Daniel AntiviloApplied Leanings have always been a critical part of the CBPM curriculum, and this first fall semester is no exception.  Leanings have ranged from buyer side insights to new product development, and below are a few highlights:

Applied LearningsTarget started out the Applied Learning season with an overview of how the customer side works. Accompanied by Target buyers, we traveled to our local Target where we got to see how a buyer looks at the shopping space.  We learned how to see the store as a buyer does and what they prioritize.  The Target buyer has the goal of growing their category and driving revenue. Their main way they do this is by offering products that meet their consumers’ tastes and needs. If a brand manager can communicate this message to the buyer and share key insights on how this product can grow the category, then this will likely be given more priority on shelf.  It is always important to consider the consumer when managing products, while at the same time having the customer in mind so that the product will be successful.

Applied LearningSC Johnson helped give us applicable knowledge about how PR and strategic partnerships can play an important role with product management.  We learned all about how Shout leveraged a strategic partnership with the Color Run to make the brand more relevant to a younger consumer. This case taught us the importance about working closely with the PR firm to ensure the partnership has meaning to the target audience. Though the execution of a partnership is important, the selection of a partnership matters. In small groups we each took a brand and came up with a partnership that would be meaningful to the brand. We learned that brand management is more than a 30-second spot and that partnerships must fit with the brand’s equity and give meaning to the overall brand.

With P&G we partnered up with the A.C. Nielsen Center for Market Research and journeyed down to Cincinnati to learn about new product development. At P&G we broke up into groups to conduct mini-focus groups with actual consumers about their hair care needs. After conducting the focus group we tried to identify the human truth that was consistent with our participants.  This human truth is what we used to come up with an unfulfilled need and create a product that would speak to that consumer.  We learned about how important it is to consider the consumer needs and truly understand their pains and where they are coming from to match a product that will help them. Going through this process made it feel very real about how product development can help improve people’s lives.

Scott Cook, the co-founder of Intuit, took us through a current case at Intuit that taught us about the process of refining an idea for new products. Intuit looks at a problem with a wide-angle lens to see how they can further help their consumer maximize their return. We learned about how important it is to look at where the data differs from our expectations. Then after identifying several possible solutions, it is important to formulate a hypothesis about how the solution will work. We learned about how important it is to remain agile so that you can reformulate the solution. Along with this, we also learned about always evaluating the treats to the solution, as these will help shape the end solution.

Dish Network helped us understand the importance of working with agency partners through the creative brief.  Through this session we looked at how to give feedback to an agency about creative. There is an art in working with creative agencies. Their work is very important to them, but the brand manager must ultimately decide on which work bests represents the direction of the brand. Split up into teams, we looked at creative work to decide which would be the best, and how to approach the agency with feedback. Stakes were high; the team that could deliver the best presentation would win iPads! Throughout this process we learned the importance about how to talk to an agency and deliver actionable yet concise feedback about their work.