Columbia Business School currently offers five industry-specific electives that serve to provide interested students with a broad perspective of the retail landscape as well as relevant case and project work. These courses can be found listed under the Marketing Department.  Recommended courses are below (non-exhaustive):

Though focused upon dimensions of leadership at a CEO level using the retail industry as a backdrop, this course provides practical instruction in issues of leadership of large corporate enterprises. Specifically, this course will cover topics in merchandising, merchandise presentation, product development, marketing, organizational development, and strategic planning and positioning. This course should be very valuable to students who aspire to run a major retail or other corporate entity, and/or who have a leadership interest in consumer marketing organizations and manufacturers who supply the retail industry. The majority topics are presented through exploration of a series of case studies and readings coupled with presentations by accomplished guest speakers who are serving, or have served, at a CEO/COO level in retail and/or marketing and manufacturing organizations.

This class addresses the unique properties, opportunities, and challenges of the luxury industry by studying issues relevant to the field in the various aspects of the business, from design, production and management to distribution and promotion. The course structure includes presentations (by faculty and by industry presidents, CEOs, and senior executives), discussions, and the team projects. In this semester-long course, MBA students from Columbia Business School work in teams of 8 with undergraduate students from Parsons School of Design (4 MBA and 4 Parsons students) to solve actual case studies formulated exclusively for this class by the participating companies.

Additional Courses

Students who intend to enter Retail and Luxury Goods upon graduation are also highly advised to acquire industry experience though internships and projects to supplement their coursework. Such work can be performed for credit as Independent Study with an approved faculty advisor. The below courses are also relevant and are recommended dependent on each student’s specific goals and interests.

  • Special Studies in Business

(Approved Faculty Advisor) Students may receive either half-term or full-term credit for relevant project work or part-time internship work.  Students must fill out an independent study form with a pre-approved faculty advisor prior to the end of the Add-Drop period to enroll.

The foundation of many companies’ and other organizations’ success—whether it is Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, BMW, Apple, or Disney—lies in true insight into how consumers feel, think, choose, and consume. The purpose of this course is to help students become astute discoverers and communicators of strategic consumer insights. The course provides students with a comprehensive coverage of frameworks, concepts, tools, and techniques to get into the “hearts and minds” of consumers. We will emphasize the uncovering, generation, and interpretation of consumer insights that are genuinely business-relevant.

The development of new products and services is perhaps the most significant activity within a firm. It also one of the most risky — many years and millions of dollars are spent developing products that on average fail far more often than they succeed. The best companies, on the other hand, manage to bring out successful new products year after year. This course examines the strategies, processes, tools and techniques used by leading-edge companies for new-product development. It examines different stages of product development, from idea generation to market testing. Although the primary focus of the course is on physical products, much of the material is also relevant for the design of new services.

Integrated Marketing Strategy focuses on what business managers need to know to create strategies that achieve competitive advantage for products and services.  The course will provide the insights and tools required to understand how marketing strategy integrates with key functions across the enterprise – product development, operations, finance and sales -- in developing and executing successful business strategies.  The course will also focus on marketplace dynamics -- how to understand, anticipate and effectively respond to competitor actions.

  • B8619-001: Behavioral Economics & Decision Making with Professor Daniel Bartels

The purpose of this course is to inform future managers, consultants, and advisors of the psychological processes and biases underlying the decisions made by customers, competitors, colleagues, and themselves, with emphasis on how to incorporate such insights into business, marketing, and investing strategies. The seminar has two facets. First, it gives students a broad overview of important results from various behavioral sciences (e.g., behavioral decision research, social and cognitive psychology, consumer research) that clarify how people really make decisions (in contrast to the rational expectations model underlying classical economic theories). Second, it provides students with practical advice about applying these findings to topics in marketing, management, and finance (each the focus of approximately 1/3 of the class material).

This course teaches participants state-of-the-art selling skills that can be used with prospective clients, venture capitalists, potential partners, investors and candidates for employment. The course is highly interactive and skill based and uses videotaped role-playing exercises to enhance skill acquisition. Subjects include relationship building, analyzing the client’s situation, making effective sales presentations, resolving objections, gaining commitment and precall planning. Skills developed are applicable worldwide, and both cultural similarities and differences with respect to the sales process are discussed throughout the course. Whether you need start-up capital, senior management to back your ideas, or customers to hire your firm or buy its products, selling skills are crucial. You will develop them in Entrepreneurial Selling.

The goal of this course is to examine the elements of an effective sales force as a key component of the organization’s total marketing effort. The course extends student understanding of marketing’s reach and the potential impact in achieving organizational goals. Course objectives include understanding the sales process, the relationship between sales and marketing, sales force structure, customer relationship management (CRM), use of technology to improve sales force effectiveness, and issues in recruiting, selecting, training, motivating, compensating and retaining salespeople. Students learn to apply the discussion topics through a series of interactive projects throughout the course. The course is especially relevant for students interested in careers in product, service and brand management and in high-tech industries as well as for entrepreneurs.

Students will develop Marketing Plans (strategies and tactics) for established brands and new products or services that are comprehensive, costed out, and executable.  The goal will be to develop “break-through” Marketing Plans that to maximize awareness, distribution, and trial and repeat purchase (hence revenue).  Because the course is very real world, replicating the work and thought processes engaged in by marketing executives, marketing consultants, and advertisers, and because students can pick brands and industries that are meaningful to them, students have found the course extremely helpful as preparation for: marketing related summer internships, interviewing for full time jobs, and gaining a competitive advantage once they start to work.

This course examines both traditional and new approaches for achieving operational competitiveness in service businesses. Major service sectors such as health care, repair / technical support services, banking and financial services, transportation, restaurants, hotels and resorts are examined. The course addresses strategic analysis and operational decision making, with emphasis on the latter. Its content also reflects results of a joint research project with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which was initiated in 1996 to investigate next-generation service operations strategy and practices. Topics include the service concept and operations strategy, the design of effective service delivery systems, productivity and quality management, response time (queueing) analysis, capacity planning, yield management and the impact of information technology. This seminar is intended for students interested in consulting, entrepreneurship, venture capital or general management careers that will involve significant analysis of a service firm’s operations.

Supply chain management entails managing the flow of goods and information through a production or distribution network to ensure that the right goods are delivered to the right place in the right quantity at the right time. Two primary objectives are to gain competitive edge via superior customer service and to reduce costs through efficient procurement, production and delivery systems. Supply chain management encompasses a wide range of activities — from strategic activities, such as capacity expansion or consolidation, make/buy decisions and initiation of supplier contracts, to tactical activities, such as production, procurement and logistics planning, to, finally, operational activities, such as operations scheduling and release decisions, batch sizing and issuing of purchase orders.

In this inter-disciplinary course, we will use the tools of behavioral economics and psychology to better understand consumer financial decisions and the consumer finance industry.  In their book Nudge, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler argue that firms and policymakers can design mechanisms to guide people’s choices in a way that improves outcomes yet maintains freedom of choice.  Important new research illustrates how combining insights from psychology and economics can improve our understanding of consumer financial behavior.  The recent financial crisis highlighted the importance of this endeavor.

Pricing presents managers with one of their most powerful levers for maximizing profits and shareholder value. The objective of this course is to prepare students for addressing strategic and tactical pricing issues and identifying profit-boosting changes in pricing practices across a range of professional contexts. The course establishes a foundation for effective pricing decisions by teaching key economic, analytical and behavioral concepts associated with costs, customer behavior and competition; introduces students to advanced pricing techniques that aim to create additional value, including dynamic pricing, segmented pricing, pricing structures and promotions; and highlights practical applications of these approaches within specific industry contexts.

Branding has become a hot topic. Many companies realize that they need to understand the financial value of their corporate brand and its products; manage brands strategically; and deliver implementations to customers that are relevant, differentiated and powerful to build an emotional bond and loyalty. This course shows you how this can be done. It familiarizes you with best practices in branding, from iPod and the launch of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty to successful branding initiatives in financial, pharmaceutical, consumer goods, entertainment and a wide range of other companies.

  • Social Media and Entrepreneurship with Professor Rachel Sterne

This highly participatory course will explore the growth potential, revenue models, marketing methods, funding strategies and product design of social technology.  The course will center on a real-world social media marketing challenge, introduced by a startup founder on the first day of class (students also have the option to propose an independent challenge for approval).  Over the next six weeks, students will develop, execute, and analyze a digital strategy plan--informed by guest lectures from startup CEOs and VCs, academic cases, technology blogs, twitter feeds, and local industry events.

Increasingly marketers are being asked to measure and justify the amount of money that is being spent on marketing often as a result of the economy and the continued fragmentation of marketing channels. This course will provide marketers and those that manage marketing or will/have the responsibility for the marketing function with an understanding of the tools and approaches that can be used to measure the effectiveness of marketing expenditures. Participants will also gain an understanding of how to assess the results and communicate the returns from marketing spending to management.