Stanley Roth, Sr. Professor of Retailing
Rajiv Lal, is the Stanley Roth, Sr. Professor of Retailing at Harvard Business School. He has also 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 cserved as the Faculty Chair for the Global Management Program, and currently co-chairs the program on Building and Leading a Customer Centric Organization.
Lal was a Professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University since 1982. He was the Thomas Henry Carroll Ford Foundation Visiting Professor at Harvard Business School for 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 PhD in Industrial Administration from Carnegie-Mellon University. Lal has served as an Area Editor for Marketing Science and is the Co-editor of Quantitative Marketing and Economics.
Lal's current research is concerned with 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 the increasing use of store brands by grocery retailers on store loyalty and its implications for packaged goods manufacturers.
Lal's earlier research has 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.
Retail and the Internet
The emergence of new technology, increasing number of new retail formats and the emphasis on store brands are contributing factors to enormous changes taking place in retailing. Rajiv Lal's work on the use of the Internet by retailers calls into question the conventional wisdom about the effect of selling via the Internet on brand loyalty and brand equity. This research suggests that contrary to popular belief, the Internet offers the possibility for retailers to leverage their brand equity and argues for a dramatic change in the role of the retail store when used in conjunction with the Internet.
Recent Strategies in the U.S. Grocery Industry
Rajiv Lal's work comparing the benefits of EDLP and Hi-Lo strategies in the grocery industry indicates that while EDLP grocery retailers may not be able to benefit from traditional costs savings associated with this strategy, these retailers still benefit from the use of promotions, lower basket prices, and sometimes lower in-store service levels by effectively differentiating themselves from Hi-Lo stores. In this way these stores avoid competing head-to-head with Hi-Lo stores, leading to higher profitability.
Another recent trend has been the increasing reliance on store brands by retailers such as Shaw's supermarkets and Safeway. While for many years store brands were viewed as 'cheap and nasty,' catering to the needs of price sensitive consumers, Lal's research shows how they can be used to enhance store loyalty and profitability.