Evening MBA students at the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis will play a key role in the launch of a new restaurant concept by a local business looking to expand its brand beyond the ordinary.
For the past 20 years, Hubbard and Cravens Coffee and Tea company has built a strong brand name in Indianapolis as a quality coffee company—through its popular retail locations—and around the country as a wholesaler for countless hotels and restaurants. The company’s newest venture looks to break from that model and capture the growing business opportunities at the developing City Center project in Carmel.
“We decided to go with a completely different concept with the City Center project,” said Kristin Richards, the company’s marketing director. “This is going to have a totally different look and feel than anything we have now.”
In addition to its trademark coffee and tea, the unnamed Carmel location also will offer an extensive list of wines and local craft beers as well as a light sandwich menu prepared with local, high-quality products. The location will cater to the crowd at the Palladium concert venue, where approximately 325 shows are booked for 2012.
Because the project is such a departure for Hubbard and Cravens’ traditional approach, the company looked to marketing students at the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis for guidance.
The students will create a unique marketing and promotions plan for Hubbard and Cravens using data specific to potential customers in Carmel. This will include a complete marketing analysis and an integrated marketing communications plan. The challenge will be to leverage its strong brand but also establish its own identity as a desirable location for light snacks and drinks before or after an event.
“We’re trying to introduce an entirely new concept to a community that is familiar with us,” Richards said. The company is planning a grand opening in Spring 2012.
Student teams will present their findings and recommendations to company officials in December. They have been given budget and rollout timelines to incorporate in their plans as well.
“The exposure to complex brand-decision making and marketing analytics is where I anticipate seeing the greatest benefits. We should obtain valuable market research insights comparable to marketing professionals today,” said Alan Gray, an Evening MBA student. “I’m always amazed by the caliber of professional ventures the Kelley school is able to offer its students.”
The restaurant will boast one of only three La Marzocco Strada espresso machines in the country. It also will feature a Woodstone hearth oven and an extensive list of European wines. The space will be designed around Indiana landscapes and feature reclaimed barn wood, galvanized steel, and other local accents.
“A fundamental part of the mission of both IUPUI and the Kelley School is to support the local community, so we are absolutely thrilled to help a growing Indianapolis business with a major company initiative,” said Mark Mayer, a marketing professor at Kelley and instructor for the course.
Determining how to best brand and position the restaurant and identify a target market will create some significant challenges for the students. However, “it’s a great opportunity to step outside the classroom and apply what they’re learning to a situation with real consequences,” Mayer said.
Hubbard and Cravens currently is headquartered in a Broad Ripple facility capable of roasting 58,000 pounds of coffee each day. Its products are shipped around the country to various restaurants, hotels, and other private businesses. It also operates six local retail locations, which account for just 10 percent of overall business. It employs approximately 65 people.
The group of MBA students visited the roasting facility recently to get a firsthand look at the operation and learned how the company puts quality first in its business. The visit even included a coffee cupping exercise where students were taught how to distinguish coffees originating from different parts of the world.
Mayer also teaches an undergraduate marketing course. Those students are working on a similar project, with both groups intent on providing the company a diverse mixture of concepts and recommendations as they prepare for the launch.
“I love that Hubbard and Cravens has given students the opportunity to make an impact on this launch and their company. I’m looking forward to pitching our ideas to them,” said Jesse Kilgore, an undergraduate student.
Hubbard and Cravens faces some competition from other nearby locations serving similar fare, but Richards said the new concept would be unlike anything the local market has seen before. Still, the goal is to make the location a neighborhood hotspot, serving unique food and beverages with unmatched quality.