinity, Isolation, Topography and You) in order to navigate the new commerce landscape. In this presentation, Bell shows audiences how to deploy the GRAVITY framework to drive commerce, leverage proven strategies for success from leading digital-first brands, and understand and capitalize on consumers’ behavior – online and off.

How to Win in the Digital Economy

The business world is in the throes of the digital age. But just because digital marketing is indispensable doesn’t mean we can ignore the impact of offline presence. More than ever, consumers still need to interact with brands in person. Social interaction, frictionless transacting and mobile-enabled commerce create unparalleled opportunities, and yet also impose discipline and risk on new and established firms alike. David Bell provides research-driven and actionable insights into how firms must navigate this new environment and illuminates several examples from various industries. Bell discusses how to:

  • build a lasting brand narrative;
  • engage, retain and rapidly scale the customer base;
  • execute the three levers of digital brand-building, and
  • apply the LAW of Digital (Leverage, Amplify, Win Local)

Retail Innovation and How to Thrive in an Omni-Channel World

David Bell has been immersed in retail and consumer behavior since his days as a PhD student at Stanford pouring over scanner panel transaction data. He has authored award-winning research on retail pricing strategies (e.g., high-low pricing, EDLP) and in-store consumer behavior. Now, he focuses on retail transformation in logistics and information delivery where his ongoing work with established players as well as young digital-first brands like Bonobos and Warby Parker – both born online and now have thriving retail locations ­– continues to evolve. Bell discusses the future of marketing and e-commerce, and how to build the right omni-channel experiences for the right customers in the right locations. Furthermore, he shows leaders how to execute logistics and information innovations, illuminating why they need to be put in place, as well as how to navigate and thrive in an omni-channel world.

Unlocking Pharma Potential By Engaging Patients Online

Pharma, relative to some other sectors, has been slow to embrace digital transformation. The traditional method of marketing pharmaceuticals to physicians and patients is no longer effective, and doctors have been replaced by Google as the primary source of information for patients.  The digital potential in healthcare is enormous with 1 in 20 Google searches relating to “health.” Drawing on his work in “Pharma 3D: Rewriting the Script for Pharma Marketing in the Digital Age,” David Bell elaborates on the trends and opportunities facing pharma organizations and provides an actionable framework to help them win in the digital health care economy. He helps pharma leaders understand how to deploy care-flows, implement the 3D (Discovery, Design, Deliver) model, and emulate best practices from leading in-care pharma case studies.

Pointers to the Future

October 18, 2014

Winning in the Digital Economy

Two-Day Short Course Agenda

The main goal of this program is to help business leaders understand and execute against the key principles and opportunities for winning in the digital economy. To deliver against this objective, David Bell will emphasize fundamental concepts in economics, marketing, and consumer behaviour and pay (somewhat) less attention to particular tools of the digital economy, which are by nature more transient.

An ancillary goal for this workshop is to establish the importance of data and frameworks in driving this process. To reinforce both goals, participants will utilize a mixture of group discussion and project work, lectures, case assignments, and numerous practical examples of success (and failure) from both within your immediate sector, and without.

“David is an engaging, provocative, energetic and clear speaker. Importantly, his deep reservoir of ‘on the ground experience’ translates to pragmatic approaches to modern age problem-solving. The three-hour session we had with David flew by, making our group want more and request that we have a return visit. His knowledge, passion and practical experience make him an impactful speaker and mentor. Two thumbs up!”

David Castellani, Senior Vice President and Business Information Officer, New York Life

“I have had the fortune to have David as a speaker at two AOL events… Both events put David front and center amid a room of senior brand marketing and digital advertising executives. David shined, creating a warm and intimate setting through which our attendees listened, laughed and learned. In addition to being an expert in the fields of e-commerce and consumer shopping behavior, David’s ability to weave complex research findings into highly digestible real-life stories and examples made his presentations interesting and engaging. In that, David’s presentations were regarded as the most valuable and memorable by our attendees at both events.”

Greg Skipper, Vice President, AOL Advertising

“David’s presentation on how location affects a consumer’s shopping behavior was both insightful and fascinating. The research and content resonated with nearly all of the top retailers at the summit and many requested that he return again next year. His presentation style kept people engaged and wanting to learn more. We can’t thank him enough for all of his preparation and hope to work with him again next year.”

Elizabeth Fabiani, Google

“David is able to deliver his presentations in every location – his interactive, engaging style and genuine enthusiasm for the topic ensured that a very private sector-oriented topic was well received, and that its relevance for our organization was clearly understood. In particular, his research on how location affects consumer behaviour and information dispersion resonated particularly well with our audience as an international organization located in Paris. I very much hope that we get to work David again in the future.”

Makoto Miyasako, OECD

“David is such a wonderful speaker! His ability to engage with the audience is impressive. He gave a very effective and interesting presentation on the importance of our physical surroundings in how we buy, online or offline, that says a lot about consumer behavior in this era. It’s such a refreshing topic!! His message is important to hear if you own a business, and even if you don’t, it’s important to reflect on what he talks about. David delivered his presentation in an entertaining way while getting his point across to the entire audience. He was truly amazing and we would be very lucky to have him speak at one of our events again!”

Leonor Silva, ISEM