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Which shopping app is best? University of Bridgeport b-school students help Sony Home Entertainment find the answer in special marketing study

Leslie Geary
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pity the poor shopper back in the Dark Ages of, say, 2007. Equipped with a laptop, he or she searched online for the best deals before venturing into malls and department stores.

From left: UB MBA students Pei Zhang, Carrie Lu, and Sissy Shen compare shopping apps during the December holidays as part of a study for Sony.
From left: MBA students Pei Zhang, Carrie Lu, and Sissy Shen compare shopping apps during the December holidays as part of a study for Sony.
They had to plan.

Then came apps—hundreds of apps—ushering in the possibility for low-cost impulse buys. Spot something you like? Just whip out a smartphone, scan the item’s barcode and—voila!—instantly compare prices and obtain other critical data before buying.

Companies have taken notice, of course, and they’re directing precious advertising dollars to apps. But with so many to choose from, which shopping apps are advertising worthy?

That’s a question Sony Home Entertainment has put to a group of University of Bridgeport business school students, who’ve been tapped to run a special holiday marketing study for the company.

It’s not the first time Sony has turned to twenty-somethings for guidance in e-marketing: it’s used students from UCLA to run similar studies, but this year it opted to use UB business majors, said Steve Rashba, a professor at the University’s School of Business, who through contacts helped establish the partnership with Sony.

“This not only gives our students practical work experience during the break but also provides them with an opportunity to use their marketing and communication skills in a professional setting,” said Rashba. “If their feedback is good, it will be used when Sony makes decisions about future ad campaigns.”

The six UB students involved in the program launched the study on December 16, when they headed to Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, where they are using nine shopping apps that feature Sony ads.

As they navigate the big box stores, they are checking to see if the apps work on Sony Home Entertainment products, provide prices for similar items at other stores, and include other pertinent data that might positively or negatively affect shoppers’ buying decisions. The students also will interview any other shoppers who may be using shopping apps to see which ones they’ve downloaded to smartphones.

The study winds down in mid-January, at the end of the peak shopping-and-returns season, at which point the UB group will report their findings to Sony executives based in Culver City, California.

The students running the study are Sissy Shen, Carrie Lu, Ying Zhou, Xiao Huang, Pei Zhang, and Pelin Erbil.


Media contact: Leslie Geary, lgeary@bridgpeort.edu, (203) 576-4625