What I learned from Markstrat: A student shares his experience

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As a Master’s student at ESCP Europe, Zakaria Maloumi had the opportunity to play Markstrat during his strategic marketing class. The 25-year-old found it to be an enriching experience.

The concept. To learn by doing, and not only from theories: this is what Zakaria liked. “I find this method teaches a lot”, he says. He was able to experiment with the process of developing a new product and come to understand the role of market studies and advertising, as well as learn to integrate the needs of the clients, the evolution of the market.

In all, it’s a good game for teaching how to transform a client’s needs into a product, manage a budget and define a strategy”, he remarks.

Teamwork.  Another advantage of Markstrat, he says: the chance to work in a team, like in a company. His was quite diverse.

With my training in engineering, I was the most analytic of everyone. On the other hand, some of my classmates had clearer perceptions of the client’s expectations. What I loved in this experience is that I learned so much from others.”

Teamwork – and competition with the other student teams – were also motivating factors.

In my team, we were very enthusiastic. Having a common goal joined us together. We were working on something that mattered deeply to us, it was our baby!”, he recounts.

Organization of the game. Zakaria liked Markstrat’s ease of use and realism. Another thing he appreciated: the vast data fields that were available and could be downloaded.

This is helpful for making analyses, as well as producing one’s own charts and graphics”, he notes. He regrets however that the game did not go beyond strategic marketing. “For example, it doesn’t deal with the aspects of factory production, HR or supply chain. In a way, that’s frustrating, but it’s really about focusing on one field.”

Learning from mistakes. One of the benefits of Markstrat is learning from failure. At first, Zakaria and his team were on the wrong track.

We had bet on a bad segment of the market”, he recalls. By the end of the third session, they had changed course. “What I learned was that we hadn’t given enough attention to market studies versus advertisement, because we didn’t quite know what could be gleaned from them. When we changed that, it helped us unveil the factors at play in the client’s perceptions.”

Winning the game. Zakaria did well: at the end of the ten sessions, his team won. He tells us the secret is to spot the market trends in order to be able to predict and anticipate what comes next. Winning at Markstrat also involves a lot of preparation.

My team got together before each session to go over our analyses, both micro and macro, and to discuss the opposing teams. It was interesting to see which teams made it, and to try to understand why. I think this preparation, that not all the teams made, was the key.”