The late, great Peter Drucker once said: ‘Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation’. As someone who has taught marketing at Westminster Business School for quite a few years, I’m glad to have Professor Drucker on my side. Of course business needs accountants, economists and strategists – but if a company doesn’t make stuff that people want to buy, you don’t have a business.
That’s the philosophy behind the teaching of marketing on the International Business and Management (IBM) MA. It’s also one of the reasons why we take students to Brussels to make chocolate in a Belgian chocolatier (in addition to being surrounded by as much chocolate as you can eat……). What better way for students to learn the difference between a ‘product’ (that you make in a factory), a ‘brand’ (that you make in your head) and an ‘experience’ (that make on your taste buds)?
Belgium is the home of the ‘Praline’. It was invented by a Belgian in 1923 and since then the country has made an awful lot of them because the whole world loves chocolate. So from a marketing perspective, how do brands differentiate themselves from the many competitors in a mature and saturated market?
This is the starting point of the ‘marketing’ group assignment for students on the IBM MA. Their task was to identify a market opportunity for a new confectionery product and develop a brand, a value proposition and an overseas market entry strategy for their specially created chocolate bar. The difference is that students get to make their product at Brussels chocolatier ‘Concept Chocolate’, and create a ‘brand’ by applying marketing theory.
During the three hour workshop on Tuesday 3rd November, the students demonstrated real creative and entrepreneurial flair. One group of students from Thailand, Laos and Viet Nam came up with a ‘Sushi Chocolate’ idea – that tasted great and had the Belgian chocolatiers nodding their heads in approval. Another group from Brazil, France and Germany developed a chocolate rainforest-themed energy bar that the chocolate experts believed had genuine commercial potential.
With the production over, the next stage was for the groups to make presentations explaining their STP (segmentation, targeting and positioning) strategy and display examples of their ‘branded’ products. A total of 14 groups presented on the final day – that also included a guided tour of the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven during the four day field trip.
The presentations were excellent – and proved that the students had risen to the challenge and produce d some ideas (and chocolate…) of genuine quality. When the last of the groups had completed their presentation, it was time to check out of the hotel and head back to London on the evening Eurostar. It was a very satisfying way to end an excellent field trip.
This blog was written by Course Leader of the International Business and Management MA, Richard West. If you would like to find out more about his course, please visit our website, or come along to one of our Postgraduate Open Days.
You can also find all of the photos of the study trip to Brussels in our Facebook album.