Vivere all’Italiana: Taylor’s University Hosts the “Italian Week in ASEAN” Student Business Challenge Event

Taylor’s University hosted the inaugural Italian-ASEAN Student Challenge developing marketing plans for Italian companies operating in Malaysia.

Embassy of Italy, IMBA, ITA and students at the ‘Italy Week in ASEAN’ Business Challenge at Taylor’s University
Taylor’s Business School (TBS) undergraduate and post graduate students participated in a the inaugaural “Italian-ASEAN Student Challenge” organised in partnership with the Embassy of Italy, the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) office and the Italy-Malaysian Business Association (IMBA). The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been celebrating its 50th anniversary, and given the importance of the ASEAN economies to Italy the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs launched its “Italian Week in ASEAN” initiative. Seven Italian Embassies (in Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta, KL, Manila, Singapore, Yangoon), along with two Italian Cultural Institutes and five offices of the Italian trade agency collectively organised some 60+ events covering culture to trade. They included seminars, concerts, exhibitions and conferences embracing the “Vivere all’Italiana” - or what is known as the “Italian Way of Life”. 

Taylor’s University (TU) has already worked with the Italian Embassy in Malaysia on holding events such as Italian Creativity and International Italian Design Day. Working with the Italian Embassy and IMBA, each TBS student group selected to work with one of the over 90 Italian companies operating in Malaysia. The undergraduate student groups focused on developing an integrated marketing communication plan for the companies, to promote ‘Made in Italy’ products/brands in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the postgraduate students focused on the development of a digital marketing and social media strategies to support the penetration of Italian brands/products in the ASEAN region via an online shopping portal. At the ‘Italy in ASEAN’ event held at the Lakeside campus, the top three undergraduate student groups presented their marketing plans to the President of IMBA, as well as to the Italian Trade Agency, the Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission/Counselor (Ms Silvia Marra) as well as to senior representatives from Italian companies in Malaysia.

The winning group was ‘Gucci’. The TBS lecturer in charge of the student groups, Dr Nurlida Ismail said, “In the pursuit to further improve Italian’s product/brand consciousness and existence in Malaysia, the undergraduate group challenge was aimed to develop a compelling creative Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) plan to promote a ‘Made in Italy’ product/brand in Malaysia. The focus of the challenge was for each group to come up with a creative ‘major selling idea’ as the central theme to be used for a 3-month promotional campaign.  Thirty groups, which involved some 128 undergraduate students, participated in the challenge. The top 3 groups were chosen to compete in the ‘Italian Week In ASEAN’ challenge”. She added that, “I was very pleased to see the effort that the students have put into making this challenge a success. It also good to see that they have the ability to use theories and concepts learned in classroom, and to be apply them in the real-world situation in the development of the marketing plans”. 

Dr Jason Turner, the TBS lecturer in charge of the postgraduate student group explained that, “based on a consumer survey of 268, the postgraduate students found that although respondents were not frequent online shoppers they used social media (particularly Facebook and YouTube) daily”. In regards to Malaysian consumers perceptions of Italian products, and the likelihood of them purchasing these online, the majority of respondents thought Italian products were synonymous with luxury and quality.  They would be interested in purchasing Italian food products, but it seems they are indifferent about purchasing Italian fashion and furniture, and did not appear so interested in purchasing Italian products via an Italian shopping portal.  Prof Perry Hobson, the PVC for Global Engagement said that, “We were very pleased to work with the Embassy of Italy again, and that this ‘Business Challenge’ presented our students with a real-world situation.

I would particularly like to thank IMBA for their high-level of engagement with our students. We often talk about ‘internationalisation at home’ projects, and I think this has been a great example
” - (Global Matters 2018)