Michigan Ross Gives Students Leading Edge With Access to Nielsen's Real-World Data

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In the competitive universe of business education, gaining access to real world experiences and business trade tools are fundamental. University of Michigan has a deep tradition focused on leading brighter futures. Announced this week, together with Nielsen (NYSE: NSLN), Ross School of Business students will gain access to Nielsen’s Answers on Demand (AOD) Core platform and point-of-sale data. Nielsen AOD is the gold standard system used by marketing professionals around the world.   

The Ross School of Business is the first business school nationwide to offer students access to Nielsen’s AOD Core syndicated data. Nielsen has made available its data resources to Ross, with the goal to engage, empower and foster crucial skill sets of its students, who are the next business leaders of the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and retail industry. The Nielsen project is the centerpiece of a new Marketing Lab being designed at Ross. And the driving force behind the new venture is the students themselves: The idea arose a few years ago with the Marketing Club at Ross.

“Action-based learning is a cornerstone at Ross, and the relationship with Nielsen is a great example of how the school can support student ideas that provide unique real-world experiences,” says Heather Byrne, managing director of the MBA Program Office.  “The new tools will provide Ross students with a huge advantage in classes, case competitions, and preparing for internships or full-time employment.

Students will gain access to Nielsen’s AOD Core platform and syndicated database, including total U.S. metrics for the food and beverage space. Nielsen’s current measurement universe includes: grocery, drug store, mass merchandise, convenience store, select dollar store, select warehouse clubs and military commissaries. As a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, Nielsen provides powerful analytics to some of the world's largest retailers and fast-moving consumer good brands. The insights revealed to marketers in the AOD platform help to drive strategic direction for pricing, product placement, marketing efforts and customer loyalty programs.  

The Nielsen AOD Core syndicated system will be available on a pilot basis to students in Ross MBA programs this term. Nielsen has committed to a three-year agreement, making this powerful tool available to Ross students through 2019. The plan is eventually for students in all Ross degree programs to be able to use the system.

“We are trying to give students the tools they will use in a real-world marketing role,” says club co-president Kristin Horvath (MBA ’16). “It’s typically something you have to learn on the job … one of the biggest learning curves.”

And now, instead of spending a year or more getting to know the Nielsen interface on the job, Ross graduates will be able to walk right into a marketing role with a working knowledge of the system -- and having used it with actual data.

Stefanie Schostak Hartman (BBA ’09, MBA ’16), Marketing Club VP for the Marketing Lab, has a background in brand management of consumer goods. “Where this really has usefulness for students is to prepare them to get over their ramp-up period,” she says. Even going into a different sort of industry such as technology, she adds, a student might use a different tool, but some of the skills will easily transfer.

Meanwhile, the Marketing Lab is moving forward with another new initiative: The club has purchased the Tracx social-media tool, which enables in-depth analysis of what users are saying about a particular brand. MBA students have already started using Tracx, and it was the focus of a recent case competition.

By this fall, the Marketing Lab will have its own dedicated space as part of the current Ross construction project, including a conference room, office space, and computers. The MBA Program Office will provide staff support for the lab, whose mission statement is “preparing Ross students for real-world marketing careers through action-based analysis of in-market data.”

Puneet Manchanda, the Isadore and Leon Winkelman Professor of Marketing, has been working with the Marketing Club for the last five years to make the Marketing Lab a reality, and Professor S. Sriram has also worked closely with the club to help obtain the Nielsen and Tracx datasets.

"The Marketing Lab is a novel initiative that will help to prepare Ross students for the data-rich marketing work of today and the future," says Manchanda, who is chair of the Marketing Area at Ross. "The exclusive access to the Nielsen dataset for our students is a testament to how highly our students (and the Ross brand in general) is regarded in industry. The Marketing Area is working on incorporating these datasets into our classes and also working on offering an action-based course using these data."

Adds Hartman: Marketing Lab is founded on the principle of teaching students how to turn data into insights and then turn those insights into action. That is the critical task we will all be asked to do on our first day in our marketing careers.”


About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy. Nielsen's Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on which content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry's only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance.  Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com

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UPDATE 2/19/16: Headline updated at request of Nielsen.

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