Marketing Students' Research Promotes Global Perspectives

KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 26, 2018) — A case study competition between eight groups of undergraduate international marketing students put their research and presentation skills to the test, while also encouraging them to think about the challenges businesses face when marketing their products in a global marketplace.

The competition was held during the Kennesaw State University Symposium of Student Scholars, hosted on April 19 by the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Undergraduate Research Club. Held each year since 2009, the symposium provides students from across Kennesaw State University with a platform to share research projects conducted during the academic year. More than 300 students displayed 450 projects this year.

Student SymposiumClay Wilderman discussing his team's project, Namaste in the USA: Yoga as Mind, Body and Protest

Seeing an opportunity to help her students gain valuable research and presentation experience, Dr. Mona Sinha, Assistant Professor of Marketing, made participation in the symposium this semester a required part of her senior-level international marketing class.

“I decided to use the platform provided by the symposium to drum up some competitive spirit in my class,” she said. “I thought that this would not only add to their resumes, but it would also showcase their unique skills to the marketing department, Graduate College and the University at large.”

Sinha assigned her students to research a company that was facing a marketing challenge in another country. While several groups selected multinational companies competing in the top two emerging markets – China and India, some studied international companies and products trying to gain a foothold in the United States. Each group conducted extensive secondary research and wrote up an international marketing case study  

While Sinha assigns this project to her students every semester, this is the first year she required groups to participate in the symposium’s poster session, which replaced the traditional in-class presentation.

During the symposium poster session, Sinha held a private case study competition between her student groups featuring judges Mark Forehand, Assistant Dean for International Programs and Graduate Admissions; Dr. David Burns, Chair of the Department of Marketing and Professional Sales; and marketing professors Dr. Armen Tashchian, Dr. Jennifer Hutchins, and Tyra Burton. The judges scored each project based on the quality of the research, the poster design, and the oral presentation.

Winning Case Study, The Jungle of e-Commerce: Why Amazon is Failing in ChinaFirst place project, The Jungle of e-Commerce: Why Amazon is Failing in China. From left to right: Kamila Daza, Alexys Wilson, Adam Stasevich, Devin Mann, Sinan Nurdogan, and Susana Diaz

First place went to students Sinan Nurdogan, Alexys Wilson, Kamila Daza, Susana Diaz, Devin Mann, and Adam Stasevich for their case study The Jungle of e-Commerce: Why Amazon is Failing in China. Their case centered around Amazon’s plight in China where the global retailing giant had a mere 0.8 percent market share in 2016, as compared to the local etailer Alibaba that had a dominant 51 percent share. They examined the booming ecommerce market in China, the cultural and shopping preferences of Chinese consumers, and the challenge posed by counterfeits.

Conducting the research taught Sinha’s students the impact that a country’s economy, trade, regulatory framework, competitive environment, and consumers can have on a company’s marketing performance. They drew upon insights from psychology, sociology, economics, history, and geography.

“I learned that culture is a huge thing to consider,” said Elizabeth Beall, who worked on the project Uber’s Blaring Battle with Ola in India, which won Best Presentation in the case study competition. Their case examined Uber’s inability to establish a foothold in the country. “After doing this project, it’s obvious that Uber has to create an entirely new marketing strategy just for India.”

Best Presentation, Uber’s Blaring Battle with Ola in India
Dr. Mona Sinha (left) and Dr. David Burns (right) with winners of the Best Presentation Award for Uber’s Blaring Battle with Ola in India. Students from left to right: Kevin McKay, Elizabeth Beall, Kevin Testerman, Alexa Baumgartner, Anastasia Crunk, and Greg Chafin.

Her group determined that one of Uber’s most significant challenges was the company’s requirement that customers pay electronically, while many Indians have no access to bank accounts or credit cards.

“I definitely think it’s important for a company going global to not just look at the four Ps (product, price, promotion, and place),” said student Anastasia Crunk, who also worked on the project, “or else, you miss the other factors that might be even more important.”

Other team members on the Uber case study were Kevin Testerman, Greg Chafin, Alexa Baumgartner and Kevin McKay.

The Best Poster award went to Ryan Patel, Wes Davis and Drew Boles from Sinha’s online class. Although Sinha’s online class was not required to participate, these students saw it as an opportunity to gain experience and enhance their resumes. Their case study AirBnB in China: Late Entrant Disadvantages highlighted how, despite pioneering the short-term rental concept, AirBnB has been unable to wrest market share from a local Chinese competitor. To add to the challenge, AirBnB floundered with several cultural missteps.

Best Poster, AirBnB in China: Late Entrant Disadvantages
Ryan Patel and Wes Davis, winners of Best Poster for their case study AirBnB in China: Late Entrant Disadvantages. Not pictured Drew Boles).

Sinha is thrilled to see her students making these cultural connections.

“Students often assume that the rest of the world does not really matter since the U.S. is such a large market and they think they will never need to go abroad,” she said. “They are shocked to learn that PriceWaterhouse Cooper estimates that 50 percent of current graduates will take on global assignments during their careers.”

Although the symposium is over, Sinha’s students are not finished with their research projects just yet. Each group has submitted their case studies for inclusion in a student poster session at the 2018 Atlantic Marketing Association Conference in New Orleans this September. Sinha has also encouraged her students to send their projects to the Kennesaw Journal of Undergraduate Research for potential publication.  

Sinha has always sought opportunities for her students to present their projects to the public, believing that doing so inspires them to do their best work. She believes the high quality of the projects on display at the symposium proves that point.

“By aiming for such public displays of their class projects, students understand that they have to raise their standards,” Sinha said. “They realize that this is not just a project that will end up in a file drawer at the end of the semester. So, they work hard to improve their final case studies for the much wider audience that will now view their work.”

-Patrick Harbin