- IMD Business School
 - IMD Business School
Stefan Michel

Professor of Strategy and Marketing

Stefan Michel’s major research interests are in AI’s impact on strategy, pricing, and customer-centricity. He is the Program Director of IMD’s Strategic Thinking program and teaches in the Orchestrating Winning Performance, the High Performance Board and the Digital Strategic Marketing programs, as well as in many partnership programs for world-leading companies. He wrote 13 books, numerous award-winning articles and ranks among the top 40 bestselling case-study authors worldwide by The Case Centre.

Michel believes that the key to a successful marketing strategy lies in an in-depth understanding of an organization’s customers. It is his belief that failing to understand your customers can waste marketing resources and create a useless strategy, leaving your company with lackluster results.

His book Real Impact Marketing, co-authored with Lisa Duke, helps decision makers improve the impact of their marketing efforts by aligning customer insights, value co-creation, value communication, and value capture, and provides a unique one-page marketing plan summarizing the actions a company can take to achieve this objective.

When done right, marketing has the ability to make a real impact. But it needs fuel from customer insights, value communication, and strategies powered by consumer behavior. Without them, you’ll build your marketing efforts on shaky ground.

While most marketing textbooks discuss marketing instruments and managerial frameworks but fail to link these elements to real impact, Michel’s book takes a practical approach and focuses on the real and visible impact that marketing can have. Based on years of interacting with executives about what they need to know to deliver results effectively, the book, now in its third edition, is intended as a guide for all business leaders on the contribution that marketing can make to a firm’s success.

Michel has also written several other books and book chapters on the topic, along with numerous newspaper articles and academic articles that have appeared in journals including Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.

He has directed or taught in IMD custom programs for more than 70 organizations including ABB, Adecco, AGC, Aggreko, Air France KLM, Allianz, AXA, CLP, CMS, Coca Cola, Commerzbank, Danske, Deloitte, DNB, Ericsson, EY, Everbright, Evonik, Hertz, Holcim, IBM, ISS, JTI, Liberty Seguros, Maersk, NCC, Nestlé, Nilfisk-Advance, Novartis, Pon, PwC, Rexel, Securitas, Siemens, Skanska, Sulzer, Svitzer, Swiss Post, Swisscanto, TUI, Visa, and Wolseley.

When advising executives and entrepreneurs on marketing strategy, Michel says they should focus on three points. First, answer the question, “What the heck is going on?” Avoid getting lost in the details of the market analytics and trend reports. Instead, put all the pieces together to define the current external and internal context, and opportunities and risks. Second, make sure to discuss real choices that include some trade-offs and come with a risk and reward profile. And finally, align all your actions with overcoming the biggest hurdles that your organization is facing.

Michel was named on the Case Centre’s Top 50 Bestselling Case Authors list 2020/21 and has been recognized in several other case competitions.

He is a non-executive board member at publicly listed Swiss company Bossard and family-owned firm Peka-System and is a strategy and marketing consultant for several Swiss top 50 companies and SMEs. He is also President of the Foundation Board of the Swiss Society for Marketing (Gesellschaft für Marketing GfM).

Before joining IMD in 2008, Michel was a tenured Professor of Global Marketing at Thunderbird School of Global Management in the United States, where he introduced a number of successful teaching innovations and received several awards for excellence in teaching. He previously worked as Professor of Marketing at the University of Applied Science in Lucerne and Lecturer of Marketing at the University of Zurich, University of Berne and SAWI Biel.


Selected publications
An expanded and strategic view of discontinuous innovations: Deploying a service-dominant logic

The service-dominant logic (S-D logic) provides a novel and valuable theoretical perspective that necessitates a rethinking and reevaluation of the conventional literature on innovation. This liter...

Marketing Value Creation Growth
1 January 2008
Academic publications
Insight for Executives
Why YouTube’s attempt at a new music service will fall flat

YouTube announced a new music streaming service—a revamped version of the existing YouTube Music. Launching Tuesday, the free, ad-supported version will remain in place, and there will be a Premium...

Digital Marketing Technology Management Strategy Decision Making
21 May 2018
Wo spüren Sie die Digitalisierung im Marketing in Ihrem Unternehmen am besten?

Die Digitalisierung im Marketing wird leider zu häufig reduziert auf Social Media und bezahlte versus organische Klicks. In jedem Unternehmen gibt es aber zustätzlich drei Marketingprozesse, die di...

Marketing Digital
13 March 2017