One of the best things about Cranfield University is its focus on practical application of the theories we learn in lectures. We, the Strategic Marketing MSc students, recently experienced the essence of that during our marketing consultancy project. This is a simulation of real-life management/marketing consultancy activities with an actual company and an actual challenge they are currently facing. Personally, it was one of the most intense and intellectually challenging weeks of my life! After seven consecutive days of 16 hours work and four/five hours sleep, going through tons of data and reports on topics I never even heard of before, and countless arguments and heated moments with teammates, we eventually emerged from the gauntlet as wiser and better marketers.

This year’s client for the consultancy project was Adnams Southwold, a brewery based in East Anglia. The objectives were twofold: to identify new target segments for Adnams and also to recommend strategies for Adnams to become a significant market player outside of East Anglia. We were given the briefing on a Thursday and the presentation to the client was on Friday of next week. In this short time of one week, we had to analyse the beer industry of UK in order to understand the market and customer insights, then research on the company to figure out its strengths and weaknesses, and finally recommend our proposals to achieve the objectives outlined in the brief. Just like real life business situations, we didn’t have all the information we needed. However the real challenge lay in working with the limited information and limited timeframe to come up with proposals which were innovative and feasible at the same time. In line with the focus of the entire master’s degree, these proposals were also expected to be strategic with consideration of the challenges facing the company and the industry as a whole. A big importance was put on feasibility since marketers are often (rightly) criticized for having big ideas without actually considering the financial implications. Hence we had to work out a return on investment of our proposals with detailed calculations and justified assumptions.

The presentations were judged by Emma Hibbert, the marketing director of Adnams, along with Dr. Radu Dimitriu and Dr. Benedetta Crisafulli, the director and deputy director of the Cranfield Strategic Marketing programme respectively. Eight learning teams presented their ideas in the day-long session, which ended with feedback from the judges and a get-together session with all the students in the SOM forum area. Emma praised the presentations earnestly saying that she would definitely take some of the ideas back to her team for further development and implementation. She also appreciated the effort put in by the students to research and understand UK beer industry and Adnams, noting that the cohort is mostly international in nature. Radu and Benedetta lauded the blend of theoretical frameworks and innovative ideas in most of the presentations. Team three, the winning team, was cheered by everyone and presented with some gifts from Adnams as well as certificates from the School of Management. Emma was also kind enough to bring some of their products for the whole class to enjoy in the party to be held later in the evening.

Before coming to UK for my Master’s, I had the choice between the business schools of Manchester, Warwick and Cranfield. Eventually I decided to come to Cranfield, specifically for this consultancy project, which I believed would be an amazing learning experience. Now after finishing the project, I can surely say that I made the right decision.

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