Case Competition: Is It For You?

Sign reading, "February 23, 2019 - Room Reserved for XMC Case Competition"

By Monica Chen,

Oct. 12, 2020

In the Western Marketing Program, a marketing student is expected to build on their experiences and apply their knowledge in real-life scenarios. The Case Competition is one event that offers us the opportunity to demonstrate what we have learned to faculty and alumni. The Student Marketing Association annually hosts the event and invites the Department Chair, Dr. Love, to evaluate each participants’ performance. Although the event sounds intimidating, it is strongly encouraged that current marketing students participate because there are many benefits that the event provides. For marketing students who are unfamiliar, they may ask:

  • What is the Case Competition?

  • What kinds of benefits does the event provide to students?

We will answer those questions and touch on how students can prepare for the Case Competition if they are considering to participate.

What is the Case Competition?

The Western Student Marketing Association Case Competition is an event that brings together marketing students to work on a marketing problem and provide a solution to a panel of judges. Those who are interested in participating can sign-up at one of the SMA meetings(opens in new window) or go to the SMA website. Participants can choose their team members or are assigned in a team of three(opens in new window), and attend a prep meeting to ask any questions regarding the event or procedure. Details about the case are not given to the participants until the day of the event. The Case Competition is usually held on a Saturday with refreshments and food provided for everyone. Each team is given 3 hours to analyze the case and, without Internet, need to come up with a solution to present in the form of PowerPoint. There are two rounds of judging, and time is given to the top three finalists to edit and polish their presentation before advancing to the final round. At the end, prizes are distributed to the finalists and every participant has the chance to network with the judges. Besides networking, the Case Competition provides multiple benefits to students who participate. 

Benefits of the Case Competition 

The Case Competition promotes collaboration among students(opens in new window), increases confidence and enhances leadership skills. This event allows marketing students to get hands-on experience that may not be provided in the classroom setting and allows them to test their ideas in a risk-free environment. Based on the feedback from judges, students can work on and develop the skills that employers are looking for:  

Marketing students also learn how to work under pressure as a team and work strategically(opens in new window). By participating in this event, they are exposed to job opportunities that may be offered by recruiters who are looking for talented people to join their company.  

In addition, the Case Competition exposes marketing students to diversity- with diverse representation of perspectives and competencies. When I asked past participants the reason why they decided to compete, Isabelle stated: “I wanted to exercise my learned skills.... I felt that the greatest benefit was working in a high pressure setting and the comradery between the competitors.” Ian said that “we don’t have many opportunities inside of the classroom to actually use what we learn. As a professional, we aren’t going to be reading textbooks for our careers; we are going to be contributing to solving complex problems in teams, often in short time periods, and this is exactly what is simulated in the case competition.” Others credited the case competition for improving public speaking skills, forming long-term relationships, and getting the experience of thinking on your feet from the Q&A portion.  

About Me 

Monica Chen poses for a photo with a glass building in the background.
Monica Chen, marketing student

I participated in the Case Competition two times: once as a volunteer and once as a participant. In both instances, I witnessed and experienced the adrenaline rush when each team analyzed the case in under 3 hours. As a volunteer, I saw the effort put into the presentations by each team and how effective they were at presenting their solution with evidence to support it. As a participant, I collaborated with my teammates to discuss what information was important to present to the judges and helped put together a PowerPoint. It was grueling when judges asked questions and we had no answer, but we were able to support our solution with the evidence we provided. I participated because I wanted to test my knowledge and work on my public speaking skills. I became more confident and knew what I needed to work on based on the feedback from judges. This was a valuable experience for me to work with my peers. 

Preparation for the Case Competition 

A notebook with "Preparation is the key" written it sits on a desk, with a laptop, coffee, pencils, a plant and glasses surrounding it.

When you make the decision to participate in the Case Competition, make sure to do some preparation. First, brush up on the marketing knowledge by re-reading notes on the basic marketing principles and equations such as: 

  • unit margin 

  • break even volume 

  • CLV, etc.  

  • Be sure to identify and segment target audiences, as well as defining the demographics and psychographics of the target market.  

Collaborate with teammates beforehand to come up with strategies to analyze the case and approaches to the different types of cases:  

At the time of the event, remember to read the first and last paragraphs of the case because it will give you an idea of what type of case it is and the information to look for, and it will save you time. In most cases, there are exhibits at the end and should be carefully analyzed because it contains important information that could affect your team’s solution. Do not spend too much time on the font or theme in PowerPoint because it is not important and may distract the judges. Before your team’s presentation, make sure to connect with the judges by shaking their hands and introducing yourself. The most important thing to remember is to have fun, even when it is stressful. This event provides the experience for current marketing students to get a real taste of the business world and grow themselves. 

Consider signing-up for the Case Competition and challenge yourself on what you are capable of doing.