Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola has endowed a professorship of consumer insight and marketing at the IMD business school in Lausanne.

The endowment will see the creation of an academic post at the business school to be known as The Coca-Cola Professorship of Consumer Insights and Customer Marketing. The donation will finance the salary of a professor and additional research in an area of interest designated by Coke.

It has also been announced that the first holder of the new post will be Professor John Walsh, who has been at IMD for ten years. Walsh is currently the director of IMD's Executive MBA programme and also directs a number of customised programmes for other companies including Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC) and Hilton Hotels Corporation.

In his new role, Walsh will lead the development of the executive education curriculum and undertake research projects aimed at enhancing understanding of consumer and shopper marketing and purchaser behaviour at the choice occasion and in-store.

"This endowment puts us at the forefront of executive education, while gaining valuable insight from well-researched and tested customer development and commercial capability building practices," said Muhtar Kent, president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola. "A key pillar of The Coca-Cola Company's sustainable growth strategy involves nurturing a winning network of partners and building mutual success."

"It is truly an honour for me to be associated with such a prestigious company as Coca-Cola and the Coca-Cola system," Walsh said. "I look forward to embarking on the research agenda we have set out."