The judges noted that Drink The Duchess is an excellent and robust case that offers many opportunities for active learning and discussion. Photo: Facebook
Cape Town – Researchers from the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) have taken top honours in the prestigious 25th Ceeman & Emerald Case Writing Competition for their teaching case on marketing challenges and opportunities small and medium enterprises encounter when taking their product global.

The case study by Fran Heathcote and Professor Geoff Bick beat 27 entries from Australia, France, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the US.

“Drink The Duchess: Marketing challenges and opportunities encountered when SMEs internationalise”, looked at the success story of South African entrepreneurs, Johannes le Roux and Inus Smuts, who, within two years of launching their product, The Duchess (a non-alcoholic gin and tonic drink), branched out internationally and won two awards.

Heathcote, an MBA student at the time of working on the teaching case, said she was elated by the win.

“It is just such a great story, about two South African homeboytjies and their incredible success. It is local and lekker and it promotes South Africa in an extremely positive way,” Heathcote said.

Bick agreed. “We feel very honoured as we know the quality of these teaching cases is very high and to be recognised in this way is really wonderful,” he said.

The Duchess G&T brand and the two founders saw a gap in the market for a non-alcoholic, sugar-free and trendy drink for adults, that also tied in with a growing worldwide interest in gin. 

 “It was very hard and there was blood, sweat and tears involved in launching The Duchess.

“But they were incredibly hands-on and put a lot of work into taking the product to customers, marketing their product properly and being shrewd with budget,” Heathcote said.

Heathcote added that it helped that Le Roux had previous experience with launching another beverage product while Smuts had a strong design and advertising background, which was instrumental in shaping their online and digital marketing campaigns.

Ceeman director Olga Veligurska said the organisation supported the development of high-quality case materials relevant to the local and regional needs of its members in dynamic societies.

“The judges noted that Drink The Duchess is an excellent and robust case that offers many opportunities for active learning and discussion, with an equally excellent teaching note in terms of clarity around specific discussion themes and approaches, while recognising there is a ‘messiness’ to solving real-world problems,” Veligurska said.