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Students and pizza a powerful educational combo

Friday, December 13, 2013
  • Jaime Freeberg discusses a portion of her team's research with Figaro's Pizza leadership on Dec. 11, 2013.

  • Jacob Ybarra was part of team that conducted market research for Salem-based pizza chain Figaro's.

  • Figaro's Director of Marketing Jennifer Young and President Rick Glenn listen to marketing research presentations by consumer behavior students on Dec. 11, 2013.

 

The blend of pizza and college life may not be unheard of, but a partnership between Figaro’s Pizza and Hoff School of Business students proved to be a winning combination for both.

Throughout the fall semester, Corban consumer behavior students met with Figaro’s leadership team to research ways the company can better position itself to win new customers and keep them coming back for more. On Dec. 11, eight teams from Assistant Professor of Business and Marketing Kelli Gassman’s class presented their findings to Figaro’s president Rick Glenn, Director of Marketing Jennifer Young and CEO Ron Berger, who watched the presentations from Portland, Ore. through Skype.

The projects included blind pizza taste tests, in-store customer surveys, online best-customer surveys, and more to help guide the company’s future marketing and branding efforts. Each team consistently showed the pizza chain’s customer base was primarily between 33 and 54 years old and that most college-aged students weren’t going to Figaro’s.

Suggestions for reaching new customers, particularly the 18-34 age group, varied from very big to small and inexpensive. Several teams recommended changing the crust recipe, another suggested a logo change. Other teams suggested customer loyalty punch cards and ideas to make the stores more kid- friendly while customers wait for their food.

One group recommended Figaro’s make technological changes to reach people on their smartphones. These included updating the website and its location search capabilities. They also recommended partnering with a university to develop a smartphone app that can be used for ordering food and connecting through social media.

“They noted several things we have looked at during the past two years,” Young said. “Their results cemented what we already knew.” She added that Figaro’s has already started testing a new dough recipe and intends to conduct customer taste tests beginning in January.  

“We were so impressed with their level of research and professionalism on this project,” Young said. “They blew us away.” Berger agreed.

“All I can say is that I had set the bar low with my expectations,” he told students after the presentations. “You have raised that bar significantly and it will be tough for whomever we work with next.”