MBAs Offer Marketing Plans to Launch Skin Care Product

(From left): Professor Arun Jain, Mentholatum CEO Akiyoshi Yoshida, Velayutham Gomathinayagam, Tsai Chin-Feng, Terri Zelasko, Thomas Willetts and James Macri.

Release Date: May 2, 2011 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. – A team of five MBA students from the UB School of Management will share a $1,500 prize for their winning proposal for the U.S. launch of a revolutionary skin care lotion that is currently the No. 1 seller in Japan.

Tsai Chin-Feng of Buffalo, Velayutham Gomathinayagam of Clarence Center, James Macri of Niagara Falls, Thomas Willetts of Clarence Center and Terri Zelasko of Buffalo comprised the winning team.

Five teams of finalists presented their creative marketing proposals to a panel of local, national and international executives on April 28 at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center.

The presentations were the capstone project in the MBA marketing management course, which focuses on grounding marketing theory with real-world practices. The course is taught by Arun Jain, Samuel P. Capen Professor of Marketing Research.

John Ende, vice president of marketing and sales for The Mentholatum Co., approached Jain in the fall, after seeing media coverage of Jain’s previous classes working on marketing projects for GM’s fuel cell and Smart cars.

Ende asked if School of Management marketing students could provide ideas on how to launch a unique skin care lotion, Hada Labo, in the U.S. Hada Labo is one of the best-selling items for Japan’s Rohto Pharmaceuticals, Mentholatum’s parent company.

Throughout the semester, students took part in a number of activities to prepare for the project, such as corporate site visits and executive guest speakers, including Rohto representatives from Japan. They also conducted an in-depth analysis of the skin care market and customer base to develop their strategies for the U.S. launch of Hada Labo.

“Working on a real-world project such as this, including contact with high-profile executives, gives our students a competitive edge when they enter the corporate world,” Jain said. “You cannot get this type of hands-on experience inside a classroom.”

The winning team’s campaign focused on the marketing theme of “The Mystery, The Secret, The Moment, The Moisture.” They previewed sample advertisements that showed women contemplating the “mystery” of why Asian skin is so beautiful, discovering the “secret” application process of the unique lotion, enjoying the “moment” of using a product they can trust and learning about the “moisture,” which is from the super hyaluronic acid used in Hada Labo.

The team also presented their plans for rolling out Hada Labo during the driest seasons in the West and Northeast U.S., focusing on specialty stores such as Ulta and Sephora and using QVC home shopping network to increase awareness and educate consumers on how to use the product.

In addition to their first-place prize, the team also received a $250 prize from Gelia for the best marketing communication strategy.

Other teams’ presentations focused on positioning Hada Labo as a natural anti-aging remedy, launching exclusively in major metropolitan areas and inviting consumers to join the “Hada Labo Family.”

The second and third place teams were awarded prizes of $1,000 and $500, respectively.

In addition to Ende, judges for the competition were Akiyoshi (Aki) Yoshida, president and CEO, The Mentholatum Co., and managing director, Rohto Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd.; Glenn Busby, managing director, The Mentholatum Co. of Canada Ltd.; Dan Penberthy, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Rand Capital Corp.; Jamey Phipps, CEO, Gelia; Joost Vles, process manager, Moog Inc.; Jen VanDewater, director of marketing, desserts, Rich Products; and Bill Gallo, director of GM/HBC, fuel and supply chain, Tops Markets.

The proposals were well-received by the audience, getting favorable reviews from Mentholatum executives.

“I was absolutely blown away by the student presentations,” Ende said. “The level of detail in their presentations and pride in their work was extremely impressive.”

Mentholatum CEO Yoshida agreed, telling the students, “Your hard work was incredible, and your ideas were very refreshing and very interesting.”

The Mentholatum Company Inc. is a global health and wellness company dedicated to providing effective solutions to their consumers’ personal needs. Its parent company is Rohto Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. of Japan, an innovative leader in developing and marketing eye care and skin care products. Mentholatum world and U.S. division headquarters are in Orchard Park, N.Y., with divisions in Australia, South Africa, Canada, Scotland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, China and Japan. Manufacturing is performed in four locations around the globe and products are marketed and sold in more than 130 countries. Brands include Oxy® acne solutions, pHisoderm® facial care, Softlips® lip protection, Rohto® eye drops, WellPatch® pain relieving patches, Deep Heating® muscle rub, Mentholatum® Ointment, Fletcher’s® laxative and Red Cross® toothache medication.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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