The 2018 Management Leadership Association and Target Case Competition took place at the end of last month, with 11 teams presenting to a panel of Target staff members. Each year, Target partners with the UIC Business Career Center to host this program that asks students to develop and present solutions to a unique challenge facing the company.
This year’s case study prompt presented teams with the opportunity to directly apply their lived experiences as college students. The retailer gave students the challenge of addressing the needs of college students and their families during Back to College (BTC) season. In particular, the case study tasked teams with creating an innovative BTC experience that incorporated website, mobile apps and brick-and mortar retail experiences.
The winning competitors, Team Bersaglio, made up of Marjie Halko (Marketing, Sophomore), Wende Leverton (Management, Junior), Alanna Peccia (Psychology, Business Administration Minor, Junior) impressed the panel of Target judges with their “Target Move-In” proposal.
“Our goal, as the e-commerce bulls-eye for Back to College shopping, was creating and offering a unique and special value compared to Target's competitors. We did this by tackling the hassle of move-in day,” Team Bersaglio responded, describing their plan.
The team selected five universities across the United States where students living on campus would receive free shipping when placing orders through a Target college gift registry. On move-in days, the students would then pick up purchases from a designated “Target Zone” on campus and receive customer service support and delivery assistance carrying packages to the dorms.
“This eliminates the hassle, for the college student, of storing items over the summer in preparation for college. Also, hauling all the items in a car to campus can be stressful,” Team Bersaglio said.
Overall, the judges were inspired by the level of competition.
“The material, the presenters, and the whole package has been elevated from year to year. It becomes more and more impressive with the different out of the box ideas that they think of,” noted panelist Jelena Leticia, Target Human Resources Business Partner. The teams were also able to incorporate relevant personal knowledge in their presentations.
“For us, it’s maybe been a little bit since we were on campus or going to school. Their personal experience is really evident in what they present. I think that’s important too, to put ourselves in their shoes as we think about how to cater to that guest,” said Mike Deyle, Target District Team Leader. Throughout the day of competition, UIC Business students integrated thorough background research into their submissions that impressed the judges.
Rebeca Garcia, Target Store Team Leader observed, “I’ve liked seeing some of the statistics and research they’ve brought in. I’m thinking ‘oh yeah, that is intriguing, why haven’t we thought about that?’ ”
And for all the competitors, the Target team suggested the experience of grappling with tough challenges and forming innovative solutions will continue to be valuable in the future.
“Never stop innovating and continue to think outside the box in whatever area they go into,” Leticia said, “you always want to be relevant, you always want to try different things and that will help any company going forward.”