Clemson University marketing major Anne Gaskins won bragging rights and a $1,250 cash prize when she randomly entered a competition sponsored by an Atlanta-based retail marketing firm.

Gaskins, marketing competition, Max Media

Clemson’s Anne Gaskins, left, teamed up with three others to win a retail marketing competition.

The Marietta, Ga., College of Business junior pulled an all-nighter in Max Media’s Labathon Challenge, which tasked the creative minds of college students to generate ideas for a retail store of the future that would attract and retain customers.

“As much as anything, it showed me one way to learn is by taking a chance and putting yourself out there,” she said. “I decided to enter this competition, and joined three other people I had never met before, to come up with retail ideas that consumers would find appealing.”

Anne and her teammates accomplished that challenge. Held in conjunction with the firm’s 20th anniversary, they won the 20-hour competition by generating three ideas that would help a fictitious, high-end clothing store draw in and retain customers.

“An idea of mine that we presented was a changing room equipped with folded mirrors that would give the customer a 360-degree view of the garment they were trying on,” she said. “Beyond that, the mirror had an emotional recognition system that would read customers’ facial expressions and measure their favorability for the article of clothing.”

Anne Gaskins

Anne Gaskins

Another idea was a window display with a projection system that would show how a displayed outfit would look on a customer.

“I loved brainstorming ideas on a deadline in a real-world setting,” she added. “It also gave me a good feeling for what it would be like to work under pressure with a diverse group of people. Two of my teammates were computer science coders and the other a copywriter, so we were very different personalities working toward one goal.”

The coders developed their third idea, a “loyalty” phone app that uses data on a customer’s fashion profile to expedite the shopping experience. “It’s a personalized, custom service that selects and has clothing waiting for you to try on in the store.”

Anne, who also received an internship offer, said the experience will not only look good on her resume, it also gave her more insight into how she’ll be able to utilize the skills she’s learning in her marketing classes after graduation.

“I felt I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. It was one of those learning experiences outside the classroom that challenged my creativity. I’m glad I took the chance.”

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