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Broad Students Win 2016 Sawtooth Software Marketing Analytics Challenge

A team of three students from Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business MS in Marketing Research (MSMR) part-time program—Julie Darin, Matthew Gasper, and Marisa Paruch—took first place in the 2016 Sawtooth Software Marketing Analytics Consulting Challenge March 18–19.

Group photo of winners.
Sawtooth Software president Bryan Orme, left, Broad College of Business students Matthew Gasper, Marisa Paruch, and Julie Darin.

They faced stiff competition as faculty from Brigham Young University, Ohio State University, University of California–Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of Utah, and The College of New Jersey hand-picked “dream teams” of students to compete.

 “Ultimately, this is more evidence that Spartans ‘Make Business Happen’ and do it better than even the very best competition,” said Clay Voorhees, associate professor of marketing. “I am particularly proud of their accomplishments as this competition lands squarely in two of Broad’s growing areas of emphasis — analytics and consulting.”

The competition was co-sponsored by Sawtooth Software, Black & Decker, and Survey Sampling International (SSI) and focused on a real business problem facing Black & Decker—their possible entry into the robotic vacuum market.

All teams were provided a series of research questions from the client (Stanley Black & Decker) and then given access to analytics software from Sawtooth and research respondents from Survey Sampling International. By the time the dust settled, the students completed a qualitative research study, executed three independent survey data collections (two conjoint-based designs), conducted advanced analyses including market simulations and benefit segmentation using cluster analysis, and condensed their results into a compelling final report and presentation.  

“Our final project used a mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis to provide insights into the desired design of a new product. The focus was on using conjoint analysis to determine what consumers were looking for, and how much they were willing to pay for individual features. The final presentation gave the judging panel, a mix of academics and clients, actionable recommendations to move forward with a new product design,” said Gasper.

“This is a recognition of our students’ understanding of marketing research tools, ability to glean insights from the analytics, and the professional presence required to make a persuasive, compelling presentation. This demonstrates the readiness of our students to contribute to future employers on day one after graduation,” said Glenn Omura, associate dean for MBA and professional master’s programs.

“The MSMR program gave us the skills in conjoint analysis, survey design, and qualitative research strategies to quickly and efficiently field a study for this competition. The analytic tools we were taught in the program, like SPSS and Sawtooth, helped us to organize and analyze data in different ways, allowing us to view the research problem from different perspectives and develop an appropriate solution,” Gasper concluded.

Besides competing, the students attended tutorials delivered by leading practitioners and academics in the field of marketing analytics.


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