The University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business students who competed in the Target Case Competition in April experienced first-hand the art of digital marketing related to the customer shopping experience in Target stores. Eight student teams pitched their business solutions to Target managers while competing for $2,000 in cash prizes.
Rob Simon, associate professor of practice in marketing, worked with the Nebraska Business Student Advisory Board to set up the competition. He praised student efforts in making the event a success.
“The Student Advisory Board plays a big part in both structuring how the competition runs, as well as helping recruit student teams,” said Simon. “The goal is to involve our students with a business problem Target is working on right now. It’s very applicable to what students would be confronted with in a working situation.”
Students focused on improving customer experience by designing shopping applications, more efficient online web solutions and overall improvement of Target’s position in the digital arena. Judges graded student presentations based on a variety of criteria, including financial integrity, innovation and the clarity of the presentation itself.
The first place team included Stetson Heirigs, a senior marketing major from Aberdeen, South Dakota; Caitlin Kunz, a senior marketing and management major from Lincoln, Nebraska; and Daniel Woodworth, a senior finance major from Papillion, Nebraska. First place students shared $1,500 in prize money from the Target foundation which helps fund the competition.
“Our team focused on continuing Target’s digital trend,” said Heirigs. “We talked about moving away from traditional advertising like print ads, and doing things like radio-frequency identification (RFID) to do instant feedback and checkout while customers are in the store. We also proposed a subscription service using the existing Target Cartwheel app, and doing more advertising with sponsored content in blogs and on the web.”
Simon explained students receive the case study about a week-and-a-half before the competition. He believes the event benefits both students and Target.
“Our students often do very well in this competition because Target is a retail point-of-sale business. Their age range makes them a prime target audience the company is trying to reach. Students come up with innovative ideas largely directed at a younger audience which Target wants to impress. The competition also gets the word out about Target around the College of Business, and helps market their firm to prospective employees,” said Simon.
The second place team split $500. Team members included Alexander Kassulke, a senior actuarial science major from Watertown, Wisconsin; Alexander Lahargoue, a senior marketing major from Olathe, Kansas; and Eric Nielsen, a senior accounting major from Kirkman, Iowa.