Professional market research services can be expensive, while doing it yourself often-yields inadequate results. But at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, a chance opportunity has produced valuable data for Dining Services Director Brett Morris—and he didn't have to pay a dime for it.
"A professor who was teaching a class on consumer behavior mentioned that he was looking for topics for student market research projects, and I suggested they do research for us," Morris says. He had two projects in mind: one to investigate issues related to an underperforming Starbucks outlet, and the other, customer perceptions of a student-run deli location in a classroom building.
The students approached the semesterlong projects with gusto, conducting surveys, focus groups and using statistical analysis and data to develop promotional ideas and marketing schemes.
While the final reports were not due til the end of the semester, Morris termed the preliminary parts he has reviewed as " excellent" and has already resolved to continue working with not only the consumer research class but perhaps other classes as well. "There are so many resources in such a big university that we often fail to consider," he notes, "and meanwhile we can offer students a real-world environment in which what they develop produces results they experience for themselves."