Jerry Olson

Founding Partner


Jerry Olson is founding partner of Olson Zaltman and Professor Emeritus at Penn State University's Smeal College of Business. He was Earl P. Strong Professor of Marketing and Department Chair at Penn State where he taught consumer behavior at all levels. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen, the University of Innsbruck in Austria and Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand

Jerry’s academic and consulting research focuses on meaning. He is fascinated by how the conscious and unconscious aspects of mind interact to create meaning and guide behavior. In his Olson Zaltman work, he uses ZMET®, laddering, and storytelling to identify the foundational orientations that represent the deep meanings of objects, ideas and brands. Jerry has published more than 60 papers on these topics in academic journals and conference proceedings, including Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Applied Psychology, and International Journal of Research in Marketing. He is author of Consumer Behavior and Marketing Strategy, a popular textbook in its ninth edition, and he has edited four other books, including Understanding Consumer Decision Making. He is past president of the Association for Consumer Research.

Jerry holds a Ph.D. in consumer psychology and an MS in industrial psychology from Purdue University, and a BS in business administration from Iowa State University. Jerry enjoys the intellectual challenges of ZMET® projects, and when work allows, he likes to ski and flyfish in the mountains of Idaho, play old-time music on his antique banjos, and savor a good red wine.