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April 29, 2002 -- News Brief

Discover Day: What are the limits of branding?

The Food & Brand Lab held a Branding Commodities Symposium in Chicago at the Illini Center in Chicago on April 19th. Enrollment was limited to directors, vice-presidents, and presidents of agribusiness firms. Attendees included presidents from ADM, Barclay Bank, and Miller Grain along with 24 industry experts from the USDA, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and the Chicago Board of Trade.

participants in Discovery Day.Over the past 12 months, nine graduate students (photo left with Professor Brian Wansink far right) working in the Food & Brand Lab -- all PhD or MBA students in the College of Commerce and Business Administration -- have become commodity branding experts for different commodities. Their insights were pooled into a series of "best theory and best practices" presentations that dealt with differentiating commodities, identity preservation in the production chain, sustainable competitive advantage, and the pricing, promoting, and distribution of branded commodities.

The day began with a coffee reception and a welcome by Brian Wansink, associate professor of marketing in the College of Commerce and Business Administration and director of the Food & Brand Lab. Twenty-minute long project presentations were followed by panel discussions. Cynthia Eisenhardt, vice-president of marketing from Dean Foods, was the luncheon speaker. Ms. Eisenhardt is responsible for launching the Milk Chug.

Details from the presentations will soon be available on This Branding Commodities Symposium is the 4th Annual Discovery Day for the Food & Brand Lab. Last year's Discovery Day focused on how World War II influenced the habits of consumers. Entitled "Surveying Private Ryan," that day attracted participants and audience members from as far away as Georgia and California.

Discovery Day is a program jointly sponsored by the Food & Brand Lab and the Food and Agribusiness Management Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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