Our class gathered outside of Bailey Greenhouse last week on a beautiful day. We all anxiously awaited who we would meet next. We were greeted by Laurie Thorp, the program director of the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE) at Michigan State University.
Thorp has helped Michigan State start its first student-run business with the Bailey Tea Project, which is under the Land Grant Goods umbrella of products. All of their products are eco-friendly and focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship. This is all a part of their brand image and is even reiterated on their Twitter page.
Thorp talked about how important this brand image was to her, the students who help run Land Grant Goods, and to the customers who are purchasing Bailey Tea. She specifically mentioned how millennials tend to have a stronger connection to the locally sourced, ethically made and environmentally conscious brand image that they have constructed so far.
This fits in very well with some of the readings we had this week, specifically the Basics of Branding piece by John Williams. That article stressed the importance of branding by saying that branding is your promise to your customers. It’s all about your company’s mission. I think Thorp and the students who have helped put together their line of products have done a really great job of figuring out what values they want attached to their brand and how they want to be known by their customers.
Thorp mentioned that they didn’t want everything to look commercial. From the packaging to the logo, they wanted a simple look because their product is a simple product, one that is made possible by using mother nature. This was another preference made by them because they believe that students who mainly buy the product best respond to that non-commercial look that you would find at a major grocery store.
This is all very smart branding and marketing by them. Early on their products were available only on campus, so it had been mainly students and alumni who were purchasing the tea bags. These are people who are well aware of what they are purchasing, what they are putting into their bodies, and who they are supporting. Not only are they supporting fellow Spartans but they are also helping support planet earth by supporting Land Grant Goods.
But now they are beginning to expand, the demand has grown at such a rate that they had to expand all of the operations of their student run business. As they continue to do so they are reaching new horizons and have new opportunities for their products, namely expanding to more locations and bigger locations. But one thing is for sure, they will continue to bring new products that are eco-friendly and are committed to sustainability.