Drexel students are turning product reviews into business strategies - Technical.ly Philly


Drexel students are turning product reviews into business strategies

A look at what LeBow College of Business students found when they analyzed Dow Chemical product reviews, and how those findings informed the company’s marketing strategy.

LeBow students turned reviews of Dow Chemical products into marketing strategies.

(Courtesy photo)

Ask any business intelligence analyst, any CIO, any marketer what they need to get ahead of industry trends, and they’ll all tell you the same thing: The dollars are in the data.

The hard part is sifting through the noise to find patterns in data that can help companies better understand their customers, inform research and development, improve existing products and the ways in which those products are marketed.

“Companies collect data from multiple sources but don’t necessarily know what to do with it or how to use it to their advantage,” said Diana Jones, Associate Director for the Business Analytics Solutions Center at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business.

According to IBM, approximately 80 percent of all data is “dark” — in other words, unusable and inactive. That total is expected to increase to 93 percent by 2020.

At LeBow, student and faculty teams are leveraging the college’s institutional knowledge and resources to help turn corporate partners’ big data into viable, research-based business solutions.

Consulting projects within the Business Analytics Solutions Center put the latest pedagogies, tools and techniques into practice. Corporations like recent LeBow partner Dow Chemical get viable outcomes with real impact and access to budding talent.

“Our students not only extract, clean and explore data – they also derive valuable insights that can used to make decisions,” said Murugan Anandarajan, Professor of MIS, who supervised the project. “Students transform data points to convey potential strategies that companies should implement.”

When Dow was interested in understanding customer feedback about their products, LeBow hand-selected a team of students to conduct a text mining analysis of online product reviews. Students combed through reviews of Dow’s products to uncover common themes and patterns in customer sentiments.

Over the course of 10 weeks, the team at LeBow used machine learning and natural language processing algorithms to discover customer insights — and built an interactive dashboard to exhibit those insights: Where were the most complaints or the most favorable reviews? What variables (scent, performance, value) were mentioned? When were reviews conducted?


Verna Talcott, the North America regional skin care marketer with Dow’s Home & Personal Care Business division, said LeBow faculty and students have been “able to quickly develop programs that provide meaningful insights” for the company.

“Dow’s Home & Personal Care Business and Marketing analytics team, in collaboration with Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, have worked on several market/social listening projects,” said Talcott. “Market/Social Listening allows our marketing teams to quickly gain an understanding about what consumers are saying about products on a variety of social media platforms.”

Drexel LeBow student Ke Yan was on the team that worked on the Dow project. The project, she said, was a good opportunity to bring theory and practice together — “to bring concepts to life” while helping Dow’s product marketing team gather new insights on the company’s products.

“It’s encouraging to receive the affirmation that our skill sets can make a difference to a large organization like Dow,” Yan said. “In addition to sharpening our analytics skills, the project helped us develop soft skills such as communication, presentation and critical thinking.”

Anandarajan said this type of project collaboration is an impactful way for the college to connect academia and industry in analytics.

“Providing business insight for an impressive organization like Dow while preparing our students to leverage data for solving industry challenges is a powerful combination,” he said.

Organizations interested in collaboration with Drexel LeBow’s Business Analytics Solutions Center can contact Diana Jones at dej36@drexel.edu

Companies: Drexel University
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