GCSE Business and the Coca Cola Challenge

28 November 2014

This update recounts the experience of Elaine Pinkus from Bushey Meads School, who used the Coca Cola Challenge with her GCSE class. 

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In 2013, the Challenge asked students to form teams (or small 'companies') to develop a 100 per cent fruit juice brand. At Bushey Meads School, the Challenge took up 1 lesson per week and culminated in presentations to teachers and sixth formers who decided who would go forward and represent the school.

The teachers found the teacher pack to be really useful, providing plenty of guidance and web links to different products. At Bushey Meads, the teachers used Innocent Drinks as their starting example and students were encouraged to look around their supermarkets and online. Teachers also brought different samples for students to taste (Unit 1 Topic 1.1: Understanding the need to add value). 

A useful next step is a lesson on the importance of satisfying customer needs and market research. The students looked at the Innocent dustbin concept and how important it is to conduct primary research as well as the secondary research collected from data on the web and other company products. There is also information in the CCC pack.

Students had to think who their target audience would be and then work towards that, using questionnaire research as well as focus group research. Students identified weaknesses and bias in questionnaires, the importance of a pilot questionnaire and the missed opportunity of, say, interviewing students in the school canteen as they choose their own drinks (Unit 1 Topic 1.1: Understand customer needs: collect and interpret secondary and primary market research).

The teachers introduced market mapping, and the secondary research addressed the research into competitor products (Unit 1 Topic 1.1: Specification content: Market mapping: identify market segments, set out key features of the market and identify a gap. Analysis of competitors – their strengths and weaknesses).

The next stage was to look at some figures. The Coca Cola Challenge provides cost information and the students worked with these as they did their research into competitor pricing (Unit 1 Topic 1.3: Specification content: Estimating revenues, costs and profit).

The Challenge successfully introduces the students to marketing so that when teachers return to that area of the spec, the students are on board with it, recognise it and can link to their experience. One of the groups learned about the importance of social media in marketing when they created their own blog, which quickly attracted followers (Unit 1 Topic 1.4: Specification content: The marketing mix).

Presentations to decide the winner in the school were done in lesson time and the teachers used the same judging criteria, which would be used in the regional final. In preparing their presentations, the students are encouraged to think creatively (Unit 1 Topic 1.2 Specification content: Thinking creatively; Generating a new business idea).

The team which reached the regional final had to demonstrate their creative thinking again as they were given a new topic to present for which they could not prepare. This year, the team did not win a prize, but the experience was well worth it.

Teacher, Elaine Pinkus, feels that the challenge provides a fun way of making the first term as active as possible. She has written it into her scheme of work and sees it as a way of introducing concepts which she can return to later. The Challenge allows the teacher to be quite flexible in how they use it.

The challenge also helps the students with team work, presentation skills, creativity, responsibility, numeracy and communication skills. Students also adopt key roles such as leadership, support, research, marketing and finance. Overall, it is a great experience.

Kind regards


Colin Leith, Business and Economics subject advisor
Colin LeithBusiness and Economics
UK: 0333 016 5450
Intl: + 44 (0)333 016 5450
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