Students' marketing talents honoured

Karen Lai

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Objective marketing analyses, creative minds and an eagerness to learn earned CityU's marketing students high praise for their consultancy projects. Projects were undertaken for five leading commercial firms, namely Sino Group, Ming Pao Magazine Ltd, TCL Retail (HK) Ltd, Dah Chong Hong Ltd and Hang Fung Gold Technology Group

The first contingent of fifteen groups of final-year marketing students, 83 in all, (wearing formal attire), received trophies and commendations at an awards presentation ceremony in the Wei Hing Theatre on 30 May. Their outstanding performance is a tribute to CityU's philosophy of preparing students for "the world of work," as described by Professor Edmond Ko, Vice-President (Undergraduate Education), in his opening speech at the ceremony.

Introduced in 1995 by the Department of Marketing, the consultancy service project has been widely supported by prestigious clients including IBM, Delifrance and Northwest Airlines. Students apply the business knowledge and research skills they learned to prepare business plans for clients within a time-frame of three months to complete their course requirements. This semester, students' consultancy services targeted a wide variety of brands including Sino Group's shopping malls, a Ming Pao weekly magazine for children, TCL mobile phones and electrical appliances, and Dah Chong Hong's food items.

"Formulating marketing plans for shopping malls is a complex task, considering the variations of customer profiles and brand positioning. However, CityU's students were not daunted and have made critical analysis and creative promotional ideas for the brand, positioning, and target customers for our malls," said Ms Ronnie Chan, General Manager of Sino Estates Management Limited. Participating in the student consultancy project the first time, Sino Group found the students' work highly satisfactory and plans to recruit some outstanding student marketers to join their company.

Five teams of students provided consultancy services for nine Sino Group shopping malls, including Island Resort Mall (in Siu Sai Wan), Olympian City (in western Kowloon), the China Hong Kong City (in Tsimshatsui), and Tuen Mun Town Plaza. "We employed different marketing communication tools to achieve different promotional goals. PR tools are more cost-effective for Olympian City, a relatively young shopping mall," analyzed Mr Simon Cheung of the winning team that consulted for Olympian City. The students also treasured the professionalism they learnt from their client company. "We are particularly grateful in having interaction with seasoned marketing practitioners from client firms," said Miss Angel Lam, another member of the team.

Client companies were also impressed by the students' industriousness and their flexibility to deal with the ever-changing commercial market. "Though the SARS disease created unfavourable circumstances for the teams conducting the projects, they could still use their crisis management skills to accomplish the research in different ways," said Mr Terence Tung, Director of Ming Pao Magazine Ltd. Two groups of students helped Ming Pao's City Children's Weekly to identify its future direction. The Ming Pao Group said the figures derived from the students' report and their analyses would be useful in formulating future marketing strategies.

The ceremony also featured another 10 groups of students, consisting of 58 marketing students from all years of study, who competed for "Student Learning Enhancement Project" award. Student consultants in this optional project scheme are required to devise marketing plans for the jewelry brand "La Milky Way" of the Hang Fung Gold Technology Group. "The Project was launched last year to encourage students to participate in real-world businesses as early as possible in their university years," explained Mr Alex Tham, programme leader of the BBA (Hons) Marketing. "It allows first-year students to interact with their seniors." The work is in addition to the students' coursework, but response is enthusiastic. Ms Kathy Ng, President of Hang Fung Gold Technology Group said, "The students' detailed and creative plans enable us to have a deeper understanding about the demands and preferences of local customers."

"The knowledge and experience students acquired at the University prepare them to meet future challenges of the business world," remarked Professor Ko in his opening speech. He thanked the participating companies, dedicated teachers and talented students for the success of the project and he encouraged students to strive for excellence in their careers.

In his closing speech, Dr Zhou Nan, Head of Department of Marketing, recalled the first time he met his students at the orientation camp three years ago. "I am very glad to see that all of you have grown up. But what remains the same on all these familiar faces are the smiles, the cheerfulness, and the passionate attitude towards work, study and life," said Dr Zhou. Whole-person development is an important pillar of CityU's mission. During their three years of study, these marketing students have been provided with learning opportunities through an extensive range of training programmes such as Outward Bound, student mentoring, and overseas exchange programmes.



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