Rajiv Lal

Stanley Roth, Sr. Professor of Retailing

Rajiv Lal, is the Stanley Roth, Sr. Professor of Retailing at Harvard Business School. He has been responsible for the retailing curriculum and has served as the course head for Marketing, required study in the first year of the MBA program. Professor Lal also teaches in several Executive Education programs, has previously served as the Faculty Chair for the Global Management Program, and currently co-chairs the program on Building and Leading a Customer Centric Organization. Additionally, Professor Lal is developing an MBA elective curriculum course, Business of Smart Connected Products, to be taught in Spring 2017.

Lal was a Professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University beginning in 1982. He was the Thomas Henry Carroll Ford Foundation Visiting Professor at Harvard Business School from 1997-98. He was the Visiting Professor of Marketing at INSEAD, France in 1986, 1988, 1992, and 1993. He did his undergraduate work in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur, India and received his Ph.D. in Industrial Administration from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Lal's current research concerns the future of department stores in America. In addition, he is studying how to build and sustain customer-centric retail organizations. His most recent work explored successful retail strategies for global expansion. He has written extensively on the impact of using the Internet as a channel of distribution on a retailer's pricing, merchandising, and branding strategy. A recent paper written on this area of research was published in Marketing Science and nominated for the award of the best paper in Marketing and Management Science. His earlier work in retailing studies the impact of competition between different retail formats, such as EDLP and Hi-Lo grocers. He has also studied the consequences of grocery retailers’ increasing use of store brands on store loyalty and its implications for packaged goods manufacturers.

Lal's earlier research focused on pricing, trade promotions, and salesforce compensation plans. The work on salesforce compensation plans originated with his dissertation research, which won the award for the best paper published in Marketing Science and Management Science in 1985. A subsequent article, also developed from his thesis, received an honorable mention for the same award in 1986. He has continued to work in this area and has recently completed a study of compensation plans used by German salesforces.

His work in the area of pricing and promotions has been equally well recognized. Two of his articles were among the finalists for the John D. C. Little award for the best paper published in Management Science and Marketing Science in 1990. One of these articles, co-authored with Jagmohan Raju and V. Srinivasan on the impact of brand loyalty on price promotions, has been awarded the Frank Bass award for the best dissertation paper.

Lal’s recent work includes Retail Revolution: Will Your Brick-and-Mortar Store Survive?, “Retail Doesn’t Cross Borders: Here’s Why and What to do About it” in Harvard Business Review, “Retailing Revolution: Category Killers on the Brink” in HBS Working Knowledge, and Marketing Management: Text and Cases. He has published more than twenty-five articles in academic journals and more than 80 cases and other teaching materials. He has applied his academic frameworks and industry knowledge in much of his research and many of his consulting projects.

Lal has worked on a variety of such projects with a wide range of companies, including Citigroup, Citizens Bank, American Family Insurance, Standard Life Plc, Omnitel Italia, Credit Suisse, Stop & Shop, Ito-Yokado, Best Buy, Stride Rite Corporation, Oliver Wyman and Company, Fleming Companies, Nordstrom, Microsoft, Kellogg, Sara Lee D/E, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Callaway Golf Company, Staples, and other well-known companies on strategy development and execution.

He serves on the Business Advisory Board of NeuroFocus, a Nielsen company that brings Neuroscience expertise to advertising, branding, product development, and packaging. Lal also serves as a member of the Board for Harvard Business Publishing and Global Cures. In addition to these board positions, Lal has served as an Area Editor for Marketing Science and is the Co-editor of Quantitative Marketing and Economics.