Student Team Rounds Out a Decade of Agricultural Marketing Excellence

posted on September 8, 2005 12:48pm

Contact:  Laura Probyn

EAST LANSING, Mich.—Michigan State University (MSU) students don’t have to know how to slam dunk to make it to the “final four” of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) Student Marketing Competition, but they need the same teamwork as a basketball team to have made it that far six times in the past decade.

During the past 10 years, the Spartan Agri-Marketers, who are gearing up for another year, have been successful in developing and presenting a number of products that could enter the marketplace. The club made it to the final four round in 1995, when they placed second; in 1997, fourth; in 1998, second; in 2000, first; and in 2003, fourth.

“NAMA is a great opportunity for students to meet and interact with professionals in agrimarketing and agribusiness,” says Laura Cheney, agribusiness management program director and associate professor of agricultural economics. “Activities throughout the year include guest speakers, research and development of a professional marketing plan, and lots of social activities and opportunities to interact with fellow club members and professionals.”

This year the MSU club traveled to Phoenix, Ariz., in April to compete against 30 other student NAMA chapters and left with a strong second-place finish.

“I think having a balance of students with a variety of agricultural majors has given MSU teams an edge over strictly agribusiness teams, which is where many of the teams have originated from,” says club adviser Luke Reese, associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering.

This year’s club marketed a product that team members named JackPot, an all natural, 100 percent Michigan tart cherry juice that prevents inflammation of joints in NCAA athletes participating in cross-country and track.

Through their extensive marketing research, students found that about 70 percent of runners will suffer injuries during their training and competition. From research being conducted at MSU, students also learned that tart cherry juice contains anthocyanins, bioflavonoids and antioxidants that prevent inflammation and relieve pain.

Reese says he believes the MSU team has been consistently successful because its members know how to select an interesting product and conduct good product and market research. He also agrees that having a diversity of agriculture students helps.

“Having a good mixture and balance of agriculture and natural resources communications, crop and soil sciences, animal science, agriscience and agribusiness students helps to create a solid product and marketing strategy,” he says. “However, the winning edge includes a well-written executive summary and a well-polished presentation delivery. Teams must deliver the goods and convince the judges of their plan’s potential in a believable fashion. Solid research, business, marketing and communication skills are also a must.”

The top four marketing teams this year were: fourth place, University of Wisconsin-Madison; third place, Ohio State University; second place, Michigan State University; and first place, Purdue.

MSU team members attending the conference were: Jessica Geurink, agribusiness management freshman; Robert Haag, crop and soil sciences/agribusiness management senior; Jason Jaekel, Lyman Briggs sophomore; Maria Johnson, agribusiness management sophomore; Deidre Kieren, environmental studies senior; Mallory Koglin, agribusiness management senior; Ryan McBride, agriculture and natural resources communications junior; Jacob Riske, agribusiness management freshman; Jennifer Schmidt, agriculture and natural resources and communications senior; and Michael Sheridan, agriculture and natural resources communications sophomore.

Team members unable to attend the conference were: Ramzi Adjao, agribusiness management junior, and Latosha Blocker, food industry management junior.



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