Berkeley MBA Team Wins Brand Management Challenge

By considering customers who influence as well as those who purchase, a Berkeley MBA team claimed victory in the Elite Eight Brand Management Case Competition from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6 at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

Alicia Chen, Anne-Elise Fettig, Jessica Huard, Vannie Shu, and Stephanie Tsai, all full-time MBA 2012 students, brought home $10,000 and the Haas School’s fourth victory in this competition since 2005. Participants in the invitation-only challenge are given 30 hours to prepare a structured case analysis and accompanying recommendations. Competing schools included Northwestern’s Kellogg, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton, and Duke University’s Fuqua.

The teams were asked to create brand preference for Eaton, a components manufacturer in the oil and gas industry.

“Our strategy was to divide the entire value chain into two types of customers—those that actually purchase and those that influence,” says Huard. “We then suggested several initiatives to help build awareness of the company’s brand, create an emotional link through corporate social responsibility, and become a thought partner through forums that help customers solve problems.”

Huard says that what likely made the team’s strategy a winner was opting for “big ideas and focusing on answering the question of how to create brand preferences—rather than going through a typical marketing framework that you might use in a consumer setting.”

To prepare, the team gathered materials from previous years and shared their own experiences. “We went in with a good understanding of each member’s strengths and how we could best divide up the roles,” says Fettig, who notes that the team entered without expectations and with a “students always” mindset. "In the end, we learned that it is important to go with an idea that you believe in rather than trying to guess what the company is looking for,” says Fettig.

Members of the Berkeley MBA team who took home first place in the Elite Eight Brand Management Case competition.