Cowgirl Chocolates
Topics: Pricing, Marketing, Retailing / Pages: 30 (7268 words) / Published: May 21st, 2009

An internationally celebrated ceramic artist, started Cowgirl Chocolates to provide some funding support for a yearly published arts magazine, High Ground, which she and her husband, Ross Coates, started in 1995. Her love of chocolates and hot and spicy foods spurred the idea of making hot and spicy chocolates to be sold in creative, artistic tins and packaging, which she labeled Cowgirl Chocolates. Her small business, begun in 1997, won a number of awards in fiery food competitions. While Cowgirl Chocolates grew steadily over its four years in business, it still generated only $30,000 in sales revenue in 2000, which was not enough to cover expenses. drained much of her personal savings to keep Cowgirl Chocolate in business. Her cash accounting methods and record keeping were not very sophisticated, although she seemed to have a good sense of her costs in production and raw materials and packaging. However, Marilyn took a “shotgun approach” to most of her marketing efforts and tried a number of activities to increase product demand. She allowed herself to make one “risky” financial move each year in her pursuit of profitability and increased sales. She made just one risky move in 2001—she took out a full-page ad in Chile Pepper magazine for $3,000.

Educational Objectives

Courses and Levels for Which the Case Is Intended

This case can be used in senior-level marketing management, business strategy, small business management, or entrepreneurship courses. Many of the questions are geared to a marketing management course, but the financial issues in Questions 9 and 10 can certainly expand the discussion to other classes integrating marketing and financial decisions for a small start-up business. The case illustrates how an entrepreneur with limited business skills, weak accounting/financial records, and an inconsistent marketing plan can quickly lead a small company into a spiraling financial downturn. However, a small business using a focused

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