Students explain the essentials of Millennial marketing in Target Case Competition
June 8, 2009
Bloomington, Ind. -- These days, everyone seems to be talking about members of the Millennial generation: their penchant for technology and social networking, their close connection to their parents and their desire to make a difference in the world. When Target wanted ideas for reaching the Millennial market, it came to the Kelley School of Business to ask the Millennials themselves.
The Hoosier Target Consulting team took first place. Members are Anne Feeks, Christopher Higgs, Monique Kenney, Kathleen Kilrea and Erica Viar. Their Business Communications instructor is Michele Kelmer.
Each year Target hosts a case competition for undergraduate students at the Kelley School, as well as several other business schools. This year's competition focused on attracting and keeping Millennial guests and balancing the desires of Millennial customers and Baby Boomer customers.
Nearly all Kelley sophomores participate in the case competition through the X204 course, Business Communication. This means that 200 teams of four to six students work together to develop a report and presentation for their solution to the case competition. From the original 200 teams, 12 are selected for a semi-final competition, after which four finalists are identified to present to a team of judges from Target. Each member of the four teams will receive a cash prize: $750 for a first-place finish, $500 for second place, $250 for third place and $100 for fourth place.
"As an instructor, I enjoy watching the teams as they develop both their solutions to the case and their teamwork skills," said Anna Easton, senior lecturer in Business Communication and director of the competition. "The team members are overwhelmed as they begin the semester-long project and are amazed at their professional report and presentation by the end of the semester."
On Thursday, April 30, 2009, Target's John Butcher, Stacy Warner, Brian Lannan and Stephanie Lucy traveled to Bloomington to judge the four finalists' presentations. Each team presentation was followed by a question-and-answer period with the judges. At a reception following the presentations, the judges announced the winners and awarded the prize money.
The judges praised the quality of the presentations and offered suggestions for improvement. They emphasized the value that Target places in hearing students' ideas through the case competition. "We want input from students that we otherwise wouldn't have. We take your ideas back for consideration," said John Butcher, Vice President of Merchandise Planning, who completed his Bachelor of Science degree at Kelley in 1996.
First place: Hoosier Target Consulting. Team members Anne Feeks, Christopher Higgs, Monique Kenney, Kathleen Kilrea and Erica Viar suggested two profile-based shopping experiences: "On the Line," devoted to clothes and "Dream Spot," for furniture. "On the Line" would enable shoppers to create a virtual model of their bodies, allowing them to virtually try on clothing and save preferences for future reference. "Dream Spot" would let guests enter a room's dimensions and then try different configurations of furniture. Both shopping tools could be shared via email and social networking sites like Facebook.
Second place: Arrow Consulting. Team members Erin Leonard, Laura Lewis, Michael Santa, James Still, Laura Udell and Vincent Wu proposed that Target create a virtual store that Millennial guests could explore with a personalized avatar. The avatar could also help shoppers store information about their preferences for certain products or shopping lists.
Third place: USHDBE Consulting, LLC. Team members Hae Oh, Emily Watkins, Daniel Konowal, Umesh Kaushal, Samay Mehta and Brian Holthouse presented the Interactive Shopping Experience, or ISE. The ISE is a GPS-like device that attaches to shopping carts and allows guests to use voice-recognition or typed keywords to locate merchandise in the store. The devices could suggest complementary items and help shoppers track their spending. In addition, guests could create profiles that could be accessed by the device in order to manage shopping lists. An additional benefit for Target would be the creation of datasets of consumer shopping behavior that could be used by Target as well as sold to other firms.
Fourth place: Kinetic Consulting. Mark Engelmeyer, Christopher Hall, Nicholas Meno, Ashlyn Pham and Joey Saporito suggested a clothing line for environmentally conscious Target shoppers to allow the store to compete with other Millennial-focused fashion retailers like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M. The clothes would be made from 100% recycled fibers and would be endorsed by a team of celebrities known as the "Green Team" in a manner similar to the GAP's successful "Project Red" campaign.