Lessons Come to Life in the Marketplace
Research projects with local and global companies are giving UNCW Cameron School of Business marketing students a chance to put theory into practice.
Students never forget these types of applied learning projects, according to Lisa Scribner, associate professor of marketing, because the classroom concepts "come to life" when put into practice for corporate goals. Seeing the value of helping students solidify their learning and prepare for the future, Scribner incorporates them into her international marketing classes.
Class projects have focused on products such as glass marbles produced by Glasfirma, a global corporation based in Mexico; insulated drink tumblers from Florida-based Tervis; and water bottles with filters from Bobble in North Carolina. Students delve into the research using a website that links to relevant online resources. In addition, Scribner's class temporarily has access to the Euromonitor database, which contains market share and trend information.
Associate professor Tracy Meyer and assistant professor Rika Spencer had their marketing intelligence and communications classes conduct research to help a grocery store focus its marketing plan.
By surveying customers in the Wilmington store, the students aided Whole Foods Market's efforts to reach specific demographic groups. The students asked customers about their common purchases, their typical spending patterns and the media they rely on most often for store offers and information. After completing their research, students will present their results to the Whole Foods marketing team leader. The goal is to reduce inefficiencies that come from trial-and-error media outreach.
Participating firms find the information so helpful that they return for new research projects with marketing students.
Assistant professor Donald Barnes arranged for his students to work with Fuzzy Peach, a local frozen yogurt chain owned by UNCW Cameron School of Business alumni, to explore factors that affect customer delight. Students in the Marketing Research and Design class crafted a survey, collected data from actual clients, analyzed the data and presented their findings to company executives.
A main goal of the class was to teach students a seven-step process to conduct their own research. In teams of three, every student individually evaluated the data and then completed a research project as a group.
For those students who have a fear of numbers, Barnes said, they gain confidence that they can analyze numbers and come to conclusions about the data. They recognize that data-driven solutions are important in a range of jobs, including sales, retail customer service, logistics, finance, management and accounting, he said. These types of tasks sharpen students' critical thinking and analytical skills.
These projects bolster students' confidence, Barnes asserted. With this type of work under their belts, he said, "They can conduct their own research to investigate any research problem they come across when they graduate."