The founders of the Maastricht-based craft beer shop The Hoppy Brothers understand that students know beer. To help achieve their mission to “bring together beer lovers like you with the world’s best craft beers,” the company recently reached out to Maastricht University (UM) School of Business and Economics (SBE) students for some input. The students looked into the marketing opportunities of the local company in a Marketing Management course and learned what it takes to master the art of marketing.
Brothers who love craft beer
In May of 2015, the founders of the Hoppy Brothers–two brothers from Belgium–opened their first shop on the Sint Pieterstraat in Maastricht. “Both living abroad, my brother and I wanted to do something with our Belgian roots, so opening a beer shop seemed a logical choice,” says Giles Gryseels, co-founder of the company. “Nowadays, there are so many little breweries that make good craft beers, that it’s not that easy for end consumers to see the forest for the trees,” explains Giles. “We offer a nice selection of craft beers from all over the world and inform customers about everything they want to know about them.”
The company (which also operates under the name Craft Beer Ventures) was happy to be one of five companies (along with Aldi, Coffeelovers, Trivago and Vodafone) to present a real-world question for a group of SBE students to solve.
The participating students were enroled in a Marketing Management course. Its coordinator, Elizabeth Aquirre Lopez, explains how it worked: “Each company shared its problem statement and presented a case, so students got the chance to ask questions. Twelve tutors guided the teams, followed the development on the real-life cases and graded their reports. Based on that, the tutors decided which three teams would get the chance to actually present their ideas to the company their case was based on.”
This year, according to Aquirre Lopez, there were 37 tutorial groups. Within each, teams of two or three students were formed and each team was allocated to a specific company. In this way, there were 37 teams, so roughly 100 students, working on the Hoppy Brothers case.
“The Hoppy Brothers wanted to know why people generally shop in specialty shops,” Aquirre Lopez says. “Some students worked with this broader subject, and others focused more on the product: beer. The teams that got invited to present their ideas to the company also played around first with the case of specialty shops in general, but in the end focused mainly on beer. In this way these teams provided practical advice on the marketing activities of The Hoppy Brothers.”
“Presenting their advice to the company is kind of a reward to well-performing students,” she says. “The teams that got this chance did well on the methodology part, but gave interesting advice as well. Translating the research results into implementable insights we valued high in our decision. Especially the bigger companies send their HR-managers, so it’s a perfect event for networking. Companies realize they need to recruit good employees early, so although the students still need to study for at least a year, it could help them in their later careers.”
Happy Hoppy Brothers
The Hoppy Brothers had two teams that eventually made it into the finals. Both teams had similar outcomes. According to Gryseels, they delivered “good conclusions and advice that’s implementable.”
What Gryseels especially liked was the fresh look the students took. “There are no boundaries; they just do research.”
Also of value for The Hoppy Brothers are the reports from the participating teams that did not make it into the finals. “A minor report based on university judgment, might give us interesting points of view anyway.” Because of the positive experience, The Hoppy Brothers will keep on working with students in the future. There is only one final question from Giles: “Are there some students willing to help with the implementation of the given results?”
About the Marketing Management course
Course coordinator Elizabeth Aquirre Lopez explains: “The students in the Marketing Management course need to work on a research project to build their research skills. This project could be based on fictional cases, but we like to work with actual companies. UM maintains contact with a lot of companies. I got a list of the companies willing to participate in the course and selected five of them based on what I thought students would be interested in. I looked for companies that students know from their daily lives. In this way, I believe, it’s easier for them to relate to the cases and more fun to collect the data needed for the research. The Hoppy Brothers was one of the companies I preferred. UM approached them with the course information, and they liked the idea of participating. Together, we worked on a case that would be useful for both the company and the students.