Executive Summary

Executive Summary


The case describes the efforts being taken by a community of coffee farmers to improve their livelihoods by leveraging marketing tools. It takes place in the town of Andradas, in the southern part of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. The two protagonists are Rafael Souza e Silva, an agronomist working at the rural cooperative of Andradas, and Rosana Fraga, the cooperative’s president.

For generations, farmers in Andradas have been selling their coffees to intermediaries at rock-bottom commodity prices. However, due to the region’s high altitude and the excellent soil and climatic conditions, the coffees produced in Andradas are often of superior quality. Rafael and Rosana are encouraging these farmers to focus more on quality and want to help them to start selling their coffees at specialty coffee prices, which are much higher. They also want to leverage the stories of the farmers’ families - almost all of them with a history of immigration from Italy - to attract attention and make the coffee more interesting to consumers in rich export markets, such as Europe and the US. To reach this goal, Rafael has developed a tool called the Andradas Flavour Map. With the help of the farmers and a professional coffee taster, he maps the quality and the properties of the coffee grown in different parts of Andradas.

The case discusses the current situation of Andradas and how the map was developed, and describes the global coffee industry and changing consumer preferences that lend themselves to the project’s goals. It can be used to address several different issues, including marketing, branding, sustainability, supply chain, economic development and international business.

This case is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) case series developed by the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University. 

  • After discussing the case, students should be able to:

    • Acquire insights into the value-creating power of marketing activities.
    • Develop an understanding of the global food supply chain, focusing on both producers and consumers.
    • Learn how to articulate a positioning strategy, and how to better understand customers and competitors.
    • Acquire effective tools for developing customer affinity.
    • Reflect on the way environmental, societal and technological trends are changing marketing and brand management.
    • Gain an appreciation of the value of branding and marketing for community development.
  • The case is suitable for MBA, EMBA and other Master or executive-level students in marketing, branding, sustainability, entrepreneurship or strategy. Because the case covers a wide range of topics, it also can be used to discuss supply chain management, international business or general management issues.

  • Coffee; Brazil; farming; marketing; branding; community; sustainability; SDG; supply chain; farm-to-cup; decommoditisation; small-hold farmers; environment; heritage

  • Many of us tend to associate marketing with powerful corporations, but marketing tools can benefit anyone. This case is a rich source of inspiration for understanding how marketing can be used toward positive change and community building. Souza e Silva, one of the protagonists in the case, said he ‘used to think about marketing and branding as tools for mighty corporations to gain ever greater power and profits’. Now he was beginning to see the value that marketing and branding could bring to small-hold farmers and to the community of Andradas.

    At its core, this is a marketing case focused on community branding that incorporates social and environmental issues. This topic is potentially relevant to thousands of farming communities worldwide, but we do not see it well-addressed in existing marketing or sustainability cases.  

    • Marketing, brand management and marketing strategy. The case will help students learn about important marketing topics, including positioning strategy, distribution, pricing and communication. It is also useful for raising students’ awareness of important market trends, such as decommoditisation. In recent years we have observed a trend towards greater quality and differentiation across a variety of food categories such as beer, chocolate and even apples - could the coffee category become more like that of wine? Marketing-related learning goals are the main focus of this teaching note and of the supplementary materials available on the case website.
    • Sustainability. The case shows how social and environmental issues are intertwined and how solving one can help solve the other. For example, because sustainability is a pre-requisite in many specialty coffee markets, by working together to increase coffee quality and earn better prices, the community is also moving towards more sustainable farming practices. The case relates to multiple SDGs: 1 (no poverty), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and 12 (responsible consumption and production). Another important element of the case is gender equality. In addition to Rosana being the leader of the farmers, the case reports how one of the stated goals of the Flavour Map project is to increase female empowerment in the community.

    At the same time, the case also addresses several other issues, providing an holistic approach to a real-life business problem:

    • Supply chain. The case serves as a powerful illustration of the complexities of global supply chains, including the players involved and geographic inequalities. It also demonstrates the interplay of demand and supply factors in shaping supply chains. Crucially, the increasingly popular “farm-to-cup” model discussed in the case is a worthy example of how creating a connection between producers and consumers can make consumption more meaningful (we call this “the power of personal”).
    • Food business. The case can be used to discuss the organisation of small-hold farming (e.g. the role of cooperatives and agronomists) and how authentic personal stories can sometimes help compensate for a lack of scale or market power. It can also be used to discuss trends in the food industry, such as the consumer quest for authentic food experiences and decommoditisation (see above).
    • Economic development and international business. On the supply side, the case shows how members of communities in developing countries can work together to find new markets and increase their income. On the demand side, the case can be used to discuss how growing demand for “ethical” food in developed markets helps make a material difference to the quality of life of farmers in developing countries.
  • This multi-resource case includes the following materials:

    • Introductory video;
    • Executive summary;
    • Teaching case (restricted access);
    • Teaching note (restricted access);
    • PowerPoint presentation for teachers (restricted access); and
    • Class teaching video recording (restricted access).


    To access the restricted materials, please first purchase the case and teaching note at www.thecasecentre.org. The access instructions are included in the teaching note.