[Case by case #1] Marie-Catherine Mars: communication strategies for responsible products
In this new series, a teacher presents a recent case study. A popular format with students and companies alike, it combines teaching, analysis and concrete deliverables. Marie-Catherine Mars, Associate Professor at EDHEC, former marketing professional and author of numerous award-winning cases and reference books, presents her latest case (1) on a responsible brand, SEVENTYONE PERCENT (2), which won the 2022 prize for 'best French-language case study' at the North American Case Research Association Conference (NACRA) (3).
In your subject - marketing - what are the (educational) virtues of case studies?
They are numerous, and concern the students, teachers and professionals involved. This is due to the very construction of a case study such as this one. The students read an initial version prepared by the teacher, then meet one or more people from the company being analysed; they then work in groups on the question posed and present their recommendations to the teachers and professionals. The latter find food for thought, or even action; the students 'live' a situation close to those that await them in companies, since they have to use figures, press cuttings or testimonials and existing actions to argue in favour of a particular choice; as for us, we densify our work and refine the teaching approach, then publish our case study on a dedicated platform, which can then be used by teachers all over the world.
Your most recent case (1) concerns the SEVENTYONE PERCENT brand (2): could you tell us more?
This brand, and the associated study, can be labelled 'CSR', since it involves analysing and then determining the current and desirable communication strategy aimed at promoting their brand and their responsible cosmetic products. The case is organised into several parts, a real methodology for our marketing apprentices: a presentation of 'clean beauty', the figures and customers in this market; the strategies and challenges of so-called responsible communication; a more specific analysis of the brand studied and its marketing strategy, with a focus on its communication approach.
In the still buoyant but overcrowded segment of responsible products, the students dissect 'niche' brands and those with a higher profile, learn how to read labels better, delve into the jungle of labels, take a critical look at the communication methods and campaigns used by these brands, and so on. They tell me they are delighted to spend time on these issues from a CSR angle, and put a lot of energy into their analyses and final recommendations. What's more, the company has recently changed its positioning, and some of its communication decisions are very close to the ideas defended by the students!
How do you combine the expertise associated with your initial career in fashion and advertising with your career as a teacher?
It seems to me that these two areas complement each other very well! From the business world, I have retained a concern for efficiency, for directing my analyses towards a concrete goal, and a knowledge of the main skills required to be a recognised marketing professional. I try to combine this with the training and transmission of knowledge to my students at EDHEC and its 'learning by doing' culture. Marketing is a subject (a profession!) that is constantly changing, and is in some ways at the heart of the oppositions of our time - selling versus reusing, communicating versus acting, innovating versus slowing down... These dynamics, in conjunction with the new generations who are very involved, motivate me on a daily basis.
(1) « SEVENTYONE PERCENT : quelle stratégie de communication pour une marque de cosmétiques responsable et lifestyle ? ». Marie Catherine Mars et Victor Mejia. CCMP 2023, K0019
(2) Brand created in 2009 by two EDHEC International BBA alumni (2005), Raphaël Vannier and Marc Lévy - https://www.seventyone-percent.com/