Revolutionizing Business Education

Parties Involved

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.

The Problem

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.

XpertVR’s Solution

To address these challenges, XpertVR has developed a virtual reality store simulation in collaboration with TMU, Circle K, and industry experts. The VR simulation allows marketing students to step into different roles, such as store managers, category managers, and brand managers, within a virtual Circle K store. They can redesign the store’s layout, product placement, pricing, and promotions to optimize consumer behaviour and sales.

By immersing students in this virtual environment, they can make strategic product and category decisions, observe the consequences of their choices, and analyze the impact on consumer behaviour. The simulation incorporates real-world data collected through research studies conducted in collaboration with Dr. Janice Rudkowski from TMU and Inez Blackburn from the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management to provide students with valuable insights and feedback. Students were able to analyze heat maps when making recommendations for product placement, promotions, and pricing. They were also encouraged to review and analyze the impact of packaging for National Brands and Private Label.

The virtual reality store simulation is accessible and user-friendly, running on the Meta Quest 2 platform. Developed with funding from eCampus Ontario, this innovative VR training solution is now available to colleges and universities across Ontario, providing students with an engaging and impactful learning experience.

XpertVR grocery sim.
VR In-Game Survey.

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

In Conclusion

This case study showcases the immense potential of virtual reality training in enhancing business education. By immersing marketing students in a realistic virtual store environment, XpertVR’s solution bridges the gap between theory and practice, allowing students to understand category management from a consumer and marketing perspective  in multiple retail settings. 

Through this transformative VR experience, students gain practical skills in marketing, merchandising, category management, and consumer behaviour. This enabled students to make informed decisions and maximize their knowledge base. In addition, XpertVR’s collaboration with TMU, Circle K, and industry experts empowers educational institutions to deliver cutting-edge and engaging learning experiences that prepare students for success in their future careers.

SEO-Optimized Meta Description: Explore the power of virtual reality in business education. Discover how XpertVR’s collaboration with Toronto Metropolitan University,The Rotman School, and Circle K revolutionizes marketing students’ learning through a virtual reality convenience store, optimizing their understanding of retail consumer behaviour.

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