SHU Marketing Students Planning ‘Tea Matters’ Week

News Story: January 17, 2013

There’s a movement afoot at Sacred Heart University to encourage more drinking on campus. Lest parents get alarmed, it should be noted that the drinking in question is of hot tea encouraged for its health benefits as well as its sociability.

Dr. Laurence M. Weinstein, a professor of Marketing in the John F. Welch College of Business, invited his students in Marketing Management 361 to explore ways to communicate the benefits of drinking tea – especially Bigelow Tea – to the SHU community. Members of his class this spring broke into groups of three or four students in a competition judged by their professor and by Cindi Bigelow, CEO of the Fairfield-based national tea company that bears her family’s name. The winning team would be able to apply as much as $5,000 to put their plans into place.

The class champions were Brian Flumere, of Milford, Massachusetts; William O’Brien, of Syracuse, New York; and Vinny Castelli, of Syosset, New York. Their “Tea Matters” expo will take place the week of April 27, from Monday to Friday, with the voluntary assistance of their classmates. The group plans to set up a tent on the Flik Patio to be staffed each day from noon till 3 – the most active hours in the University dining room. Students and others will be drawn in by music and the invitation to “Have a cup on us,” which the group judged would sound more appealing than simply saying “Free!”

Each day, a different Bigelow tea will be featured – from a Monday “pick me up” to a Friday springboard to the weekend, loaded with antioxidants. Give-aways will include “tea shirts” and “tea bags” – the latter being popular draw-string bags. With every cup sampled, the students will be entered into a raffle for tickets to area sporting events. This week-long tea party should come in under the allotted budget and is a potential model for similar events at other colleges in the region.

Cindi Bigelow, whose grandmother founded R.C. Bigelow Tea in 1945, was impressed with the wide variety of viable ideas the student teams created. During the class presentations, she responded to each set of proposals comparing students’ ideas with her own long experience marketing tea. Ms. Bigelow favored the “Tea Matters” concept since it would last a full week and generate a great deal of sampling. This, in turn, should increase brand awareness rather than simply drawing students in for a punch-line event and the awarding of a grand prize.

Among the many proposals floated were raffles, a freestanding tea station in the main dining room, and even a big “tea pong” party. Following approaches discussed in class and culled from Dr. Weinstein’s own professional experience in the field, the students used a number of tactics. They conducted surveys on campus, designed display units, and did store checks to determine what brands are dominant locally. Each of the teams pitched its ideas in class to Dr. Weinstein, Ms. Bigelow and their classmates. The selection of winners and the disbursal of the prize money came at the end of March.

Now that some of the hard work is over, it’s time to party – as in tea party.