Faculty in 5: Akshay Rao
Professor and General Mills Chair in Marketing Akshay Rao answers five questions about what he's researching, reading, and following. Plus a peek into the life he imagines, were he not teaching at the Carlson School.
Q: What is/are your current area(s) of research? What business challenges are you helping to solve?
I am working on several projects. Perhaps most central to this question is my research on how prior choices impact future choices. Specifically, we find that if an initial choice is difficult (because options are equally attractive), then people tend to stick to that choice more so than if the initial choice was an easy one. We refer to this phenomenon as "preference persistence". Practically, this means that one way in which firms can increase loyalty is by making the initial choice between (their) two options difficult. Subsequently, shoppers will routinely repurchase the one they selected during their first choice.
Q: What current business issues or stories in the news are you following and why?
The EpiPen pricing story is fascinating. I could teach my entire pricing strategy course on this phenomenon—there is at least 14 weeks of material here.
Q: What is your favorite class to teach?
All of them!
Q: If you weren’t a business school professor, what would you be doing?
I'd probably have become a journalist. Or, exercised the Hollywood/Bollywood option!
Q: What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide