We believe that students benefit from working on real projects for real companies.
Accordingly, Professors Kelly Goldsmith and Jennifer Escalas are coordinating team-based marketing research projects that pair student teams with real clients who have marketing research needs and would like assistance.
The student teams for these projects will be comprised of 3 – 6 students, enrolled in either the MBA or the Master of Marketing degree program at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management. The duration of the project will vary as a function of the client’s research needs; however, a typical project will be fulfilled in 7 – 14 weeks.
The only obligation that is required from the client is that each client (or an appointed contact person from their organization) should engage with the student team periodically as they work on the project. The specific nature of these engagements can be determined by the client and the student team. Engagements can be something as simple as reviewing a document the team has sent and providing feedback. Face-to-face meetings and/or extensive conference calls are not required. Clients have no financial obligation to the Owen Graduate School of Management or to the student team.
If you are interested in serving as a client and working with a student team in the coming school year, please click the button below to learn more about the typical steps in the process. Note that in order for a client to be considered for the 2020-2021 school year, they must submit the Client Charter prior to October 1, 2020.
Below, you will see a brief description of the typical steps of a team-based marketing research project. Note that each project is slightly different, and therefore the steps may vary based on the client’s needs.
Step 1: Submit Client Charter
In order to work with a student team, each client must first submit a Client Charter online. The Client Charter consists of a brief series of questions designed to assess the client’s research needs. A link to complete the Charter is provided at the end of this page. To be considered, all Charters must be received before October 1, 2020.
Step 2: Charter Review
Professors Goldsmith and Escalas will review each charter in order to assess if the topic and scope of the proposed project is well-suited to students’ skills and the time line of the class. All applicants will be contacted about the outcome of this review.
Step 3: Student Teams Select Charters
The student teams complete these projects for the benefit of their own learning. Accordingly, they are allowed to select the project they would like to work on, from among the available charters, based on their learning goals. All clients will be informed about the outcome of the charter selection process.
Step 4: Research Design
All marketing research projects will involve the student teams conducting primary research in the form of a focus group, survey research, or both. If the client would benefit from a focus group, a discussion guide will be designed based on the research needs expressed in the charter. If the client would benefit from survey research, a survey will be designed based on the research needs expressed in the charter. All clients will be provided with the discussion guide and/or survey prior to the research being conducted. It is strongly encouraged that clients review these materials and provide feedback, in order to ensure that the research that is being conducted will meet their needs.
Step 5: Research Execution
The student teams will conduct the focus group and/or “field” the survey and collect participant responses. Because the focus group will be conducted on campus, focus group participants will be sourced from the student body at the Owen Graduate School of Management.
The survey will be conducted online and, as a result, participants may be sourced from different populations. In the past, some clients have provided their own survey respondents (e.g., an email list of former customers). Other clients have suggested that the team collect a “friends and family” sample of convenience. These samples generally do not require a fee to participate; however, if the client wishes to offer participants an incentive (e.g., “one lucky participant will win a $50 Amazon gift card!”) this is permissible. Finally, some clients have requested that survey participants be sourced from an online data panel (e.g., Amazon’s Mechanical Turk; Qualtrics). Note that panel participants typically receive a small monetary compensation for taking the survey (e.g., on Mechanical Turk, $1 for a 15-minute survey). Any such cost would need to be covered by the client. The targeted number of survey participants may be determined by the team and the client; however, all surveys will need a sample of at least 100 participants in order to allow for reliable statistical analyses.
The student teams will analyze the data collected in the survey using the statistical tools they have mastered throughout their course work.
Step 6: Presentation of the Results
The student teams will generate a document that presents the client with the results from the research. The goal of the document is to service the client’s research needs by highlighting the answers to their research questions that were generated in the research project. Student teams can present the results to clients directly (online or in-person) if this suits the client’s needs.
If you are interested in serving as a client, and working with a student team, please click here to complete the online Client Charter. If at any point you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Professor Goldsmith.