The namesake confections sold at Dozen Cupcakes are organic, sustainable, locally produced, and — by all accounts — over-the-top delicious.
But putting out an exceptional product is only one facet of running a small business, as Tepper undergrad business students learned first hand when tackling the Dozen Cupcakes expansion plan in a case competition coordinated by the Tepper School’s Undergraduate Marketing Club.
Student teams were asked to devise a marketing plan that would reconcile the identity and strategic assets of Dozen Cupcakes. The assignment featured a marketing recommendation for integrating the company’s original Pittsburgh bakery into an expansion plan for a new café and expanded menu offerings.
“Teams tried to form a uniform brand identity for two locations,” explains Puja Katariwala (BSBA 08), president of the undergraduate marketing club.
The winning team, which included engineering student Jordan Devries and Tepper undergraduates Vrushali Paunikar and Sean Weinstock, suggested combining the cupcake and bakery brands to create an overarching “Dozen Experience.”
They proposed a platform highlighting both tactical, financial and strategic shifts: integrating the company’s separate Web sites for a stronger, singular online presence, enhancing visibility for the Dozen Cupcakes catering service as an extension of the well-known bakery business unit, and wrapping the company’s marketing programming within the tag line: “Tastes delicious — Dozen it!”
The competition represented the first time the student organization has reached out to partner with an off-campus business to provide the case. (Last year’s competition focused on campus dining services.) Judges included Dozen Cupcakes’ general manager and a company supervisor as well as local marketing professionals and Tepper School faculty.
“Students get exposure to solving a real-life business problem. This is a case that does reflect an actual problem that [a company] is going through,” said Katariwala.
Of course, there is the added bonus of working with a company that produces delicious treats, 100 of which were donated for sampling during the student presentations. All teams received gift certificates, and the winners will be featured on the company’s Web site.
“It’s fun, it’s engaging. [The company is] widely known on campus. It was easy to get students interested in this case competition,” Katariwala says.
Michelle Horton, Dozen Cupcakes general manager, particularly liked the students’ ideas for redesigning Dozen’s marketing collateral to prompt a call to action instead of merely relying on passive branding. She plans to incorporate some of the ideas into the company’s real-life business plan.
“They had really cool suggestions,” she says, adding that she hadn’t expected, for example, that student research would show customers were interested in the nutritional content of the cupcakes.
Student teams spent two weeks analyzing the case and researching their solutions, then offered 20-minute presentations with 10 minutes of questions and answers from the judges.
For participants, “the main incentive is the experience and the exposure to this type of real-world solution, presenting to a panel of people who work in marketing every day,” says Raunaq Palejwala, the club’s co-vice president of programs. “It does take a lot of initiative and a lot of work, but I think it’s well worth it for the type of opportunity that we’re able to offer.”