Love is in the (h)air! Marketing students get real marketing experience despite COVID-19

Posted on May 06, 2021

The third-year BCom Marketing Management students partnered with AMKA Products (Pty) Ltd for their practical project in 2020. Although AMKA products has a variety of brands in their stable, the students worked on their Jabu Stone hair care brand. The Jabu Stone Natural Hair Care brand promotes natural hair care and pride in natural African looks to African people worldwide.
The challenge posed to the students was to ‘refresh’ the brand and to reposition the brand to appeal to a younger target market. Students kicked off the project working individually, whereafter they formed online buddy teams of two, and eventually worked in teams of six.
To start the project, students met the client virtually for a hands-on presentation about the brand. To much of the surprise of the students, they also met the founder of the brand, Jabu Stone himself during the live online session. During this live session, students could pose their comments and questions via a chat function and used emojis during the presentation to share their enthusiasm and interest.

Tumiso Mathebula (Brand Manager on the left), and the founder of the Jabu Stone Brand, Jabu Stone (right) virtually talking to the students about the brand

Given the realities of COVID-19 and virtual classes, lecturers had to think outside the box to ensure that students still had the opportunity to experience the brand and products. Each team leader received a ‘bag-drop’ and teams had to capture their ‘unboxing’ of the products and share it with the rest of the team members.

A variety of Jabu Stone products ready to be packed and delivered to group leaders (left); Team leaders receiving their Jabu Stone products (right)

It was not all fun and games, as students had to write a brand review and prepare an infographic showcasing the target market, competitors and brand strengths and weaknesses. In the second phase of the project, students had to prepare mood boards and videos to pitch their ideas to the client. After being given the green light, they prepared a comprehensive repositioning strategy, including guerrilla marketing tactics and a digital marketing campaign. Their lecturer, Prof Melanie Wiese, commented that, “despite the challenges of 2020, the Marketing Management students not only gained practical marketing experience, but also sharpened their digital skills by using virtual tools and apps such as Zoom, Google Meet, Blackboard Collaborate, Narrated PowerPoints and videos – proving that learning is just a computer screen away.”
The project concluded on a high note, as student teams had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to an exam panel, including Jabu Stone and several AMKA representatives, including John Sham (General Manager), Tumiso Mathebula (Brand Manager), Jared Dallas (Marketing Manager) and Ronald Makola (Marketing Manager of Black Like Me products).
The client was blown away by the creative ideas and remarked that the students' presentations were just as good as agency pitches, if not better in some instances. The winning team, 'The Braidy Bunch', each won a R1 000 with their slogan #NaturalYourBest" and impressed with their detailed and innovative product strategy.

Creative rebranding and packaging ideas from students


Teams presenting their positioning strategies during the exam presentations on campus


Each student was spoiled with a goodie bag sponsored by AMKA as a reward for their efforts

- Author Department of Marketing Management
Published by Nonkululeko Kubeka Moyo

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