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Fine china for 20-somethings: Communications students pitch millennial marketing ideas to Replacements, Ltd.

Student research conducted in Hal Vincent’s class culminated in communications strategies to disrupt the category and poise the client for future success with younger customers.

Students in Hal Vincent’s “Strategic Campaigns” class this fall faced the challenge of pairing fine china, crystal and silverware with millennial shoppers. Four student teams in the lecturer’s class spent the semester conducting primary and secondary research to help Replacements Ltd., a storied brand and vocal advocate for social justice, “down-age” its customer base.

Seniors Dani Chavero (from left), Janat Bashir and Chann Little in Hal Vincent’s “Strategic Campaigns” course present their semester-long research. Photos courtesy of Vincent

Linh Calhoun, chief marketing officer at Replacements, Ltd. and a former marketing executive at Staples and L.L. Bean, and Robin Long, Replacements’ vice president of product marketing and business development, evaluated the students’ final presentations and plans books during a campus visit in December.

“Younger consumers don’t share the same opinions or exhibit buying behaviors in the category seen in previous generations,” said Vincent, “but they do seek to express their individuality through purchases, entertain in the home, shop online, support business with shared values, and create their own memories. These are perfect conditions for a lifestyle retailer of discontinued and new products ranging from single-piece purchases to full sets.”

The challenge to shift established businesses selling traditional products to the new tastes and behaviors of younger audiences looms large for many brands. Fundamental differences in the role of china and collectables in peoples’ lives changes as America changes, noted the communications lecturer. “It is exciting to see students grappling to not only master the skills of strategic communications planning and execution, but also the realities faced by traditional, yet progressive organizations like Replacements,” Vincent said.

Replacements Ltd. executives Linh Calhoun (second from right) and Robin Long (far right) provide students with feedback following their December presentations. Elon students Jillian Rahl (far left) and Amanda Echavaria are also pictured.

‚ÄčThe student groups inspired Calhoun and left her with several new ideas to consider and possibly implement. "The overall level of engagement, professionalism and thought was impressive," she said. "We will likely take ideas from each presentation to test over the course of the next six months.”

Added Vincent, “This experience replicating the same work with a real challenge professionals face is something that students, and their clients, don’t soon forget. To have partners like Replacements, Ltd. sharing in the education process helps our students start careers and succeed faster than others.”

About Replacements, Ltd.

Founded by Bob Page in 1981, Replacements, Ltd. carries the world’s largest selection of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. The company’s 500,000-square-foot facilities house an inventory of more than 12 million pieces from over 445,000 patterns. Headquartered in Greensboro, Replacements, Ltd. serves more than 11 million customers worldwide.

Tommy Kopetskie,
1/18/2017 4:40 PM