The M.B.A. program at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas has joined with Henkel, the company behind well-known brands such as Dial soap, Purex laundry detergent and Loctite adhesive, to offer experiential learning opportunities for students.
The latest partnership revolved around Professor Vikas Anand’s spring-semester course Partnering Project. The course, which enrolls both M.B.A. and honors upper-level undergraduate students, provides the opportunity for academic application of sustainability to a manufacturing company’s real marketing goals.
The course concentrates on market research and consumer behavior analysis with regards to sustainability and on marketing plan development. The first is to determine sustainable products’ impact on shoppers’ habits and the second focuses on how to market to sustainable customers.
Henkel executives were involved in the course from the beginning of the semester, including initial presentations to students about the business challenge. They also served as mentors to student teams as they researched and developed business solutions and as judges as students competed to present insightful consumer research.
Last week, student teams engaged in a final round of friendly competition to present their research on consumer trends in sustainability. Using their findings, they made recommendations geared towards Henkel’s categories – Laundry & Home Care, Personal Care and Adhesives. Representatives from Henkel, Walmart, The Sustainability Consortium and the Walton faculty were on campus April 29 to judge the competition.
“Henkel has been a global leading innovator in developing sustainable products for many decades,” said Brent Horn, Henkel’s vice president of sales responsible for the global business development at Walmart. “Sustainability is one of our company’s five core values, and every new product is required to contribute positively to our sustainability strategy. Since 2007, we have gained invaluable consumer and product insights by partnering with the Walton College and The Sustainability Consortium at University of Arkansas. As a reult, we are launching new products that directly improve the sustainability metrics in our retail customers’ stores.”
The course united guest speakers from a range of businesses in the area that incorporate sustainable principles into their business strategies and that are familiar with consumer trends. Guest speakers included Rand Waddoups, senior director for Home & Office Electronics at Walmart; Angelo Welihindha, head of Hardware Sales at Google, Inc.; Julianne Brown, senior manager for Merchant Development at Walmart; Andrew Tucker, senior director for New Business Development at Nickelodeon; Soner Senlikci, vice president-Walmart at ShurTech Brands, LLC, and several others.
The application of the research students took on for this course could have far reaching applicability, as will the continuing partnership between Henkel and the Walton M.B.A. program to provide quality, hands-on project based learning experiences for Walton College students as they prepare to enter the workforce.
Plans are for the course to be offered every spring. Contact Meredith McKee, assistant M.B.A. director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 479-575-3480 for more information.