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Marketing Students Learn Branding Basics from Kohl’s CEO

By Wisconsin School of Business

December 4, 2013

On September 25, Kohl’s Corporation CEO Kevin Mansell visited the Wisconsin School of Business to speak with marketing students about the world of retail and how marketing theories apply in the real-life business situations.

During the presentation, students had the unique opportunity to hear about marketing and branding strategy from the CEO of one of the largest retail companies in the world. From examining Kohl’s target market and advertising expenditures to hearing the backstory on Kohl’s Cash, the students had a truly behind-the-scenes look at the company’s marketing strategy.

Mansell said his goal for the presentation was to show students real world examples of strategic decisions in marketing and offer them new insights into the retail industry.Kevin Mansell Lecturing

“Something we talked about was the diverse opportunities we offer students, not just a career in buying or store management, but careers within omni-channel retailing, within marketing, finance,” Mansell said. “It’s amazing what students can do when starting their career under the giant umbrella we call retail.”

Kohl’s has a history of traveling to college campuses to recruit the next generation of business leaders. As part of the school’s Corporate Partners Program, Kohl’s consistently visits Wisconsin to meet with and interview students.

“Madison is a targeted campus for us to recruit on. It’s very pragmatic,” explained Mansell. “We’ve had tremendous success with Madison students. Success rates, retention rates, skill set, preparation, work ethic. They have so many attributes we are looking for.”

With more that 1,100 stores across 49 states, Kohl’s is one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country. Mansell has spent the past five years growing the company from $16.8 billion in sales in 2008 to more than $19.3 billion in 2012. Mansell still finds time to visit the school each fall, which benefits both the students and his company.

“There’s a lot of learning that happens on campus with student organizations. I think there’s a better understanding of that demographic. We’ve benefited by the success of the students,” Mansell said.