XpertVR has partnered with TMU and Circle K under an eCampus grant to develop and deploy the virtual reality convenience store simulation. This collaboration brings together academic expertise from TMU, Dr. Janice Rudkowski – Assistant Professor in the Department of Retail Management at the Ted Rogers School of Retail, Inez Blackburn – Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management, and RedBull. This team of retail experts and educators played a pivotal role in the development of this transformative learning experience.
Traditional teaching methods in business schools often fail to fully prepare marketing students for the complexities of retail, Category Management, and consumer behaviour. Learning from textbooks and case studies may not provide the hands-on experience necessary to understand the dynamic nature of consumer behaviour in multiple retail environments. This gap in practical knowledge can hinder students’ ability to apply their learning effectively and pose challenges when entering the job market.
Furthermore, the transition to remote learning, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has limited students’ access to real-world retail environments, making it even more challenging to gain firsthand experience and understand the intricacies of consumer behaviour.
Results and Feedback
While the case study is ongoing and more comprehensive results are expected in late 2023, initial feedback from the first class at Rotman School has been overwhelmingly positive. Inez Blackburn leveraged the Circle K simulation in her Consumer Behaviour Class with an assignment focused on Category Management across multiple categories. Students were encouraged to conduct primary observational research at a Circle K location and compare and contrast consumer behaviour in an immersive environment.
Assistant Professor Inez Blackburn reported higher student engagement and participation levels for the assignment. The immersive experience resulted in a faster speed to knowledge as students were able to understand the fundamentals of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour from a Category Management perspective. Students in the classroom were able to observe how their peers behaved in a simulated retail environment. The VR simulation has successfully transformed the learning experience, making it more immersive and effective.
“We need to prepare students for the world they will graduate into, where technology will continue to influence how we learn, work, and live. The VR simulation offered a practical application of key learnings where students could compare and contrast consumer behaviour online and in person. Also, the future of retail will be focused on VR and AR technologies fueled by AI, and this immersive experience contributed significantly to my student’s understanding of consumer behaviour in a VR and actual retail environment. Many students reference their experience and key learnings and secure promotions, paid internships, and jobs by highlighting their experience and key insights.”
– Inez Blackburn, Assistant Professor at The University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management