Student research aims to benefit Emporia’s business community

January 23, 2013

A project to evaluate what Emporia State students look for from local merchants provided hands-on experience for a marketing class and real-world data for city leaders.

Students in the graduate-level course, Marketing Strategy, taught by Dr. Kevin Coulson worked with the City of Emporia and Emporia Main Street to determine what Emporia State students expect in terms of goods, services and entertainment from merchants in downtown Emporia.

“The research showed that there is growth potential for both retail and restaurant venues, although more research is needed to precisely identify specific markets,” wrote Dr. JoLanna Kord, director of Emporia State’s Office of Institutional Research who released an executive summary with Coulson, associate professor and director of the ESU School of Business Focus Group Lab.

Among the findings in the study:

  • Students ranked positively merchants’ friendliness, quality of products and customer service.
  • Students ranked negatively the desirability of products for sale, limited business hours and what they perceived as high prices.
  • Communication and networking between merchants and students was found to be a significant area for improvement.
  • The proximity of downtown to campus was a significant strength, although the lack of some businesses students were seeking was a weakness.
  • Transportation to shopping areas throughout town was an issue, especially shutting down public bus service at 6 p.m.

 Several recommendations were included in the report:

  • Developing electronic media communications between merchants and the student population.
  • Developing sales promotions and general marketing efforts directed toward students.
  • Encouraging student involvement with community organizations and planning groups.
  • Working together to encourage downtown pride and a connection to the university.

“It is important to spend some time thinking about what lies ahead five to 15 years into the future,” said Kord.



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