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XU Undergrad Team "Soars" to Win in Target Sponsored Case Competition


Target sponsored a case competition for all Xavier students with a focus on sustainability.  The WCB’s strategic plan includes an objective of increasing experiential learning opportunities for our students and this competition fits into that strategic goal. 

The team of Jake Litmer (Environmental Science major), Robbie Kessler (MIS and History double major) and Desi Belew (Strategic Human Resource Management major) won the competition.  Their team mentor was Becky Luce, Associate Professor of Management & Entrepreneurship, who teaches courses on the topic of business sustainability. 

The winning team proposed a new brand for Target called “Soar” that would focus on sustainable products.  The brand name Soar was selected by the team because it conveys “possibilities and rising above and beyond.”  The Soar brand would be positioned as a sub-brand of Target’s current Up and Up brand, which is its high profit margin brand.

The team proposed that Soar be introduced with a line of compostable partyware that is associated with a well-known home goods designer such as Kate Spade, who has a line of dinnerware.  Most compostable dinnerware is unattractive and therefore not especially appealing for parties.  Currently, neither Target nor any of its competitors carry compostable dinnerware or partyware that is attractive, so by introducing this line, Target would be a first mover.  The team also reviewed the various customer profiles that Target could appeal to with this new line of products.

Other advantages of this proposal are that compostable partyware is an eye-catching and affordable way to introduce Target customers to sustainable products in general and composting in particular.  Products could include: plates, napkins, eating utensils, tablecloths, decorations, etc.  Promotion of this new product line could include a gift of a countertop compost tub with a minimum purchase of Soar products.  Target can also attract a new customer profile to its stores by offering a greater selection sustainable products.

 Once the Soar brand is established with compostable partyware, additional product categories could be introduced including items such as: bed and bath linens, curtains, etc. that are made with organically farmed cotton or bamboo, which is a sustainable fiber.  Eventually, the goal would be to develop a sufficiently broad product line for Soar that it could be showcased as a “store within a store” at Target, where customers know they can go for sustainable product choices.

The Target representatives judging the competition were sufficiently impressed with the team’s proposal that they plan to submit the idea to Target’s corporate offices for consideration to implement in Target stores.