Saturday, February 17, 2007

Our Project Presented at Wal-Mart Meeting

Hi guys,

Steve Antonetti, Market Manager of Wal-Mart, invited me to give a presentation about our project to approximately 30 store managers who were attending a regional Wal-Mart meeting. The reason why I was invited to attend this meeting was because our project nicely aligns with Wal-Mart's "Personal Sustainability Project," which is an effort for Wal-Mart employees to select a personal goal that fits with the notion of sustainability. (For example, some employees are reducing their soda-can footprint by drinking less pop in favor of drinking more water.)

So yesterday, I trekked out to Michigan City, IN to give this presentation. The presentation, I think, went well. (Admittedly, it's hard for me to evaluate how well it went because I'm a tough self-critic, but Steve called me later to say it was great, so you'll have to take his word for it!) Anyway, I discussed several facts about the consumption of plastic bags and what we're doing to make some changes in our community.

Afterwards, some of the store managers said they wanted to get involved. Hopefully, the folks at the Wal-Mart store in Mishawaka will get on-board with the project. Another store manager near Gary, IN said he wanted to bring our project to his location. So, maybe one day this project will be brought to a larger level. (But one step at a time, what we're doing is already ambitious! This is what researchers would consider "future research".) And of course, I asked for underwriting support to cover Royte's honorarium and travel expenses. So, please keep your fingers crossed! ;0)

Besides my presentation, it was an eye-opening experience for me to observe what goes on at these meetings. Because I'm a psychologist, I never see how statistics gets applied to the business world. But I kid you not: what you're learning in class applies to the real-world, including business. I listened to a representative from Kimberly-Clark (these are the folks that make products such as Huggies diapers, Kleenex tissue, paper towels, and so on) discuss the importance of selling their products at Wal-Mart by relying on statistics. To give you a couple examples, he had a visual display of the U.S. marked in different colors to indicate the peak cold and flu season. According to his data, 40% of their profits are earned during the Dec-Feb period, presumably because people are sick and are therefore purchasing Kleenex. In another graph, he showed a direct relationship between the purchase of Depends (um, diapers for the elderly...I'm sure there's a better way of saying that!) and the time of month they're purchased. Apparently, the elderly are more likely to buy Depends at the beginning of the month. The Rep suggested this was because social-security checks are dispensed around the same time period.

Amazing!

Just given these few observations, I learned how important it is for me to teach statistics well. That's definitely my commitment to you. And I sincerely hope that whatever lesson(s) you learn this semester will be beneficial to you in the future. Ok, time for me to sign-off now before I get too cheesy! :0) M

1 comment:

kimlynch said...

Wow! Way to go! That's an awesome presentation. Hopefully, we'll get good support for the project. I'm really surprised at how on board Wal-Mart has been with this project so far. That's really great!