The Summers of 2019: Sales at ITC

The Summers of 2019 is a series about the various categories of roles offered by companies for summer internships. We bring to you the experiences of interns from Consulting, Finance, Marketing, General Management, Product Management, Operations, and E-commerce roles to understand a bit more about their work life. The articles are meant to give the reader a glimpse into the life of an intern, and maybe help the reader understand their own fit in that particular role. 

Contributed by: Souvik Roy

I interned at ITC this summer and this was certainly an experience I can never forget in my life. My project was to study and understand the impact of the expansion of capsule-cigarette industry in the northern states of India and find opportunities to leverage ITC’s portfolio to garner further market share. The cigarette industry is dominated by ITC in India but the segment I was working on was capsule cigarettes, which is a booming segment from past 4-5 years. In this particular category, ITC is facing tough competition from other players in certain places.

Cigarettes are a taboo product in many places and people are often not so open about their feelings, likes and dislikes about the product. A difficult aspect of the project was that one cannot carry out all kinds of marketing campaigns for cigarettes to generate sales due to heavy government regulations.

A sales intern profile is quite interesting and tough, to say the least. You get criticism or appreciation of your efforts immediately in the market. I had to go to the market daily to interact with consumers of different kinds (starting from Rickshaw pullers to office employees) outside pan shops in scorching heat for about 8-9 hours a day. I also had to interact with retailers and distributors to know their pain points. The interactions with several people were helpful to generate useful insights. I also performed Product specific survey by giving people our cigarettes and asked their review about it.

The best part of my internship was the travel associated with it. I was based in Gurgaon office, but I visited 10 cities in north India including Lucknow, Agra, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Panchkula, Solan (H.P.), Jaipur, Sikar, Delhi, Gurgaon. I explored many new places for the first time in my life. I got to interact with different kinds of people from different places and got to know their mindset and thinking about the product.

As an organization ITC is hierarchical and the best part is it does not believe in spoon feeding. Although I was an intern, the commitment expected was nothing less than a full-time employee. Everyone in the organization starting from salesmen, supervisors to managers are helpful and tried to clarify my doubts to the best of their capacity.

I had co-interns from other prestigious B-Schools and we had a great time together. We had each other’s back and became great friends in the process. I was given complete authority of the project and I was judged on what new ways I can provide that is implementable and can help the company. I did pilot projects and generated positive results which gave me satisfaction at a personal level. Finally, I can say that I will receive an offer from the company or not, that the time will tell; but, it was certainly a rollercoaster ride of 2 months.

Souvik is a student of the PGP 2018-20 batch at IIM Bangalore.

Media Cell IIMB is the student run outreach and communication committee of IIM Bangalore dedicated to form the bridge within the student community and the outside world.

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