Syllabus

Successful marketing requires a commitment to understand and satisfy customers. Many products "flop" because the company failed to adequately understand the desires or requirements or constraints of the people who will actually be using the product. For example, Motorola designed a cellular phone with world wide capabilities, but which couldn't be used inside buildings or cars - the two places phones are most likely to be needed or wanted. Thus, much of this course will be devoted to understanding consumers better: measuring their preferences, understanding how those preferences are formed, and understanding whether products or services are satisfying both stated and unstated preferences.

Understanding the consumer can require rigorous empirical research. Common sense may tell you that people will want to use cell phones in their cars, but it will not necessarily be able to tell you whether older people eat more seafood than younger people, whether profits will be greater by pricing the product at $4.30 than at $3.75, or why "pop rocks" were a big hit and "finger frostings" were a big flop. Since rigorous empirical research is often required, this course will introduce you to some of the strengths and weaknesses of various marketing research methods (for example, we will discuss some of the reasons why answers to survey questions can be misleading.)

Overall, this course is intended to:

  • develop your skills in marketing analysis, research, and strategy
  • familiarize you with the central decision variables of marketing (sometimes called "the 4 P's"):
    • Product (e.g., What features do customers care most about?, Should we sell the same product to women and men, or have two different designs?)
    • Price (e.g., How much should we charge? Should we offer quantity discounts?)
    • Promotion (e.g., How should we advertise our product?; Which features should we emphasize? What is the best way to make customers aware of our product? What image do we want to project?)
    • Place (e.g., Where should we sell this product - to wholesalers, to retailers, or directly to customers?
Grading

Final Grades will be based on the following 5 components. 

1. Class Participation     20%      100 points

2. Midterm Exam           30%      150 points

3. Group Project            20%      100 points

4. Take Home Assg.       10%      50 points

5. In Class Final Test     20%      100 points 
 
                    TOTAL =  100%    500 points

Class Participation

Participation will be evaluated independently by both myself and TA, and grades will be based on the average of our two evaluations (last year, the correlation was 0.89). Your class participation grade will not be based on attendance. You will not receive a good grade merely for showing up to every class period (though I should note that last year there was an exceptionally strong correlation between attendance and final grade).

On the days that are primarily lecture, I will often direct questions to the class as a whole or towards specific individuals. Thus, be prepared to be "cold called." (If you find this extremely aversive, please let me know.) On the days that we discuss case studies, I will try to run the class as an organized discussion. Thus, be prepared to articulate some of the main features of the case, and to defend your recommended course of action.

Some of these discussions may turn into debates, and that is fine. It is rare that the entire class will reach a consensus because the case analysis often depends upon which assumptions one makes, and different people might reasonably make different assumptions.

Midterm Exam

The midterm exam will be given in class. It will cover all the material up to and including the following cases: Calyx & Corolla; Intuit; and Black & Decker. The exam may consist of multiple choice questions, quantitative problems, short answers and longer essays.

Group Project

Working in groups of 4, select an advertisement (in any media) of an existing product. Analyze the ad's strengths and weaknesses (e.g. Does it effectively communicate the product's benefits? Is it highlighting the best features of the product? Does it differentiate the product from competitors' products?, Is it directed at the appropriate market segment? Does it reach this segment? Could it be redesigned to have more universal appeal, without sacrificing its effectiveness at the target segment? Are there any aspects of the ad that might trigger negative emotions towards the product?). Based on this analysis, create a new (and improved) advertisement.

A written report of your analysis will be due the first day of class each week. On that day, one or more members from each group should be prepared to present their analysis and recommendations to the class with a short (5-6 minutes) oral presentation. The oral presentation will be considered in the overall grade, but grades will be based primarily on the quality of the write-up. All group members will receive the same grade for the work. No write-ups will be accepted late.

Write-up

The write-up should not exceed 6 double-spaced pages (with font-size 11 points or larger and standard, 1 inch margins all around). You are, however, allowed 2 additional pages of exhibits if you need them, though these should not contain substantial additional text.

Provide a coherent, concise, and well-organized analysis. Redraft and proofread the report. Clarity of writing will count a lot. Make your assumptions explicit whenever necessary, and try to provide evidence for your assertions wherever possible. (Often it will not be possible, because the relevant psychological studies will not exist). In the text, refer explicitly to any figures or tables you use in the exhibits.

Take Home Assignment

I will hand out a problem that will be due the day of the in class final exam. You are expected to work on this by yourself.

In Class Final

There will be an open-book test on the last day of class. It will be cumulative, although it will focus more heavily on the concepts covered after the day of the midterm. The test will consist of multiple choice questions, quantitative problems, short answers and longer essays.

Miscellaneous

At my discretion, additional readings may be handed out in class, to supplement the readings in the course packet. (Also, you are encouraged to bring in magazine or newspaper articles that seem relevant to something discussed in class, and this is a good way to boost your class participation grade.)