Kent Grayson

Associate Professor of Marketing, Bernice and Leonard Lavin Professorship at Kellogg School of Management

Biography

Kellogg School of Management

Kent teaches marketing management to MBA and executive audiences. For executive audiences, he frequently focuses on market segmentation and targeting issues. In 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 he earned the Chairs' Core Teaching Award in marketing at Kellogg. He was a finalist for Kellogg professor of the year in 2010.

Kent researches the role of fabrication and fact in consumption. His research looks at such topics as the benefits and drawbacks of trusting a business partner, how consumers decide whether something is authentic or fake, and what happens when a "true" friend tries to sell you something. In a related research area, Kent studies direct selling, which is sometimes known as "pyramid selling" or "network marketing." (He tweets about trust, deception and authenticity @KentGrayson.)

In 2007, Kent co-founded (with Al Muniz) the Chicago Consumer Culture Community (C4), which hosts discussions among consumer researchers whose work is influenced by theories from sociology, anthropology, communications studies, and cultural studies. He also organized and led the community (also with Al Muniz) until 2019.

In 2015, Kent was the faculty lead for the design, production, and implementation of Essentials of Marketing, an online version of Kellogg's core marketing class.

In 2016, Kent co-founded of The Trust Project at Northwestern with Jamie Rosman, Devin Rapson and Leah Davis; and served as faculty director until 2019. The Trust Project website and related events were designed to provide different perspectives on the research and management of trust, and to highlight the connections between these perspectives.

Over the past fifteen years, Kent has worked on marketing issues with several consumer goods and services companies, including British Airways, Diageo, Electronic Arts, Exxon/Mobil, Hilton International, Microsoft, Nestle, Nissan, TD Bank, and Sony. He has also worked on business-to-business marketing issues with Rockwell Automation, Herman Miller, and John Deere.

In the 1980s, Kent spent four years working in advertising (including two years at a division of Saatchi & Saatchi), during which time he focused on financial services, recruitment advertising, and high-tech accounts.

Kent joined Kellogg in September, 2002. For eight years before that, he was on the marketing faculty at London Business School.

Education

  • PhD, 1994, Marketing, Northwestern University
  • MA, 1986, Communication Studies, University of Michigan
  • BA, 1984, English, Communication, University of Michigan, Distinction, High Honors

Academic Positions

  • Associate Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 2002-present
  • Associate Professor, London Business School, 2000-2002
  • Assistant Professor, London Business School, 1995-2000
  • Instructor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1994-1995

Awards

  • Chair's Core Course Teaching Award
  • Chair's Core Course Teaching Award
  • Chairs' Core Course Teaching Award, Kellogg School of Management, 2011-2012, 2009-2010, 2007-2008, 2005-2006, 2003-2004

Videos

Courses Taught

Read about executive education

Cases

Grayson, Kent and Sachin Waikar. 2012. Gaming the Gamers: Using Experience Maps to Develop Revenue-Generating Insights. Case 5-212-250 (KEL675).

A senior product manager for a telecommunications company has been asked to propose ideas for generating new revenue from video gamers who use his company's Internet services. The manager has commissioned the development of "experience maps" for three subsegments within the gamer segment. The experience maps, which are reproduced in the case, provide students with an opportunity to generate customer insights based on real qualitative data.

Grayson, Kent, Eric Leiserson and Sachin Waikar. 2009. Fiserv Takes on the E-Billing Market: How Can We Get Them to Turn Off Paper?. Case 5-309-506 (KEL487).

Fiserv, a pioneer in electronic payments, would like to increase the number of consumers who receive bills electronically. Currently, adoption is relatively low. To help guide their efforts, Fiserv managers have done extensive customer research and have segmented the market based on customer perceptions of e-billing. Students must recommend which segments to target and why. To support their recommendations, students must calculate the likely financial costs and benefits of adoption, estimate the likely returns for targeting different segments, and make targeting and positioning recommendations based on these calculations. Because Fiserv’s direct customers are billers (such as utilities and credit card companies) and its end users are individual consumers, the case allows a focus on both B2B and B2C issues.

Sawhney, Mohanbir and Kent Grayson. 2009. Ontela PicDeck (B): Customer Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. Case 5-309-505(B) (KEL451).

Ontela, a technology start-up company, has introduced an innovative service called PicDeck that improves the mobile imaging experience for wireless subscribers. Ontela sells PicDeck to wireless carriers, who in turn private-label the service to their subscribers. Ontela must decide which customer segments it should target for the service and how to create a positioning strategy and a marketing communication plan to promote it. It must also consider the value proposition of the PicDeck service for wireless carriers (its direct customers), who need to be convinced that the service will lead to higher monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) and/or increased subscriber loyalty. Part A of the case provides qualitative information on customer personae that represent different customer segments. Students are asked to develop a targeting and positioning strategy based on this qualitative information. Part B provides quantitative data on customer preferences that can be used to identify response-based customer segments, as well as demographic and media habits information that can be used to profile the segments. Students are asked to revise their recommendations based on the additional quantitative data.

Spanish translation available.

Grayson, Kent and Sachin Waikar. 2011. Sony Targets Laptop Consumers in China: Segment Global or Local?. Case 5-311-500 (KEL614).

The manager of the Sony VAIO personal computer in China has been given two segmentation studies. One study is country-specific and product-specific. The other is a global segmentation study, which covers all regions and all of Sony’s many consumer electronics. Which segmentation study should the manager rely on—or is there a way to rely on both? After deciding which study is best, which consumer should the manager target, and with what position?

Grayson, Kent and Elliot Freeman. 2013. Royal Reels: Enhancing the Customer Experience for Slot Machines and Beyond. Case 5-312-507 (KEL723).

CEO Richard Gedman has suddenly found himself running two separate but potentially related businesses: the slot manufacturing and marketing business that he has been running for years, and a new online and mobile gaming business that has grown incredibly fast over the past couple of years. To sustain success in both businesses, it seems clear that each one will require significant R&D investments. Should he invest in only one, or both?

Sawhney, Mohanbir and Kent Grayson. 2009. Ontela PicDeck (A): Customer Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. Case 5-309-505(A) (KEL450).

Ontela, a technology start-up company, has introduced an innovative service called PicDeck that improves the mobile imaging experience for wireless subscribers. Ontela sells PicDeck to wireless carriers, who in turn private-label the service to their subscribers. Ontela must decide which customer segments it should target for the service and how to create a positioning strategy and a marketing communication plan to promote it. It must also consider the value proposition of the PicDeck service for wireless carriers (its direct customers), who need to be convinced that the service will lead to higher monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) and/or increased subscriber loyalty. Part A of the case provides qualitative information on customer personae that represent different customer segments. Students are asked to develop a targeting and positioning strategy based on this qualitative information. Part B provides quantitative data on customer preferences that can be used to identify response-based customer segments, as well as demographic and media habits information that can be used to profile the segments. Students are asked to revise their recommendations based on the additional quantitative data.

Spanish translation available.

Grayson, Kent and Sachin Waikar. 2012. Gaming the Gamers: Using Experience Maps to Develop Revenue-Generating Insights. Case 5-212-250 (KEL675).

A senior product manager for a telecommunications company has been asked to propose ideas for generating new revenue from video gamers who use his company's Internet services. The manager has commissioned the development of "experience maps" for three subsegments within the gamer segment. The experience maps, which are reproduced in the case, provide students with an opportunity to generate customer insights based on real qualitative data.

Grayson, Kent, Eric Leiserson and Sachin Waikar. 2009. Fiserv Takes on the E-Billing Market: How Can We Get Them to Turn Off Paper?. Case 5-309-506 (KEL487).

Fiserv, a pioneer in electronic payments, would like to increase the number of consumers who receive bills electronically. Currently, adoption is relatively low. To help guide their efforts, Fiserv managers have done extensive customer research and have segmented the market based on customer perceptions of e-billing. Students must recommend which segments to target and why. To support their recommendations, students must calculate the likely financial costs and benefits of adoption, estimate the likely returns for targeting different segments, and make targeting and positioning recommendations based on these calculations. Because Fiserv’s direct customers are billers (such as utilities and credit card companies) and its end users are individual consumers, the case allows a focus on both B2B and B2C issues.

Sawhney, Mohanbir and Kent Grayson. 2009. Ontela PicDeck (B): Customer Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. Case 5-309-505(B) (KEL451).

Ontela, a technology start-up company, has introduced an innovative service called PicDeck that improves the mobile imaging experience for wireless subscribers. Ontela sells PicDeck to wireless carriers, who in turn private-label the service to their subscribers. Ontela must decide which customer segments it should target for the service and how to create a positioning strategy and a marketing communication plan to promote it. It must also consider the value proposition of the PicDeck service for wireless carriers (its direct customers), who need to be convinced that the service will lead to higher monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) and/or increased subscriber loyalty. Part A of the case provides qualitative information on customer personae that represent different customer segments. Students are asked to develop a targeting and positioning strategy based on this qualitative information. Part B provides quantitative data on customer preferences that can be used to identify response-based customer segments, as well as demographic and media habits information that can be used to profile the segments. Students are asked to revise their recommendations based on the additional quantitative data.

Spanish translation available.

Grayson, Kent and Sachin Waikar. 2011. Sony Targets Laptop Consumers in China: Segment Global or Local?. Case 5-311-500 (KEL614).

The manager of the Sony VAIO personal computer in China has been given two segmentation studies. One study is country-specific and product-specific. The other is a global segmentation study, which covers all regions and all of Sony’s many consumer electronics. Which segmentation study should the manager rely on—or is there a way to rely on both? After deciding which study is best, which consumer should the manager target, and with what position?

Grayson, Kent and Elliot Freeman. 2013. Royal Reels: Enhancing the Customer Experience for Slot Machines and Beyond. Case 5-312-507 (KEL723).

CEO Richard Gedman has suddenly found himself running two separate but potentially related businesses: the slot manufacturing and marketing business that he has been running for years, and a new online and mobile gaming business that has grown incredibly fast over the past couple of years. To sustain success in both businesses, it seems clear that each one will require significant R&D investments. Should he invest in only one, or both?

Sawhney, Mohanbir and Kent Grayson. 2009. Ontela PicDeck (A): Customer Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. Case 5-309-505(A) (KEL450).

Ontela, a technology start-up company, has introduced an innovative service called PicDeck that improves the mobile imaging experience for wireless subscribers. Ontela sells PicDeck to wireless carriers, who in turn private-label the service to their subscribers. Ontela must decide which customer segments it should target for the service and how to create a positioning strategy and a marketing communication plan to promote it. It must also consider the value proposition of the PicDeck service for wireless carriers (its direct customers), who need to be convinced that the service will lead to higher monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) and/or increased subscriber loyalty. Part A of the case provides qualitative information on customer personae that represent different customer segments. Students are asked to develop a targeting and positioning strategy based on this qualitative information. Part B provides quantitative data on customer preferences that can be used to identify response-based customer segments, as well as demographic and media habits information that can be used to profile the segments. Students are asked to revise their recommendations based on the additional quantitative data.

Spanish translation available.

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