South Mississippi Students Participate in Market Research Symposium

February 23, 2017

“Home Style” representing Lumberton High School took first place in the market validation challenge as part of the Southern Entrepreneurship Program’s regional youth symposium held Feb. 21. (University Communications photo by Van Arnold)

High school students from across South Mississippi explored the intricacies of market research during a regional youth symposium held Tuesday, Feb. 21, at The University of Southern Mississippi and sponsored by the Southern Entrepreneurship Program.

The central component of the “SEP Strive” workshop involved helping students gauge the need for market research and “validation” to determine whether a market truly exists for a product.


“We’ve developed similar challenges for past events having students design a new snack food or customized lemonades based on their market research results,” said James B. Wilcox, Director of the USM Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education. “This year we selected a much different ‘product’ – music.”


Students were divided into teams to represent “record labels” attempting to craft a new product – a hit song – for their market (the other workshop participants). Each team was required to conduct market research among their peers to determine which genres, styles, tempos, moods, etc. of music the other students enjoy most.


Teams then used their research – and ample creativity – to develop a new hit, while identifying a promotional campaign to boost potential sales. Teams made presentations to the audience which revealed the thoroughness of their market research. The results were judged based upon their overall product-market fit and projected profitability – measured in “song downloads.”


Teams from Lumberton High School captured the top two spots in the market validation challenge. “Home Style” finished first, while “Dreaming” took second place. “Taking Care of Business” from Mendenhall High/Simpson County Technical Center finished third.


Founded in 2007, the SEP is offered as an outreach initiative of USM’s College of Business through its Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Education. To learn more, call 601.266.6055 or visit: