Two students from the Aalto University School of Business researched what drives the Private Label trend in food retailing, and how retailers internationally had adopted their Private Label Strategies. The project was conducted as a Customized Student Research Project, a three-month project during which students could gain experience through addressing real-life challenges that Kesko faced.
The project team consisted of two Master’s level students, Esa Immonen from the Department of Economics and Jaakko Otto Swan from the Department of Marketing.
‘We wanted to focus on a structured analysis of industry practices, and build realistic suggestions on those. However, we initially struggled a bit with focusing on the most relevant information available from various online sources. The desktop study was augmented with Private Label literature and interviews from K-Group´s executives. Based on industry practices, our literature review and interviews, we were able to benchmark their strategy against several well-known international food retailers’, the students tell.
Students’ suggestions supported the choices already made in K Group
‘Retail is going through a significant shift, which forces operators in the field to find new solutions and business models in order to increase customer value. Private Labels play a crucial role in this, especially in the retail of daily consumer goods.
According to Development Manager of Private Labels at K Group Hayde Furubacka, starting from the presentation of the research topic, cooperation with Aalto University was very precise and smooth. I met up with Otto and Esa a few times and went through our portfolio of Private Labels and policies, so that they would have enough background information for doing further research. The students composed the project plan and implemented it independently. In addition, their presentation skills clearly developed during the project.
‘From the point of view of a client, I was really happy to see how the students took responsibility for the progress of their work, sticking to the schedule and producing high-quality material for presentation. Otto and Esa presented their research results and the draft measures in a professional manner, and their suggestions supported the choices we have already made in K Group’, Hayde Furubacka continues.
‘Despite the challenging research question, Esa and Otto succeeded well in the research project, and managed to produce important information and recommendations to support the team in charge of K Group’s Private Labels. The project provided the students with valuable work experience in the role of a consultant or researcher, while also offering an extensive overview of the enchanting world of retail’, says the project’s Academic Advisor Mikko Hänninen.
The students were also pleased with the project.
‘It was really interesting to adapt our own skills in a consultancy-project for executives in one of the largest companies in Finland. Our greatest challenges were different from usual research projects, as normally the availability of data is not a problem. Now however, we had to spend numerous hours gathering and validating data, which made up the foundation of our analysis of international food retailers’ PLB strategies. Conducting this analysis was also enlightening in terms of understanding the retail industry more deeply.’
The Customized Student Business Projects concept offers students the opportunity to work on solving current challenges faced by corporate business, giving the assigning company the possibility to develop and spar new ideas together with the students.