Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More on Ethnography at P&G ...

Kyle talked about P&G coming to campus this past week. I wanted to add some more on the session that they did last Friday.

The focus of their presentation was on ethnography and how as brand managers we can use this type of research to develop, grow and evolve brands. They explained the background of ethnographic research and its role in marketing research; discussed 'applied' ethnographic research; and provided tips on best practices for conducting ethnographic research.

Very interesting stuff, with a number of great take-aways, including:

  • Ethnography is a type of cultural anthropology -- extending traditional demographic and consumer behavioral insights and rounding out the perspective on consumer insights that drive product innovation and marketing.
  • It is rooted in being an observational marketing-research activity - having the consumer act as (s)he normally does without biasing the results.
  • One of the keys to good ethnographic research is to capture the consumer 'in his/her words.' Some of the ways brand/research people do this is through video and other ways of recording the consumer's verbatim as it was said.
  • A critical tool for good ethnographic research is the 'laddering' questioning technique.

As Kyle mentioned, P&G also related ethnographic research to shopper marketing -- discussing implications for the 'first moment of truth' -- i.e., the decision-moment consumers face in store. They also discussed P&G's strategy for evaluating and building in-store marketing strategies -- their 'stop, hold, close' model.

"Knowing what drives initiatives at first moment of truth helps us build a shopper profile," commented CBPM alumna Carrie Rathod.

Finally, we went out in the field and participated in a live business case project for Pantene shampoo -- 'riding along' with consumers recruited by a marketing research company as they shop and discussing with them their purchasing patterns.

For those who attended the session, what did you think about ethnography as a marketing-research tool? Any comments on actually doing this out in the field? Please share your thoughts.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Colleen Goggins named to Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women

Why is the important and why would I reference this link?

1) Colleen is on the Board of Directors for the Center for Brand and Product Management. She is very involved with the Center and has been an instrumental individual in helping grow the Center to where it is today. She brought the Johnson & Johnson/Pfizer integration team to campus and guided us through our first applied learning session.

2) She took me and the first year class to dinner. That should actually be #1. Anybody that wants to take us to dinner should get top billing. It is a little surreal to read an article like the one in Fortune and realize that only two weeks ago, I had a conversation with her about J&J and her plans for helping grow the business further. Needless to say, in my previous job, I wasn’t having dinner with these type of people, let alone coffee, a short elevator ride, or even an innocent glance on the street.

3) And finally, she is just a really nice individual. I was amazed at how down-to-earth and approachable she was. She kindly answered all of our questions and treated each person like he/she was the most important person in the room at that moment.

On Wisconsin!

Friday, September 26, 2008

So it was apparently P&G (Procter & Gamble) week for the Brand Center with an info session on Wednesday and an applied learning activity on Friday. Info sessions are always good for two reasons:

1) The opportunity to put names with faces of recruiters that will be visiting campus for interviews next year and to learn a little more about each company’s intern program.

2) Free product (yes, in B-school we refer to stuff in very technical terms so stuff or things are not options. We also use words like synergy and anthropological because we can.)

P&G brought no shortage of product. We literally walked out of the info with our hands full of various products. I walked home with a box of Puffs, Bounty paper towels, Dawn soap, travel size Tide (because you never know when you will need that), Covergirl makeup (for the fiancée, not me), Febreeze-scented Mr. Clean wipes (that is what we like to call synergy), and my personal highlight, the new Gillette Fusion Power Phenom razor with Duracell battery. I have to say that the funniest scene though was Jon Jones, Joe Worley, and myself walking home because Joe was carrying not one, but two, packs of Charmin toilet paper. Needless to say, we got a few looks and a number of laughs on that walk. Reminded me of the walk of shame as an undergrad, except Joe was carrying toilet paper.

On Friday, P&G hosted a joint applied learning session for the Brand Center and the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research. Carrie Rathod (CBPM ’05) returned to campus to help teach the session on ethnographic research. I had absolutely no idea what this was until today. Essentially, we were given the opportunity to follow a consumer through the grocery store while he or she selected hair care products. Carrie works in the consumer hair care category so this was very pertinent to her team. We would ask the consumer questions about their buying behavior or why they picked one product over the next. Our goal was to better understand the buying decisions a consumer goes through when selecting shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, detangler (not my word, but my consumer’s), mousse, and volumenizer (not sure on the spelling).

Typically, I am anti-stalking, but I will admit this was a very cool project. It was amazing how much insight we were able to gain in an hour of conversation with a typical consumer. When we returned, our teams met as a group and put together action plans for P&G to better position various products or adjust in-store marketing campaigns. These are exactly the type of projects that actual Brand Managers and CKMs (Consumer Knowledge Marketers or researchers) do on a regular basis. It is one thing to talk about this stuff in class, but another to actually do it.

All in all, great day and great week despite a killer Data to Decisions project. Time to enjoy the Fall weather before cold temps and snow flurries become the norm. Cheers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Teachers take Students to the woodshed....

Intriguing title, right? Flag football started Sunday afternoon and the MBA program has put together two teams. Men’s League had a bye, but Co-Ed got their first taste of action. Two members of our team—Eric and Beth—are actually TAs for a couple of undergrad students on the opposing team so we had a little motivation. Had to be a humbling experience for the younger more agile undergrads to get their tails handed to them by grad students well past their athletic prime.

Our defense pitched a shut out and scoring became irrelevant after our third TD. Hopefully this will bode well for our upcoming season. The biggest difference between the undergrads and our team is that they probably don’t realize they played yesterday, while we feel it in every step. My standard 20 minute walk to class this morning took a little longer than normal and the calf cramp half way there was most unexpected.

Final score: MBA 32 Undergrads 0

We are setting the over/under at 4 wins. Place your bets accordingly and be sure to tip your waitresses.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Building Bridges ...

A quick report from the front line as a number of first and second-year CBPM students attended the National Black MBA Conference in Washington, DC, this past Thursday and Friday, September 18 and 19 (including me).

The event was a great opportunity to connect with employers that aren't 'regulars' on-campus for the brand center. Although we get a great cross-section of leading CPGs that participate on our board and that come to campus, events such as the Career Fair at this conference are a critical platform for making additional connections in other industries -- especially for full-time marketing/brand opportunities in areas such as automobiles, beverages, entertainment, hospitality and technology.

A number of second-year students interviewed on-site for full-time marketing, brand management and merchandising management positions with companies ranging from 3M to Pepsi to Target. And many more connections were made, meeting with companies directly at their booths.

Below are four CBPM second-years that attended (from left to right): Sennai Atsbeha, Adam Needles (me), Elena Taylor and Rebecca Bishop.

The event was also a great opportunity to 'evangelize' about the brand-focused program at Wisconsin, and Blair Sanford, who directs career services at Wisconsin and who helped to sponsor our DC trip, really partnered with us to help build contacts with recruiters who are really excited to hear more about our program.

As a final comment on the conference, I have to say how impressed I was with what a professional job the organizers have done. I've attended other MBA conferences, and the National Black MBA Association really runs a top-notch diversity conference. I was really excited to participate not only to network with employers and to promote our program, but also to support the diversity initiatives of the organization and for Wisconsin.

On Wisconsin!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fridays are always a mixed bag as some weeks we have company led applied learning sessions or a golf tournament like today. Unfortunately, I was unable to play today, but somebody will post about the event next week. Last night, General Mills visited campus and took many of us to dinner at Magnus to give us their spiel. Three of the presenters were CBPM grads—Ryan Stalker (MBA ’05), Andy Freedman (MBA ’06) and Christina Zwicky (MBA ’07)—so it was nice to meet them and get their perspective on careers in brand management. I have to say the best part of speaking with each of them was their openness and honesty regarding the company and the opportunities. Each has a vested interest in seeing us succeed and were more than happy to answer questions however crazy they might be.

I think we all agreed that there was some risk in coming to Wisconsin for school as the program is still relatively young, but meeting people like Ryan, Andy, and Christina only reaffirmed my decision more. Following dinner, we headed to TAPS, which is essentially MBA Happy Hour every Thursday. The General Mills crowd joined us as well and it turns out that Andy still had a tab running at Genna’s so he was good to go. Wisconsin football has a bye this weekend so everybody was making plans for the weekend. Rumors have it that some fellow MBAers are having a Keg Kickball Tournament this weekend. If that is not a recipe for disaster I don’t know what is.
Off to catch a plane to Phoenix (with a UW bye I have to watch football some place), have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Welcome to the Fall 2008 Brand and Product Management blog! My name is Kyle Gore and I am a First Year student in the CBPM. My picture is not the best as it looks like I swallowed a ham, but that is neither here nor there. I will serve as the Blogmaster (not my choice of title) for 2008-2009. It will be my job to give you a snapshot into my experience at the Wisconsin School of Business and try to give you an idea of what makes our community so great. Let me start by saying that I won’t be the only blogger, which is good for you. Our goal is to fill the blog with different information from professor interviews and current class discussions to social outings and weekend excursions. Blogs are only effective if they are interactive so please post your comments or feel free to add insight, however poor it might be--just kidding.
To give you an idea about my background, I moved to Madison from Atlanta, GA where I lived for the past four years. My fiancée (we got engaged July 5th in Mexico) moved here with me as well and just recently found a job, which is good as we need the cash flow and she was getting pretty bored. I am originally from Texas, growing up in the DFW area. I graduated from Texas Christian University in 2002 with a degree in Marketing. My first job moved me from Dallas to Phoenix and then to Atlanta so I have been transient since graduating. What do those cities have in common—very hot weather. What does Madison not have—very hot weather. It is only the middle of September and it gets chilly in the evenings. Everybody tells me that it snows in Wisconsin, but I won’t believe it until I see it.

Let me bring you up to speed on where we are. We are in the third week of classes after two weeks of orientation so week five in all. I turned in my first paper of the year this afternoon. Granted, it was not a long paper and I had my fair share of graphs, but it was a paper nonetheless. When you aren’t use to writing papers, this is a big deal. I am big on metaphors so I would describe this time of year like staring out at the ocean as storm clouds gather on the horizon. The weather is nice where you are now, but you better enjoy it as it is going to get nasty pretty soon. That is what I feel like. Two weeks from now, I will be subsisting on Red Bull and prayer as group projects, mid terms, and research papers seem to be due at the same time. As the semester rolls on, I will give more details on classes and projects and my level of sanity, which is questionable to begin with.

Below are pictures from the GBA (Graduate Business Association or MBA Student Council) Welcome Back Party at the conclusion of orientation. The theme was The 80s so we dressed up in our best “Members Only” jackets, neon-colored polos, and mullets. The Brand Center took pride in winning both Best Dressed Male and Female with Brian Ward and Katie Daggett taking home the prize. Have to say that it was pretty fun to bust out the clothes I wore during undergraduate theme parties for this event. Bust is the operative word as I have apparently put on some weight in the past six years, but tight was in in the 80s, wasn’t it?
Tomorrow is a big evening as General Mills is taking the first year Brand students to Restaurant Magnus for dinner. Yep, you heard me. A company that all of us would like to work for is coming to campus and wants to take us to dinner. This is apparently pretty common as this will be the second dinner we have gone to and it is only week three. Magnus is a very nice restaurant so they aren’t doing this on the cheap either. Friday, I will give you a run down from dinner.

Time to hit the books as this has been a nice study break. Normally my entries won’t be this long, but I just wanted to catch everybody up.