Leigh McAlister - The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business. Austin, TX, US

Leigh McAlister Leigh McAlister

Professor, Department of Marketing | The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

Austin, TX, US

Consumer choice and behavior, marketing strategies, and brand preferences


Areas of Expertise (10)

Customer Insight Pricing and Promotion Positioning Strategic Branding Roi for Marketing Marketing Impact On Firm Value Marketing Interventions Consumer Variety Seeking Consumer Research Marketing Strategy


Leigh McAlister, the Ed and Molly Smith Chair in Business Administration in the department of marketing at the McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin is an expert in customer decision making and marketing strategy (the use of customer insight to increase firm value by better meeting customer needs).

She is an influential researcher. Recent evidence of that influence includes her having won the 2003 Journal of Marketing Research O’Dell Award for the most impactful paper published five years earlier, the 2007 and 2011 Davidson Awards for the best paper in Journal of Retailing, and her being a finalist for the 2007 Journal of Marketing MSI/H. Paul Root Award for the paper most likely to impact practice. In 2014 she won the American Marketing Association’s Strategy Interest Group Award for Career Achievement in Strategy Research and she was named the American Marketing Association/McGraw-Hill/Irwin Distinguished Marketing Educator (the highest award given in the field of Marketing). In 2015 she was named an Inaugural Fellow in the American Marketing Association and she won the McCombs School Career Award for Outstanding Research Contributions.

McAlister’s work is published in all of the leading Marketing journals, she is an Associate Editor at Marketing Science and Journal of Marketing, she recently served as Associate Editor of Journal of Marketing Research and she is a member of the Policy Board for the Journal of Consumer Research. She served as Executive Director of the Marketing Science Institute, 2003-2005. Her work has been supported by grants from Procter &Gamble, HEB Grocery Co., 3M, Motorola, Frito-Lay, Philip Morris, Pepsi, Miller, McLane Distributing, and the Marketing Science Institute.



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Education (3)

Stanford University: Ph.D., Decision Sciences 1978

Stanford University: M.Sc., Operations Research 1975

University of Oklahoma: Mathematics, B.A. 1972

Media Appearances (7)

Food Fight

Texas Monthly  print


Long before Walmart starting pushing into South Texas, H-E-B began studying the company’s success, and it adapted the productivity loop to its own business. “They anticipated Walmart’s arrival and they cut the advantage that Walmart has over every other retail chain,” says Leigh McAlister, a marketing professor at the University of Texas and co-author of Grocery Revolution: The New Focus on the Customer. “H-E-B is six steps ahead of everybody else. South Texas is the only place that Walmart hasn’t been able to just roll into and dominate.”

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Research finds reason advertising boosts stock prices for some companies and not others

IU Bloomington Newsroom  online


By 2017, total advertising expenditures are expected to reach upwards of $136 billion. While nearly every researcher believes advertising boosts sales, beliefs are mixed regarding its effectiveness on stock price. The paper, “Advertising Effectiveness: The Moderating Effect of Firm Strategy,” with co-authors are Leigh McAlister and Raji Srinivasan, marketing professors at the McCombs School, explains cost leadership strategy firm's advertising will not improve their stock prices.

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Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Texas Enterprise | Big Ideas in Business  online


New research has found that instead of helping shoppers select a product quickly and easily, recommendation signs can actually exacerbate the difficulty of making a decision.

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Advertising Disclosure in Public Filings: Implications for Firm Profitability, Firm Value and Top Management Team Structure

Knowledge to Go Webinar  online


Webinar recording and presentation slides.

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Say What? Research Reveals Impact of Web Talk

Texas Enterprise | Big Ideas in Business  online


McAlister says analysis of online chatter is capable of providing insight about a company’s sales performance. “It’s like X-ray vision."

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The Cherry-Picker Problem

Know  online


“Grocery retailers believe cherry pickers exist,” McAlister said. “People report doing it, but it has been hard to tease out of the data. It’s hard to see it.”

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Cherry-Picked Brands: How Retailers Can ID Them and How They Can Respond

McCombs Today  online


"Does a brand tend to draw more small baskets when it's on promotion? If it does, that manufacturer ought to be helping run that promotion in a bigger way than they are right now."

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Articles (7)

Leigh McAlister Citations Google Scholar


Listing of top scholarly works by Leigh McAlister.

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Choosing Multiple Items from a Product Class Journal of Consumer Research


How product choices are made when there are multiple preferences. Winner of 1978 American Marketing Association Dissertation Award.
Winner of 1978 Journal of Consumer Research/Association of Consumer Research Dissertation Award.

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Advertising, Research and Development, and Systematic Risk of the Firm Journal of Marketing


The article's findings extend prior research that has focused primarily on the effect of marketing initiatives on performance metrics without consideration of systematic risk.

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Consumers' Perceptions of the Assortment Offered in a Grocery Category: The Impact of Item Reduction Journal of Marketing Research


The authors examine how consumers form assortment perceptions in the face of SKU reduction.

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Promotion Signal: Proxy for a Price Cut? Journal of Consumer Research


Low need for cognition individuals react to the simple presence of a promotion signal whether or not the price of the promoted brand is reduced, but high need for cognition individuals react to a promotion signal only when it is accompanied by a substantive price reduction.

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Variety Seeking Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Review Journal of Consumer Research


A taxonomy of varied behavior is offered to structure research findings pertaining to the various phenomena termed "variety seeking."

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A Dynamic Attribute Satiation Model of Variety-Seeking Behavior Journal of Consumer Research


This paper presents a model of individual consumer choice for separate choice occasions.

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