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Students Propose New Business for Organic Sesame Oil Company

Updated Feb. 13, 2017
This Fall Semester at DBS, students in Prof. Adam Johns' Marketing in Asia class completed a project for Kyoto sesame oil manufacturer, Yamada Seiyu - a third-generation producer of organic, first-press sesame oils and other sesame products.

Students were tasked with developing a new service experience specifically targeting visitors to Kyoto, that cohered with Yamada Seiyu's existing products.

Each team was also required to build an authentic narrative to communicate the brand’s identity (including company's history and social values) and product attributes.

After visiting the factory, café, and retail space, and understanding the scale and production process, each team raced to research and formulate their proposals in the remaining four weeks.

"The biggest challenges for the teams was to determine a target market and compelling value proposition," said Professor Adam Johns. "What kind of visitor to Kyoto would be likely to visit the shop to engage in what kind of food experience when there is so much history and heritage to see in Kyoto? And while tourists from China and Taiwan top the list in terms of numbers, other visitors - such as those who follow a vegan or halal diet - might be more eager to engage with the brand given its macrobiotic properties."

Based on this, one team decided to focus on foreign residents of Kyoto while another proposed a brand new service-scape to appeal to short-term visitors.

Before presenting their proposals, Dr. Jonathan Staggs, who teaches the course 'Designing Food and Beverage Experiences' at the University of Queensland Business School, coached the teams on the various sensory aspects that should be included in the 'service-scape' of a retail space.

"Based on the health properties of our products, we had always been running our retail shop and café with a particular customer in mind," said President Koichi Yamada. "These proposal showed us that there are other potential target markets that our current operations don’t cater for. These fresh perspectives are truly valuable.”
Yamada Seiyu Factory Visit

Yamada Seiyu Factory Visit

Yamada Seiyu Factory Visit

At the Yamada Seiyu Factory