Walter J. Salmon

Stanley Roth, Sr. Professor of Retailing, Emeritus

Walter J. Salmon is the Stanley Roth, Sr., Professor of Retailing, Emeritus, at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration. He has been a member of the Harvard Business School faculty since 1956. He earned his BBA from the City College of New York and his MBA and DBA from Harvard Business School.

Professor Salmon's major fields of interests are Consumer Marketing and Retail Distribution. His current research concerns trends in distribution, and issues of organization, logistics and multi channel synergies in retailing. He is also studying how to balance consumer interests in breadth of selection with their interest in low prices. Professor Salmon has also researched and written about high/low pricing versus everyday fair and low pricing.

Professor Salmon's teaching assignments at Harvard Business School have included Retailing, Consumer Marketing, the Marketing course in the Advanced Management Program, the Program for Management Development and First Year Marketing. In addition, he has participated, since its initiation, in the School's seminar on 'Making Boards More Effective' and has Chaired or participated in the HBS Top Management Seminar for Retailers and Suppliers since its inception. He also remains active as a supervisor of field studies in the MBA program. Professor Salmon also served in the 70's as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and in the late 80's and early 90's as Senior Associate Dean and Director of External Relations.

He has served on the boards of Circuity City, Inc, Cole National Corporation, Co., Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., Luby's Cafeterias, Inc., The Neiman Marcus Group, Party City, Inc., PetsMart, Inc., Stage Stores, Inc., Stride Rite Shoes, Zayre Corporation and its then subsidiaries T.J. Maxx and BJ's.  He also was formerly a director of the Quaker Oats Company until it was sold to Pepsico, Inc. in August 2001, and outside chairman of the Board of Hannaford Brothers, a $3.5 billion northern New England based supermarket chain. He was also a director of the Harvard Business School Publishing Company, the Tufts Associated Health Plan Inc., and the National Retail Federation.

Professor Salmon currently serves on the board of Cumberland Farms, a convenience store chain and petroleum wholesaler and retailer; and the MBL, formerly known as the Marine Biological Laboratories. He is also a domain advisor to the Highland Consumer Fund.

Professor Salmon's most recent publications are:

'The Costly Bargain of Trade Promotion,' co-authored with R. Buzzell and J. Quelch, Harvard Business Review. Vol. 68, No. 2, pp. 141-149, March-April 1990, #90201.

'Restoring Credibility to Retail Pricing,' co-authored with Gwen Ortmeyer and John Quelch, Sloan Management Review, Fall 1991.

'Crisis Prevention: How to Gear Up Your Board,' Harvard Business Review, Vol. 71, No. 1, pp. 68-75, January-February 1993, #93106.

'The Future of Electronic Non-Store Retailing,' co-authored with Peter Miller. Working paper. Fall 1993.

Strategic Retail Management: Text and Cases, David E. Bell and Walter J. Salmon, 1996. South-Western College Publishing, Cincinnati, OH

'Retailing at the Millennium: How Changes in Consumer Buying Behavior are Driving Concentration,' International Trends in Retailing, June 1996, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 41-51.

'Economies of Speed and Retailing: The History, Pathology, and Future of Department Stores,' co-authored with Daniel M. G. Raff. September 1997. Working paper.

'The Economics of Variety,' co-authored with Marci Kosann Dew and Robert S. Kaplan, Food Marketing Institute, Fall 1998.


Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  1. Globalization of Retailing

    Rajiv Lal, David E. Bell and Walter J. Salmon

    Keywords: Globalized Markets and Industries; Retail Industry;


    Lal, Rajiv, David E. Bell, and Walter J. Salmon. "Globalization of Retailing." In The Global Market: Developing a Strategy to Manage Across Borders, edited by John A. Quelch and Rohit Deshpandé. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2004. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. H-E-B: Creating a Movement to Reduce Obesity in Texas

    Jose B. Alvarez, Jason Riis and Walter J. Salmon

    In January 2012, H-E-B Grocery Co., a private retail chain with stores located in Texas and Mexico, was introducing its Healthy at H-E-B program to its customers. The program, which started with the company's employees a few years earlier, was an effort to educate and inform customers on how to lead a healthier lifestyle. What CEO Craig Boyan had in mind was creating a state-wide healthy living movement in Texas, where obesity was high relative to other states in the U.S. But how far to go with its employees and customers was a question that President and COO Craig Boyan and his team struggled with. On one hand Boyan believed that H-E-B, long recognized for its community involvement, had a role to play in Texans' health and well-being. On the other hand, he recognized that H-E-B was first and foremost a retailer that had to compete against the likes of Walmart. He needed to make sure that H-E-B was serving its customers what they wanted while also trying to influence their buying behavior toward healthier foods. Some would say that H-E-B had no role in changing the lifestyle and food choices of its employees or customers. But Boyan and his team thought differently.

    Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Profit; Leading Change; Customer Focus and Relationships; Food and Beverage Industry; Retail Industry; Texas;


    Alvarez, Jose B., Jason Riis, and Walter J. Salmon. "H-E-B: Creating a Movement to Reduce Obesity in Texas." Harvard Business School Case 512-034, April 2012. (Revised February 2013.) View Details
  2. Studio, The

    Walter J. Salmon and Wendy Carter

    The founders and proprietors of a successful 23-year old women's apparel store are facing a critical issue. Can they grow by adding a second store that will not compete with their existing operation? If so, where should it be located, what managerial changes are required to make the second store successful, and how can it be funded without putting at risk the financial stability of the existing business?

    Keywords: Expansion; Risk and Uncertainty; Business Growth and Maturation; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Retail Industry;


    Salmon, Walter J., and Wendy Carter. "Studio, The." Harvard Business School Case 802-211, June 2002. (Revised April 2004.) View Details
  3. L.L. Bean: A Search for Growth

    Rajiv Lal, Walter J. Salmon and James Weber

    In mid-2003, CEO Chris McCormick felt L.L. Bean was in a good position to begin to grow again. For nearly 90 years, the company sold clothing and gear for outdoor enthusiasts through its catalogs and a single retail store in Freeport, Maine. In the three decades prior to 1996, sales growth averaged nearly 20% per year. In 1995, sales hit $1 billion, but stagnated for the next six years--growing at less than 2% annually. The company responded with a structural reorganization and investment in its Internet sales channel. In 2002 and early 2003, McCormick led an effort to reduce overhead and improve its internal systems, including the elimination of 1,000 jobs--which reduced year-round headcount by nearly 15%. After these initiatives, the company remained profitable and enjoyed a strong balance sheet, but sales growth remained near zero. Most significantly, between 2000 and 2002, L.L. Bean opened three retail stores in shopping malls outside Maine. McCormick viewed these three stores as the first of a chain of stores that would form a new selling channel and enable L.L. Bean to grow. Early results from the three new stores were below expectations; L.L. Bean spent significant time examining its retail store activities in an attempt to learn where it could improve. As the company began to apply those lessons in the stores, performance picked up, fueling McCormick's optimism that L.L. Bean could grow with retail stores.

    Keywords: History; Leadership Development; Cost Management; Infrastructure; Performance Improvement; Sales; Product Positioning; Diversification; Distribution Channels; Resignation and Termination; Retail Industry; Web Services Industry;


    Lal, Rajiv, Walter J. Salmon, and James Weber. "L.L. Bean: A Search for Growth." Harvard Business School Case 504-080, March 2004. View Details
  4. Liz Claiborne, Inc.

    Rajiv Lal, Walter J. Salmon and Edie Prescott

    Discusses the business portfolio emphasis of a large multibrand manufacturer and the future of department stores as well as how relationships between manufacturers and key customers can be improved.

    Keywords: Forecasting and Prediction; Investment Portfolio; Brands and Branding; Production; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Apparel and Accessories Industry;


    Lal, Rajiv, Walter J. Salmon, and Edie Prescott. "Liz Claiborne, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 503-098, May 2003. View Details
  5. Gap, Inc., The: Building a Brand

    Walter J. Salmon and David Wylie

    Explores the circumstances under which a specialty store chain can profitably engage in large-scale non-price advertising.

    Keywords: Advertising; Brands and Branding; Supply Chain Management;


    Salmon, Walter J., and David Wylie. "Gap, Inc., The: Building a Brand." Harvard Business School Case 593-043, October 1992. (Revised July 2001.) View Details

    Michael J. Roberts, Rajiv Lal and Walter J. Salmon

    Describes the challenges facing the online site associated with Canada's largest bricks-and-mortar bookseller. Presents a variety of lenses for examining the economic model of the online versus traditional book-selling business, and asks students to identify the marketing levers that can drive the business model.

    Keywords: Marketing Strategy; Online Technology; Business Model; Entrepreneurship; Product Marketing; Business Strategy; Technological Innovation; Canada;


    Roberts, Michael J., Rajiv Lal, and Walter J. Salmon. "" Harvard Business School Case 801-158, September 2000. (Revised July 2001.) View Details
  7. Appalachian Mountain Club: Transforming Governance

    Walter J. Salmon and Jaan Elias

    Starting in 1988, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) began a controversial transformation in management and governance. For its first 112 years, the AMC's structure had resembled that of a country club--volunteer leaders directed the club's operations and its small, paid staff. However, with the club slowly sinking in debt and operations spinning increasingly out of control, a group of members persuaded the membership to take the governing, volunteer council out of the direct management of the organization, hire a new executive director as CEO, and institute a "corporate-style" board of directors charged with policy and oversight. During the next six years, the revamped AMC sprang back to life. The board and the executive director instituted new budgeting procedures, initiated marketing programs, and hired more professionally-trained staff that helped erase the debt, double the membership, and triple the endowment. However, challenges remained. At the end of 1996, the reorganized board experienced a generational transition in leadership as the terms of the last of the directors who had been present during earlier transition expired. This transition provided a good milestone from which to assess the board's role within the organization and its relationship with the expanded staff and membership.

    Keywords: Budgets and Budgeting; Transformation; Corporate Governance; Employee Relationship Management; Recruitment; Leading Change; Organizational Culture; Labor and Management Relations; Nonprofit Organizations; Education Industry; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;


    Salmon, Walter J., and Jaan Elias. "Appalachian Mountain Club: Transforming Governance." Harvard Business School Case 598-066, October 1997. (Revised March 1998.) View Details
  8. Lowe's

    Walter J. Salmon

    Lowe's chain of 306 stores was anticipating fierce competition from their major market rival, Home Depot. As they reformulated the size of their new prototype stores and the mix of their merchandise, what would be the ultimate format? What impact would it have on their advertising strategy? How could they retain their contractor business which had been the mainstay of their operation since the 1950s. In addition, how should they emphasize in their advertising: wide selection, good service, and everyday attractive prices.

    Keywords: Advertising; Buildings and Facilities; Markets; Service Delivery; Competition;


    Salmon, Walter J. "Lowe's." Harvard Business School Case 590-013, April 1990. (Revised May 1997.) View Details
  9. Calyx & Corolla

    Walter J. Salmon and David Wylie

    Describes a new entry into the $8 billion flower industry in the United States. Combining the use of overnight air freight (Federal Express), information technology, an 800 number, and a catalog, Calyx & Corolla was changing the way flowers had traditionally been distributed, bypassing three layers of distribution, and providing very fresh flowers directly from the growers to consumers. Frames the question of how this start-up venture should grow.

    Keywords: Market Entry and Exit; Transformation; Distribution Channels; Business Startups; Problems and Challenges; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; United States;


    Salmon, Walter J., and David Wylie. "Calyx & Corolla." Harvard Business School Case 592-035, November 1991. (Revised October 1995.) View Details
  10. Wholesale Club Industry

    Walter J. Salmon

    The wholesale club industry experienced rapid growth in the 1980s. By 1993 there were signs that the industry was maturing and perhaps facing a shakeout. This case provides comprehensive data to permit an analysis of the viability and likely direction of the industry.

    Keywords: Industry Growth; Retail Industry;


    Salmon, Walter J. "Wholesale Club Industry." Harvard Business School Case 594-035, September 1993. (Revised June 1995.) View Details
  11. Randall's Department Stores

    Walter J. Salmon and Gwendolyn K. Ortmeyer

    Discusses a well-known traditional department store that confronts a very difficult issue of whether to change its pricing policy from a high-low to an everyday pricing approach. Demands that the student formulate a plan of execution for changing the pricing, if needed.

    Keywords: Fluctuation; Price; Marketing Strategy; Strategic Planning;


    Salmon, Walter J., and Gwendolyn K. Ortmeyer. "Randall's Department Stores." Harvard Business School Case 593-032, October 1992. (Revised October 1994.) View Details
  12. Catalina Marketing Corp.

    David E. Bell, Walter J. Salmon and Dinny Starr

    Catalina Marketing is a very successful marketing service firm. Their current customers include major supermarket retailers and consumer products manufacturers nation-wide. Catalina provides a unique way for these clients to distribute coupons for their products via point-of-sale technology at the supermarket register. Catalina is currently trying to decide where and how to expand its operations.

    Keywords: Advertising; Information Management; Expansion; Product; Salesforce Management; Technology; Growth and Development Strategy; Customer Value and Value Chain; Advertising Industry;


    Bell, David E., Walter J. Salmon, and Dinny Starr. "Catalina Marketing Corp." Harvard Business School Case 594-026, October 1993. (Revised September 1994.) View Details
  13. Food Distribution in Russia: The Harris Group and the LUX Store

    David E. Bell, Walter J. Salmon and Dinny Starr

    Discusses the challenges facing businesses entering the Russian business environment, especially focusing on food retailing and distribution in that country. Highlights one small, entrepreneurial company, The Harris Group, which, with the help of both Russian partners and the SuperValu Corp., has entered the Russian food retailing industry.

    Keywords: Business Ventures; Marketing Strategy; Market Entry and Exit; Distribution; Partners and Partnerships; Expansion; Food and Beverage Industry; Retail Industry; Russia;


    Bell, David E., Walter J. Salmon, and Dinny Starr. "Food Distribution in Russia: The Harris Group and the LUX Store." Harvard Business School Case 594-059, November 1993. (Revised September 1994.) View Details
  14. Ito Yokado

    Walter J. Salmon

    Describes the means by which management has empowered the sales clerks and part time employees of this chain of 131 department stores. They are responsible for all sales and inventory management. This empowerment has led to fewer stockouts, higher sales, lower inventory levels, less inventory loss, higher profits, higher quality, and higher commitment levels on the part of employees. Also describes how their innovative management has overcome inefficiencies in the Japanese distribution system.

    Keywords: Innovation and Management; Management; Distribution; Supply Chain Management; Sales; Japan;


    Salmon, Walter J. "Ito Yokado." Harvard Business School Case 589-116, June 1989. (Revised July 1994.) View Details
  15. Talbots

    Walter J. Salmon

    Describes the entry of this store and catalog retailer of classic women's clothing into the Japanese market place. Introduces such issues as cross-border management, multi-national retailing, and joint venturing.

    Keywords: Joint Ventures; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Management; Market Entry and Exit; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Retail Industry; Japan;


    Salmon, Walter J. "Talbots." Harvard Business School Case 591-006, August 1990. (Revised December 1993.) View Details
  16. Carter Automotive Group

    Walter J. Salmon

    The Carter Automotive Group is a Southern California automobile dealer group. The head of the group is assessing whether his current and unique marketing strategy should be modified in light of changing competitive conditions.

    Keywords: Marketing Strategy; Change; Competition; Auto Industry; Retail Industry; California;


    Salmon, Walter J. "Carter Automotive Group." Harvard Business School Case 590-011, February 1990. (Revised October 1993.) View Details
  17. Direct Product Profitability at Hannaford Brothers Co.

    Walter J. Salmon

    Concerns the pioneering use of a method of accounting in retailing which takes into account not only sales and the cost of goods sold but, at the item level, all of the variable costs associated with each item that is sold. Focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of Hannaford's use of Direct Product Profit and the opportunities and obstacles in the way of the improvement and extension of the Direct Product Profit system.

    Keywords: Accounting; Cost; Price; Sales; Opportunities; Retail Industry;


    Salmon, Walter J. "Direct Product Profitability at Hannaford Brothers Co." Harvard Business School Case 591-002, October 1990. (Revised June 1992.) View Details
  18. Pepsi-Cola (A)

    Walter J. Salmon and Steven R. Palesy

    Combining aspects of a functionally organized marketing management system, with a franchised channel of distribution network. Focuses on extending an innovative promotional program to a market where competitive conditions differ.

    Keywords: Innovation Strategy; Management; Marketing; Marketing Reference Programs; Network Effects; Distribution; Organizational Design; Franchise Ownership; Competition; Food and Beverage Industry;


    Salmon, Walter J., and Steven R. Palesy. "Pepsi-Cola (A)." Harvard Business School Case 579-108, December 1978. (Revised January 1986.) View Details

Other Publications and Materials