Teams proposed growth strategies for a pet food brand

Day 3 marked the end of Brand Week, and the students’ biggest presentation yet. Teams received the challenge on Monday and had 48 hours to come up with their best ideas to present to a major corporate client, Mars Petcare.

The Client: Mars Petcare is the multi-billion dollar petcare unit of Mars, Inc. Headquartered in nearby Franklin, TN, Mars Petcare encapsulates popular brands like PEDIGREE®, IAMS™, SHEBA®, and TEMPTATIONS™ and operates several pet hospital chains. Students toured a Mars Petcare research facility on Monday to learn more about the business and its products.

The Project: Students were tasked with developing a growth strategy for one of Mars Petcare’s brands based on industry trends. The Mars Petcare team asked Owen students to recommend hypothetical growth strategies for the brand across the 4Ps of marketing, with an emphasis on place and promotion.

The Presentations: Teams proposed a variety of tactics, including maximizing e-commerce relationships with Amazon, and even moving into specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods. Promotional ideas included in-store displays, direct mail, digital coupons, and Facebook ads.

Mars representatives give feedback to the teams

The Winner: Team #2 set themselves apart by grounding their recommendations in data and consumer insights. They also advocated for strategic brand partnerships on Instagram with animal celebrity accounts, which have followings in the thousands and millions. Not forgetting e-commerce, they also suggested that the premium brand grow its existing relationship with Amazon by promoting the branded Dash buttons.

The Client Feedback: Mars Petcare representatives congratulated all the teams on their hard work, noting several aspects of each presentation that they liked. “You all definitely blew my year out of the water, so well done on that,” said Owen alum and Associate Brand Manager Beth Treadwell (MBA’17). Team #2 in particular earned praise for their thorough use of industry statistics.

The Student Feedback: Students think the relationships they formed will far outlast the projects they competed during BrandWeek, and they plan to turn to each other for advice in the future. “I was able to learn from these younger marketing students (the Masters of Marketing) and learn from my peers (MBAs) more efficient ways to make better content,” said April Hughes (MBA’19). “I haven’t had a lot of solid marketing friends before…I think that’s the best thing that came out of (BrandWeek).”

“As an MMark student, I’m learning a lot from the MBAs (at BrandWeek)…just getting tips from someone who is in the field for so long — you can’t get that experience anywhere else,” added Katie Pisarek (MMark’18). “Then to actually apply (that knowledge) to a project like Mars — and they’re probably going to implement some of the ideas we came up with for them — I think that’s invaluable experience.”