Before getting to work on the field of Robins Stadium this summer, Spiders’ quarterback and business administration major Kyle Lauletta, ’17, got to work in the Robins School in a field he’s not quite as familiar with: jewelry. 

“I was researching the industry, trends, and new ways companies are selling jewelry online,” Lauletta said. “And that was the first step for me.”

The project, spearheaded by Jeff Carlson, assistant professor of marketing, and Bill Bergman, lecturer in marketing, explored consumers’ perceptions of jewelry for an outside client.

“The client wanted to understand how consumers’ responses differed between the price of a legitimate diamond stone and an alternative stone that’s not a diamond, but looks like one,” Carlson said.

Lauletta took the Marketing Research and Analysis course with Carlson in spring of 2017, and at the end of the semester, Carlson asked him to join him and Bill Bergman in their summer research project. 

“He’s a leader on campus and a leader on the field. We set many of the research objectives, but he made most of them happen,” Carlson said.

The bulk of the research was interview based. Lauletta, Carlson, and Bergman used the behavioral research lab in the Robins School to interview consumers, asking them to describe and compare the diamond and the alternative stone. Lauletta conducted all of the interviews.

“We wanted to see how consumers reacted to the two products,” Lauletta said.

After the interviews, he gave participants a quantitative survey about the two gems. Then, Lauletta compiled all of the research and found that most consumers were not able to tell the difference, or correctly gauge the price of the two different stones. After coming to these conclusions, Lauletta presented the findings to the client.

“I was a little nervous, but it’s similar to going out and playing a game,” Lauletta said. “I’ve been in those situations so many times, but I felt really confident in what I was doing.”

Lauletta is also a leadership studies major, and said working on this project helped bolster his skills in both schools, as well as on the field.

“The project and research were really beneficial for me and connected my studies in both the business and leadership fields,” Lauletta said. “It felt like I was part of a professional marketing research team. I think I work better in high pressure situations, and they did a great job welcoming me and bringing me along and teaching me.”

Bergman says that the opportunity to conduct student led research for an outside client that they believe is strong enough to go on to publication in an academic journal doesn’t come along often, and he and Carlson are thrilled with the outcome.

“It was an interesting cross section between a teachable experience for a student, a benefit for a client trying to learn more about their product, and an academic value from a scholarly perspective,” Bergman said.

Bergman added that Lauletta brought a unique set of skills to the table, and was able to see the work through from the preliminary research to presenting their findings to the CEO of the jewelry company.

“He was calm, cool, collected, and very professional throughout the whole project,” Bergman said. “It was really remarkable. We’ve worked with some great students, but this was pretty special to watch.”