Module 2: Understanding Competition 

I read the material in the text book about the Competition, and it is very clear that understanding the competition is a crucial business activity for any company. Therefore, for any business it is essential to understand two basic questions in order to formulate an effective strategy, and those questions are:

1. What is your company doing?

2. What are your competitors doing?

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The goal is to gather enough data in order to make meaningful comparisons between your company and competitors.  This analysis can help a business to learn the best practices from competitors and also learn to avoid the mistakes they make. Furthermore, attention is given to how firms analyze the competitive positions of rivals and how define their marketing strategies.  Successful companies try to satisfy customers needs and wants better than competitors are able to do it. This differential advantage is achieved through the elements of marketing mix.

Michele Levy, an independent brand strategy consultant says: “Keeping track of who your competitors are, what people are saying about them, and what they are saying themselves can help you differentiate your business and stay ahead of trends that could impact your business,”  “Staying smart on the competitive landscape helps you make very practical decisions around product development, pricing, promotions, messaging, as well as where you fit in the brand landscape.”

Very important are the ways and methods of obtaining information about competitor’s activities. Also how firms might assess competitors strengths and weaknesses.

 

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Module 2: Understanding Customers

Module 2 readings and video focused primary on the customer analysis as a crucial marketing strategy. Long term success is very difficult and I would say impossible without responding to customer’s needs. Understanding the customer’s needs, wants and demands is the key of continual success.

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Companies that are successful place the customers at the center of their decisions. They understand their customer experience from delivery value to emotional satisfaction and provide products or service that fulfills their needs at reasonable prices. Therefore, if the company can’t convey the products value to the potential customers, it doesn’t matter how good that product is because the customers won’t experience the value created. Thus answering the questions “Who are the customers? What needs do they seek to fulfill? Who/what is currently fulfilling their needs?” gives information of many question related with the above issues.

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In the figure above is shown the Mallows Hierarchy of needs, which illustrates the five levels of human needs. The basic needs are the psychological and safety/security, which are shown at the base of the pyramid. As they move higher they become more complex.

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Module 1: The Market Research Process

Market Research is the Process of gathering data, providing fact base analysis as to whether the product or service satisfies the needs of consumers. It reduces business risk and eliminates the intuition and emotion from the business decisions. It involves asking the right questions, to the right people and in the right way.

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Fig1. Market Research Process

In the figure above we can see the 6 steps of Market Research Process, which help the company to run a successful business, by learning about the target customers, competitors and the specific industry.  This process research helps the company to stay on the top of what customers want.

In my opinion defining the problem is the most important step, is like solving half of the problem. By identifying the problem you will be able to have effective and focused research.

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Module 1: The Clean Queen Case

It was quite interesting understanding the difference between product and marketing orientation. The Clean Queen Company faced significant profitability challenges.  Their upright vacuum line, a less profitable product, has maintained a 5% growth rate per year in a market that has only been growing at 3% in the current fiscal year; however the more profitable canister line is experiencing decreased sales.  This situation results in zero overall sales growth.  Within the management team there is a difference of strategy between two approaches.  The sales manager wants to lower the price point in order to increase sales.  The Chief Design Engineer wants to introduce an innovative, but higher priced unit, that offers improved performance.

In the Clean Queen Company we can define two main problems:

  1. The participants weren’t commenting from a data-driven perspective which makes us understand that the company doesn’t have enough secondary and primary data gathered from the company based on effective market analysis.
  2. The General Manager in the discussion is focused in the quality of their products based on their feature oriented product, which helps us to understand that the company is product-oriented.

The recommendation would be for the company’s marketing philosophy to be based on a market orientation strategy.  This approach should be focused on understanding and meeting the needs and desires of its customers in a very competitive marketplace through its product offerings. Clean Queen’s product was dated because it hasn’t been innovated for 20 years. It doesn’t have sufficient quality in today’s market and it is priced too high relative to competitors. Market orientation strategy would support and give credence to the innovative approach of the Chief Design Engineer in develop leading edge products to expand and enhance the product mix. It will contribute in deciding for reasonable price and high quality in order to satisfy the customers. The market orientation approach would most likely prove to be successful given that it would be a coordinated marketing campaign between Clean Queen and its customers by refining the sweet spot to meet customer’s needs thru market sensing and analysis.

The market research should start with secondary research. Then continue with primary research from qualitative to quantitative data. Both are based on asking questions, over the phone or face-to-face meeting. Most importantly, they have to gain insight from the market data regarding what customer needs in a vacuum cleaner are currently not being met? What specifications are valued at a higher perspective of the customer?  How do they clean their house? What tools do they use to clean the house? Where do they buy those tools? In addition, the design and specification should be modified as required to create a stronger alignment with the needs and desires of the targeted market.

The Clean Queen needs to discover the competitors. Researching the competitors helps understanding their specifications. What they are doing? Why their product is attractive to customers? What are competitor’s main strengths and weakness? What are their prices? Specifically they have to Average the Price Index Analysis so they can approach strategically for their price setting clearly .

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Module 1: Advantages of a firm being Market Oriented

Market Oriented Firms make customers’ needs or wants primary focus. By this we mean that the customers in those firms will experience higher pleasure for their products and services. On the other hand the company tries to be loyal to the customers by making adjustments and product improvements over time. When the Firms understand the needs they will effectively market to them. With market research marketers can understand the needs and how their product aligns with those needs.

The company can lead to long-term profitability if permanently understands what the marketplace wants. Building customer value allows the company to increase loyalty to the bran. Loyal customers will buy in larger purchase and they will repeat sales. These customers are very resistant from competitors.

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Effectively implementing the market orientation needs marketing research for determining the needs of customers in the marketplace. Depending on the depth on the research they can be expensive. Market oriented company spends large amount of costs on advertising. It cultivates very carefully its brand in the minds of potential customers with the aim of influencing  the customers to buy their product.

 

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