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Apparel merchandising students use social media to connect local businesses with customers, community

Close up of woman using her cell phone in nighttime streetscapeStudents in Washington State University’s apparel merchandising program are putting their studies to work this spring to connect local businesses with social media-savvy consumers.

Jihyeong Son, Assistant Professor in the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles, partnered with Jennifer Hackman,Economic Development Manager for the City of Pullman, to offer a real-world challenge to 46 students in Son’s AMDT 307 Consumer Behavior in Fashion class.

In AMDT 307, students learn about the social science concepts that underlie the marketing and purchase of fashion and lifestyle products and services. Partnering with Pullman retailers and service providers, Son and Hackman are taking the course beyond the classroom.

Dr. Son holding up smartphone with camera image in front of mannequins.
AMDT researcher Jihyeong Son. (Photo by Robert Hubner, WSU Photo Services)

More than a dozen businesses applied to take part in the project, and five were selected based on class resources and student availability: Flirt, The Coug Store, Lily Bee’s Boutique and High End Consignments, Heros N Sports, and Rico’s Public House.

“We wanted to give the students the opportunity to apply their studies of consumer behavior and marketing to real businesses in Pullman, to reach out to the community,” said Son.

During the spring semester, students will help business owners learn how to better communicate with younger customers, and share fresh ideas on how to integrate social media into their existing marketing efforts.

Using consumer and market analysis, students will develop tailored social-media marketing strategies that connect businesses with new customers, and students in particular. Their completed plans will take advantage of the 2020 WSU Mom’s Weekend, April 3-5.

Students’ final presentations will be open to the public, starting at 2:50 p.m., April 28, 29, and 30, at Johnson Hall Annex C1.

“Students are the largest group of potential customers for many Pullman retailers,” Son said. “This pilot project challenges our students to use their knowledge and experience to help local businesses reach consumers like them.”

The pilot project will help support local economic sustainability, and enhance the connection between campus and the community, she added.

To learn more about the project, contact Son at or by phone at (509) 335-1651.

Learn more about WSU Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles here.


Media Contacts

Jihyeong Son, Assistant Professor, Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles, (509) 335-1651