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Students study Millennial dining habits around the world for Dairy Queen as part of coursework

Thursday, July 28 2016 12:00am

Class adopts international spin

Tags: Marketing

By Brianna Wilson

Last week, readers learned how the Consumer Research Center, or CRC, helped Grange Insurance learn how Millennials buy insurance. This week, CRC research goes international with Dairy Queen.

About the Dairy Queen project

Last fall, Jacob Hiler, assistant professor of marketing and CRC adviser, and Harrison Hightower, ’16 MBA student researched Millennial dining attitudes, interests, and opinions as well as overall restaurant trends and demographics in several countries for Dairy Queen.

After reading their high-level report, Dairy Queen was impressed. So much so that Tim Scott, vice president of international marketing at the company, included their insights in Dairy Queen’s international playbook, a reference book for all international employees. 

But they still had some questions—and wanted the CRC to help answer them. Students from a marketing strategy capstone course, taught by Chris Moberg, associate dean of Ohio University’s College of Business, were up for the task. In teams, they conducted thorough secondary research analyses.

“Each team was responsible for summarizing data and using analysis to find key insights for a specific country,” explained Moberg. “One of the teams had the U.S., and the remaining eight teams were given an extra week to use the report and presentation of the U.S. team to compare and contrast their country to the U.S.”

The end result? Dairy Queen received nine individual reports, as well as an executive summary. And the students? They learned more about research, international marketing, and even their own generation.

About integrating the CRC into classrooms

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.

Marketing professors partnered with the 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 offer companies more work, without compromising quality. 

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

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 Katie Hartman, chair of the marketing department. “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.