Skip to content

Undergraduate students research and develop innovative marketing strategy for Grange Insurance

Thursday, July 21 2016 12:00am

Undergraduate students learn how Millennials buy insurance—and leverage what they found to create a marketing strategy that Grange Insurance loved.

By Brianna Wilson

Last week, readers learned how the Consumer Research Center, or CRC, helped Gatesman+Dave gain insight into Millennial eating habits. This week: how students came up with “Ask Grange.”

About the Grange Insurance project

It all started when Grange Insurance asked the CRC to investigate how Millennials buy their first car, renters, or life insurance policy.

“They kept saying I asked my older brother or sister, or their parents,” said Dan Dahlen, director of the CRC. That’s when “Ask Grange” was born. “The fellows thought, what if instead of asking their friends and family, they could get their answers from Grange?”

The company liked the fellows’ proposal so much that they asked Dahlen if they could continue to develop it—and while the CRC was at capacity, Dahlen had two integrative marketing communications classes that could learn from the experience, while continuing to build the Grange and CRC partnership.

Throughout the semester, students further explored the Ask Grange concept. First, they examined industry and Grange Insurance data and the CRC results to complete a situation analysis and identify five or six conclusions and implications.

Next, they segmented potential buyers into groups to create target markets. At the end of this phase, students articulated what they felt should be the Grange positioning, and who might be potential competitors.

They then created a communication plan to identify how they would reach their audience most effectively and efficiently; and what their key messages would be.

Finally, students presented their ideas to a team of five Grange executives, including Carrie Maun-Smith, associate vice president of customer experience at Grange on the Ohio University campus.

“We departed very excited and far more in tune with how to engage Millennials and be successful in this space. I hope the students received as much value from it as we did,” Maun-Smith told Dahlen in an email.  

About integrating the CRC into the classroom

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 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 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 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.”

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 fo 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.