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Akshay Rao

Professor, General Mills Chair in Marketing
Marketing Department


  • BA 1978
    Economics (Honors) Madras University

  • MBA 1980
    Marketing Xavier Institute

  • PhD 1986
    Marketing Virginia Tech


  • Branding
  • Pricing
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Cultural issues in marketing
  • Gas Prices

Akshay R. Rao holds the General Mills Chair in Marketing at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.  He has an undergraduate honors degree in Economics from Madras University (India), a Masters in Business Administration from XLRI (India), and a PhD in Marketing from Virginia Tech. At Carlson, he has also served as the founding Director of the Institute for Research in Marketing, an academic-industry think tank established with the corporate partnership of seventeen multi-national firms, from 2005-2010. In 1997-2000, he served as the Director of the Doctoral program and in 2003-2006 he served as Chairman of the Marketing & Logistics Management Department.

For the 1993-94 academic year Professor Rao was a Visiting Professor at M. I. T. and for the 2000-01 and 2007-2008 academic years he was a visiting Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. At the Carlson School he has received several awards for teaching excellence including the Curtis Cup Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Executive MBA program in 2012, and was recognized as an Outstanding Faculty member in the fourth and fifth editions of Business Week's Guide to the Best Business Schools.

Professor Rao's teaching, research, and consulting have focused on industries ranging from food and airlines to apparel and financial services, and the problems of Consumer Behavior, Pricing Strategy, Channels of Distribution, Product/Brand Management, and Sales Force Management.  A winner of the 1987 Robert Ferber Award for interdisciplinary research on Consumer Behavior, and a winner of the 2000 Maynard award for contribution to Marketing theory, his research has appeared in various scholarly journals including the Harvard Business Review, the Journal of Business, the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes and Sloan Management Review.  He served as President of the policy board for the Journal of Consumer Research during 2013, and on the editorial review board of the the Journal of Marketing during 1997-2013. He currently serves on the editorial review boards of the Journal of Consumer Psychology, the Journal of Consumer Research, , and the Journal of Marketing Research, and as an Associate Editor at the Journal of Marketing Research.

Professor Rao has served as a consultant to numerous organizations including Abbott Laboratories (Germany), Ambrosetti (Italy), Boston Scientific, the Carlson Companies, Jostens, McQuay International, The NutraSweet Company, Osservatorio Asia (Italy), and Qwest.  His expertise is sought in three forms: (1) to assist managers solve complex problems in the areas of Corporate Strategy, Pricing, Brand Management, and Sales Management, (2) for executive education programs in Pricing and Branding strategy, and (3) to serve as an expert witness in legal matters that relate to Consumer Behavior, Pricing, Branding and Marketing Strategy.  His views are regularly solicited by local and national media in print, radio and television. His opinions and research have been featured in several outlets including Business Week, The Economist, the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, TIME.com, the Wall Street Journal, the News Hour on PBS, and CNN.

Currently, Professor Rao is working on several research and consulting projects including (a) consumer choice, (b) non-traditional pricing strategies, (c) communicating quality to uninformed consumers, and (d) developing the brand-centric organization.  He has testified before the Federal Trade Commission on Slotting Allowances. He was Co-Chair of the American Marketing Association's Doctoral Consortium (2003) and the Association for Consumer Research Conference (2004).

Selected Works

“Sins of Omission and Sins of Commission: The Impact of Implicit Theories of Agency on Brand Switching Intention Across Cultures,” (2015), with Sharon Ng and Hakkyun Kim, forthcoming, Journal of Consumer Psychology.
"Reducing self-control depletion through enhanced sensitivity to implementation: Evidence from fMRI and behavioral studies," (2013), with William Hedgcock and Kathleen Vohs, January, Journal of Consumer Psychology.
"When More is Less: Base Value Neglect and Consumer Preferences for Changes in Price and Quantity," (2012), with Haipeng (Allan) Chen, Howard Marmorstein, and Michael Tsiros, July, Journal of Marketing
"More or Less: A Model and Empirical Evidence on Preferences for Under and Over-Payment in Trade-in Transactions," (2011), with Jungkeun Kim, Raghunath Singh Rao, and Kyeongheui Kim, (February), Journal of Marketing Research
"Could Ralph Nader's entrance and exit have helped Al Gore? The impact of decoy dynamics on consumer choice," (2009) with William Hedgcock and Haipeng (Allan) Chen, Journal of Marketing Research, 46 (June), 330-343
"It's Time to Vote: The effect of Matching Message Orientation and Temporal Frame on Political Persuasion," (2009), with Hakkyun Kim and Angela Y. Lee, Journal of Consumer Research, 35 (April), 877-888
"Aristotle's Anxiety: Choosing Among Methods to Study Choice," (2009), with William Hedgcock, Journal of Marketing Research, 46 (February), 20-24
"Trade-off Aversion as an Explanation for the Attraction Effect: A functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study," (2009) with William Hedgcock, Journal of Marketing Research, 46 (February), 1-13
"When Two and Two is Not Equal to Four: Errors in Processing Sequential Percentage Changes," with H. Chen, Journal of Consumer Research, 2007
"Domain Based Asymmetry in Expectations of the Future," with A. Monga, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 100 (May), 35-46, 2006
"The Quality of Price as a Quality Cue," Journal of Marketing Research (November), 2005
"Cross Cultural Differences in Consumer Impatience," with H. Chen and S. Ng, Journal of Marketing Research (August) 2005
"The Price of Launching A New Product: Empirical Evidence On Factors Affecting the Relative Magnitude of Slotting Allowances," with H. Mahi, Marketing Science (Spring), 2003
"Close Encounters of Two Kinds: False Alarms and Dashed Hopes," with H. Chen, Marketing Science (Spring), 2002
"How to Fight a Price War," with M. Bergen and S. Davis, Harvard Business Review, (March/April), 2000
"No Pain, No Gain: A Critical Review of the Literature on Signaling Unobservable Product Quality," with A. Kirmani, Journal of Marketing (April), 2000
"Signaling Unobservable Quality through a Brand Ally," with Lu Qu and Robert W. Ruekert, Journal of Marketing Research, 36 (2), 1999
"Causes and Consequences of Price Premiums," with K. Monroe, Journal of Business, (October) 1996
"Brand Alliances as Signals of Product Quality," with R. Ruekert, Sloan Management Review, (Fall), 1994
"Price Premium Variations As A Consequence of Buyers Lack of Information," with M. Bergen, Journal of Consumer Research, (December) 1992
"The Influence of Familial and Peer-Based Reference Groups on Consumer Decisions," with T. Childers, Journal of Consumer Research, 19 (September), 1992
"The Effect of Prior Knowledge on Price Acceptability and the Type of Information Examined," with W. Sieben, Journal of Consumer Research, 19 (September), 1992
"The Effect of Price, Brand Name, and Store Name on Buyers Perceptions of Product Quality: An Integrative Review," with K. Monroe, Journal of Marketing Research, 26 (August), 1989
"The Moderating Effect of Prior Knowledge on Cue Utilization in Product Evaluations," with K. Monroe, Journal of Consumer Research, 15 (September), 1988
Advances in Consumer Research, Volume 32, with Geeta Menon

Current Activities

Community Relationships

  • Consultant for Abbott Laboratories (Germany), Ambrosetti (Italy), Boston Scientific, the Carlson Companies, Jostens, McQuay International, The NutraSweet Company, Osservatorio Asia (Italy), Qwest, and many others. 

  • Advisory Board Member, PACER.org

Current Research

  • Information economics implications for pricing strategy, brand management . Persuasion and Choice in Political Markets. Behavioral Decision Theory based examinations of managerial and consumer decision making. Cognitive Neuroscience based examinations of decision making 

Editorial Appointments

  • Associate Editor, Journal of Marketing Research;, Member, Editorial Review Board, Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Consumer Research

Honors and Awards

  • Robert Ferber Award, best interdisciplinary article on consumer behavior based on a dissertation, 1987. Harold Maynard Award for contribution to Marketing theory, Journal of Marketing, 2000. Distinguished Teaching Award, 1992, 1993. Distinguished Alumnus, XLRI Jamshedpur, 2011.

Scholarly Service

  • Member, Policy Board, Journal of Consumer Research, Faculty, American Marketing Association Doctoral Consortium, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2013. Co-Chair, American Marketing Association Doctoral Consortium, 2003. Co-chair, Association for Consumer Research Conference, Portland OR, 2004.