I remember reading about the Kilts Center’s Marketing Case Competition when I was just an applicant last year. As a consultant interested in making a career switch to marketing, the competition seemed like an incredible opportunity to gain hands-on experience in what a marketer does, and I knew that I wanted to participate. As soon as the time came around this fall, I signed up with three of my first-year classmates. We formed a diverse team with backgrounds in finance, innovation, and consulting, united in our genuine excitement for marketing and an eagerness to learn. I firmly believe it’s this shared enthusiasm that helped our team take home first prize amongst a talented pool of competitors.
Our task for the competition was to create a short- and long-term marketing strategy for our sponsor, Tyson’s, new brand, Pact, that would take into consideration the challenging environment presented by COVID-19. Pact is a snack bite that capitalizes on growing consumer interest in functional foods, a category that provides targeted nutrition using beneficial ingredients that you would typically find in a supplement. In Pact’s case these nutrients include probiotics, collagen, and omega-3s.
Pact might not be what you would immediately associate Tyson with today. Instead, you might know Tyson for their chicken tenders or Hillshire Farm deli meats, but their exciting Innovation Lab, which created Pact, is focused on generating protein innovations for the future. After we sampled all three varieties of Pact that the Tyson team generously sent our way, our team got to work.
While I would have loved to hear from the Tyson team and collaborate with my Booth teammates in person, working virtually is our new normal and has been a learning experience this year. From the get-go, we made sure that everything went as smoothly as possible by clearly aligning on what each teammate was going to be responsible for. We wanted to make sure that we were comprehensive, so we divided up the work, with each of us becoming an “expert” on one component of the marketing strategy. We also wanted to make sure that we clearly provided both short- and long-term strategies so that Pact could accelerate growth during the pandemic but also take advantage of returning opportunities in a post-COVID future.
Over the course of one week, we built a story around which distribution channels Pact should play in and what tactics they could use to win traction in an increasingly competitive market. We used data that Tyson provided to generate some thoughts on locations for launch, and we beefed up our analyses with external data wherever possible, such as leveraging US Census data. We pored over trends data available to Booth students, such as Mintel, and performed a competitive analysis to better understand the landscape of functional foods and competitors’ positioning. Finally, we brainstormed ways to increase product awareness and encourage sampling. Every recommendation from distribution channels to buzzy brand activations took COVID-19 into account, enabling Tyson to get Pact into consumers’ hands without endangering people’s well-being and by leveraging new opportunities created by COVID-19, such as grocery delivery.
After doing this case competition and getting feedback from the Kilts Center and Tyson teams, I feel more confident in my abilities as a marketer. Tyson pulled together a fantastic learning experience that allowed us to touch a cross-section of what a marketer does, helping us synthesize and implement learnings from our classes. We practiced harnessing data to make decisions, thought creatively in a constantly shifting world, and created compelling stories to effectively communicate with others. I’m excited to apply this experience to my future coursework and to my post-Booth career.