LSU Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Students Take Top Honors in National Grocers Association Competition
BATON ROUGE – A group of undergraduate students from the LSU College of Agriculture’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness recently took first-place honors in a case study competition held by the National Grocers Association, or NGA.
The competition took place during the organization’s annual convention, held Feb. 12-15 in Las Vegas.
Members of the LSU team include students Kaitlyn Dunn, Alexander Guinn, Cassandra Rideau, Gregory Shaw and Rawley Webber.
Wes Harrison, Warner L. Bruner Regents Professor of Agribusiness Marketing, served with Assistant Professor of Finance and Agribusiness Management Josh Detre as the students’ faculty advisors.
Harrison said the students’ assignment was to develop a social media marketing strategy for an independent, 10-store grocery operation, Harrison said.
“Our team was comprised of five undergraduate students from our agribusiness program,” he said. “They received the case study assignment in the fall of 2011 and developed an oral PowerPoint presentation. The presentation was made to food industry executives, and involved a preliminary round and a final round, judged by food industry executives.”
The LSU students finished first among seven other top food and agribusiness programs in the country, including Arizona State University, Illinois State University, University of Minnesota, Portland State University, Saint Joseph University, Sam Houston State University and Western Michigan University.
“Our team put in a huge amount of time preparing for this competition,” Harrison said. “The students worked very hard and deserve much of the credit for this achievement. I’m very proud of these young people and the recognition they bring to our academic programs in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, and LSU.”
“Our students competed against some of the best and brightest undergraduate students from across the country, and to come away as champs is a testament to both their hard work and to the quality education they are receiving in in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness,” Detre said.
The team was recognized for its achievement at the 2012 NGA Chairman's Dinner and Gala. They also presented their analysis at the following NGA general session, “How to Capitalize on the Digital Coupon Revolution: From Print at Home to Mobile,” with the director of shopper and integrated marketing for Kraft Foods, Inc.
“After all the research and presenting I almost feel like an expert in implementing mobile couponing,” said Rideau. “We met so many companies and people, and I absolutely love their support throughout the process.”
“It was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about the industry,” Webber said. “I thoroughly enjoyed networking with not only my peers, but also with industry executives. Preparation was lengthy, but in the end, it was worth it. A lot of time went into making sure we knew what we were going to present. We wanted to go into the competition and be competitive. We wanted to represent not only LSU, but the College of Agriculture extremely well.”
Dunn said she felt the NGA convention was “a great opportunity to meet leading businesses in the industry.”
“It was also a great place to network with fellow students and also gain insight about independent grocers,” she said, “Preparing for the case study was a lot of hard work and required a significant amount of collaboration; the end result however was a strong and stable stance on how our independent grocers can implement this new technology.”
Harrison said that the team received a wealth of support in its efforts from the Associated Grocers, or AG, of Baton Rouge.
“We are very fortunate and thankful for AG of Baton Rouge’s assistance and support of our team,” he said. “AG has invited our team to present the award winning presentation to its entire marketing staff. Through the leadership of its president, Jay Campbell, who is an LSU alumnus, AG of Baton Rouge has been a strong supporter of all our food and agribusiness programs for many years. We would also like to recognize the support of another LSU alumnus, Don Welge, who is president of Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation.”
The LSU Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness is nationally and internationally known for teaching, research, service programs and providing outstanding undergraduate and graduate degrees. The department conducts research in areas including food, agriculture, natural resources and the environment, community development, international trade and transportation and agribusiness. LSU agricultural economists develop programs to deliver information on farm financial management, market and policy. The school’s faculty also teaches the use of economic principles in making business decisions.