Collaborative Marketing Case Studies for Horticulture

Article excerpt

Abstract

While common in business schools, the use of case studies are less common in horticulture curricula, especially for business-related topics. After graduation, most students will go to work in a business, but horticulture majors are often not as well prepared for business management as they are for the technical aspects of horticulture production. In the horticulture industry, collaboration among businesses without formation of a formal cooperative is atypical; thus, the collaboration of independent retail plant sellers in Western Michigan provided an excellent opportunity for the development of a horticultural marketing case study. Branding, especially among state industry groups, has become increasingly popular as a means to differentiate products and stimulate sales. Pricing products can also be challenging, and bundling products often purchased together may give a wholesaler a competitive and price advantage. Since case studies on non-cooperative collaboration, branding, and pricing were not available, three case studies were developed and are presented here for use in an upper-level horticulture course. Students enrolled in a senior-level elective course, Horticulture Marketing, have participated in these case study discussions since 2002. Suggestions for using this case study are also presented.

Introduction

In an effort to make higher education more relevant to the workplace, case-studies are one cooperative learning strategy used in the classroom (Brans ford et al., 2000). They are useful in bridging classroom theory and real-world practice in that they allow students to explore alternative solutions and risks, practice analytical techniques, work in teams, make presentations, write reports, and exercise good judgment (Brennan, 2009; Dexter and Tucker, 2009; Burge and Troy, 2006). Using case studies in the classroom also leads to improved learning and retention, enhances motivation to learn, provides a multidisciplinary systems perspective, and develops teamwork skills (Smith, 1999; Springer et al., 1999; Johnson et al, 2006).

While common in business schools, the use of case studies are less common in horticulture curricula, especially for business-related topics. Within the horticulture industry, collaboration outside formal cooperatives is unusual, thus the collaboration of independent retail plant sellers in Western Michigan provided an excellent opportunity for the development of a horticultural marketing case study. Plant branding has become more popular with an increase in the number of business, regional, and even national plant brands. Since existing case studies on these topics were not available, three case studies were developed from real-world observations and used in an upperlevel horticulture marketing course. The objective of this paper is to provide these case studies for faculty teaching upper-level horticulture or agriculture classes with a business marketing component to use (Appendices 1, 2 and 3), as well as to describe classroom management techniques for using them.

Case Study Objectives

Upon completion of the multiple case studies, the students should:

* Gain experience in solving a problem faced by a group of horticultural businesses.

* Be able to use their newly learned marketing concepts, terminology, and skills to analyze alternative actions for the businesses.

* Find additional pertinent information to help make a decision about the direction of the business.

* Articulate and defend their choice with marketing concepts and supplemental information.

* Be faced with real-world decision-making situations where choices with marketing activities and other resources need to be made, based on industry and market knowledge as well as marketing concepts.

Classroom Management

Implementing the Case Study. Students in the elective senior-level 3-credit horticulture marketing course are required to complete three case studies, which are presented here (Appendices 1, 2, and 3). …