Jill J. Avery

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Dr. Jill Avery is a Senior Lecturer in the General Management Unit at Harvard Business School. Her research focuses on brand management and customer relationship management issues. Prior to her academic career, Professor Avery spent nine years in CPG brand management, managing brands for The Gillette Company, Braun Inc., Samuel Adams, and AT&T, and spent three years on the agency side of the business, as an account executive managing consumer promotions for Pepsi, General Foods, Bristol-Myers, and Citibank.  She remains close to practice by offering marketing consulting services to a range of brands and non-profit organizations, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she serves as a Trustee and the chairman-elect of the Board of Overseers.

Her work has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, European Business Review, Business Horizons, and Journal for the Advancement of Marketing Education.  Her doctoral dissertation on online brand communities won the Harvard Business School Wyss award for excellence in doctoral research and the Marketing Science Institute’s best paper award for work published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing. Her branding insights have been cited in Advertising Age, The Economist, The New York Times, The Financial Times, Forbes and Bloomberg/Business Week.

She currently teaches Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD), a new, experiential field-based required course in the first year of the MBA Program. She also teaches Branding + Different, an elective course in the second year of the MBA program. In the past, she has taught marketing management, brand management, integrated marketing communications, and consumer behavior in the MBA and undergraduate programs at Simmons College, Boston University, and Northeastern University. She received the Simmons School of Management’s award for teaching excellence for her MBA teaching.  She was awarded a Certificate of Distinction in Teaching at Harvard University for her undergraduate teaching.  Her executive education teaching has included sessions in the “Taking Marketing Digital” and "Strategic Marketing Management" programs at Harvard Business School and in the "Strategic Marketing" and the "Digital Strategies" programs for arts and cultural organization leaders at National Arts Strategies. 

She has written a series of teaching cases on branding and social media.  Her case writing includes cases on J.C. Penney, Porsche, Pepsi, EMC, Eileen Fisher, HubSpot, Filene's Basement, and Better World Books.  She has also published a series of "Go to Market" quantitative analysis tools that are available from Harvard Business Review. Her HubSpot case was awarded The Case Centre Marketing Award in 2014.  

She holds a DBA (marketing) from Harvard Business School, a MBA (marketing and finance) from the Wharton School, and a BA (English and art history) from the University of Pennsylvania.  Prior to joining the HBS faculty, she was an assistant professor of marketing at the Simmons School of Management from 2007-2013, where she was awarded tenure and promotion to associate professor. 

San Francisco Chronicle
04/11/2014

Kristen V. Brown

The appeal of the fox as a branding symbol, especially for tech companies, is obvious: In modern Western culture, they are typically regarded as sneaky and clever. With its bad-boy vibe, the fox is kind of like the hacker of the animal kingdom - but it remains unthreatening and cute.  Symbols like the fox with well-worn narratives are shortcuts for a company to convey what it's all about to a consumer.

Related: Understanding Brands

Bloomberg.com
03/12/2014

Lauren Coleman-Lochner

“Helloooo, ladies!” That’s the come-on intoned by the buff actor in Procter & Gamble Co. (PG)’s Old Spice commercials, imploring women to stock up on the men’s grooming products for their significant others. It turns out, though, that some are stocking up for themselves.Young women are embracing Old Spice -- long known as the brand Dad kept in the medicine cabinet -- even as P&G’s marketing continues to focus on their male peers.

Related: Defending the Markers of Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Brand Gender-Bending Avery, Jill

Boston Globe
03/09/2014

Scott Kirsner

Keurig, the Massachusetts-based division of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has been touting a feature of the forthcoming “Keurig 2.0” brewing systems that will shut out anything other than Keurig-produced K-Cup coffee pods. If you’re running a company, it’s easy to see the logic of lock-in: The more products and services you can sell to a customer, the better. So companies use patents, proprietary designs, and software to keep rivals from horning in.

Related: The Relational Roles of Brands Avery, Jill

Forbes.com
11/13/2013

Nobel, Carmen

Recent research shows that loyal customers often get upset when a brand associated with men expands to include products perceived as feminine. Senior Lecturer Jill J. Avery discusses the problem of "gender contamination" in this tory, which first appeared on the HBS Working Knowledge website.

Related: Defending the Markers of Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Brand Gender-Bending Avery, Jill

Slate
08/12/2013

Libby Copeland

Marketing companies take on gender contamination, the idea that when women flock to a product, men flee.

Related: Defending the Markers of Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Brand Gender-Bending Avery, Jill

Atlantic
01/18/2013

Ashley Fetters

A mere nice-guy linebacker is no match for a lovelorn nice-guy linebacker tragically tormented by untimely death-because, whether it's true or completely invented, it's the underdog story that sells.

Related: The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination Through Brand Biography Keinan, Anat;Avery, Jill

New York Times
09/22/2012

Jill Lepore

When Mr. Romney says he's an underdog, that's not humility:  that's branding.  Pretending to be an underdog is good business.

Related: The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination Through Brand Biography Keinan, Anat;Avery, Jill

Forbes.com
08/09/2012

Amy Showalter

Small business owners are imbued with the underdog edge and that gives them a big advantage in the persuasion process.  We feel better about ourselves when rooting for the underdog, and we want to help them.  In politics, that means that a legislator can say "yes" more easily to a small enterprise than a big one. 

Related: The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination Through Brand Biography Keinan, Anat;Avery, Jill

Entrepreneur
01/10/2012

Jennifer Wang

There was a time when a company's "About Us" page didn't matter quite so much: A short bio, a mission statement and boom, done.  These days, corporate-weary customers care more and more about buying locally, supporting independent businesses and owning products that are made sustainably and responsibly.  They want to know the story of what they're buying, who is selling it and what causes it may support.  In a business landscape where success hinges on establishing a personal connection with consumers and investors, the "About Us" page has become prime real estate.

Related: The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination Through Brand Biography Keinan, Anat;Avery, Jill

Advertising Age
12/23/2010

Kevin Briskey

From the movie "The Blind Side" to the success of Susan Boyle, everyone loves an underdog story.  And the same is true in the world of branding.  For years, brands such as Jet Blue and Ben & Jerry's have capitalized on their plucky challenger images.  But the converse of that axiom is also true - the so-called tall-poppy syndrome, that people love to tear down those who reach the top.  And therein lies the rub: While many companies may start out as the underdog, few aim to stay the underdog forever.  And when you're no longer coming from behind, but instead leading from the front, your relationship with consumers can change.

Related: The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination Through Brand Biography Keinan, Anat;Avery, Jill

Financial Times
11/22/2010

Paul Tyrrell

As companies grow, they can hold on to their challenger status provided they keep reinventing themselves while staying true to their core values.  Ultimately, challenger brands depend on a carefully maintained narrative -- an underdog brand biography.

Related: The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination Through Brand Biography Keinan, Anat;Avery, Jill

Economist
03/12/2009

Recession-hit companies target female customers.  But marketing to women may not work for every company.  For firms with brands that are regarded as strongly male, gender bending, or trying to attract the opposite sex, could enhance short-term sales but cause a longer-term decline.

Related: Defending the Markers of Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Brand Gender-Bending Avery, Jill

Advertising Age
03/02/2009

Rupal Parekh

If you want to broaden the appeal of your product, the first thing you should do is figure out if it's a boy or a girl.  The concept of gender-bending brands is one all marketers should seriously ponder right now.  As economic woes dampen consumer spending, marketers from fashion to packaged goods will need to be innovative and grow market share by reaching out to untapped consumer bases.

Related: Defending the Markers of Masculinity: Consumer Resistance to Brand Gender-Bending Avery, Jill

Forbes.com
03/19/2014

Carmen Nobel

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have taken some of the marketing power away from companies and given it to consumers. Harvard Business School’s Jill Avery discusses the landscape of “open source branding,” wherein consumers not only discuss and disseminate branded content, they also create it.

Related: The Uninvited Brand Avery, Jill

Financial Times
03/03/2014

Della Bradshaw

While all eyes in the film world are turned toward the Academy Award prize winners, the business school world has also just announced its very own "Oscars" -- those professors that have written the most effective case studies.

Related: Hubspot: Inbound Marketing and Web 2.0

GfK Marketing Intelligence Review
11/01/2013

GfK Editor

Buying a product has never been easier. Consumers can shop onine, over the phone or via mail order, from home or on the go, and if they want to experience, touch and feel, they can also visit a "real" store. Often, one and the same retailer offers several of these options, and multichannel retailing has become common in most product categories. By offering several channels, retailers are trying to reach more consumer segments and create synergies, with stores acting as billboards for the brand, catalogs providing enticing reminders to buy and the Internet providing an ever-present storefront. But synergies do not arise automatically. Different channels can also cannibalize one another, and it is not always easy to predict which effects will prevail. A recent study took a closer look at the interplay among different retail channels and showed that the short-term effects of store openings can be very different from the long-term sales impact.

Related: Adding Bricks to Clicks: Predicting the Patterns of Cross-Channel Elasticities over Time Avery, Jill;Deighton, John