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Market Analytics Project

Introduction : Marketing Problem

What is the MBASA?

The MBASA is the NC State University's MBA Student Association. It was founded in 2003 by the students in response to a perceived need for extracurricular and co-curricular activities to "broaden" the MBA experience. According to the organization's constitution:-

The NC State MBA Student Association (MBASA) was formed for the purpose of building a network among MBA students. The MBASA provides a chance for students to interact with fellow students, faculty, business leaders, and the surrounding community. The organization offers a series of activities to address professional and business issues that are not generally included in the formal program but are critical to the overall MBA experience.

NC State's MBA Program has recently been accorded the twenty-fifth rank according to Fortune Magazine. This is a rare honor for a young program that is only four years old and reflects the strong curriculum, talented students and employer's preference for recruits with a mix of technology and business skills. The program consists of two main groups - full-timers, who are currently unemployed and devote all their time to the MBA program, and part-timers who are already employed in companies in the region and are pursuing their MBA education through evening classes.

These part-timers are approximately 100 students that have significantly more experience than the full-time students and one of the goals of the MBASA is to foster interaction between the full-timers and the part-timers to learn, share and network. However, finding activities to events to draw the busy students and appeal to the majority are hard to find and organize.

One of the first challenges to the organization was to discover what MBA students needed to "broaden" themselves and the best way to achieve this. From its inception, the organization has conducted an annual survey of the student body to establish both demographic information and activity and event preferences. In previous years, the data gathered has never been analyzed to uncover patterns. Specifically, we hypothesize that what was being seen was an "average" NC State MBA student without realizing that there might be different grouping and clustering invisible to the untrained eye.

Problems recently faced

More recently, the MBASA has run into problems. Here listed are some of the problems the leadership committee has outlined:-

  • Inability to recruit the majority of the MBA students into the organization

MBA students feel pressure from many directions. Professors are demanding, the administrative staff organize a number of events that MBA students are encouraged to attend, the need to network and search for professional opportunities individually are ever present, and students must make time for their home and social lives, on top of the jobs that some students hold. With all of these commitments, it may be hard for students to justify an additional commitment of their time, much less one that they must pay for. The MBASA must make its activities attractive and worth the additional time and money it takes to be a part of the organization. It is not enough to simply exist within the MBA program. The students must perceive a true value and benefit for their personal and professional lives in order to encourage membership.

  • Finding activities that met the needs of all types of students

The MBASA would love to be able to serve all students. There may come a point, however, where the organization realizes that it cannot be all things to all people. With different expectations of various groups the MBASA will have to determine the best use of its time and resources.

  • The recent leadership committee professed difficulty understanding how to solve the problems and an inability to crunch the data and reveal results.

It is the goal of this analysis project to organize, analyze and interpret the data in a way that will make it more meaningful for future MBASA leaders. As the data exists it is easy to get lost in the numbers. A strict market engineering approach will allow the data to be systematically evaluated so that some sense can be made of it. The result will hopefully be, accurate, relevant results that can later be utilized to develop a program for the MBASA that will best serve MBA students at NCSU.

Marketing Problem

To define the marketing problem we consider the students to be the MBASA's customers. Our marketing problem is now defined as :-

  • How does the MBASA acquire new customers(students) to join the organization?
  • How do we segment our customers(students) and decide events and activities for the various segments?

The MBASA's overall goal is to contribute, in a significant way, to the educational process of the MBA students at NC State University, on both a social and professional level. Encouraging students to interact with one another outside of class is an essential part of the educational process. It helps to promote teamwork and an sense of unity within the program. Fostering strong relationships between students through social activities that will enable students to maintain contact with one another after they have left school, providing a strong foundation for networking later in their careers. For this reason, sponsoring social events is one activity that the MBASA sees as an essential component if its contribution to MBA student life.

Professional events are fundamental in the development of MBA students. As an extension of NC State and the MBA program, them MBASA is well-positioned to provide professional opportunities that will enable students to practice their networking skills, generate job leads, and hone professional skills that will carry them throughout their careers. Events such as company visits, career consultations, and networking events are prime examples of the types of functions that the MBASA sees as essential.

As a school organization, the MBASA would be remiss to ignore its duty to contribute to the education of its students. The MBASA must be able to provide opportunities for students that further enhance the educational value of their education. Lectures by various industry professionals, panel discussions, tours of local company operations, and other opportunities to learn and apply their knowledge in settings outside of the classroom.

The issues facing the MBASA are many faceted. The student population is segmented in several different ways. The first, and most noticeable difference is the full-time/part-time distinction. These two groups of students are different in several ways. Full-time students generally do not hold jobs while studying for their MBA. They spend significantly more time in the college and take classes during the day much of the time. Part-time students typically work during the day and take classes strictly at night. The part-time student group tends to be older and have significantly more professional experience than full-time MBA students who are sometime fresh out of their undergraduate education. These two groups are likely to have different concerns and expectations from the programs offered by an organization such as the MBASA.

There may be gender differences, as the MBA program is made up of both men and women. There are significantly more males in the program, but the needs of the female population must be taken into consideration when devising programs for students.

The NCSU MBA program has a significant number of students from outside of the United States. These international students may have a completely different set of goals for their education, their careers, and the use of their spare time than their American counterparts. Cultural differences may play a role in determining the social, professional, and educational expectations of foreign students, as compared to American students. This may, however, be outside of the scope of the survey and this marketing study. The international students represent several different nationalities, including India, China, Argentina, Trukey, France, Russia, and others. There may be differences between the individuals from various countries as well, not just between international and American.

These are just a few of the problems that are readily apparent. It is likely that other issues will surface as analysis is conducted on the data that has been collected. The main tasks for this market engineering study will be to define the segments within the MBA student body. While this may seem like an obvious task with an obvious answer, it is essential to back up the seemingly commonsensical conclusions drawn above with hard data and thorough analysis.

The next task will be to determine which segments will be best to target. Obviously the MBASA would love to be able to include each and every MBA student, but no organization can be all things to all people. With limited resources and man power the MBASA will only be able to come up with a limited program which is likely to neglect the needs and desires of some groups. The MBASA will need to target segments that enable them to provide the most effective programs for the largest possible number of students, maximizing the impact and benefit of its planned activities. The organization obviously needs to generate as much revenue as possible to fund the activities and services that they hope to offer, so catering to the largest segment is a likely outcome.

Finally the MBASA will need to determine the best positioning strategy once it has determined what segment or segments to focus on. Developing a program that combines the optimal mix of professional, social, and educational events, and communicating a message that will generate interest in MBASA activities is the ultimate goal of this market engineering study.

Research Plan : Data & Analysis Methods

Survey Methodology

In the recent annual survey of the MBA students conducted by the MBASA, 91 students responded to various questions posed about demographics and preferences for various social, professional and educational activities.

The survey was conducted online using a free PHP software called phpESP v 1.7.5. This software was hosted on the MBASA server and a link was sent out via email so that students could respond to the survey. No PII (personally identifiable information) was gathered or requested apart from the demographic data. The opinion questions were a 5 point scale where 1 was Least Important and 5 was Most Important. In addition, data on concentration, work experience and whether the student was international were gathered.

We will use cluster analysis to segment the MBA student population based on the results of the survey. We have already hypothesized some potential segments that we feel are likely to emerge from the data, but it will be helpful to know the concentrations of those segments and how their needs overlap and differ and how extremely they differ between different student segments.

The untrained eye would see the average data presented as representative of one kind of student - however our own experience would suggest that in reality it was more likely to be a number of different types of students whose preferences and characteristics would be quite distinct from each other. This realization would help us segment, target and position the MBASA better to the different constituent segments.



  • Questionnaire
  • Questionnaire Results
  • Data Set

Profile Data

Part-time MBA Class Profile - Entering Fall 2006

NC State's MBA Program continues to attract outstanding students to the three-year part-time program.

Admissions Total Students - 96

Academic Background Average GMAT - 570 Undergraduate GPA- 3.2

Undergraduate Field of Study Engineering - 22% Business - 22% Sciences - 19% Humanities/Social Science - 21% Computer Science 15%

Personal Backgrounds Age: 33

Gender Female - 23% Male - 77%

Ethnicity International - 14% U.S. Minority 11%

Countries Represented Canada, China, Germany, India, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States

Undergraduate Institutions NC State University 23% Other US 59% International 18%

Average Years Work Experience 8 years

Full-time MBA Class Profile - Entering Fall 2006

Admissions Total Students 34

Academic Background Average GMAT -595 Average GPA - 3.21

Undergraduate Field of Study Engineering - 29% Business- 41% Computer Science - 6% Humanities/Social Science - 9% Sciences - 15%

Personal Backgrounds Age: 27

Gender Female 41% Male 59%

Ethnicity International 31% U.S. Minority 12%

Countries Represented China, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States

Undergraduate Institutions NC State Universitiy - 32% Other U.S. 32% International - 36%

Average Years Work Experience 3.01 years

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