Marketing Case Interview: Step-By-Step Guide

Marketing case interviews


If you are interviewing for a consulting firm or marketing firm, expect to be given several case interviews or case study interviews during your interview process. You’ll need to ace every one of your case interviews in order to land a job offer.

 

If you have an upcoming marketing case interview, don’t worry because we have you covered. In this comprehensive article, we’ll cover:

  • What is a marketing case interview?

 

  • The 7 steps to solve any marketing case interview

 

  • Marketing case interview framework

 

  • Marketing case interview examples

 

  • Recommended marketing case interview resources


If you’re looking for a step-by-step shortcut to learn case interviews quickly, enroll in our case interview course. These insider strategies from a former Bain interviewer helped 30,000+ land consulting offers while saving hundreds of hours of prep time.

 

What is a Marketing Case Interview?

 

Case interviews are a special type of interview that every single consulting firm uses. They are almost exclusively used by consulting firms, although some companies with ex-consultants may also use them.

 

A case interview, also known as a “case” for short, is a 30 to 45-minute exercise in which you and the interviewer work together to develop a recommendation or answer to a business problem.

 

For marketing case interviews, you’ll be given a business problem that has to do with designing or selling a product. Examples of the types of marketing case interview questions you could be given include:
 

  • How would you market [product X] to [customer segment X]?

 

  • How would you decide what product to design for [customer segment X]?

 

  • How would you decide which customer segment to target for [product X]?

 

Case interviews are used by consulting firms because they are the best way for firms to predict which candidates will make the best consultants. Case interviews do not predict this perfectly, but they come quite close.

 

Since case interviews simulate the consulting job by placing you in a hypothetical business situation, interviewers use case interviews to see how you would perform as a hypothetical consultant.

 

Many of the skills and qualities needed to successfully complete a case interview are the same skills and qualities needed to successfully finish a consulting case project. These skills and qualities include:

  • Logical, structured thinking: Consultants need to be organized and methodical in order to work efficiently.

 

  • Analytical problem solving: Consultants work with a tremendous amount of data and information in order to develop recommendations to complex problems.

 

  • Business acumen: A strong business instinct helps consultants make the right decisions and develop the right recommendations.

 

  • Communication skills: Consultants need strong communication skills to collaborate with teammates and clients effectively.

 

  • Personality and cultural fit: Consultants spend a lot of time working closely in small teams. Having a personality and attitude that fits with the team makes the whole team work better together.

 

Case interviews also give you a sense of whether you would like the consulting job. If you find case interviews interesting and exciting, you’ll likely enjoy consulting. If you find case interviews dull and boring, consulting may not be the best profession for you.

 

The 7 Steps to Solve Any Marketing Case Interview

 

Although you cannot predict the exact case interview question or business situation you’ll be given, almost all case interviews follow a similar structure or flow. Therefore, you can follow these seven steps to solve any marketing case interview.

 

1. Understand the case background information

 

The case interview will start with the interviewer explaining the case background information. Make sure that you are taking notes while the interviewer is speaking. You’ll want to focus specifically on understanding the context, the company, and the objective of the case.

 

The most important part of the case interview is to make sure you understand the business issue and objective of the case. Addressing the wrong business problem is the quickest way to fail a case interview.

 

2. Ask clarifying questions

 

Once the interviewer has finished giving you the case information, you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions. 

 

While you can ask any question that you want, try to prioritize asking questions that help you better understand the situation and problem. You want to avoid asking questions that are too specific or not relevant to understanding the case situation. 

 

Most candidates ask between one to three questions. You’ll be able to ask more questions later in the case interview if you need to.

 

3. Summarize the information and verify the objective

 

Once you have finished asking your immediate questions, summarize all of the major case information and verify that you understand the objective correctly.

 

In this step, many candidates make the mistake of stating every fact of the case verbatim. Instead, you should summarize the case concisely and clearly in your own words. This demonstrates that you can synthesize information effectively.

 

4. Develop a framework

 

The next step is to structure a framework to help guide you through the case.

 

A case interview framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down a complex problem into simpler, smaller components. Think of a framework as brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.

 

To develop a framework, ask yourself what are the three to four major questions that you need to answer in order to make a confident recommendation?

 

Many candidates make the mistake of using memorized frameworks and applying them to their case interviews. Interviewers can tell when you are using a memorized framework because not all of the elements of the framework will be relevant to the case.

 

Using a memorized framework reflects poorly on your capabilities because it shows that you cannot think critically for yourself. Therefore, practice creating unique and tailored frameworks for each case that you get.

 

We’ll go over how to create outstanding marketing case interview frameworks in the next section of this article.

 

When creating your framework, it is acceptable to ask the interviewer for a few minutes of silence to collect your thoughts. Afterwards, present your framework to the interviewer.

 

5. Kick off the case

 

Once you have finished presenting your framework, the interviewer may agree with your approach or may provide some feedback or suggestions. Afterwards, it is time to start solving the case.

 

How the case investigation will start depends on whether your case is a candidate-led or interviewer-led case. Most cases are candidate-led.

 

Candidate-led case: In this type of case, you will be expected to drive the direction of the case. You will be suggesting what areas to explore, what analyses to do, and what the next step should be. So, pick an area of your framework to start analyzing. There is no right or wrong area to pick as long as it is relevant to solving the case.

 

Interviewer-led case: In this type of case, the interviewer will be leading the direction of the case. They will be asking you specific questions that you will answer. After each question, they’ll direct you to the next question. For interviewer-led cases, the interviewer will typically kick off the case by asking you a question after you finish presenting your framework.

 

6. Answer quantitative and qualitative questions

 

The majority of the interview will be spent answering a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions.

 

Quantitative questions may have you estimate the size of a particular market, perform some calculations to determine profitability, or interpret various charts and graphs.

 

When solving quantitative problems, make sure that you walk the interviewer through your approach before you begin doing any math. When performing calculations, make sure to talk through your steps out loud so that it is easy for the interviewer to follow your work.

 

Qualitative questions may ask you to brainstorm potential ideas or ask for your judgment on an open-ended business question. When answering these questions, try to structure your answer as much as possible.

 

After answering each question, make sure that you take your answer and connect it back to the overall case objective. How does your answer help you solve the case? How does your answer impact your potential recommendation?

 

7. Deliver a recommendation

 

At the end of the case, the interviewer will ask you to prepare an overall recommendation. It is acceptable to ask the interviewer for a minute to look through your notes before you give your recommendation.

 

Based on the quantitative and qualitative questions you have answered, what recommendation do they collectively support?

 

Structure your recommendation in the following way:

  • State your recommendation

 

  • Provide the two to three reasons that support your recommendation

 

  • Propose next steps that you would take if you had more time

 

After you deliver your recommendation, the interviewer will conclude the case interview. If the case interview was based on a real life project, the interviewer may explain what actually happened in the case.

 

Don’t worry if your recommendation does not match what actually happened during the project. For case interviews, you are not assessed on your answer, but on your process.

 

Marketing Case Interview Framework

 

The only framework you need to know for marketing case interviews is the 5C’s + STP + 4P’s framework. Although this is the only marketing framework you need to know, we do not recommend that you simply memorize this framework and use it in every single marketing case interview.

 

Instead, we recommend that you fully understand each of the individual elements in this framework such that you can use specific elements here and there to piece together your own unique framework. We’ll have examples of how exactly to do this in the next section of the article.

 

At a high level, here’s how the 5C’s + STP + 4P’s framework is organized:

  • 5 C’s: Helps analyze the business situation before making any marketing decisions

 

  • STP: Helps identify which customer segment to target

 

  • 4 P’s: Helps develop a strategy to implement marketing decisions

 

Let’s go through each of these components to understand the specific elements in each.

 

The 5 C’s

 

The goal of the 5 C’s framework is to collect and gather all of the relevant and necessary background information in order to make an informed marketing decision. 5 C’s stands for: company, collaborators, customers, competitors, and context.

 

Company

  • What products does the company have?

 

  • What competitive advantages does the company have?

 

  • What are the company’s goals?

 

  • What is the company’s brand image?

 

Collaborators

  • Who are the company’s suppliers and distributors?

 

  • Who are the company’s investors?

 

  • Who has the company partnered with?

 

  • What other relationships does the company have with third parties?

 

Customers

  • Who are the company’s customers?

 

  • What are customer needs and preferences?

 

  • What are customer purchasing habits or behaviors?

 

  • What are customer perceptions of the company?

 

Competitors

  • Who are the company’s competitors?

 

  • What are competitors’ strengths and weaknesses?

 

  • What are competitors’ strategies and tactics?

 

  • Who are the new potential threats?

 

Context
 

  • What are the laws and regulations in this industry?

 

  • What are the economic trends?

 

  • What are the new emerging technologies?

 

  • What are social or behavioral trends?

 

Having knowledge of these five elements will help you with the next part of the framework, STP.

 

STP

 

The goal of STP is to help you identify which customer segment to target or focus on. There are three steps to STP: segmentation, targeting, and positioning.

 

Segmentation

 

The first step is to understand how the market is segmented. Customers have a wide variety of needs and preferences. Therefore, a broad marketing strategy targeting every customer will not be as effective as a tailored marketing strategy focused on a specific customer segment.

 

You will need to decide what type of segmentation makes the most sense for your product. You can segment customers on needs, use cases, or various demographics, such as age, geography, income, lifestyle, and attitudes.

 

At the end of this step, you should have a list of the different customer segments.

 

Targeting

 

The next step is to evaluate the attractiveness of each segment and choose a target segment to focus on. There are many different factors to consider when selecting a target segment:
 

  • Which segment is the largest?

 

  • Which segment is growing the quickest?

 

  • What segment is the most profitable?

 

  • Which segment is the most accessible?

 

  • Which segment is the best fit for your product?

 

  • Which segment has the potential for the most improvement?

 

  • Which segment is the most influenced by marketing?

 

Once you have selected a customer segment to focus on, you can move onto the next step, developing a positioning statement.

 

Positioning

 

In this final step, you will determine how to position and communicate the product to potential customers.

 

Your positioning and communication of the product should be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the customer segment you have decided to focus on. In determining how to position the product, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What makes this customer segment different from others?

 

  • What does this customer segment value?

 

  • What are the attitudes or beliefs of this customer segment?

 

Below are a few examples of positioning statements from well-known companies:

  • Amazon: For customers who want to purchase a wide variety of products online, Amazon offers a one-stop shopping experience

 

  • Apple: For technology users who want a seamless experience, Apple leads the industry with the most innovative and easy-to-use products

 

  • Disney: For consumers looking for unique entertainment, Disney provides magical memories and experiences

 

Having a positioning statement will help you decide the best way to market the product. To do that, you will move onto the next framework, the 4 P’s.

 

The 4 P’s

 

The goal of the 4 P’s is to develop an actionable strategy to market the product to the targeted customer segment. 4 P’s stands for product, place, promotion, and price.

 

Product

 

If there are multiple products or different versions of a product, you will need to decide which product to market. To do this, you will need to fully understand the benefits and points of differentiation of each product.

 

Select the product that best fits customer needs and the positioning statement you developed for the segment you are focusing on.


Place

 

You will need to decide where the product will be sold to customers. Different customer segments have different purchasing habits and behaviors. Therefore, some distribution channels will be more effective than others.

 

Should the product be sold directly to the customer online? Should the product be sold in the company’s stores? Should the product be sold through retail partners instead?

 

Promotion

 

You will need to decide how to spread information about the product to customers. Different customer segments have different media consumption habits and preferences. Therefore, some promotional strategies will be more effective than others.

 

Promotional techniques and strategies include advertising, social media marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing, video marketing, and public relations. Select the strategies and techniques that will be the most effective.

 

Price

 

You will need to decide how to price the product. Pricing is important because it determines the profits and the quantity of units sold. Pricing can also communicate information on the quality or value of the product.

 

If you price the product too high, you may be pricing the product above your customer segment’s willingness to pay. This would lead to lost sales.

 

If you price the product too low, you may be losing potential profit from customers who were willing to pay a higher price. You may also be losing profits from customers who perceive the product as low-quality due to a low price point.

 

In deciding on a price, you can consider the costs to produce the product, the prices of other similar products, and the value that you are providing to customers.

 

Marketing Case Interview Examples

 

By now, you should understand the components and elements of the only marketing case interview framework that you need to know. We’ll go through a few examples of how to use specific elements of the 5 C’s + STP + 4 P’s to create unique and tailored frameworks to marketing case interview questions.

 

Example #1: How would you market [product X] to [customer segment Y]?

 

How to answer: In order to decide how to best market a product, you need to first understand what the customers’ needs are. Next, you’d need to develop a positioning statement or value proposition for your product that addresses these needs. Finally, there are specific implementation decisions you would need to make that include how much to sell the product for and where to sell the product.

 

Therefore, your framework could look like the following:

  • Customer needs: What are customer needs and preferences? What pain points or problems do they face?

 

  • Value proposition: What is the positioning statement for the product? What value will it add to customers?

 

  • Implementation: What should the optimal price be? How should the product be advertised? Where should the product be sold?

 

Example #2: How would you decide what product to design for [customer segment X]?

 

How to answer: For this question, you’ll need to understand the customer segment’s needs, preferences, behaviors, and purchasing habits. You’ll likely also need to look at competitors to see what kinds of products they offer. Finally, you can then decide on product features or characteristics based on this information.

 

Therefore, your framework could look like the following:

  • Customer needs: What are customer needs and preferences? What pain points or problems do they face?

 

  • Competition: Who are the major competitors to the product that you’d be designing? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

 

  • Product design: What product qualities and features are lacking in competitors’ products that customers have a need for?

 

Example #3: How would you decide which customer segment to target for [product X]?

 

How to answer: For this question, you’ll first need to understand what are the different customer segments and the characteristics of each customer segment that make them different from one another. You’ll also need to better understand the product to see which customer segment the product fits best with. Finally, you’ll likely need to calculate expected profitability of targeting each customer segment to see which is most attractive.

 

Therefore, your framework could look like the following:
 

  • Customer segment attractiveness: What are the different customer segments? What are the characteristics or behaviors of each segment? What are their needs or preferences?

 

  • Product qualities: What are the characteristics of the product? What pain points or problems does the product solve for?

 

  • Profitability: What are the expected revenues of targeting each customer segment? What are the expected costs? What are the expected profits?


More marketing case interview examples and practice


For more practice, check out our article on 23 MBA consulting casebooks with 700+ free practice cases.


In addition to marketing case interviews, we also have additional step-by-step guides to: profitability case interviews, market entry case interviews, growth strategy case interviews, M&A case interviews, pricing case interviews, and operations case interviews.

 

Recommended Marketing Case Interview Resources

 

Here are the resources we recommend to learn the most robust, effective case interview strategies in the least time-consuming way:

 

  • Comprehensive Case Interview Course (our #1 recommendation): The only resource you need. Whether you have no business background, rusty math skills, or are short on time, this step-by-step course will transform you into a top 1% caser that lands multiple consulting offers.

 

  • Hacking the Case Interview Book (available on Amazon): Perfect for beginners that are short on time. Transform yourself from a stressed-out case interview newbie to a confident intermediate in under a week. Some readers finish this book in a day and can already tackle tough cases.

 

  • The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook (available on Amazon): Perfect for intermediates struggling with frameworks, case math, or generating business insights. No need to find a case partner – these drills, practice problems, and full-length cases can all be done by yourself.



  • Behavioral & Fit Interview Course: Be prepared for 98% of behavioral and fit questions in just a few hours. We'll teach you exactly how to draft answers that will impress your interviewer