Posted 1 July
A new competition has proved to be just the tonic for a Harper Adams University student team whose branding skills have been hailed by industry leaders.
The four students and their team – Team Molded - have been named as the winners in the inaugural Harper Adams University Brand Challenge.
This competition was developed to test the entrepreneurial skills of Harper Adams students across a range of courses and saw each participating team working to build up a new brand of dry gin.
Their work was assessed through a computerised simulation designed to replicate real-world impact, and by the end of the competition the winning team, Team Molded, were able to encourage nearly 29,000 stockists to stock their spirit, Chuffin’ Gin - and achieved 78% consumer awareness of their brand.
Team Molded - made up of BSc (Hons) Food Technology and Product Development students Danielle Rhodes, Laura Bailey, Olivia Marshall and Megan Bowles - will now see their names as the first to be engraved on the challenge trophy, as well as each winning an individual prize – and the chance to build links and deepen their industry knowledge through a distillery visit.
The challenge was the first collaboration of its kind between the Harper Adams Students’ Union, the Harper Adams Enterprise team and an outside sponsor - with the first brand involved being Warner’s Gin, run by Harper Adams alumnus Tom Warner.
Their prizewinning work and overall strategy were praised by Tom, who said: “Dry Gin is 60 per cent of sales and is definitely more popular with older consumers - who these guys seem to have a strategy to cater for. They are not discounting younger consumers, but they recognise the grey pound has power.
“I thought theirs was a strong plan for marketing the product with a focus on experiential activities in the physical and digital space – which is great to see.”
The team – all of whom have just completed an industry placement year - are now looking forward to their upcoming visit. Their winning entry was drawn together virtually, with the team meeting up online to discuss their entry in the evenings – following a full day’s work at their respective placements across the UK.
Danielle, from Stoke on Trent, said: “It was amazing to have this opportunity and to secure this win - especially as we were doing this outside our working week. We would work a full day, nine to five, on placement - and then on this in the evening on Teams.”
And Laura, also from Stoke, added: “With being on placement, I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to show our full potential – so I was surprised when I heard – though it was a good surprise!
“The reason I wanted to enter was because I really wanted to go to the distillery – a distillery visit is one of the few visits which we have never tried in our time here.”
The group of friends retained more than £267,000 of profit at the close of their simulation – and drawing on their product development skills, even devised a gin-based traybake to drive interest and offer consumers new ways to try their spirit.
This interest in the development of new products is one of the features Olivia, from Leeds, is keen on extending when the team visit Warner’s distillery.
She added: “I am 100 per cent looking forward to it – I want to see how it all works! After all, we are all just a group of foodies at the end of the day.
“It has been great studying at Harper – it all started for me when I met someone at an apprentice fair employed at Cranswick Foods, and she went to Harper. It was the best food course I saw – it is a lot more down to earth here.”
And fellow prize-winner, Megan Bowles, from Leicestershire, added: “There weren’t food courses like this around me – I came to Harper and it just felt like home and I felt welcome immediately.
“This competition was great – when we did it, it was quite a stressful time for me, and I wondered if adding this on top was worth it – but it was so good - when I got the email, I was telling everyone in work we won!
“I am really looking forward to the visit – it will be great to have a look at how they make the gin. I see it in supermarkets now and go ‘ooh, that’s our gin!’”