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Student Research

Capstone 2017 Presentation


Consumers are living in a world of extremes, with constant change and endless points of
discovery, driven by the proliferation of purchasing choices and channels. The introduction of
smaller brands and new distribution models has empowered the consumer to purchase products
that fi t their individual brand at the touch of a button. From “mega” brands to “indie” brands,
from brick-and-mortar to online only, from infl uencer to media outlet, consumers are discovering,
researching, and purchasing products differently. The 2017 CFMM Capstone Research looked at
the role brands currently play and how they will impact consumer-purchasing choices in the future.
Will brands adapt? Will they continue to exist and what format will they take? Where and how will
consumers purchase products? How will consumer path-to-purchase affect distribution models?

» Press Release (PDF)


Brands are experiencing a consumer renaissance. The consumer is enlightened, transitioning
from a time of relying on brands for information to self-empowerment. She is more informed and
vocal than ever, and has discovered the power of being connected. As a result, the traditional
architecture of brand building is being challenged industrywide. Through an original quantitative
research study, we will provide brands with key consumer insights by identifying the crucial gap
today between consumers’ expectations and what brands are offering, and empowering brands
with a feedback loop to help them better engage the ever-changing consumer.

Research Leads: Grace Gordon and Justin Hartman

» Survey Findings

It has been 10 years since the launch of the fi rst iPhone and since then the world has experienced
a multitude of profound changes—a slow recovery from global economic collapse, the rise of
global populism, the emergence of a new sharing economy, and a deepening crisis in trust of
institutions. These shifts have left consumers in a paradoxical state of fl ux: constantly connected,
yet more isolated, yearning to be recognized as individuals, but also desiring to be part of
something larger. What does this mean for the future of brands? What is the value of a brand and
what role will they play in the lives of consumers? This research introduces a new model by which
brands can create deeper, more meaningful relationships with consumers and position themselves
to thrive in the new digital-fi rst world.

Group Leaders: Crystal Sai and Nicolas Vissat
Group Members: Erin Cox Elder, Alina Fernandez, Zahia Ghossaini, Nicole Grabow,
Justin Hartman, Katarina Kralj-Madiraca, Stephanie Sanders, and Adele Yeam

» Infographic (PDF)
» Brand Expression White Paper (PDF)

Retail is at a tipping point; there have been nine retail bankruptcies in 2017 to date, as many as in
all of 2016. The advent of the technology/information age has fundamentally changed consumer
behavior to the point that retail, as we know it, is becoming irrelevant to the consumers of today. In
this new climate, the traditional “if they build we will come” mentality is no longer relevant. In order
to survive, brands will need to dramatically shift the way they think, measure, and invest in the
overall shopping experience to address their customers’ needs and wants. This research proposes
how to close the gap between evolving consumer behaviors and expectations and the declining
retail model. From a consumer-centric point of view, our research looks at the full span of the retail
landscape, from the physical infrastructure and the in-store and online experience, to the role of
future technologies and distribution channels.

Group Leaders: Morgan Hagney and Pragati Ruia
Group Members: Carrie Cohen, Stacey Goldstein, Grace Gordon, Raj Kochar, Sophia
McLoughlin, Erica Roe, Zuzanna Wozniak, and Francesca Zanghi

» Infographic  (PDF)
» Brand Experience White Paper (PDF)