About the Author

Dr. Gerald


Gerald Zaltman is the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration Emeritus at the Harvard Business School (HBS). He was codirector of HBS’s Mind of the Market Laboratory and a cofounder of the research-based consulting firm Olson Zaltman Associates, whose clients include some of the world’s most respected firms. Olson Zaltman Associates has worked in nearly 40 countries developing deep insights about consumer behavior. Professor Zaltman holds a PhD in sociology from the Johns Hopkins University, an MBA from the University of Chicago, and a BA from Bates College.

His interests focus on customer behavior and marketing strategy. His best-selling book How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market (2003) has been translated into 20 languages. Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal about the Minds of Consumers (2008), written with Lindsay Zaltman, has also been published in multiple languages. It addresses the unconscious frames that influence consumer and manager thought and behavior. And Professor Zaltman has written numerous other books on social change, research, and thinking.

Professor Zaltman’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Time, Fast Company, American Demographics, and other major publications. Professor Zaltman is a consultant to corporations around the globe and frequent keynote speaker at major conferences. He has received three patents for market research tools. One patented technique, ZMET, is used around the world by major firms and international agencies.

Professor Zaltman received the biannual Sheth Foundation Gold Medal Award for Exceptional Contributions to Marketing Scholarship and Practice. He was inducted into the inaugural American Marketing Association’s Fellow Program recognizing members who have made significant contributions to the research, theory, and practice of marketing.

In 2019, Professor Zaltman was awarded The American Marketing Association Charles Coolidge Parlin Marketing Research Award for Outstanding Leadership and a Sustained Impact on Advancing the Evolving Profession of Marketing Research Over an Extended Period of Time, as well as the The American Marketing Association’s Consumer Behavior and Strategy Interest Group Lifetime Achievement Award for Extraordinary Academic and Service Contributions.

Other awards include the American Marketing Association’s Richard D. Irwin Distinguished Marketing Educator Award in 1989, the Association for Consumer Research Distinguished Fellow Award in 1990, the Knowledge Utilization Society’s Thomas J. Kiresuk Award for Excellence in Scientific Research in 1992, the JAI Press Distinguished Scholar Award from the Society for Marketing Advances in 2000, the ARF Member Recognition Award in 2007, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Henry Grady “Buck” Weaver Award in 2008, sponsored by General Motors, for outstanding work in bringing knowledge and practice together. He is included in the Sage Publications’ “Legends in Marketing Series” which republished five volumes of his leading-edge works in 2018.


An interview with Gerald Zaltman, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School. Learn how to create more effective marketing campaigns based on your customers' unconscious thoughts and feelings.

Gerald Zaltman has shaped the marketing discipline significantly through his study of metaphors. Metaphors are a natural language – and how most people think and communicate via metaphors. Zaltman views metaphors as the can opener to understand what people are actually thinking and has perfected his techniques to support marketing research.