Innovative students honored at marketing competition

3/29/2007 7:00:00 AM

A team of students from the University took second place overall in the international division and first place for "Most Innovative Marketing Idea" during the recent Western Collegiate Food Marketing Competition in Anaheim, Calif.

The resource economics students from Nevada also took top-five finishes for "Best PowerPoint Presentation," and "Product Most Likely to Succeed" during the competition, which was held March 7.

The awards were received for a marketing plan for "Wise Fries," a potato snack product to be exported to China.  The product and plan was developed by students in an undergraduate course in the College of the Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR) during the 2006 fall semester.  The marketing team consisted of four students, including Reana Bye, a finance major from the College of Business, Sarah Nutting, a speech communication major from the College of Liberal Arts, Ty Smith, an agricultural education major from the College of Education and Jason Entsminger, an agriculture and applied economics major from CABNR. They were advised by Kynda Curtis, assistant professor of Resource Economics in CABNR and state specialist with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

"The idea for 'Wise Fries' was chosen for a few main factors," Enstminger said. "First, Chinese consumers are beginning to eat snack products more and more today. Second, there are only a few competitors in the Chinese marketplace, the largest being Pringles. Finally, we thought 'Wise Fries' is an idea that's unique, and trendy."

Entsminger said that teams had to identify a targeted market and complete an analysis of the importing country's marketplace, industry, business environment and distribution channels. In addition, the teams had to create a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis, as well as a proposal for a three-year budget and overall recommendations.

"In our case," he said, "our targeted market was children and young professionals. Teams could make their presentations under two scenarios, either as representatives of the company producing the product asking the Board of Directors' approval or as an outside marketing firm hired by a company to complete a plan and make recommendations. Our team chose the latter, and in fact was the only school at the competition to do so.

"For our proposal, 'Wise Fries' would be marketed in China using methods that are effective with Chinese consumers, including in-store displays, free samples and a new wave of techniques that play on social networks – unfortunately the buzz word used to describe these techniques is 'Viral Marketing.' It was important to understand what methods are effective in the Chinese marketplace, because they are very different than those that work here in the U.S."

As an example, Entsminger said that television advertisements do not work well in China due to the fact that the Chinese state requires no commercial interruptions during programs and that advertisements air at the end of a show.

"It was also important to understand that most foreign products that succeed in China use a domestic distributor that takes control of placement in stores and advertising once the product reaches China," he said.

Curtis said she was impressed with the group's work.

"They did an excellent job and competed very well against teams who spend over a year developing and perfecting their product and presentation," she said. Nevada made its presentation a reality over the course of a single semester.

The students competed against several major universities such as Cal Poly Pomona, Colorado State University, Arizona State University and Chico State University.

"The four of us serve together as Nevada Future Farmers of America (FFA) state officers," Entsminger said. "We were all used to presenting together. We had a blast getting a chance to work on this team together. We took what was already an innovative and unique marketing idea, and added the presentation to match it.
"I'm definitely proud of our work."


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