Booth students recently hunkered down to find solutions to a real-world marketing challenge in the 2021 Kilts Center Marketing Case Competition. Sponsored by WhirlpoolCorp., the competition tasked students with enhancing the company’s app for smart washers and dryers.
Over one intense week, seven teams strategized new ways for Whirlpool to market its smart laundry appliances and applications, with a goal to increase customer engagement and long-term adoption. On the final day of the case competition, each team pitched their ideas to company executives and associates, all Booth alumni: North American region CFO Joe Lovechio, ’02, COO Joe Liotine, ’03, and Heather Hellmuth, ’17, senior marketing manager for laundry strategy and innovation.
The winner, Team Home 2.0, focused on the unique needs of three target customer personas—at-home appliance owners, users of shared laundry facilities, and business owners with laundering needs. Made up of Full-Time MBA students, the team developed messaging strategies for how Whirlpool could better position its app to meet consumer needs, as well as product roadmap suggestions to maximize value for each persona.
“Being able to tie all of our decisions back to explicit consumer needs made generating and prioritizing our solutions much more straightforward,” says Sho Lin Chen, a member of Team Home 2.0 with a background in consulting and data analysis.
“The experience helped bring to life something that Booth has been teaching us about in marketing,” adds Chen’s teammate Mouad Ibno Bachir, who worked as a strategy consultant for several years before Booth. “It is not just about persuading customers to buy your products through creative advertising and communication. It’s always thinking about your customers’ evolving needs and making sure that your products meet those needs better than your competitors’ products.”
Lesley Ihionkhan agrees: “This experience helped me to better grasp the pressure of competitor decisions in the context of product and marketing strategy.” A former business analyst and entrepreneur, Ihionkhan contributed skills in data visualization, storytelling, and research to help Team Home 2.0 develop their winning strategy.
All seven teams offered fresh ideas that could bring value to both consumers and the company, Liotine says. He was particularly impressed with the winning team’s research into current trends, assessment of the competitive landscape, clear and thorough executive summary, and polished presentation.
“It was a good case, and frankly we were looking for ideas,” Liotine says. “It is a particular business challenge that we have, and it’s one that can be digested by students pretty easily. There could be some ideas that are useful and we’d want to use them in the future.”