“The main task in the game, as it is in life, is to find a balance between sales and profits”: how students manage brands in the MixPRO and BrandPRO simulations
Advertising & PR students who specialize in Marketing apply their knowledge by solving real problems in game simulations. This is how it happens.
MixPRO and BrandPRO: what they are
These are simulation games from the developer StratX. MixPRO helps you put the marketing mix concept (also called the "Four P's") into practice, while BrandPRO helps you build a strong brand.
Marketing mix is a set of marketing instruments, through which the company aims to influence the demand for the goods it produces. Marketing mix includes four components: product, price, place and promotion.
MixPRO and BrandPRO are used in universities, leading business schools, and private companies. In Russia these games are used exclusively in the Advertising and Public Relations program at the Higher School of Economics.
Oleg Karasev, the head of the ‘Marketing’ track, says that the games are built on the same principle and similar scenarios, but the second game, BrandPRO, is much more complicated.
“In BrandPRO, participants have to choose their own target consumer segments from those existing in the market. They can determine brand positioning and use perception maps. At the same time, there are more aggressive competitors in BrandPRO, and your brands' products have more various characteristics, so it is harder to manage them.”- Oleg Karasev
In the second semester of their third year, ‘Marketing’ track students play two simulation games. Players are divided into groups of 3-4 people and play independently of the other teams. Each team runs a fictional company that produces gadgets. The company combines two brands: one produces a simplified and relatively cheap product, while the other creates more functional and more expensive goods. In the first game, MixPRO, students are given information about the target audience of each brand; in the second, they define the audience themselves. The teams manage the brands of "their" companies and try to reach higher positions in the market. The plot of the game is divided into five years, and each ‘year’ - stage of the game - players receive data illustrating how effective their actions were in the past.
“We worked in groups and discussed everything vigorously, and sometimes, to be honest, it seemed that we did not understand anything, because theory was theory. In theory, we learned what the indicators were and what to look for. But in practice it's hard to keep everything in focus and work with real data.” - Elizaveta Fidler
Elizaveta also stated that, thanks to their teacher, Oleg Karasev, greater understanding of the game came with each ‘year’.
The benefits of playing the game
According to Oleg Karasev, the simulation game gives students the understanding that the final result of the brand manager’s actions is the financial result, with advertising campaigns or the launch of new products being the means to achieve it. "The game also teaches how to set your priorities and focus on them, sacrificing something less important for the cause, because, as in life, there are never enough resources for everything," he notes.
The game gives students applied skills: it teaches them to make decisions based on analysis of market data-consumers and competitors, as well as internal data of the players’ companies. Among other things, students work with financial data - P&L (profit and loss) statements of the company and brands.
According to Ekaterina Markova, a student of the group BRO1805, the game provides an understanding of the business approach, allows "to feel like a marketing director and make decisions about which brand is worth investing more.”
“When playing the game, you feel the risk you're taking, because you can't undo what you're doing. You have to analyze many factors simultaneously: product margins, target audience dynamics, competitors. Just like in real-life business.” - Ekaterina Markova.
The results of the game
“All students were active and deeply involved. However, not everyone found the game easy, and this resulted in a very wide range of final scores. The leaders performed very well, with two teams in the top 10% and one team in the top 5% of the world.” - Oleg Karasev
"Games are very similar to the work of a real-life marketing manager, and that explains their difficulty," says Oleg Karasev. - For example, you have to take into account consumers' desires for good products at a price they can afford, but at the same time you have to generate profits for the business. You can bring a great product to the market with a low price, in which case your sales will soar, but the profitability and the value of the company's shares is likely to fall. So, the main task in the game, as it is in life, is to find a balance between sales and profits.”
Article written by Anna Zamaraeva, a 4th year student in the Advertising and Public Relations program.