Third-year BCom Marketing honours students learn to “Live Beautifully” with Italtile

Posted on August 28, 2023

The year 2023 marks the sixth anniversary of the Department of Marketing Management’s partnership with Italtile – leaders of premium quality porcelain and ceramic tiles, bathroom ware, sanitary ware, taps, sinks, and accessories. This ongoing partnership provides third-year BCom Marketing Management students with an opportunity to gain hands-on sales experience in the Personal Selling and Account Management module.

The semester kicked off with a “Meet the client” session, in which students received a welcome box with goodies and treats. They also had the opportunity to meet Nicole Russell, the Marketing Manager of Italtile, who shared some insight into their brand, ethos, vision, mission and organisational culture, in preparation for the various deliverables that the students were expected to deliver throughout the semester. A few weeks thereafter students met Sergio Galli, one of Italtile’s directors, who shared some insight into Italtile’s products and their various production plants.

Sergio Galli, director of Italtile Retail, during his presentation to the students

Some of the deliverables for the module included:

  • an observational analysis of the Italtile showrooms and their online presence;
  • role-play in which students were expected to be an Italtile sales representative dealing with a difficult customer;
  • mapping out the customer journey for Italtile, both in-store and online; and
  • preparing a sales pitch for fictional Italtile customer(s) by demonstrating their understanding of the Italtile product range and by using the Italtile Visualiser Tool.

Each year the lecturers carefully craft the different deliverables to expose students to the various facets of personal selling, by exposing them to real-life sales scenarios through collaboration with an industry partner.

The module concluded with a final exam presentation, in which student teams had to develop a customer-orientated sales strategy, comprising of both a sales promotion and an “always-on” sales strategy that would empower Italtile to maximise their sales to a specified customer segment. The student teams rose to the occasion and “wowed” the exam panel with extraordinary and innovative strategies and ideas. The exam panel consisted of the module lecturers, Prof Wiese and Dr Verbeek, as well as Prof Wait (external examiner from UJ), and two Italtile representatives, Jane Askew and Hayden Hochfeldon. Each team was provided with valuable feedback from the panel, creating a unique and interactive learning experience for the students.

What better way to end the semester, than with a prize-giving function hosted by Italtile at their showroom in Menlyn. Students were treated to a carnival-themed function with popcorn, slushies, and other snacks to commemorate the hard work of all teams throughout the semester. Below an outline of the top-performing teams and students. 

Strategic winners: Team 15’s solid ideas and strategic approach made them worthy winners of R700 each, sponsored by Italtile.

Team 15 from left to right: Nicole Russell (Marketing Manager, Italtile), Prof Wiese (lecturer), Dr Verbeek (lecturer), Bianca Gain, Marli Du Preez, Michael Craddock, Ashlee Jansen, and Bobo Moumakoe

Most innovative winners: Team 8 did not only obtain the highest marks in the exam, but also stole the show with their innovative “Italtree” idea – receiving R700 each, sponsored by Italtile. One of the team members, Lisa Brown, also received the prize for the best student in the module, and received R1000 from Italtile.

Team 8 from left to right: Danielle White, Savannah Scoular, Prof Wiese (lecturer), Belinda Swart, Mikhail Flint, Ntshebile Masinga, Dr Verbeek (lecturer), Lisa Brown (top student), and Nicole Russell (Marketing Manager, Italtile)

Most actionable idea winners: Team 4 below impressed the panel with their actionable ideas and each student received R700 each, sponsored by Italtile.

Team 4 from left to right: Elne Labuschagne, Noluthando Buthelezi, Prof Wiese (lecturer), Bonolo Mahlangu, Anette Ndlovu, Dr Verbeek (lecturer), Buhle Mfihlo, and Nicole Russell (Marketing Manager, Italtile)

Internship awards: Italtile also awarded several internships and the three interns that stood out during the interviews were celebrated. These students are currently receiving training from Italtile and are already active in the Italtile showrooms.

From left to right: Dr Verbeek (lecturer), Prof Wiese (lecturer), Dominique Bruttomesso, Namhla Phikwa, Nicole Russell (Marketing Manager, Italtile), and Amanda Makhanya

A huge thank you to the 2023 lecturers, Prof Melanie Wiese and Dr Jade Verbeek, for managing this project so effectively. Also thank you to the students for embracing the opportunity to engage with Italtile.



- Author Department of Marketing Management

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