Monthly Archives: September 2013

M’m, M’m, K-Cup Soup!


Convenience rules our lives, and it also runs the grocery aisles. Roaming the grocery store shelves, we can find single-serve products, heat-and-go, microwavable, pre-packaged, instant, and a multitude of other easy-serve foods. Every shelf and aisle seems to be packed with new products competing to provide quick and easy foods.  Even the old standby, soup, has a variety of choice for preparing products – dry, condensed, single-serving, home style, organic, and a few more.

But can soup be reinvented yet again? Campbell and Keurig think so and the latest product from Campbell Soup fits nicely into this trend, a single-serve K-Cup that can produce a cup of soup at the touch of a button. Starting next year, Keurig and Campbell will market a K-Cup of soup in three flavors. Using a standard Keurig brewer, the busy professional on the go can quickly prepare a meal in a cup, without the mess.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start with a discussion of product life cycle. What types of products fit into each segment of the life cycle?
  2. Discuss the difficulties, and necessity, of taking a product from a mature stage and reinventing it for an earlier stage.
  3. Next, ask students to list all the different soups and packaging they can recall. What stage of the product life cycle are soups. Then, discuss the rise of the single-serve coffee makers.
  4. Show the Keurig Web site:
  5. Discuss the various products, along with the target markets for the products.
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team take a product that is in the mature phase and redesign it to prolong its life.



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Mindset List 2013


Different generations have radically different experiences and context for their lives. And, these experiences can have significant implications for marketing professionals. Example: do today’s college students know what ‘card punch’ equipment was? How about listening to music using vinyl ‘albums’ instead of digital files?

To help highlight and understand the differences between generations, every year since 1998, Beloit College (Wisconsin) has assembled a list of cultural items and topics that have shaped the lives of new college freshmen. Beloit’s Mindset List was originally created to help its faculty become aware of dated references that might confuse students (or make faculty seem like they are totally out of date).

For example, the class of 2017, born in 1995, is considered digital-natives who already know how to connect to each other. These students are enrolling in academic majors that lead to good-paying jobs and many of them will take a few courses taught at a remote university, by professors they will never meet. They use smart phones in class – sometimes to work on actual assignments and sometimes just to connect with each other socially! A few of their mindset list highlights include:

  • GM doesn’t mean the car company – it’s “Genetically Modified.”
  • Having a chat has seldom involved talking.
  • Gaga has never been baby talk.
  • They could always get rid of outdated toys on eBay.
  • They have only known two Presidents of the United States.
  • Spray paint has never legally been sold in Chicago.
  • With GPS, they never need directions to get someplace, just an address
  • Courts have always been ordering computer network wiretaps.

Check out Beloit’s list and see which of the list’s items might hold implications for companies in product innovation and marketing.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

1.      Review the Beloit Mindset list:      Divide students into groups. Have them list the most popular items in areas such as: movies, music, art, television, sports, etc.
3.      Then have the teams research what the leading products in these areas were 20 and 30 years ago.
4.      What are the implications for marketing products to the different generations? How do companies adapt products and marketing to reach across generations?
5.      How might a company take an older product (such as vinyl albums) and update it for relevance to today’s college student market?

Source:  Beloit College, various news sources, 9/2013


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Tweeting About Brands


Social media is an essential component of today’s integrated marketing campaigns. In fact, sometimes social media can run the entire tone of a campaign. Savvy brands realize that social media (such as Twitter and Facebook) are a great way to speak one-to-one with consumers, building rapport and gaining trust. Using a friendly tone on Twitter can help brands build attention and gain new followers – many of whom eventually become new customers.

While not all marketers are comfortable yet with the new media, some brands have fully embraced it. Remember this year’s Super Bowl power black-out? Oreo took advantage of the event to tweet news flashes (“You can still dunk in the dark”), and even incorporated it into their more mainstream advertising. Oreo and AMC Theaters also got into a fake fight when the cookie brand tweeted a question about whether people had ever brought their own Oreos to a movie theater!

Oreo isn’t alone in its social media efforts. Among some of the other tweeting brands are KFC and Cap’n Crunch – who bantered with each other when KFC tweeted that Cap’n Crunch was a “has been.” Cap’n Crunch was quick to reply that he had better things to do since he was currently “dealing with the @USNavy” and had no time for dealing with “boneless chickens.”

Follow a brand and see what you learn about how it reacts to social media interactions.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Have students find examples of similar brands and campaigns.
  2. Either individually or in teams, have students select a brand to follow on Twitter for one week (or longer).
  3. At the end of the time period, have each student/team report on how each brand utilized Twitter.
  4. What ads did they see following the brand? What were messages from company? From individual users?
  5. What recommendations do students have for utilizing Twitter effectively?

Source:  Ad Age Digital

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