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  • Dr. Barbara Kahn author of The Shopping Revolution
    Dr. Barbara Kahn author of The Shopping Revolution
  • Barbara Kahn, Wharton: The Shopping Revolution: Winning Customers in an Age of Disruption
    Barbara Kahn, Wharton: The Shopping Revolution: Winning Customers in an Age of Disruption
  • BizTalks 2015: Barbara Kahn on “Marketing Magic: Managing Consumer Perceptions.”
    BizTalks 2015: Barbara Kahn on “Marketing Magic: Managing Consumer Perceptions.”
  • Buiding Strong Brands by Barbara I Kahn
    Buiding Strong Brands by Barbara I Kahn
  • Prof. Barbara Kahn on Consumer Decision-Making Research
    Prof. Barbara Kahn on Consumer Decision-Making Research

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®.

Barbara Kahn was last modified: October 30th, 2023 by Whitney Jennings

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Win Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption

Radical changes caused by a global pandemic have revolutionized consumer behavior. Consumers’ expectations changed overnight, resulting in success for some firms that pivoted quickly while accelerating decline for firms that were not able to adapt as quickly. In this engaging talk, Wharton marketing Professor Barbara Kahn examines the companies that have been most successful during this wave of change and offers insights into what we can learn from their ascendance. Building on these insights, she outlines her “Kahn Success Matrix,” which provides a framework any company can use to survive and thrive during disruption.

How Retailers Can Succeed in an Era of Unprecedented Disruption

When Amazon took over the world it disrupted every corner of the retail industry. In the past year, that trend only accelerated due to the pandemic. How, then, can retailers compete and survive in such a David and Goliath marketplace? “The shift in the retail sector is permanent and companies must think strategically and long-term to remain relevant,” says Barbara Kahn, Wharton School marketing professor and a leading authority on retailing and branding. In this presentation, based on her updated bestselling book “The Shopping Revolution: How Retailers Succeed in an Era of Endless Disruption Accelerated by Covid-19,” Kahn shares her proprietary Kahn Retailing Success Matrix and reveals what we can learn from companies like Lululemon and Walmart, who transformed in the face of unprecedented challenges and firmly repositioned themselves for long-term growth.

The Future of Retail: How to Embrace the New Shopping Experience

The pandemic drastically and suddenly changed the shopping experience, forcing retailers and customers to engage online. This became a problem for a percentage of shoppers who only knew how to (or preferred to) shop in stores. “Consumers expect seamless integration wherever they shop across online, offline and mobile touchpoints,” says Wharton Marketing Professor Barbara Kahn. “For consumers, shopping is not really one channel or another. It is an omnichannel experience.” In this presentation, Kahn explains why companies must personalize the shopping experience and rethink the look and purpose of brick-and-mortar locations. She also highlights current and future retail trends, outlines key metrics, and discusses alternative approaches such as China’s “shoppertainment” retailing model.

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 offers 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.

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

Praise for “The Shopping Revolution”

Silver Winner, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards & Finalist, 2018 Foreword Indies Book of the Year

“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,

“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, General Partner, XRC Labs

“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, CEO, Tory Burch

“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