Lakewood Brewing Company, an independent Texas craft brewery known for their “seriously fun beer,” has recently tapped into something new.
Partnering with Dr. Lou Pelton’s Applied Marketing Problems class of the UNT G. Brint Ryan College of Business, student teams were challenged with developing a new product brand concept and comprehensive marketing strategy for the company.
Expectations for Lakewood Brewing, a recent Grand Champion brand at the US Beer Tasting Championship, were high.
“Great brands have to be rooted in an insights-driven concept to connect with consumers. We made it clear that we would be heavily weighing the concept in the final presentations,” said Ryan Meigs, creative director for Lakewood.
The ultimate goal for the student teams was to create market awareness and brand ambassadors that would organically spread the word about their new product and Lakewood as a brand.
“Our initial impressions were that the students were very interested in the project. It seemed like half the class stayed after the presentation to ask questions. We were impressed with the depth of thinking and how quickly they jumped into research mode,” said Meigs. “We even hosted several students on a few occasions at the brewery for tours... They continued to ask thoughtful questions and were very engaged in the process.”
When it came time for the teams to reveal their final concepts, both Meigs and President and Founder Wim Bens were there to choose the winning idea.
“All of the presenters had great ideas and interesting thoughts, but we felt that “Team Peach” really took their concept [huckleberry wheat] and wove it throughout every facet of their presentation. It was clever, and we felt like something that our target audience would react to and work well,” explained Meigs.
Marco Hernandez, Gina Duronio, Katie Abshire, Natalie Christiansen and Bristal Buford were among the team that took home first place with their beer brand “No Huckin Way,” a huckleberry wheat beer.
“The opportunity for students to engage in real-world, real-time marketing improves their preparedness for careers and professional development,” said Professor Lou Pelton.
What first began as an innovative way to incorporate practical experiences into the classroom, has now transformed into a potential new brand for Lakewood to “put in the hopper.”
“The more [our leadership team] talked about the concept, the more it sounded like a good idea. I spoke with one of our brewers and we decided to do a pilot, which is a very small batch that we do when we test beers for market,” said Meigs.
Now, the members of “Team Peach” will be able to taste the very same product they conceptualized in the classroom; and if all goes well, store shelves may very well be full of “No Huckin Way,” too.