John T. Gourville

Albert J. Weatherhead, Jr. Professor of Business Administration

Unit: Marketing

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John Gourville is the Albert J. Weatherhead, Jr. Professor of Business Administration at the  Harvard Business School.  He joined the HBS Marketing Unit in 1995 after receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in marketing and behavioral research.  He currently teaches Consumer Marketing in the second year of the MBA program.  Previously, he was the course head for the Core Marketing course in the first year and taught The Marketing of Innovations and Entrepreneurial Marketing in the second year of the MBA program.  In the HBS Executive Education program, he was recently the chair of Strategic Marketing Management program.  He also teaches in the Business-to-Business Marketing Strategy program, the Aligning Sales and Strategy program and the Program for Leadership Development. John also has participated in specialized executive education programs throughout the world.  Prior to receiving his Ph.D., John held management positions with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Mobil Oil, and New York Telephone.

John's research focuses on consumer decision making, especially in the areas of pricing and the adoption of innovations.  For instance, in several papers John has investigated subtle changes in the presentation of product price can lead to significant changes in a consumer's decision to purchase and consume that product.  In other work, he has looked at the impact of product variety on consumer choice and finds that offering a wide assortment of goods often harms a brand.  Finally, his current research investigates when and why innovative new products fail to gain traction in the marketplace.  John's research has appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Marketing Science, the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing Research, and in Marketing Letters.

Publications

Books

Journal Articles

  1. Pricing to Create Shared Value

    Many companies are in competition with their customers to extract as much value as possible from every transaction. Pricing is their weapon of choice, and consumers fight back by rooting out and disseminating pricing policies that seem unfair. The problem is that companies generally think of value as a pie that is rightfully theirs. But value is not fixed, and it neither originates with nor belongs solely to the firm. Without a willing customer, there is no value. Instead of using pricing in a way that turns customers into adversaries, companies can use it to enlarge the pie. That means viewing customers as partners in value creation—a collaboration that increases customers' engagement and taps their insights about the value they seek and how firms could deliver it. The result can be new revenue, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, positive word of mouth, and cost savings. The multiyear process to price the 8 million tickets to the upcoming London 2012 Olympic Games suggests five principles for using pricing to create shared value: focus on relationships, not on transactions, by using pricing to communicate that you value customers as people; set prices proactively to discourage detrimental behavior and to encourage behavior that is beneficial to both your firm and your customers; allow prices to change in response to shifting customer needs; promote transparency by providing the rationale for your pricing; and make sure that prices and the processes by which they are set meet consumers' expectations about what is fair.

    Keywords: Market Transactions; Customer Relationship Management; Price; Value Creation; Partners and Partnerships; Fairness;

    Citation:

    Bertini, Marco, and John T. Gourville. "Pricing to Create Shared Value." Harvard Business Review 90, no. 6 (June 2012). View Details
  2. The Best Way to Name Your Product 2.0

    Although there's ample research to guide marketers in naming new products, little of it has addressed follow-on offerings, even though these make up the bulk of new products in many industries. Companies have two basic strategies to choose from. They can stick with a name, often adding a sequential indicator (PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3), or they can come up with an entirely new name (Nintendo's Wii). Three questions managers should consider when deciding whether brand-name continuation or brand-name change is the best way to go for their next-generation product.

    Keywords: Research; Product Development; Managerial Roles; Brands and Branding;

    Citation:

    Bertini, Marco, John Gourville, and E. Ofek. "The Best Way to Name Your Product 2.0." Harvard Business Review 89, no. 5 (May 2011). View Details
  3. The Consumer Psychology of Mail-in Rebates

    Consumers who buy a product intending to use an accompanying mail-in rebate often do not redeem the rebate. To explain this behavior, we argue that consumers use an anchoring and adjustment approach to predicting the likelihood of redeeming a rebate. In keeping with previous research on anchoring and adjustment, for instance, we show that when presented with a desirable product, consumers anchor on scenarios of successful redemption and adjust insufficiently for things that could go wrong in the redemption process. However, we also propose this anchoring and adjustment process is impacted by a consumer's motivation to purchase the rebated product. In particular, we propose the anchor employed will be driven by the valence of a consumer's underlying motivation. Specifically, a consumer that is motivated to purchase the product will anchor on scenarios of successful redemption, while a consumer that is motivated to avoid purchasing will anchor on scenarios of failed redemption. We also propose that the degree of adjustment consumers employ will be driven by their strength of motivation-i.e., the stronger the motivation, the less the adjustment to the motivational anchor. Consequently, mail-in rebates either can serve to enhance or to dampen purchase intention depending on a consumer's underlying motivation. In other words, rebates offer consumers a means to justify a preferred course of action. Across a series of three studies, we show this to be the case.

    Keywords: Product Marketing; Consumer Behavior; Sales; Motivation and Incentives;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and Dilip Soman. "The Consumer Psychology of Mail-in Rebates." Journal of Product & Brand Management 20, no. 2 (2011). View Details
  4. When the Name Is the Game

    In Romeo and Juliet, the fair maiden asks, "What's in a name?" When it comes to marketing next-generation products for the global marketplace, we have done extensive research and found that names can play an enormous role in a product's success.

    Keywords: Globalized Markets and Industries; Product; Success;

    Citation:

    Bertini, Marco, John Gourville, and Elie Ofek. "When the Name Is the Game." Business Strategy Review 22, no. 3 (2011). View Details
  5. The Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising in Orthopaedics

    Keywords: Customers; Advertising; Health;

    Citation:

    Bozic, Kevin J., Amanda R. Smith, Sanaz Hariri, Sanjo Adeoye, John T. Gourville, William J. Maloney, Brian Parsley, and Harry E. Rubash. "The Impact of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising in Orthopaedics." Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, no. 458 (May 2007): 202–219. View Details
  6. Consumer Control and Empowerment: A Primer

    Citation:

    Wathieu, Luc, Lyle Brenner, Ziv Carmon, Amitava Chattopadhyay, Aimee Drolet, John T. Gourville, A.V. Muthukrishnan, et al. "Consumer Control and Empowerment: A Primer." Marketing Letters 13, no. 3 (August 2002): 297–305. View Details

Working Papers

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2014)

    An updated "Four Products" case. This 2014 version includes: raw lobster meat, electric-powered Formula One race cars, a 3D printer for cosmetics, and a “smart” tennis racket. These four products form the basis to assess the drivers of new product adoption. In particular, one of the critical tasks in the marketing of new innovations is predicting demand and rates of diffusion for those products. And while one can speculate on the scope and rate of diffusion for any given product, it's helpful to compare and contrast diffusion across products. Doing so allows one to focus on the drivers or product characteristics that influence product diffusion, making one product a star and another a dog. Specifically, looking across products allows one to pick up on things that get lost in discussing a single product. Note that this case often gets used with HBS Note #505-075, “Note on Innovation Diffusion: Rogers' Five Factors,” which either can be distributed along with the case or after the case has been taught.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Product Launch; Marketing; Demand and Consumers; Technology Adoption;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John. "Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2014)." Harvard Business School Case 515-023, August 2014. View Details
  2. Coca-Cola: Liquid and Linked

    Coca-Cola is considering which of several global marketing/promotional efforts to bring to the United States. Each has proven successful in other parts of the world, but for varying reasons. All represent efforts outside of the industry's normal advertising-based approach to marketing.

    Keywords: marketing; promotions; advertising; Marketing Strategy; Advertising Campaigns; Global Strategy; Food and Beverage Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John, and Noah Fisher. "Coca-Cola: Liquid and Linked." Harvard Business School Case 514-024, November 2013. View Details
  3. Singapore Metals Limited

    Singapore Metals Limited (SML) has declining sales but has developed a new product (curled metal pile driver pads) that, in field tests, delivers customer benefits that are many times SML's manufacturing costs. Jonathan Lee and Alex Tan of SML's Engineered Products Division are responsible for formulating a strategy for the new product. A key issue is the price to charge for the pads. The case raises issues of analyzing market potential, aligning price with business strategy, and determining the implications of price on the development and execution of integrated strategic options.

    Keywords: Metals and Minerals; Marketing Strategy; Price; Business Strategy; Product Development; Manufacturing Industry; Consumer Products Industry; Singapore;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Singapore Metals Limited." Harvard Business School Case 513-097, March 2013. View Details
  4. Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2011)

    An updated "Four Products" case. This 2011 version includes: sliced peanut butter, artificial dirt for thoroughbred race tracks, interactive tombstones, and stride-changing running shoes. These four products form the basis to assess the drivers of new product adoption. In particular, one of the critical tasks in marketing new innovations is predicting demand and rates of diffusion for those products. And while one can speculate on the scope and rate of diffusion for any given product, it's helpful to compare and contrast diffusion across products. Doing so allows one to focus on the drivers or product characteristics that influence product diffusion, making one product a star and another a dog. Specifically, looking across products allows one to pick up on things that get lost in discussing a single product. Note that this case often gets used with HBS No. 505-075, "Note on Innovation Diffusion: Rogers' Five Factors," which can be distributed along with the case or after the case has been taught.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Product Launch; Marketing;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2011)." Harvard Business School Case 512-047, November 2011. View Details
  5. The Future of Hybrid Electric Vehicles

    Set in 2002, this case looks at the potential for hybrid electric vehicles in the United States. Looks at the pressures on the automotive industry to produce a commercially viable, environmentally friendly vehicle and the consumer behavior surrounding purchase of those vehicles. Traces efforts over the years to produce electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel-cell vehicles. Presents the questions of whether and why hybrid electric vehicles will succeed where other alternative-fuel vehicles have failed.

    Keywords: Technological Innovation; Marketing Strategy; Consumer Behavior; Environmental Sustainability; Technology Adoption; Auto Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., Alice Tzou, and David Lane. "The Future of Hybrid Electric Vehicles." Harvard Business School Case 502-025, February 2002. (Revised April 2011.) View Details
  6. New York Life and Immediate Annuities

    By positioning Immediate Annuities as "guaranteed lifetime income," New York Life has built itself a $1.4 billion per year business by 2009. However, to make Immediate Annuities a mainstream financial product for retirees, New York Life must understand why many retirees are reluctant to buy them and many agents are reluctant to sell them.

    Keywords: Insurance; Personal Finance; Product Marketing; Consumer Behavior; Retirement; Salesforce Management; Insurance Industry;

    Citation:

    Rotemberg, Julio J., and John T. Gourville. "New York Life and Immediate Annuities." Harvard Business School Case 510-040, November 2009. (Revised March 2011.) View Details
  7. Barceló Hotels and Resorts (A)

    Barcelo Hotels and Resorts must decide whether to allow its many hotels to continue to undertake separate promotional campaigns or to run, for the first time, a broad corporate-level promotion. Complicating the decision is the fact that the many hotels in its portfolio vary greatly in their character, clientele, positioning, and locations.

    Keywords: Advertising Campaigns; Decision Choices and Conditions; Price; Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Corporate Strategy; Accommodations Industry;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and Marco Bertini. "Barceló Hotels and Resorts (A)." Harvard Business School Case 511-108, February 2011. View Details
  8. The London 2012 Olympic Games

    It's 2009 and Paul Williamson, Head of Ticketing, must finalize ticket prices for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Yet, there are many criteria to consider. First, given the importance of ticketing to the Games' bottom line, he has a strong incentive to maximize revenues. Second, because the entire world will be watching, he wants to maximize attendance-not just at the Opening Ceremony and swimming finals, which are easy sells, but also at events such as handball and table tennis, which are not. Third, he wants to fill seats with the right people-knowledgeable fans who add to the energy and atmosphere of the event. Finally, tickets have to be accessible not only to the world's elite but also to average Londoners, many of whom live around the corner from the Olympic Park.

    Keywords: Customer Satisfaction; Price; Profit; Revenue; Sales; Sports Industry; London;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and Marco Bertini. "The London 2012 Olympic Games." Harvard Business School Case 510-039, September 2009. (Revised February 2011.) View Details
  9. Exercise on Estimation

    This exercise is meant to assess students' level of confidence around everyday business and general knowledge questions, for the purpose of identifying where they are overconfident and underconfident.

    Keywords: Decision Making; Forecasting and Prediction; Personal Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Riis, Jason, and John T. Gourville. "Exercise on Estimation." Harvard Business School Exercise 509-022, September 2008. (Revised September 2010.) View Details
  10. Cabot Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

    Traces the 12-year career of a pharmaceutical salesperson, Bob Marsh, from recruitment to termination. Marsh has had an uneven career with Cabot Pharmaceuticals and eventually is asked to resign. Following his termination, a number of Marsh's former customers complain vigorously, and Cabot's vice president of sales is asked to investigate the matter and to decide what, if anything, to do about it. The case raises issues in aligning strategy and sales systems, performance evaluation criteria, and on-going performance management processes in field selling situations.

    Keywords: Customer Relationship Management; Employees; Resignation and Termination; Performance Evaluation; Salesforce Management; Alignment; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Cespedes, Frank V., and John T. Gourville. "Cabot Pharmaceuticals, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 510-030, August 2009. (Revised August 2012.) View Details
  11. Principles of Pricing

    Presents the basic principles of pricing, including value pricing, price sensitivity, and price customization/discrimination. A rewritten version of an earlier note.

    Keywords: Price; Marketing Strategy; Value;

    Citation:

    Dolan, Robert J., and John T. Gourville. "Principles of Pricing." Harvard Business School Background Note 506-021, September 2005. (Revised April 2009.) View Details
  12. Marketing as Competitive Advantage: Fundamentals

    Marketing as Competitive Advantage: Fundamentals will help today's business executives and tomorrow's business leaders understand the key elements of a successful marketing strategy. The multimedia resource includes video lectures by Harvard Business School faculty, who teach core principles of marketing, as well as animated frameworks, articles, and notes. Instructional workbook exercises will help you evaluate your own marketing efforts and create a marketing plan for your organization.

    Keywords: Customers; Framework; Marketing Strategy; Product Positioning; Planning; Competitive Advantage; Segmentation;

    Citation:

    Narayandas, Das, David E. Bell, Anita Elberse, John T. Gourville, David B. Godes, John A. Quelch, Gail J. McGovern, Luc R. Wathieu, and Marta Wosinska. "Marketing as Competitive Advantage: Fundamentals." Harvard Business School Class Lecture 509-719, October 2008. View Details
  13. Ti-Tech (A)

    This case concerns the selection and scheduling of orders by a small industrial titanium fabricator that recently has been plagued by poor deliveries and a lack of capacity. At the time of the case, Ti-Tech must decide which of four orders to accept, with capacity making it impossible to accept all four. Each order represents a different mix of labor, revenues, and potential future work. The case forces the student to choose among the four orders, given limited capacity available, other business likely to come along, and the requirements of each order. The case is an updated version of Fabtek (A).

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Metals and Minerals; Order Taking and Fulfillment; Supply Chain Management; Performance Capacity; Industrial Products Industry; Manufacturing Industry;

    Citation:

    Shapiro, Benson P., John T. Gourville, and Craig E. Cline. "Ti-Tech (A)." Harvard Business School Case 508-095, April 2008. (Revised May 2012.) View Details
  14. Ti-Tech (B)

    This case concerns the selection and scheduling of orders by a small industrial titanium fabricator that recently has been plagued by poor deliveries and a lack of capacity. At the time of the case, Ti-Tech must decide which of four orders to accept, with capacity making it impossible to accept all four. Each order represents a different mix of labor, revenues, and potential future work. The case forces the student to choose among the four orders, given limited capacity available, other businesses likely to come along, and the requirements of each order. The case is an updated version of an earlier supplement, Fabtek (B). It should be distributed in class after discussion of the (A) case.

    Keywords: Decisions; Order Taking and Fulfillment; Production; Performance Capacity; Marketing Strategy; Bids and Bidding; Manufacturing Industry; Industrial Products Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Shapiro, Benson P., and John T. Gourville. "Ti-Tech (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 508-096, April 2008. View Details
  15. Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2008)

    An updated "Four Products" case. This 2008 version includes: sliced peanut butter, foldable bicycle tires, high-end wooden puzzles, and artificial dirt for thoroughbred race tracks. These four products form the basis to assess the drivers of new product adoption. In particular, one of the critical tasks in the marketing of new innovations in predicting demand and rates of diffusion for those products. And while one can speculate on the scope and rate of diffusion for any given product, it's helpful to compare and contrast diffusion across products. Doing so allows one to focus on the drivers or product characteristics that influence product diffusion, making one product a star and another a dog. Specifically, looking across products allows one to pick up on things that get lost in discussing a single product. Note that this case often gets used with HBS No. 505-075, "Note on Innovation Diffusion: Rogers' Five Factors," which either can be distributed along with the case or after the case has been taught.

    Keywords: Forecasting and Prediction; Innovation and Invention; Product Marketing; Demand and Consumers; Adoption;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2008)." Harvard Business School Case 508-103, April 2008. View Details
  16. Pricing Simulation: Universal Car Rental

    This web-based simulation presents an engaging context in which students develop their knowledge of pricing by managing a rental car operation (Universal) in Florida and improve regional performance by developing a pricing strategy. The simulation involves three regions--Orlando, Tampa, and Miami--which vary in size, market dynamics, and customer mix. The focus is competition between two car rental companies with players inputting decisions for Universal. The simulation lasts up to 12 simulated months. Whether assigned as individuals or teams, players must set weekday and weekend prices for each region for each period (month) and make fleet capacity decisions at several points throughout the simulation. The simulation is asynchronous and can be assigned for homework. A Facilitator's Guide provides an overview of simulation screens as well as a Teaching Note with detailed commentary on debriefing the simulation. The simulation can be assigned and used in different ways to meet the needs of the instructor. For example, it can be assigned as a pre-class exercise with subsequent in-class debrief. Alternatively, given the range of variables at the professor's disposal, the professor can craft weekly assignments throughout the course which highlight specific learning objectives. Finally, the simulation can be run multiple times, with increasing complexity. Computer with minimum 1024x768 screen resolution, High speed internet connection (DSL / cable modem quality), Windows 2000, XP, or Vista / Macintosh operating systems, Internet Explorer 6+ / Firefox 2.0+ web browser with javascript and cookies enabled, Flash Player 9+ browser plug-in (Users with earlier versions of Flash will be notified automatically and given the option to upgrade. This is a free browser plug-in.), Microsoft Excel (optional).

    Keywords: Competition; Consumer Behavior; Price; Profit; Renting or Rental; Auto Industry; Service Industry; Miami; Orlando; Tampa;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Pricing Simulation: Universal Car Rental." Simulation and Teaching Note. Harvard Business School Publishing, 2008. Electronic. View Details
  17. Angels and Devils: Best Buy's New Customer Approach (A)

    In November 2004, The Wall Street Journal reported that consumer electronics retailer Best Buy's new customer approach was to shun the "devils" among its customers. The "customer centricity" initiative, which was led by Best Buy's CEO Brad Anderson, was based on an analysis of the purchase histories of several customer groups. The central idea was to revamp stores according to the most lucrative types of customers they served--the "angels" among the company's customers. Encourages an assessment of Best Buy's strategy and, more generally, of the challenges and opportunities in managing customers for profits.

    Keywords: History; Customer Relationship Management; Opportunities; Marketing Strategy; Leadership Style; Problems and Challenges; Growth and Development Strategy; Retail Industry; Electronics Industry;

    Citation:

    Elberse, Anita, John T. Gourville, and Das Narayandas. "Angels and Devils: Best Buy's New Customer Approach (A)." Harvard Business School Case 506-007, September 2005. (Revised February 2007.) View Details
  18. Angels and Devils: Best Buy's New Customer Approach (B)

    Keywords: Customer Relationship Management; Electronics Industry; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Elberse, Anita, John T. Gourville, and Das Narayandas. "Angels and Devils: Best Buy's New Customer Approach (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 506-008, September 2005. (Revised February 2007.) View Details
  19. Wildfire Communications,Inc. (A) and (B) (TN)

    Teaching Note for (9-396-305) and (9-396-306).

    Keywords: Business Startups; Performance Effectiveness; Business Processes; Technology Platform; Business Strategy; Markets;

    Citation:

    Lassiter, Joseph B., III, and John T. Gourville. "Wildfire Communications,Inc. (A) and (B) (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 801-141, September 2000. (Revised October 2006.) View Details
  20. Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2006)

    One of the critical tasks in the marketing of new innovations is predicting demand and rates of diffusion for those products. Focuses on four innovative products from different domains. Although one can speculate on the scope and rate of diffusion for each of these products independently, it's helpful to compare and contrast diffusion across these products. Doing so allows one to focus on the "levers" or product characteristics that influence product diffusion, making one product a star and another a dog. Importantly, looking across products allows one to pick up on things that get lost in discussing a single product.

    Keywords: Forecasting and Prediction; Innovation and Invention; Product Launch; Demand and Consumers; Technology Adoption;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2006)." Harvard Business School Case 506-050, January 2006. (Revised August 2006.) View Details
  21. Note on Innovation Diffusion: Rogers' Five Factors

    Reviews Everett Rogers' Five Factors of product adoption. These factors help explain why some products diffuse rapidly and some slowly or not at all.

    Keywords: Technology Adoption; Innovation and Invention;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Note on Innovation Diffusion: Rogers' Five Factors." Harvard Business School Background Note 505-075, May 2005. (Revised April 2006.) View Details
  22. Medicines Company, The

    It is early 2001 and the Medicines Co. just received FDA approval to market Angiomax, a blood thinner to be used during angioplasties and heart procedures. It is intended to be a better alternative to Heparin, an 80-year-old drug that costs less then $10 per dose. The company believes it can sell Angiomax for a much higher price than Heparin--but how much more? Angiomax also represents the first of several drugs being developed under a rather unique business model. The company is in the business of "rescuing" drugs that other companies have given up on--i.e., they purchase or license the rights to drugs that other companies have halted development on, with the intent of completing the development process and bringing the drug to market. With the success of Angiomax, the company feels that this business model has been validated.

    Keywords: Business Model; Change Management; Decision Choices and Conditions; Cost Management; Price; Product Marketing; Product Launch; Product Development; Risk and Uncertainty; Health Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Medicines Company, The." Harvard Business School Case 502-006, July 2001. (Revised August 2005.) View Details
  23. Microsoft: Launching the Smart Watch

    Microsoft is on the verge of launching its Smart Watch technology, which will allow specially designed watches to receive up-to-date information on sports, business, traffic, news, etc. After several years of effort and millions of dollars spent, the questions now revolve around launch strategy and likely consumer adoption. Is this the next big thing for Microsoft or is this a waste of money and resources? Complicating the matter is the fact that although Microsoft designed and will operate the technology to deliver information to these watches, the watches themselves will be sold and marketed by several prominent watch-making partners.

    Keywords: Customer Focus and Relationships; Information Management; Marketing Strategy; Product Launch; Product Positioning; Product Design; Product Development; Performance Effectiveness; Partners and Partnerships; Information Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and Christina L. Darwall. "Microsoft: Launching the Smart Watch." Harvard Business School Case 504-004, October 2003. (Revised January 2005.) View Details
  24. Seeing What's on Red Auerbach's Mind

    Analysis of an interview with Red Auerbach, HBR No. 87201. Alan M. Webber, who conducted the interview, probed for the lessons that Auerbach has learned from a long and productive career coaching and managing the Boston Celtics, a professional basketball team in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The HBR article is used as a surrogate for a customer interview, providing the "raw data" for an analysis technique known as the trademarked Language Processing (LP) methodology, developed by professor Shoji Shiba of Tsukuba University and the member companies of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Center for Quality of Management. Includes color exhibits.

    Keywords: Markets; Research; Sports; Product Development; Communication Intention and Meaning; Sports Industry;

    Citation:

    Lassiter, Joseph B., III, and John T. Gourville. "Seeing What's on Red Auerbach's Mind." Harvard Business School Background Note 804-160, March 2004. (Revised April 2004.) View Details
  25. Why Consumers Don't Buy: The Psychology of New Product Adoption

    Looks at the consumer psychology of new product adoption. Identifies a key reason why consumers do not adopt innovations as quickly as developers think they should--an irrational resistance to behavioral change. Identifies strategies for firms to manage and overcome this resistance.

    Keywords: Product Launch; Consumer Behavior; Social Psychology;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Why Consumers Don't Buy: The Psychology of New Product Adoption." Harvard Business School Background Note 504-056, November 2003. (Revised April 2004.) View Details
  26. Cape Wind

    Cape Wind has proposed placing a 170-tower wind farm, with each tower more than 400-feet tall, in Nantucket Sound. Not surprisingly, public reaction is mixed. Some view the wind farm as clean, renewable energy. Others view it as an eyesore and a desecration of a valued public resource. Other attempts at wind farms in the United States have run into similar resistance. Although the public can agree that wind power is a good idea, no one wants a wind farm in their community. How can firms overcome this type of resistance to change?

    Keywords: Change Management; Renewable Energy; Consumer Behavior; Problems and Challenges; Natural Environment; Behavior; United States;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and Kerry Herman. "Cape Wind." Harvard Business School Case 504-055, October 2003. (Revised February 2004.) View Details
  27. WebSpective Software, Inc. (A)

    Describes the situation at WebSpective, a software company that develops products to help companies manage the network of servers that support their Websites. Describes the use of "concept engineering" tools to interview customers, determine their needs and the resulting product requirements, and prioritize these requirements as the basis for a product and marketing strategy.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Management Practices and Processes; Customers; Customer Focus and Relationships; Communication Intention and Meaning; Product Development; Product Marketing; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Customer Satisfaction; Marketing Strategy; Information Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Roberts, Michael J., Joseph B. Lassiter III, John T. Gourville, and Sun Ming Wong. "WebSpective Software, Inc. (A)." Harvard Business School Case 800-136, September 1999. (Revised February 2004.) View Details
  28. Why Developers Don't Understand Why Consumers Don't Buy

    Looks at the psychological biases developers bring to the new product development process. Identifies three reasons why developers may do a poor job of identifying the demand for an innovative, new concept or product: (1) the self-selection bias, (2) differing initial endowments, and (3) the curse of knowledge. In the end, a developer's inability to understand the consumer's perspective can lead to unrealistic expectations for product adoption.

    Keywords: Customer Focus and Relationships; Innovation and Invention; Knowledge Management; Product Marketing; Consumer Behavior; Product Development; Perspective; Prejudice and Bias;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Why Developers Don't Understand Why Consumers Don't Buy." Harvard Business School Background Note 504-068, January 2004. View Details
  29. Myteam.com

    Elliot Katzman is faced with the need to raise cash and cut spending to develop his online amateur sports software application, Myteam.com. Even with powerful allies such as Little League and Coca-Cola, "big deals with big players" had not kept the company from running out of cash. Katzman was determined to keep his dream alive.

    Keywords: Cash Flow; Financial Management; Leadership Style; Crisis Management; Resource Allocation; Alliances; Sports; Web Sites; Sports Industry; Web Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., Joseph B. Lassiter III, and Taslim Pirmohamed. "Myteam.com." Harvard Business School Case 503-026, August 2002. (Revised February 2003.) View Details
  30. GolfLogix: Measuring the Game of Golf

    GolfLogix has developed a small, GPS-based device to help golfers track their play. They must decide how best to distribute these devices: 1) sell them directly to golfers through traditional retail channels; 2) sell them to courses, which would then provide them to golfers as part of their greens fee or for a nominal rental charge; or 3) simultaneously sell them to both groups. Complicating the decision is the fact that GolfLogix has two devices it is trying to sell: a distance-only device, which tells golfers how far they are from the green, and a complete device that additionally allows golfers to track how far and how accurately they are hitting the ball with each club and how many putts they are taking on each hole. The distance-only device is easy to use and explain, whereas the complete device likely requires some support from the golf courses. Contains color exhibits.

    Keywords: Distribution Channels; Product Launch; Brands and Branding; Innovation and Invention; Measurement and Metrics;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and Professor Jerry N. Conover. "GolfLogix: Measuring the Game of Golf." Harvard Business School Case 503-004, September 2002. (Revised October 2002.) View Details
  31. Four Products: Predicting Diffusion

    One of the critical tasks in the marketing of new innovations is predicting demand and rates of diffusion for those products. Focuses on four innovative products from different domains. Although one can speculate on the scope and rate of diffusion for each of these products independently, it's helpful to compare and contrast diffusion across these products. Doing so allows one to focus on the "levers" or product characteristics that influence product diffusion, making one product a star and another a dog. Importantly, looking across products allows one to pick up on things that get lost in discussing a single product.

    Keywords: Forecasting and Prediction; Innovation and Invention; Product Launch; Demand and Consumers; Technology Adoption;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Four Products: Predicting Diffusion." Harvard Business School Case 502-045, November 2001. (Revised September 2002.) View Details
  32. Imagicast

    Imagicast has brought to market an interactive, multimedia retail kiosk designed to increase product sales. In spite of promising projections by industry analysts and detailed demand forecasts by Imagicast management, the company has yet to sell a single kiosk. Time and money are running out and the company has to decide what to do next.

    Keywords: Forecasting and Prediction; Crisis Management; Product Launch; Demand and Consumers; Sales; Technology; Retail Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and Alison Berkley Wagonfeld. "Imagicast." Harvard Business School Case 502-052, April 2002. (Revised July 2002.) View Details
  33. Calgene, Inc.

    In 1993, Calgene is on the verge of introducing the world's first genetically engineered plant product--a tomato will taste better and stay fresh longer. At the same time, it is using biotechnology to produce improved plant products for the cottonseed and the industrial and edible oil markets. As it develops and brings these products to market, however, it faces a series of marketing and public relations hurdles, including regulatory requirements consumer education activist resistance to production, and distribution logistics. How Calgene reacts to these challenges may determine whether it succeeds or fails in its quest to revolutionize the business of agriculture. A rewritten version of an earlier case.

    Keywords: Technology; Marketing Strategy; Market Entry and Exit; Product Launch; Innovation Strategy; Social Issues; Production; Problems and Challenges; Biotechnology Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry;

    Citation:

    Goldberg, Ray A., and John T. Gourville. "Calgene, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 502-041, October 2001. (Revised April 2002.) View Details
  34. Synthes

    Synthes is the recognized leader in the U.S. orthopedic implant market, with a 50% market share in the metallic plates, rods, and screws used to fix severe bone fractures. Synthes' marketplace strength lies in the strength of its sales force and in the quality and reliability of its products. A major drawback to all metallic implants, however, is that they often need to be removed after the bones have healed. To address this problem, several major competitors have recently introduced polymer-based "bioresorbable" implants. In theory, these new implants remain rigid while the fracture heals, then gradually dissolve, eliminating their need for removal. In reality, however, some of these new implants have proven problematic--causing infection, incomplete healing, or the need for a second surgery. This leaves Synthes debating whether to enter the bioresorbable market and risk a high-profile product failure or to remain an observer and allow others to test the market and eventually validate (or invalidate) the concept.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Risk Management; Marketing Strategy; Product Launch; Market Entry and Exit; Product Development; Problems and Challenges; Competition; Manufacturing Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Synthes." Harvard Business School Case 502-008, December 2001. (Revised April 2002.) View Details
  35. Fighting AIDS and Pricing Drugs

    In early 2001, makers of AIDS drugs were suing to prevent developing countries from violating their patents. The issue was driven by price. The developing countries could not afford the market price for these drugs. At the same time, the drug companies were reluctant to sell drugs at or below cost in one country and at 10 to 20 times cost in another country. Using a series of published articles, this case outlines the pressures facing the drug companies and asks the question, "How should they respond?"

    Keywords: Developing Countries and Economies; Patents; Price; Strategy; Globalized Markets and Industries; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Fighting AIDS and Pricing Drugs." Harvard Business School Case 502-061, February 2002. View Details
  36. Roadside Attractions LLC

    Eric d'Arbeloff, producer of independent films, must decide between two offers for distribution of his new movie, "Trick." The case tracks the assembly of resources and the effects of technological change in the film business.

    Keywords: Disruptive Innovation; Decision Choices and Conditions; Distribution; Technological Innovation; Change Management; Entrepreneurship; Film Entertainment; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;

    Citation:

    Lassiter, Joseph B., III, John T. Gourville, and Nicole Tempest. "Roadside Attractions LLC." Harvard Business School Case 800-015, September 1999. (Revised August 2000.) View Details
  37. Steinway & Sons: Buying a Legend (A)

    It is 1995 and Steinway & Sons has just been purchased by two young entrepreneurs. For 140 years, Steinway has held the reputation for making the finest quality grand pianos in the world. The past 25 years have proven to be a challenge, however. First, the company has changed hands several times and product quality has become a concern. Second, the worldwide market for pianos has been in a steady decline, and competition for high-end grand pianos has increased. Finally in 1992, Steinway took the questionable steps of introducing a mid-priced line of grand pianos under the brand name "Boston." Designed by Steinway, but manufactured by a Japanese piano maker, the Boston line represented a major shift in strategy for the company. Within this context, what do two young entrepreneurs (with little or no experience in the piano industry) hope to accomplish in buying Steinway? In particular, what value do they bring to the company and what decisions should they make?

    Keywords: Business Startups; Decisions; Entrepreneurship; Globalization; Crisis Management; Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Quality; Competitive Strategy; Manufacturing Industry; Japan; New York (state, US);

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and Joseph B. Lassiter III. "Steinway & Sons: Buying a Legend (A)." Harvard Business School Case 500-028, October 1999. (Revised February 2000.) View Details
  38. ZEFER: Building a Business at Hyperspeed

    In the past 18 months, ZEFER has gone from a several-person Internet consulting firm to a major player in the information-technology services industry. In particular, in the past six months, it has grown from 40 to 400 professionals, has hired a seasoned management team, has received $100 million in venture capital funding, and has acquired three companies. Is such explosive growth necessary? If so, how can it be managed to ensure a healthy and consistent corporate culture? Finally, how should the founding partners of the firm think about their roles in the evolving company?

    Keywords: Growth and Development; Recruitment; Venture Capital; Acquisition; Organizational Culture; Managerial Roles; Growth Management; Information Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and Joseph B. Lassiter III. "ZEFER: Building a Business at Hyperspeed." Harvard Business School Case 500-032, October 1999. View Details
  39. Biopure Corp.

    It is early 1998 and Biopure Corp., a small biopharmaceutical firm with no sales revenues in its ten-year history, has just received government approval to release Oxyglobin, a revolutionary new "blood substitute" designed to replace the need for donated animal blood in the veterinary market. A virtually identical product for the human market, Hemopure, is in the final stages of testing by Biopure and is expected to gain approval within one to two years. In response to the timing of approval for these two products, there has been a long-running debate within Biopure as how to proceed with Oxyglobin. At odds are those in charge of Oxyglobin, who want to see the animal product released immediately, and those in charge of the Hemopure, who worry that an immediate release of Oxyglobin would create an unrealistically low price expectation for what they feel should be a very high-margin human product. Exacerbating the problem is the nature of the biopharmaceutical industry, where product approval is never a certainty until achieved.

    Keywords: Segmentation; Marketing Strategy; Engineering; Budgets and Budgeting; Sales; Transformation; Markets; Debates; Product Launch; Pharmaceutical Industry;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Biopure Corp." Harvard Business School Case 598-150, May 1998. (Revised May 1999.) View Details
  40. Note on Behavioral Pricing

    The note introduces the behavioral or psychological aspects of consumer price acceptance. Begins by reviewing the traditional economic approach to product pricing and consumer price acceptance--namely, that consumers should be willing to purchase anytime a product's perceived value exceeds price. This purely economic approach questioned, and the concept of transaction "fairness" is introduced as an additional component of consumer price acceptance. Through paired vignettes, the behavioral side to product pricing is explored in some detail. In the end, the traditional economic perspective on product pricing is combined with the behavioral or psychological perspective to provide a more realistic understanding of how consumers respond to a firm's pricing decisions.

    Keywords: Customer Satisfaction; Decisions; Fairness; Price; Marketing Strategy; Behavior; Perspective; Public Opinion;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T. "Note on Behavioral Pricing." Harvard Business School Background Note 599-114, May 1999. View Details
  41. Tweeter etc.

    In the early 1990s, Tweeter etc., a small regional retailer of higher-end audio and video equipment, faced increasing competitive pricing pressures from several large regional and national consumer electronics chains. In response, in 1993, they introduced "Automatic Price Protection" (APP) as the cornerstone of a strategy to restore price credibility in the minds of consumers. Under APP, Tweeter monitored local newspaper ads and automatically mailed a refund check to a consumer if an item purchased at Tweeter was advertised for a lower price by a competitor. Three years later, in 1996, Tweeter is questioning the impact of APP on their current competitive positioning. More importantly, with the pending entry of another major discount chain, Tweeter is forced to question how effective APP will be in a market increasingly dominated by large discount retailers.

    Keywords: Advertising; Customer Focus and Relationships; Price; Market Entry and Exit; Supply Chain Management; Competition; Electronics Industry; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Gourville, John T., and George Wu. "Tweeter etc." Harvard Business School Case 597-028, October 1996. (Revised April 1997.) View Details

Other Publications and Materials

    Research Summary

  1. Consumer Decision Making and Behavioral Research

    John Gourville’s research focuses on consumer behavior, especially in the areas of pricing and consumer decision making. In the area of pricing, for instance, he has looked at the role of time on how consumers interpret and react to product costs and prices. He has looked at how the temporal separation between payments and product consumption, as increasingly seen with advanced payment transactions, impacts the likelihood and timing of product consumption. he has investigated the effect of price bundling on product consumption.  And John has looked at 'downsizing price increases,' the increasingly common practice of increasing the price of a product by keeping the sticker price the same, but reducing the quantity contained in the offering. He is intestested in its effects on consumer purchase and its implications for manufacturers and retailers.

    In the realm of consumer decision making, John has explored the impact of brand variants on likelihood of consumer choice.  This research suggests that while some types of product variety (e.g., size variety) increase the likelihood of choosing within a brand, other types of variety (e.g., non-overlapping features) decrease that likelihood.

    In recent years, John has been investigating the decision making surrounding the adoption and purchase of technological innovations. In particular, he is interested in 'why consumers don't buy' when rational expectations suggest that they should. As part of this work, he developed a new MBA course called 'The Marketing of Innovations.' Increasingly, he is working with companies apply this research to foster more effective new product development.