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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

URI marketing students given credit for their research

Survey finds that 65 percent of URI students have credit cards

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 13, 2003 -- A study conducted by University of Rhode Island College of Business Administration students has found that 65 percent of URI undergraduates own a credit card, compared to the national rate of 52 percent.

The 16 students in URI Marketing Professor Ruby Dholakia’s Advertising Strategy and Management class created R.A.M. Ocean Promotion, a student-run marketing agency that found URI students’ knowledge of credit use is similar to other students nationwide.

During the course of the spring semester, the class surveyed 280 URI students on such topics as their reason for selecting a card, as well as their knowledge of the risks and benefits of credit card use.

The goal of R.A.M. Ocean promotion was to promote fiscal responsibility to undergraduate students at URI through surveys, seminars, advertisements, promotions or informative pieces on the school’s media resources. The class surveyed students both before the campaign and after it was completed.

"The campaign seems to have successfully increased URI students’ knowledge about credit, as well as the importance of building credit history," said Jessica Weber of Egg Harbor, N.J., R.A.M. public relations coordinator. (Shown here at left.)

She also said it was a great experience for the class.

Weber said the group created a website that was active from April 18 to April 23, and it recorded 15,513 hits. As part of the group’s marketing campaign, the group offered a raffle of $300 in cash to those who took a quiz or completed a survey on the site. "Overall, we can estimate that every user visited our sit about 1.35 times and every visitor saw 5.8 pages out of 8."

Working with EdVenture Partners and Citibank, R.A.M. Ocean Promotion had $2,500 to plan and put into action its fiscal responsibility program.

"As faculty members, we get many opportunities to teach about theory and we try to bring in the real world into the classroom through visits by business practitioners, and analysis of case studies," Dholakia said. "But this kind of an opportunity is rare because it allows the students to actually implement what we teach in the classroom. It also allows us as faculty members to observe whether the students have internalized the theoretical principles we have taught and whether they have been able to integrate concepts from different courses and disciplines."

In the pre-campaign survey, the group’s study found that 75 percent of juniors and seniors own a credit card, while only 55 percent of sophomores and freshmen do.

Thirty-eight percent said they chose a credit card based on the interest rate, 16 percent said the credit limit was the main factor, and 13 percent said the brand was the key factor.

Sixty-six percent of the URI undergraduates said they were between 16 to 18 years old when they received their first credit card.

Although only 40 percent of the respondents said in the pre-campaign survey that they budget some of the time, they said budgeting is important to them. The most important issue, however, was creating a good credit history.

R.A.M. Ocean Promotion distributed hundreds of surveys to classrooms, to the gym, dining halls, and the Memorial Union both before and after the campaign.

The final phase of the project called for the students to share their findings with the campus community, which included ads in the student newspaper, table tents in dining halls and banners. In addition, the team’s advertising staff placed about 100 green and yellow signs on stakes on the Quadrangle to get information to the community. Unfortunately, a steady rain throughout the day doused that part of the effort. Still, the Quad signs were viewed by students as the most effective way to reach them, with public relations efforts and student newspaper ads as the second and third most effective ways to reach students.

Following the post-campaign survey, the study found that about 91 percent of URI students said it was very important to build credit history, compared to about 83 percent in the pre-campaign survey.

"It was time consuming and very involved, and you couldn’t really lie back," said Weber, who wrote all the press releases. "It provided us with real-life experience. As a capstone course, it gave us the chance to apply everything we learned to an actual project."

Weber, who graduates this month and is the former captain of the University’s field hockey team, said the group worked well together.

Now, she is looking to join a new team as she looks for a job. "I am hoping to join a marketing and PR firm, with a goal of going into sports marketing. I am going to be looking in Rhode Island and Massachusetts because I have been drawn here."

Dholakia said working with students like Weber who go the extra mile has been a pleasure. "Jessica was one of those students who was very professional in her role as the public relations coordinator. She also showed the attributes of a good student, writing drafts, improving them, seeking and taking constructive criticism. Several other students in the class exhibited similar characteristics. Ultimately, that is the greatest pleasure you can have as a teacher."

For Further Information: Ruby Dholakia 401-874-4390, Jessica Weber 401-789-3361

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File last updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2003

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