In the Spotlight: a Q&A with this year’s winners of the KCC-P&G Commercial Challenge

KCC P&G

El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center (KCC) collaboratively with Procter & Gamble held the eighth edition of the KCC-P&G Commercial Challenge. The competition aims to develop commerce-related experience and skills of participating students and empower them with the tools that will help them excel when joining the labor force. The 2021 case study was targeting feminine care.

This year’s winners, all AUC School of Business students, included: Lobna ElHaraky, a business administration senior, Laila ElHelw, economics junior, Malak El Menyawy,  finance senior, and Youssef Aziz, business administration junior, of the team “Elevate”. Their case was about growing Always’ consumption in Egypt.

During the course of the competition, participants were given an overview of the company and what it's like to be part of P&G. Students also attended two sessions by P&G executives on sales and marketing principles, to help them understand what is required from them to solve the case logically.

We had a chat with the students to find out more about their winning case and their experience in the competition.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your idea and how you came up with it.

Team Elevate: After conducting many observational studies in detergent shops, high-frequency stores, and pharmacies, in addition to interviewing several women from our target segment, we understood our consumers’ needs regarding feminine care. Therefore, we decided to tweak an already existing and successful product by removing some of its features that are considered unnecessary to our target segment, in order to decrease its cost and offer them a more affordable product with the same quality.

We also decided to create a new packaging that empowers women and reflects our commercial message: “You deserve to live a dignified life, you deserve to prioritize your health, you deserve to be a full-time user”.

Lastly, we intend to promote our product through several channels, one of which is by contributing to the recent presidential developmental initiative “Decent Life” (Hayah Karima), aiming to alleviate our target segment’s living standards and convince them to increase their usual consumption.

Q: You guys did a great job tackling an overlooked issue. How did the process you went through during this challenge impact you?

El Helw: I liked how this challenge enabled us to reflect on real-world issues; it was an eye-opener and a humbling experience when interviewing various women from our target segment and realizing how expensive pads are for them. We learned how they adapt and create alternative methods instead of buying pads, such as using baby diapers or old clothing.

In addition, being one of the students in the CO-OP business program, I am not allowed to enroll in any courses as I work full-time as a tax advisory intern at PwC, under the International Tax and Mergers and Acquisition department. Joining this competition enabled me to experience the aspects that I missed the most as a student: Working as a team with my friends, staying late on campus, switching ideas a million times before finding the right one, and the competitive drive of wanting to win.

ElHaraky: I really liked the fact that the case was an actual representation of the company; it reflected a real-life situation, which helped us develop our analytical skills. We also felt a sense of responsibility while trying to come up with an idea that could really have an impact not only on the company but on Egyptian society as well.

Q: Now that the competition is over, do you remember what it was like joining at first? And how did it feel like to actually win at the end?

El Helw: I was reluctant about joining at first as I felt I was not well prepared and did not know what to expect, but in the end, I’m so happy I did because the entire experience was very rewarding. It gave me a taste of real-life challenges and how teams can come together to solve them with new and innovative ideas. Winning the competition has given us all a big confidence boost when entering the real world. I highly recommend every student join one round before graduating, as it is truly an eye-opener.

ElHaraky: It’s been an honor joining and winning the P&G Commercial Challenge. I am very proud of my team and of how efficient we were during a very short period of time. Although we argued a lot, we were finally able to put our thoughts together and achieve the best outcome. This has definitely been a great learning experience, one that has enriched my knowledge about corporate life and most importantly developed my leadership skills.

El Menyawy: The competition was challenging in so many ways. It enriched me and added to my knowledge. Also, it showed me the real business world and how it really works from all aspects which improved my decision-making and critical thinking skills.

Aziz: The competition was really a great experience that made me get exposed to real-life business problems. It pushed the team and me to think outside of the box, and think about it effectively, and find long-term solutions that were crafted meticulously. I personally learned a lot about how different departments communicate with each other like the sales and marketing departments to get the best potential outcome.

Q: Lastly, what was the most challenging part about the competition? And what would you recommend to tackle that challenge?

El Helw: I would have loved to have face-to-face presentations. Presenting our findings online was quite tricky due to the usual technical difficulties. On the other hand, I truly believe that presenting to a panel of real-life experts would have been a chance for students to practice becoming young professionals and gain a more hands-on experience.