Students sell kale chips in on-campus marketing competition

Carli Baker/Staff
Yanick Aymon, an International student from Switzerland holds the product Natchos" a cheese flavored kale chip which he is marketing for a class.

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Four groups of students from the UC Berkeley Extension’s marketing class will be challenged to convince potential consumers to buy the group’s assigned flavor of kale chips from the campus bookstore Thursday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The groups are creating an advertisement and developing their own strategy for attracting and persuading passers-by to sample and then purchase the kale chips — baked and flavored pieces of the leafy vegetable — that were developed in the Bay Area, said Suzanne Torres, course instructor and a marketing director for various financial institutions. All profits will go to the bookstore, Torres said.

Torres wanted her class, which consists of 17 international students, to apply the theories they are learning in class to a real-life marketing experience that simulates competing against other firms and working in a dynamic and professional environment.

Haas School of Business offers similar experiences to its students with case competitions and entrepreneur startups, said professor J. Miguel Villas-Boas, chair of the Marketing Group at Haas.

None of the students had heard of or tried kale chips prior to the introduction of the competition last week. However, kale snacks are an up-and-coming industry, especially for people who maintain vegan or raw diets, according to Torres.

“I thought it is an innovative new snack … it will actually nourish you instead of give you a sugar rush like candy,” Torres said. “I thought Berkeley students especially would be open to this.”

The leaders of the four groups decided on different marketing techniques to attract consumers, including appealing to a range of social connections, occupations, physical appearance and, of course, taste.

Gaby Lui, a 2012 media studies graduate and Hong Kong native, is planning on using the power of social media and the connections she already has on campus to bring people to her group’s table.

“We are targeting students who are really concerned about their body,” Lui said. “Our marketing plan is to invite people to take photos holding the chips at our table and to promote our campaign through social media and friends.”

One of the major barriers to purchasing kale chips is the unattractive labeling, said Yanick Aymon, an international student from Switzerland.

“We are having a label-design contest,” Aymon said. “We are trying to get the word out to artists and designers in the city, at Berkeley City College and on campus and will be handing out prizes.”

This will distinguish Aymon’s group from the other groups and allow it to draw in a cross-section of people not only on campus but from all over the city, Aymon said.

Regardless of marketing tactics, passers-by can look for catchy slogans and free samples on Thursday.

Contact Aliyah Mohammed at [email protected].