Barbara E. Kahn

Barbara E. Kahn
  • Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor
  • Professor of Marketing

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    772 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    3730 Walnut Street
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: brand loyalty, brand management, consumer choice, customer relationship management, customization, decisions under uncertainty/ambiguity, medical and financial services, price promotions, product assortments, retailing, variety seeking

Links: CV

Overview

Barbara E. Kahn is Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. She served as Director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center and as Executive Director of Marketing Science Institute (MSI). Barbara also served as the Dean and Schein Professor of Marketing at the School of Business Administration, University of Miami and as the Vice Dean of the Wharton undergraduate program.

Barbara is an internationally recognized scholar on retailing, variety-seeking, brand loyalty, product assortment and design, and consumer and patient decision-making. She has published more than 75 articles in leading academic journals. She is the author of Global Brand Power: Leveraging Branding for Long-Term Growth and The Shopping Revolution (revised and updated): How Retailers Succeed in an Era of Endless Disruption Accelerated by Covid-19, and coauthor of Grocery Revolution: The New Focus on the Consumer. She has been featured in CNN, CNBC, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, NPR, Vox, Politico, and the Hidden Brain Podcast.

Barbara has been elected president of both Association for Consumer Research (ACR) and Journal of Consumer Research Policy Board and selected as an MSI trustee. She was associate editor at Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, and Marketing Science and has served on the editorial boards of all major marketing journals. She was elected as a Fellow for both ACR and Society for Consumer Psychology (SCP).

Barbara received her PhD, MBA, and MPhil from Columbia University, and her BA from University of Rochester.

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Research

  • Eric Bradlow, Raghuram Iyengar, Barbara E. Kahn, Jerry (Yoram) Wind (2021), Wharton Marketing: Where Academia Meets Practice, Customer Needs and Solutions .

    Description: Bradlow, E.T., Iyengar, R., Kahn, B.E. et al. Wharton Marketing: Where Academia Meets Practice,  Customer Needs and Solutions (2021)

  • Julio Sevilla, Tong Lu, Barbara E. Kahn (2019), Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 29, pp. 89-103.

    Abstract: In this article, we examine the different ways in which consumers balance their consumption behavior in order to maximize utility. In particular, we focus on how people balance repeating the same options with the decision to seek variety. While earlier research represented variety seeking as a means of reducing physical satiation (McAlister, 1982), more recent research suggests that the relationship between choosing variety and minimizing satiation is more complex, as these behaviors may be motivated and influenced by exogenous factors. Past reviews have largely looked at the two processes separately. In this article, we discuss the nuanced relationship between these two constructs and point to future research directions that may help us further understand how consumers tackle the everyday challenge of maximizing enjoyment over time. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

  • Barbara E. Kahn, The Shopping Revolution: How Successful Retailers Win Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption (Philadelphia: Wharton Digital Press, 2018)

  • Barbara E. Kahn (2016), Using Visual Design to Improve Customer Perceptions of Online Assortments, Journal of Retailing.

    Abstract: In the future, we expect to see more shopping on-line or on smart phones. This suggests that understanding how visual design decisions can influence consumers' reactions to online assortments is important. New advances in neuro-marketing techniques, such as sophisticated eye tracking methodology, can help understand exactly what drives consumers' attention and processing efficiency. Visual stimuli on small screens is frequently processed very quickly leading to perceptions that form automatically often without cognitive intervention. Thus, savvy retailers should strategically use design elements of the assortments and of packaging to direct attention and increase the ease of processing. Assortments that are easier to process are liked more and are judged to have more perceived variety. Complexity must be minimized so that assortments can be parsed immediately. Categorization, organizational structure, filtering and other design elements can also help with choice overload. Keywords: online retailing, perceived variety, product assortment, perceptual fluency, attention, graphic design, visual complexity, choice overload  

  • Julio Sevilla and Barbara E. Kahn (2016), The Effect of Product Shape Completeness on Size Perceptions, Preference and Consumption, Journal of Marketing Research, LI, pp. 57-68.

  • Julio Sevilla, Joao Zhang, Barbara E. Kahn (2016), Anticipation of Future Variety Reduces Satiation from Current Experiences, Journal of Marketing Research.

    Abstract: Satiation frequently occurs from repeated consumption of the same items over time. However, results from five experiments show that when people anticipate consuming something different in the future, they satiate at a slower rate in the present. The authors find the effect in both food and nonfood consumption settings using different approaches to measure satiation. This effect is cognitive; specifically, anticipating variety in future consumption generates positive thoughts about that future experience. The authors find two boundary conditions: the future consumption outcome must be (1) in a related product category and (2) at least as attractive as the present consumption outcome. The authors rule out potential alternative explanations such as mere exposure to variety, the possibility that the future experience is more attractive (rather than just different) than the current one, and perceptions of scarcity associated with the item consumed in the present. Keywords: satiation, variety seeking, consumption

  • Lorena Martin, J. F. Signorile, Barbara E. Kahn, A. W Perkins, S. Ahn, A. C. Perry (2016), Improving Exercise Adherence and Physical Measures in English-Speaking Latina Women, Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

  • Xiaoyan Deng, Barbara E. Kahn, H. Rao Unnava, Hyojin Lee (2016), A “Wide” Variety: The Effects of Horizontal vs. Vertical Product Display, Journal of Marketing Research.

  • Barbara E. Kahn, Alexander Chernev, Ulf Bockenholt, Kate Bundorf, Michaela Draganska, Ryan Hamilton, Robert J. Meyer, Klaus Wertenbroch (2014), Consumer and Managerial Goals in Assortment Choice, Marketing Letters, 25, pp. 293-303.

  • Claudia Townsend and Barbara E. Kahn (2014), The “Visual Preference Heuristic:” The Influence of Visual versus Verbal Depiction on Assortment Processing, Perceived Variety, and Choice Overload, Journal of Consumer Research.

Teaching

Past Courses

  • MKTG101 - INTRO TO MARKETING

    The objective of this course is to introduce students to the concepts, analyses, and activities that comprise marketing management, and to provide practice in assessing and solving marketing problems. The course is also a foundation for advanced electives in Marketing as well as other business/social disciplines. Topics include marketing strategy, customer behavior, segmentation, market research, product management, pricing, promotion, sales force management and competitive analysis.

  • MKTG211 - CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

    This course is concerned with how and why people behave as consumers. Its goals are to: (1) provide conceptual understanding of consumer behavior, (2) provide experience in the application of buyer behavior concepts to marketing management decisions and social policy decision-making; and (3) to develop analytical capability in using behavioral research.

  • MKTG239 - VISUAL MARKETING

    As consumers, we are constantly exposed to advertisements and experience visual messages from product packages in stores, retail displays, and products already owned. In essence, visual marketing collateral is omnipresent and is an essential part of corporate visual identity, strategy, branding, and communication. Some of this falls to creative graphic design, but advertising, design, and marketing can also be significantly enhanced by knowledge of how visual information and its presentation context can be optimized to deliver desirable and advantageous messages and experiences. This course will emphasize how to measure, interpret, and optimize visual marketing. This course will use lectures, discussions, exercises and a group project, to help students understand the underlying processes that influence our visual perception and visual cognition. Students will learn about the theoretical processes and models that influence, attention and visual fluency. Students will also be exposed to eye-tracking instruments that help measure eye movement. Finally, we will explore how visual stimuli can influence consumer memory, persuasion, and choice. We will examine practical applications in marketing, advertising, packaging, retail, and design contexts.

  • MKTG399 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

  • MKTG611 - MARKETING MANAGEMENT

    This course addresses how to design and implement the best combination of marketing efforts to carry out a firm's strategy in its target markets. Specifically, this course seeks to develop the student's (1) understanding of how the firm can benefit by creating and delivering value to its customers, and stakeholders, and (2) skills in applying the analytical concepts and tools of marketing to such decisions as segmentation and targeting, branding, pricing, distribution, and promotion. The course uses lectures and case discussions, case write-ups, student presentations, and a comprehensive final examination to achieve these objectives.

  • MKTG6110 - Marketing Management

    This course addresses how to design and implement the best combination of marketing efforts to carry out a firm's strategy in its target markets. Specifically, this course seeks to develop the student's (1) understanding of how the firm can benefit by creating and delivering value to its customers, and stakeholders, and (2) skills in applying the analytical concepts and tools of marketing to such decisions as segmentation and targeting, branding, pricing, distribution, and promotion. The course uses lectures and case discussions, case write-ups, student presentations, and a comprehensive final examination to achieve these objectives.

  • MKTG711 - CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

    Marketing begins and ends with the customer, from determining customers' needs and wants to providing customer satisfaction and maintaining customer relationships. This course examines the basic concepts and principles in customer behavior with the goal of understanding how these ideas can be used in marketing decision making. The class will consist of a mix of lectures, discussions, cases, assignments, project work and exams. Topics covered include customer psychological processes (e.g., motivation, perception, attitudes, decision-making) and their impact on marketing (e.g., segmentation, branding, and customer satisfaction). The goal is to provide you with a set of approaches and concepts to consider when faced with a decision involving understanding customer responses to marketing actions.

  • MKTG739 - VISUAL MARKETING

    As consumers, we are constantly exposed to advertisements and experience visual messages from product packages in stores, retail displays, and products already owned. In essence, visual marketing collateral is omnipresent and is an essential part of corporate visual identity, strategy, branding, and communication. Some of this falls to creative graphic design, but advertising, design, and marketing can also be significantly enhanced by knowledge of how visual information and its presentation context can be optimized to deliver desirable and advantageous messages and experiences. This course will emphasize how to measure, interpret, and optimize visual marketing. This course will use lectures, discussions, exercises and a group project, to help students understand the underlying processes that influence our visual perception and visual cognition. Students will learn about the theoretical processes and models that influence, attention and visual fluency. Students will also be exposed to eye-tracking instruments that help measure eye movement. Finally, we will explore how visual stimuli can influence consumer memory, persuasion, and choice. We will examine practical applications in marketing, advertising, packaging, retail, and design contexts.

  • MKTG778 - STRATEGIC BRAND MGMT

    Which brands make you happy? Apple? Amazon? Starbucks? Everlane? Soulcycle? Sweetgreen? What draws you into these brands? How do companies create compelling brand experiences? How could you cultivate a well-loved brand? This course explores such questions with the goal of identifying the ingredients for building an inspired brand. The course is created for students interested in building a brand and/or immersing themselves in the enhancement of an existing brand, and it is comprised of lectures, cases, guest speakers, discussions, in and out of class exercises, and a final project. Broadly, the course will be divided into four parts: 1) Understanding Brand, 2) Crafting Brand, 3) Measuring Brand, and 4) Managing Brand. The course will provide students with an appreciation of the role of branding and (taking a consumer-centric approach) will augment students' ability to think creatively and critically about the strategies and tactics involved in building, leveraging, defending, and sustaining inspired brands.

  • MKTG897 - ADVANCED STUDY

    New retail brands and opportunities for growth are emerging at an unprecedented rate, for online retailers and offline retailers alike. In this course we will: (1) articulate key principles for successful branding and for understanding consumer shopping behavior in retail environments, (2) demonstrate unique challenges and opportunities that luxury brands face, and (3) discuss concepts and empirical methods for analyzing consumer shopping behavior.

  • MKTG8970 - Advanced Study

    The luxury industry has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with some estimates suggesting a contraction of over 20%. Some of the changes in consumer behavior directly affected luxury in the short-term, but these changes in behavior may eventually revert to past history when the pandemic is over. Examples of these include the drop in tourism travel, work from home trends, reduced traffic to physical retail and malls, and the reduction of festive social activities (e.g., weddings). Other trends affected many industries and are likely to fundamentally change consumer behavior long-term: (1) net zero retail now, (2) digital by design, (3) thoughtful experience, (4) re-localization and (5) lead with purpose. This course explores the special challenges that are faced by luxury brands as they try to navigate rapidly evolving shopping behaviors in both the online and offline environments. In this course we will articulate the key principles for successful luxury branding & experiences and focus on the challenges and opportunities that luxury brands face. Although we will have some traditional lecture/discussion classes, the course is primarily experiential. We will explore luxury broadly across many product categories. We will learn from what we see on location, but we will also critically assess how companies are coping with the challenges of the post-covid retailing environment.

  • MKTG899 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

    A student contemplating an independent study project must first find a faculty member who agrees to supervise and approve the student's written proposal as an independent study (MKTG 899). If a student wishes the proposed work to be used to meet the ASP requirement, he/she should then submit the approved proposal to the MBA adviser who will determine if it is an appropriate substitute. Such substitutions will only be approved prior to the beginning of the semester.

  • MKTG8990 - Independent Study

    A student contemplating an independent study project must first find a faculty member who agrees to supervise and approve the student's written proposal as an independent study (MKTG 899). If a student wishes the proposed work to be used to meet the ASP requirement, he/she should then submit the approved proposal to the MBA adviser who will determine if it is an appropriate substitute. Such substitutions will only be approved prior to the beginning of the semester.

  • MKTG951 - JUDMNT & DEC MAKING CB B

    The purpose of this course is to build off MKTG 950, "Judgment and Decision Making Perspectives on Consumer Behavior - Part A" with a more specialized focus that will vary from year to year. This course is intended for those interested in deepening their study of Judgment and Decision Making beyond the basics.

  • MKTG971 - ADV TOPICS MKTG PART A

    Taught collectively by the faculty members from the Marketing Department, this course investigates advanced topics in marketing. It is organized in a way that allows students to 1) gain depth in important areas of research identified by faculty; 2) gain exposure to various faculty in marketing and their research values and styles; and 3) develop and advance their own research interests.

  • MKTG972 - ADV TOPICS MKTG PART B

    Taught collectively by the faculty members from the Marketing Department, this course investigates advanced topics in marketing. It is organized in a way that allows students to 1) gain depth in important areas of research identified by faculty; 2) gain exposure to various faculty in marketing and their research values and styles; and 3) develop and advance their own research interests.

  • MKTG974 - RESEARCH SEM MKTG PART B

    This course is taught collectively by the faculty members from the Marketing Department. It is designed to expose Doctoral students to the cutting-edge research in marketing models in order to help them to define and advance their research interests. This course will offer: in-depth discussions on some important topics in marketing by experts in respective areas; tools, and methodologies required for conducting research in those areas; broad exposure to our faculty members and their proven research styles.

  • MKTG999 - INDEPENDENT STUDY

    Requires written permission of instructor and the department graduate adviser.

Awards and Honors

  • Fellow, Association for Consumer Research, 2016, 2016
  • Fellow, Society of Consumer Psychology 2016, 2016
  • Davidson Award for the Best article in Journal of Retailing 2005, 2007
  • Finalist for Best Article, JCR, 2007
  • Elected President of Association of Consumer Research, 2006
  • Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research (CECCR), 2005 Description

    Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania, $15,000.

  • Wharton-SMU Research Center Grant, 2005 Description

    With S. Varghese and M. Lee, “Retrospective Preference for Variety: An Ease of Retrieval Perspective,” $38,422.22

  • Wharton-SMU Research Center Grant, 2004 Description

    With M. F. Luce and S.Ramaswami, “Retail Assortment Variety Issues: Conflict Resolution in Store versus Brand Choice,” $66,000

  • Wharton-SMU Research Center Grant, 2003 Description

    With S. RAmaswami, “Retail and Internet Assortment Variety Issues,” $33,500

  • Consortium Faculty, AMA Consortium, 1992 Description

    1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003

  • SCP-SHETH Dissertation Proposal Competition winner, 2002 Description

    Advisors: Barbara Kahn and Mary Frances Luce, Candidate: Elizabeth Miller

  • Marketing Science Institute Grant, 2003 Description

    With K. Grashoff and M.F. Luce, $3200

  • Wharton School Grant, 1990 Description

    Summer salary support, 1990-2000

  • Nestles’ Lecturer, Lund Institute of Economics, 1999
  • David W. Hauck Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Undergraduate Division, 1999
  • 2000 William R. Davidson Award, 1998 Description

    For article in the Journal of Retailing, Best Contribution to Theory and Practice in Retail Marketing, third prize, Huffman and Kahn, “Variety for Sale: Mass Customization or Mass Confusion?”

  • Earl Dyess Lecturer, Texas Christian University, 1998
  • National Science Foundation Grant, 1998 Description

    Proposal No. #SBR-9730182,”The Subjective Value of Information in High-Stakes Domains: An Analysis of Patient Decisions to Obtain Diagnostic Testing,” (with M.F. Luce), 1998. Renewed, 1999-2001 (Total Amount Funded: $315,000)

  • John A. Howard Doctoral Dissertation Award, 1996 Description

    Advisor: Barbara Kahn, Candidate: Satya Menon

  • Marketing Science Institute Grant, 1995 Description

    With C. Huffman, $5000.

  • First Runner-Up for Best Article Award, 1991 Description

    Journal of Retailing: Kahn and Lehmann, “Modeling Choice among Assortments”

  • Finalist for the O’Dell Award, 1991 Description

    Kahn, Kalwani, and Morrison, Journal of Marketing Research (paper 1986)

  • Marketing Science Institute Grant, 1990 Description

    With B. Harlam and L. Lodish, $5000

  • Chancellor’s Faculty Career Development Award, UCLA, 1988
  • UCLA summer research support, 1989 Description

    1984-89

  • Beta Gama Sigma, 1982 Description

    1982 MBA; 1984 Ph.D., Columbia University

  • AMA Doctoral Consortium Fellow, 1983
  • New York Chapter TIMS, “Management Science Student of the Year”, 1982
  • Doctoral fellowship in Marketing, Columbia University, 1982 Description

    1982-84

  • Nicholas and Suzanne Bachner Samstag Fellowship, Columbia University, 1980 Description

    MBA program, 1980-82

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Latest Research

Eric Bradlow, Raghuram Iyengar, Barbara E. Kahn, Jerry (Yoram) Wind (2021), Wharton Marketing: Where Academia Meets Practice, Customer Needs and Solutions .
All Research

In the News

Holiday Holdup: Can We Solve Our Supply Chain Problems?

The disruptions to the global supply chain hold lessons for both companies and consumers, say Wharton professors Santiago Gallino and Barbara Kahn.Read More

Knowledge at Wharton - 11/8/2021
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20 Years of Knowledge@Wharton

In the two decades since its launch, Knowledge@Wharton has become an invaluable resource for lifelong learning online, on the radio, and on podcasts. Meet its visionary founder and the team that’s spreading insights and education to a global audience.

Wharton Magazine - 04/19/2019

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Growing up, Genna Zimmer, WG’20, didn’t realize the scale of her family’s jewelry business – she just knew that her dad worked at a jewelry store. It wasn’t until she was a teenager that she learned how her grandfather founded REEDS Jewelers after WWII to help celebrate the special moments…

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