Michigan Ross Gave Me Access To A Huge Amount Of Data — Here’s How I Made The Most of It


By Thais Hernandez, MBA ‘18

One of the reasons I decided to get an MBA was to gain stronger data analysis skills that would help advance my career in marketing.

This past year, the Michigan Ross Marketing Lab hosted the Nielsen Learning Series, a four-part workshop designed to teach students how to pull and interpret big data from Nielsen Answers, a platform used by every major consumer packaged goods company and beyond.

Nielsen Answers collects data from every point-of-sale terminal in the nation’s largest retailers and lets users access that data to identify relevant insights and use them to make strategic, data-driven decisions. When the program was announced in 2016, Ross was the first major business school to offer access to students.

When I heard about the series, I quickly grabbed one of the coveted spots.

Working with Marketing Lab didn’t only help me gain experience in data analysis, it also gave me an incredible advantage going into my internship with L’Oreal this past summer.

L’Oreal did provide a training session on Nielsen for interns, but while other interns were learning the mechanics of pulling data, I was honing my skills and asking questions about more complicated elements of the application that ultimately helped deepen the insights I was able to pull.

My project this summer involved delivering a complete go-to-market strategy for one of L’Oreal’s 2019 hair care launches. I had the opportunity to truly take ownership of the launch and apply any marketing strategies and tactics that were best for the target consumer. After I did the qualitative work to clarify the target consumer demographics and preferences about hair care products, the quantitative Nielsen work came into play.

Every day I opened Nielsen and pulled sales data to create a story about why and how L’Oreal could appeal to the target consumer segment. I can’t provide a lot of details about those research outcomes, but I used Nielsen data to figure out potential market size, market preferences over time, competitive activity, consumer trends, ideal product assortment, which retailers to target displays in, what words should go on the packaging, and more. I was even able to suggest, using data, which new scents we should be developing.

It was a great summer and I really enjoyed being able to flex my new data analytics toolset.

I can say with confidence that my summer as an Associate Marketing Manager at L’Oreal would have been way more stressful had I not had exposure to Nielsen Answers before starting my internship. I’m grateful that the Marketing Lab and Ross makes this important, industry-standard tool available for us to explore and I’m excited for what else I’ll learn about it when I start as a full time employee at L’Oreal after graduation.