Andrea Lopez: Branding her own story

While she has acquired education in business commerce, architecture and transportation engineering, Andrea Lopez has a newfound passion for marketing. More specifically, it’s the science of persuasion and influencing consumer behaviour that has her fascinated.

Understanding how the psychology of human decision-making and marketing coincide is now guiding her career path going forward. This after working since spring as a research assistant with the Business & Commercialization area of Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division, during her studies in the Honours Bachelor of Business Administration (International Commerce and Global Development) program.

“Marketing brings out my creative side. I definitely find it interesting seeing how people behave in their purchasing decisions.”

Lopez arrived at Niagara College with two diplomas from Mohawk College under her belt: Architectural Technician and Transportation Engineering Technology (she graduated both in 2012.)

At one point, she thought about becoming an architect because of a long-standing enchantment with historical buildings. “I’ve always loved architecture and buildings since I was young,” says the 32-year-old. “And because I also love history, I’ve always been interested in historic buildings.”

Finding it difficult to obtain a suitable job in her field, she made a choice to look more globally and enrolled in NC’s Business Administration program. Growing up in a Spanish-speaking home (her parents are from Central America), she also wanted to put her language skills to broader use.

“I really liked the fact that I could work anywhere around the world.”

In the meantime, and as she enters her fourth and final school year, Lopez is soaking in all the real-world experience she’s receiving in the R&I division: Working on projects with hard deadlines, interacting with industry partners and focusing on the fundamentals of marketing.

Her first applied research project when joining the division involved compiling extensive market research for Theo’s Eatery, an Italian and Greek-style casual dining restaurant in Orillia, Ontario. The family-owned restaurant was selling its popular house salad dressing to patrons, but looked to the experts at R&I to determine the viability of commercializing the product.

Lopez researched current consumer food trends, buying habits, social media activity, and conducted a competitive analysis. She and her team then identified potential consumer markets and researched distribution channels. She provided recommendations to the industry partner for promotional efforts and developed a sales kit for the restaurant.

“It was interesting because I had to come up with ideas for their branding story, as well as creative packaging,” says Lopez. “There was so much more back-end information that you’d never think of, and I had to learn all that first, in order to compile the information for the client.”

“Marketing brings out my creative side. I definitely find it interesting seeing how people behave in their purchasing decisions.”

She was also instrumental in developing market research for Ostrich Land Ontario, a Niagara-based company seeking to commercialize the sale of its ostrich oil in the beauty market. Through extensive research, Lopez helped identify the current market conditions of these industries and developed a list of wellness and skin trends. She also created promotional outreach ideas for the industry partner to use.

Lopez continues to work on varied marketing-related and consumer research projects for several companies as part of the Business & Commercialization team.

But it has been this deep dive into marketing and the psychology of buying habits that have her looking to take a more specialized approach to her business career. Once she graduates this spring, Lopez says she plans to look for a position in marketing in the Toronto area. She also has her sights set on obtaining a Master’s degree in Marketing, down the road.

“Being involved with Research & Innovation has opened up my mind to having a greater role in marketing.”

She also credits her experiences with R&I to improving a number of skills she says she needed to cultivate.

“I’ve been able to strengthen my writing and also I’m better at public speaking; I’m a little more relaxed now after interacting with the clients,” she says. “I have learned many new things and skills I obviously will use once I graduate.”

For now, and in her spare time, she unwinds at home in Hamilton by watching Netflix, working out and spending time with her dog, a terrier mix named Maya. She’s also adding to her bucket list of things she wants to accomplish and places she wants to travel; that love of architecture remains.

“I definitely want to visit Italy and the beautiful cathedrals and historic buildings there.”


To learn more about the work of the Business & Commercialization Solutions division, visit the web page.