California State University, Long Beach
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Career Development Center, Target Team Up for Competition

Published: May 1, 2009

Four CSULB students recently received a $4,000 award as winners of the first Target Case Study Program competition, co-sponsored by Target and the Career Development Center (CDC).

The Case Study Competition is part of a larger grant initiative offered through the Target Case Study Program designed for colleges and universities to use in promoting hands-on learning opportunities for students. The cases are also designed to provide students with the chance to create strategies for solving complex real-world business challenges within the retail industry.

“The objective of the competition, with a case study topic of ‘Connecting with the Multicultural Shopper,’ was to analyze how Target could continue to attract and delight the multicultural shopper focusing on what product, price, promotion, and presentation strategies would make this guest view Target as the best United States’ retailer to execute multicultural merchandising initiatives,” said Terri Armstrong, the program coordinator for Employer Development in the CDC, “and was designed to expose students to actual challenges that retailers face in today’s market.”

Open to all current CSULB students, 16 four-person teams initially attended the competition’s kickoff event on Feb. 24, with eight teams moving forward to actually participate. Each of the eight teams had Target mentors from Feb. 20-March 20 to make sure they were progressing in their project. Through the mentors, team members were given behind-the-scenes accessibility to Target and the opportunity to meet additional company executives.

Teams were evaluated on their written and oral presentations and on March 20, the preliminary round of the competition, and the field was then cut to the final four teams. Presentations were then made and judged by Target executives, who evaluated participating teams on their written and six-minute oral presentations as well as their creativity/originality. Held in the CDC, the final round of the competition was comprised of each teams’ written recommendations and 10-minute oral presentations on their projects.

The winning group, Team Marketing Consultants, consisted of seniors Janette Gradney, a finance major from Long Beach; Juan Carlos Arias, a management/marketing/operations management major from Baldwin Park; Geovanny Fonseca, a management/marketing/operations management major from Los Angeles; and Ricardo Mendoza, a finance/management major from Los Angeles. Each individual received $1,000 to use any way they wish.

“The Target competition helped strengthen our leadership, teamwork, research and public speaking skills,” said Mendoza. “It was an experience that made me feel like an actual business consultant where I knew our input would be valued.”

Photo courtesy of Terri Armstrong
Participating in the program were (l-r) Terri Armstrong, Career Development Center; students Geovanny Fonseca, Juan Arias, Janette Gradney and Ricardo Mendoza; and Target’s Erinkay Griffiths, Kevin Okerstrom and Bobby Godina.

Each team had to come up with different strategies on how they would approach a given case study topic. Team Marketing Consultants’ winning proposal was the result of its written and oral presentation suggesting Target provide an international section in its store. There, products from different countries that multicultural as well as international shoppers have a connection to would be showcased so that shoppers would be attracted to Target for specific products that they would typically buy at a specialty store.

As with the winning group’s effort, all participating teams were told that Target would take all proposals and initiatives into consideration for actual implementation as part of the corporation’s marketing strategy.

“Target is one of the CDC’s corporate partners and I work closely with employers who would like to provide employment or internship opportunities here with Cal State Long Beach,” said Armstrong. “I also work closely with corporate partners when they are looking to increase their visibility on campus. I teamed up with the Target representative and applied for the Target Case Study Program grant which was $4,000.

“I would say it was a great success,” added Armstrong. “This is the first time we have done this and it came about from my interaction with our Target representative who informed me of this particular program. It’s something we will consider in the future and we will try to make it bigger in order to attract more students.”