Skip to content

Consumer Research Center integrates Kroger project into MBA classrooms

Friday, July 1 2016 12:00am

MBA students conduct comparative analyses on Millennial shopping habits.

By Brianna Wilson

Ohio University’s College of Business has always focused on applied learning experiences, but they recently upped the ante.

“We believe in applied learning—and students appreciate it when they’re doing research for a real client and can truly see the impact of their work,” said Chris Moberg, associate dean of OHIO’s College of Business. 

That’s why marketing professors partnered with the Consumer Research Center (CRC) to bring client projects into the classroom. Usually, students apply to become fellows for the CRC, and then can work on research projects for top consumer brands like Kellogg’s, Dairy Queen, Rocky Brands, and The J.M. Smucker Company—but integrating certain projects into coursework allowed more students to get involved. In turn, it allowed the CRC to complete more projects for companies, without compromising quality.

“I would have loved to have such an experience in an undergraduate classroom—or an MBA classroom for that matter,” said Jacob Hiler, assistant professor of marketing. “The opportunities we’re providing students are invaluable. They prepare our students for the real world, and help them stand out to employers.”

About the Kroger project

Last fall, full-time MBA students helped the Athens, Ohio Kroger learn more about shopping habits of Millennials through competitive analysis.

Throughout the semester, four-student teams examined several product categories—such as cheese, frozen food, and natural products—using secondary research and mystery shopping in both Kroger and Walmart.

“It was interesting to see the differences in the stores,” said Josh Staav, ’17 MBA/MSA dual-degree student. “Overall, I enjoyed learning more about a company that I thought I knew a lot about [Kroger]—especially one that was Athens-based.”

After considering price, product availability, product variety, and customer service, students brainstormed solutions that would create superior customer value, and presented them to the Kroger store managers. 

“They focused on finding simplistic ideas that would create a lot of benefit, like changing signage or the way a product is displayed,” said Katie Hartman, chair of the marketing department. “The students enjoyed the project, and the Kroger store managers were impressed with the suggestions they provided.”  

What’s next?

This year—and in the future—the CRC will continue to incorporate CRC projects into the classroom.

“They provide valuable learning opportunities for students, while matching course learning outcomes,” said Hartman. “The projects help students build a unique and in-demand skillset by allowing them to understand, analyze, and develop insights, recommendations, and ideas.” 

About the CRC

Founded in 2014, the CRC gives students the opportunity to gain marketing research experience through semester-long research projects for top consumer brands.

The center has conducted research utilizing surveys, focus groups, interviews, physiological measures, customer intercepts, store mystery shoppers, and secondary research analysis for The J.M. Smucker Company, Dairy Queen, Burger King, Grange Insurance, Gatesman+Dave, Rocky Brands, Kellogg’s, and more.

Learn more about the CRC online and follow their journey at #OHIOcrc.