International marketing class puts theory into practice

22 Dec 2016

International Marketing FairStudents in Dr. Olivier Mesly’s international marketing class had the opportunity to gain practical experience and apply theory they had learned in class through a creative take on an end-of-term project.

Mesly had the students organize and hold an international fair. Working in groups of two or three, the students set up booths with each one representing a different country. They also developed a product and brand to sell to potential customers.

“It is like a pre-run to an actual situation they might encounter in a marketing position,” Mesly says.

Commerce student Marcus Rogers’ team was marketing QuiQue pasta.

“The International Marketing Fair was a unique learning experience,” he says. “My favourite aspect was its pragmatic approach. Some term projects are ground just in theory, not application. This one, however, required us to go the extra mile in preparation, and also in presentation.”

An international fair usually brings together companies from many different countries to exhibit their products and services, meet with potential industry partners and customers, and learn about market trends and opportunities.

Mesly had the students target their products to potential customers from three countries that were culturally quite different.

“They must be prepared for these customers coming to their booth,” he says. “This means they have to research and understand the culture, pricing, and distribution system of that country, and what promotions would be suitable. So, for example, brochures would have to be in their language.”

International Marketing Fair boothThe Avard-Dixon lounge was transformed into a venue in New York City and people were invited from all over the world — or in this case, all over campus.

“The nice thing about the fair is that everyone got involved, the community and the university. The professors role-played customers from different countries and asked the students questions about the product,” Mesly says.

Sandra Mehl, an exchange student from Germany, and her partner Thomas Hansen developed a wine from Norway complete with a label they designed.

“I think the fair showed us clearly how much work there is behind a real fair. All our teams put a lot of effort into this project to make it seem real and I think we did a good job at it,” Mehl says. “We learned what an international marketer has to consider before entering an international market and how a salesperson has to perform at a fair to convince customers of the benefits of their product.”

Commerce student Abbie MacKenzie from Calgary, AB, says the fair was a great hands-on learning opportunity.

“I chose to come to Mount A because of the experiential learning and this was exactly what I was looking for,” she says. “We did step-by-step research of what it would be like to attend a real fair, all the way from research and design, to the final sales pitch. Not only were we learning marketing theory, we were learning how to put it into a real life context. It was great hands-on experience that we will all be able to use in our future education and careers.”

Mesly also gave the students a bit of a challenge.

“During the fair I took on various roles,” he says. “I would go to a booth and pretend I am a customs officer so I want to see their forms are properly done. Or I pretend to be a questionable potential client. So they really needed to know their stuff.”

Check out the video of the fair by Marcus Rogers:

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