As a first-year A.C. Nielsen student eager to learn what the world of marketing research has to offer, I was fortunate to receive the opportunity to travel to Chicago for two days and see the profession in practical application. I was certainly not disappointed by everything the trip had to offer! For the other Badgers and I, the A.C. Nielsen Center’s excursion offered a healthy variety of the profession’s full spectrum. Students engaged in the cutting-edge consulting approaches of companies like Conversant, the real-world consumer insights research of PepsiCo, and perhaps most important, the opportunity to establish meaningful connections with world-class Badger alums and their respective companies.
The A.C. Nielsen Center trip began with a consulting focus with Conversant, where A.C. Nielsen Center students gained insight into the rapidly-developing world of digital strategy and marketing. The content of the discussions certainly revealed multiple interesting considerations for the near-future, and set the stage for how marketing research drives business in real-time. Conversant demonstrated for students how marketing segmentation is rapidly transforming into mass customization via digital means, and how businesses can leverage technology to accurately understand consumers and market to them in rapid succession. Furthermore, their visit revealed how their abilities as a company expose near-limitless opportunities as consumer data is so rapidly collected, analyzed, and processed to drive business with some level of automation. For a student like me who is still learning the full “ceiling” of what can be accomplished through marketing research and fully understanding consumer trends, Conversant was an enjoyable and eye-opening glimpse into our profession’s future.
After spending a morning with Conversant, A.C. Nielsen Center students were treated to an afternoon with PepsiCo to see consumer insights in action. Students received a tour of the Gatorade floor (pictured above), where they received a view into PepsiCo’s daily consumer insights operations, corporate culture, and current initiatives. Students also actively participated in a taste-testing exercise and follow-on analysis. In doing so, A.C. Nielsen students examined a practical application of how PepsiCo frames product launches, tests advertisement, incorporates metrics, and harness methodologies to drive effective business decisions. As many A.C. Nielsen Center students are destined for CPG-oriented internships and full-time positions, PepsiCo’s visit was a great way to see the critical facets of consumer insights. In retrospect, it was also a fantastic way to visualize what a career in consumer insights looks like in a real-world setting.
Throughout our time in Chicago, we were fortunate to also have ample time to converse and network with numerous business professionals, many of whom were UW alumni. The networking involved both professional and casual settings, and it reinforced the idea that people are always the most important part of the profession. One of the greatest benefits of being a student in the A.C. Nielsen Center at Wisconsin is the family-oriented feel of our professionals, and how important mentorship and human connection is to creating better business leaders.
Overall, my fellow students and I found the excursion to Chicago such a valuable part of our MBA experience in that it allowed us the chance not only to see our classroom instruction manifest itself in real-world companies, but also how valuable our friendships and mentors truly are. I strongly believe the trip has inspired our students to eagerly approach their studies and take new perspectives as we develop into the next team of business professionals.
A.C. Nielsen students enjoying the afternoon at PepsiCo HQ in Chicago