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NC State Jenkins MBA Students Learn to Apply the Science of Decision-Making in Consumer Behavior Course

Cameron Questell, a first-year student in the NC State Jenkins MBA program at the Poole College of Management, completed the Consumer Behavior course in the fall 2107 semester, as part of the MBA program’s Marketing Management concentration. In response to a request from Poole College Communications, she provided the following overview and key takeaways from the course.

In today’s highly competitive global marketplace, marketing managers and other business leaders must have an understanding of consumer behavior. This is a key take-away from my experience as a first-year MBA student in the Consumer Behavior course, where I saw how consumer behavior provides insight into the psychological, social and cognitive influences on consumers in areas such as perception, decision making, attitude formation and persuasion.

Before taking this course, I thought many decisions, particularly packaging and message design, were creative or intuitive decisions. The course influenced my perception of marketing decisions, from product design to pricing strategies. I learned they are more successful when business leaders apply consumer research and approach the creative processes scientifically.  

I am now equipped with a different mindset when approaching decisions – what initially seemed more of an “art” – because I approach them scientifically, recognizing the influence different creative approaches will have on consumers.

One aspect of the course that helped me develop a new way of thinking about marketing to consumers was the integrative, discussion-based approach in the classroom. The lectures were exceptional. Each class session included real-world examples representing a variety of industries and business goals and demonstrating both failed and effective incorporation of consumer-based marketing. In-class discussion translated the concepts into a way of thinking. We learned from each other as we identified and discussed how marketing content was effectively incorporating topics from class (or failing to). This challenged my intuition and helped me develop my new way of thinking about marketing content.  

Also contributing to what makes this an exceptional MBA-level course was the semester-long team casebook project, which reflects the think and do culture at NC State. We worked in teams to develop the casebook based on weekly assigned projects, and turned it in at the end of the semester. Cases ranged from developing pricing and promotional strategies for a new product launch to redesigning packaging and marketing content for unsuccessful products. With these projects, we demonstrated how our ideas would influence consumers, whether it be through impacting consumer attitude towards the brand, product choice, or otherwise.

Not only did we have to understand how to apply course concepts, but we also had to be able to work effectively with our teams. I believe teamwork can be a challenge in business and the opportunity to work in this environment not only helped in our learning but also developed collaborative skills necessary for our future roles.

Overall, this course is a highlight of the Jenkins MBA program’s marketing concentration, and one of the reasons I chose to go NC State. I will continue to use what I have learned in future marketing courses, as well as other courses, because it has not only given me a better understanding of how to reach consumers, but also strengthened my approach to creating business solutions.

I went into this course thinking it would be a learning experience geared toward understanding the research surrounding consumer behavior, but found that the most valuable aspect was being challenged to change how I think as a future leader in business.