Key Learnings From My Marketing Internship

Marketing is a word which puzzles several b-schoolers. While some seem to do it effortlessly, there are several who struggle like me to get it right. So what is Marketing and why does it leave so many of puzzled, frustrated and amazed at the same time?

A common misconception is that it is for the glib talker, the one who can talk his way through anything and coax people into buying things they do not need. Several of us could never get the answers right in Marketing class, because what is correct for one company might not be true for another. In that way it is unlike science where the same rules apply to all, gravity does not discriminate but Marketing does.

For example consider this: How would you segment your consumer? Would it be psychographic, demographic etc., and how would you know which one is the right segment?What if you are alienating a major chunk of your consumers by segmentation? All these and several other questions were in my head before I took a Marketing internship.

The first thing I understood while working was identifying the Business need or in Marketing terms, what is the Value you are creating for your consumer through your product. This can be applicable across products. From common salt to an Air Conditioner,everything provides some value to the consumer. While the consumer can easily identify the value he gets while using an AC, it is for a marketer to assess the value he gets from common salt.

Understanding the consumer is the next key aspect. During my internship, I did this by interviewing consumers, calling up all my relatives and friends who I thought were potential consumers, asking questions, making notes, and sharing it with my mentors and peers refining and redefining the values the consumer was seeking. The best way to do this is go where the consumer normally shops (it is offline) and observe. Also before an internship, it would help if you could analyse each category of products;especially close to the ones you will be interning in. Try finding out about product placement, visibility, and their performance. Try to analyse the why and how.

Tip: Everything in a Super Market is planned –There is no random placement of products or promotional material.
An interesting book which talks about this is “Why we buy –By Paco Underhill”, which talks about the Science of Shopping and how one can gain insight by observing shoppers.

Apart from this, there is an arsenal of frameworks, jargon, qualitative and quantitative tools which Marketing provides,which will help to an extent in an internship. However, I found that most problems could be solved intuitively.

A lot can be learnt from competition as well. It is important to define your target segment and see who your competitors are. Several times it could be products which are not direct competitors but ones which could be substitutes.

Finally question every assumption, and do not stop until you get a satisfactory answer.

Nitya Muralidharan

Nitya Muralidharan is a Second year student at XLRI Jamshedpur, she is passionate about writing , marketing and new ideas.