PCA&D students could increase sales by $60 million for four major brands

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Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

It may have “just” been a class exercise, but the headline is accurate:

According to customer feedback from Designalytics, a Chicago-based research firm, recent brand redesigns by four Senior Packaging Design Studio seniors would increase sales — of real products, to real consumers — by $60 million. 

“These are not normal numbers,” Graphic Design Chair Pamela Barby quoted Designalytics’ findings as saying. “Impressive!”

It was the third year that students under instructor Tom Newmaster have participated in such a project. This year, Paige Bowermaster, Tyler Handa, Frankie Reed, and Alex Serna were provided a list of categories and brands from Designalytics’ syndicated library. They were then tasked with selecting a brand, and creating a new design for marketing it. After providing their initial two or three designs, a quantitative analysis from real consumers, organized by Designalytics, helped them optimize their final designs. 

Bowermaster redesigned Topo Chico hard seltzer; Handa tackled Blue Bunny mini cones; Reed worked up a new design for Caribou Coffee; and Serna chose to redesign Owyn Protein Shakes. All are senior Graphic Design majors.

‘A learning opportunity that no other college offers’

The results, across the board, were stellar. 

According to Barby, Designalytics reported that the students’ work outperformed that of the brands, ranking in the top 25 percent of 300 consumer feedback studies that they performed. And for these PCA&D students to have the opportunity to put their skills up against that of established pros, she added, is an unmatched learning opportunity. It is, Barby said, a “learning opportunity that no other college offers,” and a project that would cost tens of thousands of dollars to replicate without the generosity of Designalytics.

“Seeing my design go up against a design by working professionals and doing more than two times better was a really exciting and rewarding experience,” Bowermaster said. “My redesign took the brand from a 23 percent overall preference to a 77 percent overall preference … these are real buyers in these focus groups. Real people who walk down the grocery aisle and buy these products. So their opinions are even more important than any designer, company, or CEO.”

“By including these professional researchers on student work, my class could get exposure to the kind of rigorous consumer studies that they would one day encounter in their design careers,” Newmaster said during a previous class project with Designalytics. Another lesson, Newmaster said: “Going through the process of data-driven assessment encourages them to be more objective about their work.”

“The team at Designalytics is amazing,” Barby said. The experience for PCA&D students is an “engaging system of professional, credible, and real consumer feedback tailored to support design-thinking processes. This year was particularly remarkable.”

Before and After:

images courtesy Designalytics 

Paige Bowermaster, before and after redesign.


Tyler Handa, before and after redesign.

Frankie Reed, before and after redesign.

Alex Serna, before and after redesign.