Marketing Students Excel in Special Project for LEGO

February 15, 2013


"I've never had a more demanding or rewarding course than Professor Schewe's client-based Tools for Professional Success," observes Kayla Murphy, an Isenberg senior majoring in marketing. "The stress level was consistently high, but for someone like me who plans to work for a marketing agency, it's hard to imagine a more professionally valuable academic experience." Working with guidance from Professor Schewe but largely on their own, Murphy and her project team of fellow seniors Lauren Fisher, and Stephen Cohen immersed themselves in research, project management, teamwork, and presentation skills on behalf of their client, LEGO Systems, Inc.


That hands-on exposure, notes Schewe, is central to his senior-level course for honors students, who investigate and solve marketing problems at firms within geographical reach of Isenberg. (LEGO Systems, Inc. is just south of the Connecticut border in Enfield.) In the course, students apply what they've learned in the classroom to real-world challenges. (In the fall semester, four student teams tackled marketing challenges on behalf of four companies.) At the same time, they learn to adapt creatively to situations when those concepts don't explain the whole story, adds Schewe. 


Strategic Research.

In the project for the LEGO Club, the Isenberg team helped the company to explore its options in integrating print and digital media in its LEGO Club Magazine. With periodic input from Schewe and their LEGO contact, senior brand manager and Isenberg graduate Heidi Bailey '87, the students reviewed current research on trends in children's ownership and use of smart devices. They analyzed practices by other children's magazines that have directed their readers to digital media. They ran a focus group with children, and they created a handbook for conducting kid-friendly market research.


"We learned that our target audience--boys age 5-12 who regularly use smart devices--come from families with incomes of $75,000 and up," notes Cohen, who did much of the marketing and demographic "desk research." "We also learned that smart phones are the devices of choice among boys, age 8-12, while 5 to 7-year olds prefer iPads, with their wealth of learning apps." 


An Innovative Focus Group.

"We designed and conducted a focus group with 16 children to evaluate a new digital experience," adds Fisher. The Isenberg team measured the children's emotional response to the digital experience and its ease and effectiveness of use, incorporating technical variables like download speed. Later on, the students and a professor of child psychology reviewed videos of the focus group, gauging the children's emotional responses by measuring their facial expressions and body language. According to Fisher, everything came together in the team's PowerPoint presentation to an audience that included Heidi Bailey; members of the company's creative, human resources, and home shopping teams; and representatives from a print vendor. "In the end," remarks Fisher, "the project was an awesome learning experience--I think we gave LEGO the fresh perspective that they were looking for."


Bailey concurs. "The desk research and the focus group research will both be valuable to us," she emphasizes. The students were very well prepared and professional.  Their creative focus group design and work with the child psychology professor were especially impressive. Many thanks to Isenberg and its students for their excellent work and insights."