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The WBS Merchandise Brand Store: A Case of Missing Exclusivity*

CASE STUDY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & STARTUPS
ET Cases - FLAME, 11 pages

Case Preview

The WBS Merchandise Brand Store: A Case Of Missing Exclusivity

 

WBS (WISE Business School) merchandise was one of the four shops (Alumni Store, The Entre Store, Mr. Bhargava’s Initiative and The WBS Store) based on the same concept, of selling personalized merchandise, in WISE B-School. WBS Store was the result of an entrepreneurial initiative in 2002 at a very small level mentored by the B-School Professors, but in 2010, this successful initiative was established as an exclusive souvenir shop of WISE B-School and with time the functioning was outsourced and the profit was shared with the institute.

Until 2010, the WBS was functioning smoothly, until one of the contractual research staff member, Mr. Bhargava started selling products possessing the institute’s logo, the problem of having multiple payers offering the same product escalated in 2013. WBS was charged by one of the alumni of the institute as she came to know about more than one channel offering products in the institute. Many concerns were raised which led to an ugly spat on emails and personal confrontations. Later, the move from WBS backfired and they lost their exclusivity, as there was no action from management to protect their exclusivity, they had paid for. Multiple MDP programs of the institute were ordered to take material/products only from Alumni shop rather than WBS. Mr. Bhargava also took a feedback (Annexure I) from the business school community, which led to negative publicity of WBS and its owner. At the end of 2014, the shop was closed and was abandoned by the owner. Management didn’t take an action against Mr. Bhargava and it led to the owner abandoning the shop in between. The Merchandise business continued at WBS B-School but by another permanent staff member raising many questions to ponder upon unanswered areas, which again led to such drastic steps taken..................

Teaching Note Preview

The WBS Merchandise Brand Store: A Case Of Missing Exclusivity

 

Synopsis

Merchandise of B-Schools is popular among the students of respective B-Schools, they not only consider that as a brand but also as souvenirs for memory. The WBS Store was one of the established students’ initiatives for past 10 years in the B-school. It enjoyed exclusive rights of providing souvenirs and also produce merchandise for various programs, events and fests in the institute, at times it received some special orders too. Since last three years, the store was facing tough competition from other mushrooming initiatives by students and also from staff members of B-School, which was not completely legal, but the business was going on smoothly for WBS until the first month of 2014. Within a year, matters took a few bad turns and it turned out that in December 2014 the store announced its closing amidst of chaotic atmosphere. The entrepreneur who had purchased the rights left it midway due to personal and business reasons, but was it just that or other issues as well.

Expected Learning Outcomes

The case study focuses on the following learning outcomes:

  • • Need for exclusivity and the processes which could have been used to patent the Intellectual property by WBS Store
  • • Managing students initiatives to start entrepreneurship
  •  • Which target audience needs to be considered and the understanding of the operations which would be helpful for WBS mechandisers
  • • Implementation of appropriate rules, understanding the business model of WBS and initiatives taken by the students and staff members
  • • Understanding of the importance of networking in any business venture

 

Case Positioning and Setting

This case study is useful for the entreprenuers for whom intellectual property and the symbols that respresent the brand of a object/institution plays an important role. The case study will help educational insitutes understand and compare their business model with WBS, also help in understanding the issues that may turn up with Branding of Merchandise.

Assignment Questions

This case can be discussed in the class or in MDP’s by considering the following points:

  • I. Discussing about WBS store and its performance.
  • II. Mr. Bhargava’s initiatives and reason for his initiatives.
  • III. Reason behind the conflict
  • IV. .................

 

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Abstract


Merchandise of B-schools is popular among respective B-schools students. The merchandise is not only considered as a brand but also as souvenirs. The WBS (WISE Business School) merchandise shop was one of the established students' initiatives for past 10 years in the B-school. It enjoyed exclusive rights of providing souvenirs and also produce merchandise for various programs, events and fests in the institute, at times it received special orders too. Since last three years, the store experienced competition from other mushrooming customized products makers - initiatives taken by students and few staff members of the B-school, which were not legal completely though but the business was smooth for WBS until the beginning of 2014. Within a year, matters took a bad turn and in December 2014, the entrepreneur who had purchased the rights called it quits and the WBS merchandise store announced its closing, owing to chaotic atmosphere. The reasons for closing were many - lack of management, multiple players targeting a small segment and misunderstanding regarding consumer needs and demands, etc. The case study deals with the importance and need for exclusivity to promote entrepreneurial culture within B-schools for initiatives to grow. The case study also enables an insight into how lack of proper rules affects business and the brand credibility.



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand the necessity of exclusivity and the processes, which could have been used to patent the intellectual property by WBS merchandise shop
  • To identify target audience and the understanding of the operations
  • To implement appropriate rules, understand the business model of WBS and initiatives taken by the students and staff members
  • To understand the importance of networking in any business venture

Pedagogical Objectives

This case study is useful for the entrepreneurs for whom intellectual property and the symbols that represent the brand of a object/institution plays an important role. The case study will help educational institutes understand and compare their business model with WBS, also help in understanding the issues that may turn up with Branding of Merchandise.



* FLAME CASE CONFERENCE 2015


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