Spring 2016 Issue

Marketing Analysis for the Real World

The managerial aspects of marketing require a surprising amount of innovation. Just ask students taking Marketing Strategy and Management, the capstone course for the newly created marketing major taught by Robert Williams Jr., assistant professor of marketing in the Sigmund Weis School of Business.

Business is fundamentally concerned with the customer, which basically involves both innovation, listening to the voice of the market to create an offering the customer needs and wants; and marketing, making the full target market aware of the offering. “Innovation is fostered by learning how to ask questions to find out what we don’t know. I feel strongly that if my students can learn to adapt and to keep learning, they will continue to grow and improve the world,” Williams says.

To a large extent, the class is organized around case studies that students use to solve marketing problems. “In this class, as with marketing in general, there might not be concrete right or wrong answers. Things depend on the context of the situation, and students learn how to make decisions based on judgment,” Williams says. “If the class, or a marketing department itself, is too rigid, it’s ineffective. There needs to be a certain level of controlled variability.”

A case study in point: leading Chinese whitegoods manufacturing company Haier. Despite a failed attempt to buy Maytag in 2004, Haier recently signed a contract to acquire General Electric’s appliance business, in a deal that gives the company rights to use the GE logo for an unprecedented 40 years. Students who took the course this year studied the companies’ markets and branding, and analyzed the deal, so that when it closes, they can see how their analysis and predictions hold merit in the real business world.

“There’s a level of maturity in this class, which really allows students to show what they have learned throughout their college career,” Williams says.

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