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Prof. Ōkuma’s class develops caramel candy to help recovery effort in Nagano

A class taught by Professor Shōzo Ōkuma in the College of Business Management has developed a new product in collaboration with the Matsuzawa Company to help the recovery of Sakae, a village in the north of Nagano Prefecture. The village was hit by a powerful earthquake in March, 2011, shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The product, dubbed “Beanzu Caramel,” is a candy made with Nagano Prefecture specialties—apricots and apples—and a portion of the proceeds from sales will be donated to Sakae. The product’s name is a combination of “bear” (Professor Ōkuma’s surname means “big bear” in Japanese) and anzu, the Japanese word for apricots.

Professor Ōkuma’s class is studying community development and business research. To create Beanzu Caramel, the third-year students have visited Matsuzawa Co. once or twice a month since May and exchanged ideas with company staff. The class has been learning about the “persona marketing strategy,” and their target market was older women who might be likely to buy candy for their grandchildren. Initially the plan was to sell apricot chips, but the students decided that a caramel candy would bring out the flavor of the apricots more effectively. The new caramel will be released at “Raku-ichi Raku-za” in Yamabiko Dome in Matsumoto on October 19th and 20th and at “Sangyō Fair” in Big Hat in Nagano on October 25th and 26th.

The caramel is the second product the students have produced; the first product was a mobile phone accessory produced in collaboration with Miyama Shōji. In March, 2013, ¥300,000 earned through the sale of the accessory was donated to Sakae. Tatsuya Imai, a third-year student in the College of Business Management, said, “We hope to sell even more this time around and speed the recovery of Sakae.”

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