By Arial Starks
The 4-week Accelerator®—Summer Business Immersion certificate program at Vanderbilt Business provides an opportunity for college students and recent graduates to get real-world consulting experience through projects. As part of their project work this year, students presented rebranding strategies for the variety store company Dollar General.
The Client: Dollar General, nicknamed “Rural America’s Store of Choice,” is a chain of variety stores headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. Founded in 1939, Dollar General currently operates 18,216 stores as of 2022.
The Project: Teams were tasked with creating strategies for Dollar General that would optimize the customer’s in-store experience through new services and/or products. The goal was to enhance Dollar General’s profitability by providing a new, non-existing product or service that served the customers’ core needs while remaining affordable.
The Presentations: The teams had 10 minutes to pitch their ideas to members of the Dollar General marketing team, including Vanderbilt University alumni Tanner Owen, Sr. Director, Strategy & Corporate Development. Each team began their presentation with attention grabbers, from short skits to thought-provoking questions, all to get the crowd engaged. All groups aimed to represent the typical Dollar General customer – a rural American. Every team showcased their research abilities through detailed presentations, each aiming to create a product to enhance the Dollar General customer experience without them breaking the bank.
Some teams pitched ideas that tackled complex issues like making certain medications available and affordable at Dollar General stores, while others took a simpler approach and focused on customer morale and cost effectiveness for the company through 99-cent hot and ready coffee. Across all teams, everyone kept in mind Dollar General’s target customer and created products and services that would best meet the needs of its shoppers. While some pitched their ideas using visual aids such as charts and graphs, others utilized short videos to gain the interest of the Dollar General marketing team.
“The Dollar General project was my favorite, because it forced us to really consider the data,” one student said unanimously in a survey conducted by the Accelerator team.
“My favorite project was working with Dollar General, because it felt very similar to what I would actually be doing if I were to be a consultant in the real world,” said another. “They also were very clear with what they wanted, and we didn’t have to spend a lot of time as a team trying to figure out what their goal was.”
The Winner: Dollar General awarded Team ‘C’, consisting of Sallie Chope, Roark Sweidy Stata, Daniel Darraik, Sahana Prasad, Jett Sacks, Matt McGregor, and Ethan Thomas with the first place trophy following presentations from all 7 teams. Team C pitched the idea of Dollar General selling diabetic goods in its stores. The team calculated that diabetic goods like insulin would bring the company a net profit of approximately $106 Million per year.
The Feedback: The Dollar General Team was impressed with the Class of 2022 Accelerator group. They posed questions to each project group and provided all of them with constructive feedback.
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