Kathy LaTour is the Banfi Vintners Professor of Wine Education and Management and an Associate Professor of Services Marketing at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. She is an expert in the area of marketing hedonic experiences, with a particular focus on wine and gambling. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1997. From 1997 to 2001, Dr. LaTour served as a visiting scholar in the Mind of the Market Lab at the Harvard Business School, where she worked with Gerald Zaltman and Stephen Kosslyn on applications of cognitive neuroscience to marketing. From 2004 to 2011, she was on the faculty of the UNLV Hotel School, where she taught marketing, marketing research, and a strategic-focused consumer behavior class to undergraduate and graduate hospitality students.
Dr. LaTour’s research takes a consumer psychology perspective toward how marketers should approach branding, experience design, communications, and loyalty programs. She uses both experimental designs and in-depth interview techniques to better understand consumer behavior, fusing macro cultural and micro psychological dimensions to her research. Dr. LaTour’s major research focus has been on the complexity of human memory. Her research on memory reconstruction was first published in the top consumer psychology journal, Journal of Consumer Research, and won both Best Paper for Research Based on a Dissertation, as well as Best Article published in that year (1999) — a major accomplishment in the discipline. Dr. LaTour has published both wine and gambling research in that journal, and her academic research has also appeared in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Business Research, Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Travel Research, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, and Annals of Tourism Research. Her work has also appeared in the general news media, such as the New York Times, USA Today, United In-flight magazine, Las Vegas Review Journal, Las Vegas Sun, and Portland Oregonian.
Dr. LaTour’s current research focus is on the development of knowledge with the highly ambiguous perceptual experienced product of wine, how cross-sensory learning methods can be employed to enhance consumer learning, sensory aspects of branding and brand knowledge representation, and what strategies or knowledge experts (i.e., masters) use to assess their own tasting experiences. As a means to better understand the nature of expertise, Dr. LaTour began her own wine learning journey. In 2011, she received her certified sommelier diploma from the International Sommelier Guild, her sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers, and Certified Wine Specialist recognition from the Society of Wine Educators. Dr. LaTour is currently a student in the Master of Wine program offered through the Institute of Masters of Wine and is studying for her MW, considered to be the highest level of business and wine knowledge in the industry. She has been developing a case-based wine marketing class and is working on several cases and research articles in this area. Dr. LaTour has also worked with a number of consulting companies, such as Experience Engineering and Olson Zaltman Associates, with clients that include Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Disney, World Bank, Las Vegas Sands, and Yum! Foods. She firmly believes that academic research can inform practice, and practice can inform academe.