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Marketing Planning

Strategy, environment and context

Jim Blythe and Phil Megicks

For marketers, planning revolves around what we think our consumers want us to do: we then need to work out how we can profi t from meeting their needs. This book is intended to guide the reader through the maze of factors that affect marketing planning, and provides some tools and techniques for implementing marketing planning in practice.

Blythe and Megicks provide an overview of the essential elements of marketing planning with a particular emphasis on the components of the marketing planning process, whilst highlighting the three core themes of strategy, environment and context. The book features an innovative running case study which follows a company through the entire process of marketing planning, stage by stage and chapter by chapter, fi nishing with a completed marketing plan.










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About the authorsJim Blythe is Visiting Reader at Plymouth Business School, University of Plymouth. An experienced textbook author, he is Senior Examiner for the ‘Marketing Essentials’ unit run by the CIM.

Phil Megicks is Professor of Marketing and Strategy and Head of the School of Business and Management at the University of Plymouth. He is Senior Examiner with the CIM and designed the Level 6 ‘Marketing Planning Process’ unit launched in 2009.

The book is written for the syllabus for the Chartered Institute of Marketing unit on the Marketing Planning Process, and covers everything you will need to study for a marketing planning course at both undergraduate and MBA level.

Key features

• Case studies of internationally-recognised companies including JJB Sports, Toyota, Thomson Holidays, BMI, Bulmer’s Cider and Honda show how knowledge of marketing planning can lead to more effective marketing and organisational success across a range of different contexts, sectors and industries.

• Examples in each chapter cover key overarching themes such as innovation, ethics and globalisation to highlight topical issues in marketing today.

• ‘Talking Point’ boxes are thought-provoking and controversial in order to stimulate discussion and critical thinking.

• A sample marketing plan provided in the appendix gives students the opportunity to compare their results.

• Online resources available at www.pearsoned.co.uk/blythe include an Instructor’s Manual and PowerPoint slides for instructors, along with sample exam questions and weblinks for students.

Cover image© Getty Images


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Marketing Planning

Visit the Marketing Planning Companion Website at

www.pearsoned.co.uk/blytheto find valuable student learning material including:

● Links to relevant sites on the web

● Sample exam questions with specimen answers

● Internet projects linked to the book.

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We work with leading authors to develop the strongest educational materials in marketing, bringing cutting-edgethinking and best learning practice to a global market.

Under a range of well-known imprints, including Financial Times Prentice Hall, we craft high quality print and electronic publications which help readers to understand and apply their content, whether studying or at work.

To find out more about the complete range of our publishing, please visit us on the World Wide Web at:www.pearsoned.co.uk

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Marketing PlanningStrategy, Environment and Context

Jim BlytheVisiting Reader, Plymouth Business School, University of Plymouth

Phil MegicksUniversity of Plymouth

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Pearson Education LimitedEdinburgh GateHarlowEssex CM20 2JEEngland

and Associated Companies throughout the world

Visit us on the World Wide Web at:www.pearsoned.co.uk

First edition 2010

© Pearson Education Limited 2010

The rights of Jim Blythe and Phil Megicks to be identified as authors of this work havebeen asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievalsystem, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without either the prior written permission of the publisher or alicence permitting restricted copying in the United Kingdom issued by the CopyrightLicensing Agency Ltd, Saffron House, 6–10 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TS.

All trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners. The use of anytrademark in this text does not vest in the author or publisher any trademark ownershiprights in such trademarks, nor does the use of such trademarks imply any affiliation with or endorsem*nt of this book by such owners.

ISBN: 978-0-273-72471-1

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication DataA catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataBlythe, Jim.

Marketing planning : strategy, environment and context / Jim Blythe, Phil Megicks. – 1st ed.

p. cm.Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 978-0-273-72471-1 (pbk.)

1. Marketing–Planning. 2. Marketing–Management. I. Megicks, Phil. II. Title.HF5415.13.B5655 2010658.8’02–dc22


10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 114 13 12 11 10

Typeset in 10/14 pt ITC Charter by 35Printed and bound by Graficas Estella, Spain

The publisher’s policy is to use paper manufactured from sustainable forests.

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Preface xiii

Guided tour xiv

Acknowledgements xvii

Introducing the running case study: The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd xix


1 Marketing and marketing planning 3

2 Marketing plans and objectives 25

3 Drivers of marketing planning 43


4 The marketing audit 61

5 Analysing the external environment 79

6 Analysing the internal environment 97

7 Identifying marketing strategies 117


8 Segmentation strategy 137

9 Segmenting markets 155

10 Targeting 175

11 Positioning 187


12 Implementing marketing plans 201

13 Adapting marketing planning to context 221

Marketing plan for The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd: 2010–2014 239

Glossary 256

Index 259

Brief contents

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Preface xiiiGuided tour xivAcknowledgements xviiIntroducing the running case study: The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd xix


1 Marketing and marketing planning 3

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 3Objectives 4Introduction 4Marketing as a business philosophy 4Marketing and other business functions 7Relationships in marketing-oriented firms 10Competitive advantage and the management of exchange 11The purpose of marketing planning 13The role of the marketer in planning 16Stages of the marketing planning process 16Content and structure of a marketing plan 19Summary 20The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 21Review questions 21Case study: JJB Sports 21References 22

2 Marketing plans and objectives 25

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 25Objectives 26Introduction 26Corporate objectives 26Other objectives 30Marketing plans and corporate plans 31Aims and objectives 33Summary 37The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 38Review questions 39Case study: Richer Sounds 39References 40


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viii Contents

3 Drivers of marketing planning 43

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 43Objectives 44Introduction 44Planning and the marketing environment 44The resource-based view 47The market-driving approach to strategy 53Summary 54The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 55Review questions 55Case study: Toyota 55References 57


4 The marketing audit 61

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 61Objectives 62Introduction 62Elements of the audit 62Practicalities of undertaking a marketing audit 74Summary 74The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 75Review questions 76Case study: Thomson Holidays 76References 78

5 Analysing the external environment 79

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 79Objectives 80Introduction 80Modelling the external environment 80Macro-environmental influences on planning 83Competitor analysis 91Researching the marketing environment 92Summary 94The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 94Review questions 95Case study: BAE Systems 95References 96

6 Analysing the internal environment 97

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 97Objectives 98Introduction 98Undertaking internal analysis 98

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Organisational structures and systems 100Assessing marketing productivity 106Resources, competencies and capabilities 107Audit analysis 112Summary 113The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 113Review questions 114Case study: Iveco 114References 116

7 Identifying marketing strategies 117

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 117Objectives 118Introduction 118The planning gap 118Collaborating with competitors 126Marketing strategy in a recession 127International market entry strategies 129Evaluating strategies through SWOT analysis 130Summary 131The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 132Review questions 132Case study: AeroMexico 133References 134


8 Segmentation strategy 137

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 137Objectives 138Introduction 138Defining marketing boundaries 138Strategic issues in segmentation 140Strategic evaluation of segments 142Marketing strategies for marketing objectives 145Summary 151The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 151Review questions 152Case study: Boutique Caravans 152References 153

9 Segmenting markets 155

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 155Objectives 156Introduction 156Segmenting the market 156

Contents ix

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x Contents

Segmenting business markets 166The nested approach to segmentation 167Summary 170The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 170Review questions 171Case study: BMI 172References 173

10 Targeting 175

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 175Objectives 176Introduction 176Assessing segments 176Targeting multiple segments 179Targeting decisions 181Targeting marginal segments 182Generic targeting strategies 183Summary 184The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 184Review questions 185Case study: Balfour Beatty 185References 186

11 Positioning 187

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 187Objectives 188Introduction 188Perception and positioning 188Positioning and the marketing mix 192Positioning multiple brands 193Repositioning 194Summary 195The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 196Review questions 196Case study: Bulmer’s Cider 197References 198


12 Implementing marketing plans 201

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 201Objectives 202Introduction 202Implementing the plan 203Translating strategy into tactics 203Strategy and organisational structure 204

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Implementation and change 205Budgeting 209Monitoring and evaluating marketing performance 211Summary 216The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 217Review questions 218Case study: Organising Honda 218References 219

13 Adapting marketing planning to context 221

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 221Objectives 222Introduction 222Planning in business-to-business markets 222Globalisation strategy 223Non-profit marketing 226Internal marketing 229Services marketing 230Planning in SMEs 231Summary 234The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd 234Review questions 235Case study: The Real Seed Catalogue 235References 236

Marketing plan for The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd: 2010–2014 239Glossary 256Index 259

Contents xi

Supporting resources

Visit www.pearsoned.co.uk/blythe to find valuable online resources:

Companion Website for students● Links to relevant sites on the web● Sample exam questions with specimen answers● Internet projects linked to the book

For instructors● Complete, downloadable Instructor’s Manual● PowerPoint slides that can be downloaded and used for presentations

Also: The Companion Website provides the following features:● Search tool to help locate specific items of content● E-mail results and profile tools to send results of quizzes to instructors● Online help and support to assist with website usage and troubleshooting

For more information please contact your local Pearson Education sales representative or visit www.pearsoned.co.uk/blythe

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Planning is never straightforward. All of us can predict the future to an extent, ofcourse, but there are so many factors involved in running a business that accurate predictions are hard to come by: add to this the difficulty of working out exactly whatto do for a given set of circ*mstances, and one can easily see why planning is difficult.

Yet without some kind of plan we have no idea what we should be doing when we gointo work on Monday morning. For marketers, planning revolves largely around whatwe think our customers and consumers will want us to do: we then need to work outhow we can profit from meeting their needs. This book is intended to guide the readerthrough the maze of factors that affect marketing planning, and provide some tools andtechniques for cutting through the undergrowth.

The book includes case studies taken from real companies which are out there in the real world, fighting real, competitive battles. These firms take widely differingapproaches to planning, because their circ*mstances and needs are also widely differing.We have included a fictitious case study which follows a company through the entireprocess of marketing planning, stage by stage and chapter by chapter, finishing with a completed marketing plan. Each chapter contains Talking Points which are intendedto make you think rather than just accept the received wisdom, and of course there arereview questions to test your understanding of the chapter contents.

The book is written around the syllabus for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)module, The Marketing Planning Process, but it covers everything the reader will needto study a marketing planning course at both undergraduate and MBA level. The aimhas been to produce a straightforward, logically framed, readable text to cover thiscomplex area. In doing so, we have relied on help from our colleagues at the CIM and at Plymouth Business School, and on the support of everybody at Pearson, fromDavid Cox, who helped us turn a basic idea into a coherent plan for a text, through themany people in production who turned our manuscript into the book you now hold inyour hand.

In practice, of course, no plan survives first contact with the enemy – it is the planningprocess that is important, because it focuses the minds of managers and provides a framework which should be sufficiently flexible to allow for the unforeseen. In thewords of General Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied forces at the time of the D-Day invasion in 1944: ‘Plans are nothing – planning is everything.’


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Guided tour

Chapter 1

Marketing and marketing planning

Mike and Hugh realised that their lack of in-house marketing knowledge would be a severe handicap. As a quick fix, they decided to talk to a marketing consultant from Wynn James Barclay, a local businessconsultancy. The consultant, Rachel Strong, rapidlyrealised that their conception of marketing was limited

to advertising and personal selling, and even there they were somewhat naive.

She began by explaining marketing as a business philosophy rather than a set offunctions, then went on to explain the purpose of marketing planning. This leftMike and Hugh with a starting point for their marketing plan.




Review questions

1 How might a small firm carry out its planning functions?

2 Why is the marketing concept sometimes difficult to implement in firms?

3 What is the importance of segmentation?

4 How does marketing work as a coordinating force in companies?

5 What is the relationship between the corporate plan and the marketing plan?

Chapter 1 Marketing and marketing planning 21

With a deeper understanding of the marketing concept, Hugh andMike began to analyse their current situation. They quickly came tothe following conclusions:

1 Their previous belief that the company was customer-oriented wassadly mistaken. They had been product-driven and had not fullyunderstood what their customers actually needed. More by luck

than judgement, they had hit on a range of products that was successful, but had been savedby Stephanie Walters’ understanding of the market and by Hugh’s experience in landscapegardening. Neither of them had any knowledge or experience of commercial tree surgery ororchard management.

2 The idea of having marketing as the driving philosophy of the business was certainly appeal-ing, but they would need to hire a qualified marketer to achieve this since their knowledgeof how it would work in practice was limited.

3 The value created by their products lay not in the physical products but in the outcomesfrom using them. People buying the Slick Mower were buying tidy lawns, people buying the special tools were buying a rewarding hobby, and so forth. This thinking led them toreconsider the new product – what benefits would it actually provide to the customers? Theydecided that the key benefit was time saving, which for an orchard manager would mean a saving in wages. Another benefit might be in safety, since most branches could be trimmedfrom the ground without using a ladder or (worse) climbing up the tree.

They also realised that they would have to consider their overall strategy for the business – up until now, they had simply carried on with whatever presented itself rather than having adefinite direction.




Case study JJB Sports

JJB Sports is one of the UK’s largest sports retailers, offering sports clothing, sporting equip-ment, games and fitness products. The company was founded by former footballer DavidWhelan in 1971 in order to acquire one sporting goods shop in Wigan; by 1976 the companyhad four stores and began a rapid expansion programme which saw it launched on the LondonStock Exchange in 1994, by which time it had 120 stores.


Marketing Planning comes with a unique Running case study giving you a greatopportunity to examine the marketing planning process step by step. Each chapter presents a new marketing planning dilemma which needs to befaced by Mike and Hugh. This dilemma is addressed at the end of the chapter.

Objectives enable youto focus on what youshould have achievedby the end of the chapter.

The Talking pointfeature helps inspiredebate and discussionby providing athought-provokingfact or question.

4 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Explain how marketers balance the needs of other stakeholders with the needs ofcustomers.

‘ Show how marketing can act as a coordinating force within organisations.

‘ Explain the problems which arise when marketing is seen as a function of thebusiness rather than as its guiding philosophy.

‘ Explain the role of planning in focusing managers’ thinking.

‘ Show how a comprehensive plan provides a ‘blueprint’ for staff to work to.

‘ Explain the role of marketing in managing exchange.


This chapter is about the role of marketing and marketing planning within the organisa-tion. Marketing is more than just a set of techniques for making sales; it is more, even,than a means of fulfilling corporate aims and objectives. Marketing can be viewed as abusiness philosophy and an organisational culture, and as the means of driving strat-egies towards meeting the organisation’s objectives. Marketing reaches well beyondsimply identifying and meeting customer needs; it provides a focus for the organisationin deploying limited resources, normally within competitive environments where rivalorganisations exist. In order to be successful in their marketing and take on competitors,organisations need to plan their marketing activities. Marketing planning is essential tothe effective use of marketing resources and the ultimate achievement of the specificoutcomes that are pursued by an organisation. Planning the marketing effort providesa basis for formulating strategies and shaping marketing tactics that lead to achievingorganisational goals through the satisfaction of customer requirements.

Marketing as a business philosophy

The marketing concept holds that organisations should place the customer at the centre of everything they do and that customers are pivotal to organisational success,irrespective of the nature of the organisation involved. In its broadest sense the business philosophy of customer centrality that is espoused through marketing can beapplied in all organisational contexts: it can apply equally to a profit-driven multi-national corporation as it does to a small, local social enterprise seeking to achieve non-profit goals. Identifying your customers, knowing their needs and wants, deployingresources to provide them with an offer that satisfies them, and generating appropriaterewards for doing this is what the marketing concept is all about – and such a philosophywill work whatever ‘business’ you are in.

At first sight, this is a straightforward proposition; in practice, it has manyramifications, some of which may be controversial or difficult to put into practice. For example, there is the counter-argument that an organisation is not justified in placing the interests of one set of stakeholders above those of others – in other words,

Objectives organisations may not be justified in sacrificing staff welfare in order to meet customerneeds, or in reducing prices to the point where the shareholders cannot receive a fairreturn on their investment.

Marketers respond to this by saying that without customers there is no business, but of course this is also true of employees and shareholders. In the present climate of opinion, the general public at large expect companies to retain a degree of responsibil-ity for the environment, for ethical considerations, and for what is generally termedgood ‘corporate citizenship’ where they take seriously the effects and externalities oftheir actions on the wider community.

Chapter 1 Marketing and marketing planning 5

Why should companies have to take responsibility for the environment? After all,if a rival company ignores environmental issues, it’s likely to be a lot moreprofitable, so why should one set of employees and shareholders lose out toanother, simply for some vague moral principle?

Surely it’s up to the government to legislate appropriately, and thus create a levelplaying field? Or is there another mechanism at work, such as corporatereputation? If that’s the case, companies can hardly claim the moral high ground,when what they are doing is clearly no more than a public relations exercise!


Marketers therefore need to balance other needs against those of their buyers, and cannot simply do exactly as the customers wish. At the very least the organisationneeds to charge enough to ensure that it achieves a profit or surplus, otherwise it willnot be in business very long, or will never be able to achieve what it set out to. Placingthe emphasis on customer centrality is justified because without customers there wouldbe no purpose to an organisation and to that end there would be no beneficial outcome to those who are trying to meet the needs and wants of these key stakeholders in the market.

The implication of engaging with the marketing concept is that marketing becomes a coordinating force within the organisation. If customer satisfaction is the core aim of a business, then everyone in that business will be aiming to achieve the same generaloutcomes – just as winning a match provides an overriding focus for all members of a team, the marketing concept provides a coordinating objective for different depart-ments within an organisation.

This coordinating function of marketing implies that everyone in the organisation hasa role in marketing and meeting the requirements of customers. In turn, this means thatmarketers themselves will have to relinquish some of their day-to-day functions toother members of the organisation – it is clearly impossible to be everywhere at once,so the firm adopts the philosophy ‘We are all marketers now’. Some specialised tacticalroles will remain for the marketers to deal with (such as media buying, marketingresearch, promotional planning), but areas such as new product development, customerrelations, distribution chain management and even public relations will be the respon-sibility of many other staff members.

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The Summariesclinch the importantconcepts that havejust been presentedto reinforce thechapter learning.

Each chapter is supported byReferences directingyour independentstudy.

Each chapter ends withReview questions that testyour understanding and helpyou track your progress.

Each chapter concludes withan insightful Case study whichprovides a range of materialfor seminars and private studyby illustrating the real-lifeapplications and implicationsof the topics covered in thechapter. These come with discussion questions.

Visit the Marketing PlanningCompanion Website atwww.pearsoned.co.uk/blytheto find valuable student learningmaterial including:

● Links to relevant sites on the web

● Sample exam questions with specimen answers

● Internet projects linked to the book.

20 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

6.0 Implementation and control6.1 Timing of activities6.2 Responsibilities and structures6.3 Marketing resourcing budgets6.4 Monitoring processes6.5 Control mechanisms

7.0 Appendix7.1 Main planning assumptions7.2 Projected financial and non-financial outcome forecasts.

As already noted, the detail of the plan will obviously vary between situations butshould include each of these sections in order to provide a comprehensive basis for taking the organisation forward to achieve its objectives. The reality of planning inpractice, however, often precludes this, as many organisations and marketers withinthem find it difficult to undertake all of the tasks involved. Indeed, it is often the casethat the plan may be produced but it never reaches the implementation stage. Yet inprinciple the significance of marketing planning to organisational success cannot bedenied, and as this book unfolds we will examine further how to undertake the mar-keting planning process successfully.


Marketing activity cannot realistically happen without marketing planning. As with anyother business activity, setting out to achieve something requires a certain amount ofthought beforehand – knowing what each of us has to do to realise the common aim iswhat planning is intended to achieve. However, planning has another key benefit: itfocuses the minds of managers and helps them to identify areas for improvement, espe-cially in the process of carrying out a marketing audit.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ Marketers need to balance the needs of other stakeholders with the needs ofcustomers.

‘ Marketing can, and does, act as a coordinating force, especially in firms whichhave embraced the marketing concept.

‘ Marketing is often seen as a function of the business, rather than as its guidingphilosophy.

‘ Marketing has a further wide-ranging remit around competitive advantage,exchange and relationships within organisations.

‘ Planning focuses the mind.

‘ Plans should be comprehensive enough to provide a ‘blueprint’ for staff to work to.

‘ Planning can be undertaken in different ways and these should take account oforganisational factors and circ*mstances.

116 Part 2 Environmental analysis

Barney, J.B. (1986): Organisational culture: can it be a source of sustained competitiveadvantage? Academy of Management Review, 11 pp 656–65.

Barney, J.B. (1991): Organisation resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal ofManagement, 17 (1) pp 99–120.

Bessen, J. (1994): Riding the marketing information wave. Harvard Business Review,September–October pp 150–60.

Blythe, J. (2000): Objectives and measures at UK trade exhibitions. Journal of MarketingManagement, 16 pp 203–22.

Dretske, F. (1981): Knowledge and the Flow of Information (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

Durand, T. (1996): Revisiting key dimensions of competence. Paper presented to the SMSConference, Phoenix, Arizona.

Evans, M.J. (1994): Domesday marketing? Journal of Marketing Management, 10 (5) pp 409–31.

Grant, R.M. (2002): Contemporary Strategy Analysis, 4th edition (Oxford: BlackwellPublishers Inc).

Hamilton, W., East, R. and Kalafatis, S. (1997): The measurement and utility of brand priceelasticities. Journal of Marketing Management, 13 (4) pp 285–98.

Lowendahl, B.R. (1997): Strategic Management of Professional Business ServiceOrganisations (Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press).

Penrose, E.T. (1958): The Theory of the Growth of the Organisation (New York: Wiley).

Prahalad, C.K. and Hamel, G. (1990): The core competence of the corporation. HarvardBusiness Review, May–June pp 79–91.

Proctor, T. (2000): Essentials of Marketing Research, 2nd edition (Harlow: Financial TimesPrentice Hall).

Sprague, R.H. and Watson, H.J. (1986): Decision Support Systems: Putting Theory intoPractice (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).

Stalk, G., Evans, P. and Shulman, L. (1992): Competing on capabilities. Harvard BusinessReview, March/April.

Teece, D.J., Pisano, G. and Shuen, A (1997): Dynamic capabilities and strategic manage-ment. Strategic Management Journal, 18 (7) pp 509–33.

Wernerfelt, B. (1984): A resource-based view of the organisation. Strategic ManagementJournal, April/June pp 171–80.


Chapter 2 Marketing plans and objectives 39

Case study Richer Sounds

When Julian Richer was only 14 he began buying and selling hi-fi separates. By the age of 17he had three employees, and at age 19 he opened his first store, at London Bridge. That wasin 1978. This store entered the Guinness Book of Records for having the highest sales turnoverper square foot of any retail outlet in the world.

By 2009, the company had 49 stores throughout the UK, with 10 in London alone; the companyhas a set policy of not expanding too quickly, but rather going steadily in terms of its growth.Because the company is entirely owned by Julian Richer, there are no shareholders to maketheir wishes heard. Richer can therefore do whatever he wants with the business.

The result is a very individual approach to shifting hi-fi equipment. Richer has a reputation fora ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ approach to retailing, but in recent years the company has begunto stock equipment for hi-fi enthusiasts (called audiophiles) and also LCD and plasma-screenTVs. Richer says that staff are chosen on the basis of enthusiasm and friendliness rather thanhigh-powered salesmanship, but this is not the whole picture – most Richer Sounds staff arefriends or relatives of existing employees. In other organisations this would be regarded as corrupt practice, but in Richer Sounds it is seen as a good way to develop and maintain a corporate culture, and especially to make it easy for new staff to fit it. Staff are usually musicenthusiasts, and they are encouraged to advise customers but not to adopt a hard-sellapproach.

Julian Richer has a ten-point plan which he published in his book, The Richer Way (RicherPublishing 2009). He is happy to share the plan with others; probably few other business managers would have the charisma to make it work. The ten points are as follows:

1 Talk to your staff and managers. Change is always greeted with suspicion, even cynicism.Tell everyone you are seeking improvement and why, so everyone is infected with enthusiasm.

2 Examine your mission statement. If you do not have one, form a working party to draw one up.

3 Organise an attitude survey. Find out what employees really think, to set a baseline.

4 Think about fun. How can you liven up the workplace and create a happy atmosphere?Look at reward structures.

5 Revise the rule book. Get rid of outdated regulations and meaningless traditions.

Review questions

1 Why might customer satisfaction be a more appropriate objective than profitability?

2 Under what circ*mstances would corporate strategy and marketing strategy be identical?

3 Why might a company seek to help its competitors by increasing the overall marketfor the product category?

4 How might a hairdressing chain define what business it is in?

5 Why might a company reduce its product range?


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Custom Publishing

Custom publishing allows academics to pick and choose content from one or more texts fortheir course and combine it into a definitive course text. Content choices include:

● Chapters from one or more of our textbooksin the subject areas of your choice

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● Case studies from any of our partners,including Harvard Business SchoolPublishing, Darden, Ivey and many more

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The Pearson Education custom text publishedfor your course is professionally produced andbound – just as you would expect from a normal Pearson Education text. You can evenchoose your own cover design and add youruniversity logo.

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We are grateful to the following for permission to reproduce copyright material:


Figure 13.3 from ‘What is Strategy – and Does it Matter?’, Richard Whittington, Copyright 2001,Thomson Learning (EMEA) Ltd. Reproduced by permission of Cengage Learning.


Table 1.1 – this table was published in ‘Relationship Marketing’, Christopher, M., Ballantyne, D.,and Payne, A., Copyright Elsevier (Butterworth-Heinemann 1991); Table 2.4 from ‘Strategy:Process, Content, Context’, Bob de Wit and Ron Meyer, Copyright 1998, Thomson Learning(EMEA) Ltd. Reproduced by permission of Cengage Learning; Table 4.1 adapted from KOTLER,PHILIP, MARKETING MANAGEMENT, 11th ed., © 2003. Reproduced by permission of PearsonEducation Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey; Table on page 243 from The HorticulturalTrades Association (HTA) http://www.the-hta.org.uk/page.php?pageid=210, The HorticulturalTrades Association’s Garden Industry Monitor.


Extract on page 39 from The Richer Way, Richer Publishing (2009); Quote on page 239 from TheHorticultural Trades Association ‘About the HTA’ web page http://www.the-hta.org.uk/page.php?pageid=2.

In some instances we have been unable to trace the owners of copyright material, and we wouldappreciate any information that would enable us to do so.


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Introducing the running case study: The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd is a gardening tools manufac-turer based in Coventry. The company has a relatively short but highlysuccessful history. It was started in 1994 by two friends, Mike Wintonand Hugh Parris, after they graduated from university. Mike left withan engineering degree, gained as a mature student; previously hehad worked for his family’s agricultural equipment company and

thus had a great deal of experience in engineering but no formal qualifications. Hugh was alsoa mature student, having decided to take a liberal arts degree after having had a somewhataimless existence in his 20s. Hugh’s experience labouring for a landscape gardening companyhad given him several ideas for improving gardening tools – in particular, lawnmowers hadproved to have major drawbacks when used on uneven or odd-shaped lawns.

‘The lack of any qualifications or experience for what I was planning to do didn’t hold me backin the least,’ he once said in a TV interview. ‘All I had to do was get Mike to do everything.’Hugh outlined the lawnmower problem to Mike, who worked out a design for a mower thatcould cut evenly on the type of uneven lawns that many people have. The Slick Mower was thefirst of several innovative products the company introduced.

The new company found it difficult to get financing, but Mike’s family contributed £150,000 in seed capital in exchange for 50 per cent of the firm, which was to be held by the family business. Mike and Hugh kept the remaining shares, holding 25 per cent each.

In 1995, the fledgling company began manufacture and hired Stephanie Walters as marketingmanager. Stephanie’s background was in marketing for DIY and gardening chain B&Q. She hadalso worked for Sainsbury’s, with responsibility for the Homebase brand, immediately aftergraduating from Warwick Business School in 1987. Stephanie stayed with the company foralmost two years, but left following disagreements about the scope of marketing within thefirm. Since then Hugh has taken on responsibility for marketing, which in the case of EdenGarden Tools Company Ltd essentially means selling to major DIY and garden companies suchas B&Q, Homebase and large garden centres. This takes up a substantial part of his time.

The company sells more than just lawnmowers, of course. During Stephanie Walters’ time atthe company, Eden Garden Tools developed a range of hand tools for women, for examplespades and forks with handles designed to minimise skin chafing, and ergonomically designedto minimise the muscular strength needed to use them. Tools for the disabled or elderly hadalso been a success story – special trowels designed to eliminate bending over and a patentedplanting device that can be used from a standing position or from a wheelchair also proved tobe big sellers, even among able-bodied (but lazy) gardeners.

The 2008 recession had a considerable effect on the company, but it was saved because it hasa solid export market: the weaker pound made Eden Garden Tool’s products more competitivein the eurozone, which helped compensate for lower demand in the UK. In 2009, the company’s





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sales began to recover from the recession, and Hugh and Mike started to consider new productsto add to the range.

One product idea that had been around for some time was an electric tree-pruning saw. Thiswould consist of a long pole with an electric reciprocating saw on the end. The pole wouldneed a gripper to hold the saw blade in position in the branch, and the saw blade would movebackwards and forwards to cut through. Such a tool would be of more use to a professionalgardener, tree surgeon or farmer, since an amateur gardener would not have enough use forsuch a product to justify the outlay. Amateur gardeners might well want to hire one, though,so it would be an item that many tool hire companies would buy, and even some garden centres might want one. There would be approximately 4,000 people within the UK who wouldhave a use for such a machine, and around 35,000 in the European Union as a whole; worldsales could potentially be in the hundreds of thousands.

From the viewpoint of Eden Garden Tools the product presented some problems, however.The electric power packs would be a new venture for the company, as would the small electricmotors, but these were engineering problems and could be overcome by outsourcing the com-ponents. A more serious problem was a financial one. Following the recession, the company’scash reserves were gone, and although the firm remained liquid, sales were still stagnant andthere would be little money to invest in developing and launching a new product. Mike’s family were equally unable to help – the agricultural equipment business had been hit hard bythe recession, since farmers can always make their machinery last another couple of years, andagricultural prices had fallen during 2009, leaving them short of cash for buying new equip-ment. But perhaps the most serious problem was that they would be entering a new market.Up until now, they had been selling mainly to amateur gardeners, whereas the new productwould be mainly selling in a business-to-business market. Also, it would rely heavily on gainingan export market in order to maximise the economies of scale needed to bring down the costsof manufacture. Global sales were therefore an essential factor for the company, at leastregarding this specific product.

Mike and Hugh called a meeting of the shareholders to discuss the way forward. At the meetingwere Mike, Hugh, one of Mike’s brothers and his father (to represent the family business). Theyagreed to look for capital outside the company, and to bring in venture capitalists rather thanreduce the company’s liquidity by borrowing from a bank (even if a bank could be found thatwould be willing to lend). This would mean diluting the shareholdings of the existing share-holders, but the four agreed that this would be worth it in the long run since the overall valueof the company would rise.

Preliminary talks with a venture capital company flagged up a number of issues. First, the venture capitalists wanted to see Eden Garden Tool’s business plan, which of course did not exist since Hugh and Mike had always operated on an ad-hoc basis. Second, the venturecapitalists were concerned that Hugh was handling all the marketing himself, without any qualifications or experience outside the firm: they saw this as a real weakness. Third, they indicated that they would want around one-third of the company’s shares in exchange for funding, and they would want to see an exit strategy in place for five to seven years down theline. Normally this would be a launch on the Alternative Investments Market (AIM), or possiblya full-blown stock market placement. Fourth, they would expect to appoint a non-executivedirector to the board of Eden Garden Tools to bring some much-needed business discipline tothe company.

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Mike and Hugh came away from the meeting feeling somewhat daunted. However, theyquickly realised that the venture capital company was actually laying out a negotiating position– if they could develop a good enough corporate and marketing plan, they could probablynegotiate from a stronger position, perhaps giving away less of the company or removing theneed for an extra director (who would, of course, have to be paid).

The pair knew that they would be on a steep learning curve.

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Marketing planning does not happen in a vacuum. It takes place against a backdrop of corporate plans and objectives, competitive activity, consumerbehaviour, and indeed literally hundreds of other factors.

Chapter 1 looks at marketing’s role in the greater business function. The relationship of marketing to other business functions and its role incoordinating business activities are discussed, as well as the stages marketersneed to go through in developing marketing plans.

Chapter 2 shows how the marketing plan relates to the rest of the company’splanning. Corporate plans may need to encompass many more factors thancustomer satisfaction – and sometimes these factors come into conflict.Chapter 2 helps to explain the conflicts and offers some solutions.

Chapter 3 explains some of the factors that inform marketing planning andwhich are most influential in directing the way marketing plans are produced.This chapter is crucial in understanding where marketers are coming fromwhen they formulate plans – and where they are sometimes forced to go.

Part 1, as a whole, lays the foundation for understanding the hands-on,practical aspects of marketing planning which follow.


Part 1

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Chapter 1

Marketing and marketing planning

Mike and Hugh realised that their lack of in-house marketing knowledge would be a severe handicap. As a quick fix, they decided to talk to a marketing consultant from Wynn James Barclay, a local businessconsultancy. The consultant, Rachel Strong, rapidlyrealised that their conception of marketing was limited

to advertising and personal selling, and even there they were somewhat naive.

She began by explaining marketing as a business philosophy rather than a set offunctions, then went on to explain the purpose of marketing planning. This leftMike and Hugh with a starting point for their marketing plan.




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4 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Explain how marketers balance the needs of other stakeholders with the needs ofcustomers.

‘ Show how marketing can act as a coordinating force within organisations.

‘ Explain the problems which arise when marketing is seen as a function of thebusiness rather than as its guiding philosophy.

‘ Explain the role of planning in focusing managers’ thinking.

‘ Show how a comprehensive plan provides a ‘blueprint’ for staff to work to.

‘ Explain the role of marketing in managing exchange.


This chapter is about the role of marketing and marketing planning within the organisa-tion. Marketing is more than just a set of techniques for making sales; it is more, even,than a means of fulfilling corporate aims and objectives. Marketing can be viewed as abusiness philosophy and an organisational culture, and as the means of driving strat-egies towards meeting the organisation’s objectives. Marketing reaches well beyondsimply identifying and meeting customer needs; it provides a focus for the organisationin deploying limited resources, normally within competitive environments where rivalorganisations exist. In order to be successful in their marketing and take on competitors,organisations need to plan their marketing activities. Marketing planning is essential tothe effective use of marketing resources and the ultimate achievement of the specificoutcomes that are pursued by an organisation. Planning the marketing effort providesa basis for formulating strategies and shaping marketing tactics that lead to achievingorganisational goals through the satisfaction of customer requirements.

Marketing as a business philosophy

The marketing concept holds that organisations should place the customer at the centre of everything they do and that customers are pivotal to organisational success,irrespective of the nature of the organisation involved. In its broadest sense the business philosophy of customer centrality that is espoused through marketing can beapplied in all organisational contexts: it can apply equally to a profit-driven multi-national corporation as it does to a small, local social enterprise seeking to achieve non-profit goals. Identifying your customers, knowing their needs and wants, deployingresources to provide them with an offer that satisfies them, and generating appropriaterewards for doing this is what the marketing concept is all about – and such a philosophywill work whatever ‘business’ you are in.

At first sight, this is a straightforward proposition; in practice, it has manyramifications, some of which may be controversial or difficult to put into practice. For example, there is the counter-argument that an organisation is not justified in placing the interests of one set of stakeholders above those of others – in other words,


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organisations may not be justified in sacrificing staff welfare in order to meet customerneeds, or in reducing prices to the point where the shareholders cannot receive a fairreturn on their investment.

Marketers respond to this by saying that without customers there is no business, but of course this is also true of employees and shareholders. In the present climate of opinion, the general public at large expect companies to retain a degree of responsibil-ity for the environment, for ethical considerations, and for what is generally termedgood ‘corporate citizenship’ where they take seriously the effects and externalities oftheir actions on the wider community.

Chapter 1 Marketing and marketing planning 5

Why should companies have to take responsibility for the environment? After all,if a rival company ignores environmental issues, it’s likely to be a lot moreprofitable, so why should one set of employees and shareholders lose out toanother, simply for some vague moral principle?

Surely it’s up to the government to legislate appropriately, and thus create a levelplaying field? Or is there another mechanism at work, such as corporatereputation? If that’s the case, companies can hardly claim the moral high ground,when what they are doing is clearly no more than a public relations exercise!


Marketers therefore need to balance other needs against those of their buyers, and cannot simply do exactly as the customers wish. At the very least the organisationneeds to charge enough to ensure that it achieves a profit or surplus, otherwise it willnot be in business very long, or will never be able to achieve what it set out to. Placingthe emphasis on customer centrality is justified because without customers there wouldbe no purpose to an organisation and to that end there would be no beneficial outcome to those who are trying to meet the needs and wants of these key stakeholders in the market.

The implication of engaging with the marketing concept is that marketing becomes a coordinating force within the organisation. If customer satisfaction is the core aim of a business, then everyone in that business will be aiming to achieve the same generaloutcomes – just as winning a match provides an overriding focus for all members of a team, the marketing concept provides a coordinating objective for different depart-ments within an organisation.

This coordinating function of marketing implies that everyone in the organisation hasa role in marketing and meeting the requirements of customers. In turn, this means thatmarketers themselves will have to relinquish some of their day-to-day functions toother members of the organisation – it is clearly impossible to be everywhere at once,so the firm adopts the philosophy ‘We are all marketers now’. Some specialised tacticalroles will remain for the marketers to deal with (such as media buying, marketingresearch, promotional planning), but areas such as new product development, customerrelations, distribution chain management and even public relations will be the respon-sibility of many other staff members.

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For example, consider two companies in the haulage business. One takes the view thatmarketing is a discrete and isolated function of the business rather than an overall busi-ness philosophy. This company will expect the marketers to bring in business, to liaisewith the press and with other publics, to manage the salesforce, to develop interestingbrochures and publicity material, and to deal with complaints. Drivers will simply bethere to move the lorries from one place to another, load cargo, etc. Dispatchers willcontrol the flow of goods, the accounts department will mail out the invoices, the seniormanagement will control the staff, money and premises to maximise profitability.

The other company in the same industry might take a broader view of marketing, notonly putting the customer at the centre but utilising the marketing function as a co-ordinating force that brings together everyone who contributes to customer satisfaction.In a sense this company sees it as a responsibility of the marketing function to actwidely within the organisation to establish how everyone contributes to providingvalue to customers and how each of these can be put together into an integrated mar-keting effort. This company will therefore empower its drivers to deal with complaintsand problems as they arise; the accounts department will be able to offer creative alter-natives for customers to pay; senior management will be available for press confer-ences and publicity opportunities, and will be available to customers when necessary;dispatchers will be empowered to prioritise customers in an emergency, and so forth.The overall success of the firm is likely to be measured in terms of customer satisfaction(although obviously the firm still needs to be profitable, otherwise it cannot stay in thegame). The attitude of this company will be that customer satisfaction comes first;profitability will follow. Ensuring that all of this happens within an organisation clearlyindicates that there is a key role for planning marketing, which also includes other business functions.

Research shows that market orientation relates positively to business success (Narverand Slater 1990) and that this comes from a culture within an organisation that valuesits customers and sees them as paramount to fulfilling organisational goals, particu-larly in competitive environments. Staff tend to be more committed to a market-oriented company, customers are likely to be more loyal and to increase their spendingwith the company, and the business is likely to survive turbulent economic and fiercelycompetitive conditions better. Establishing a market orientation is easier when inter-departmental conflict is relatively low, and becomes much more difficult if inter-departmental conflict is high. Market orientation necessarily requires a greater degree ofempowerment among customer-facing staff, because they need to respond rapidly tocustomer problems. This in turn implies that staff should be rewarded through market-facing reward systems, for example rewarding them if customer feedback indicatesthat they have met customer needs especially well. Decentralised decision making is anobvious necessity, which means that autocratic management and inflexible processesare strong barriers to developing a market orientation. Because customer needs changeover time, and because the market situation changes over time, people throughout the firm need to learn continually. Market orientation therefore works well when itdevelops within a learning organisation (O’Driscoll et al. 2001).

In most organisations, in fact, marketing tends to be seen as a function rather than a business philosophy. The function of marketing is viewed in such circ*mstances as

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a means of developing the extended marketing mix (the 7Ps – product, price, promotion,place, people, process, physical evidence) in a way that is consistent with the needs andwants of its customers. The reasons why a functional perspective is adopted are many:for other professionals, the need to protect their own status provides a personal reasonfor keeping marketing as a function, for example. Also, creating a true customer orien-tation is difficult: it means continually trying to think like another person, which mostpeople find hard to do (this may be why most people find Christmas stressful – tryingto work out what to give people as gifts means trying to think like them). There are relatively few boards of directors which include marketing professionals – fewer than5 per cent of the top 100 companies in the UK have a marketer on the board, whereasvirtually all of them have a finance director. In fact, boards of directors have a legalresponsibility to the shareholders of the company, not to the customers: they can becalled to account and made to demonstrate how their decisions were made with share-holders’ interests in mind, and this often happens at annual meetings of companies.Directors are well aware that it is the shareholders who appoint them as individuals,even if it is the customers who vote with their feet on whether the company is a goodone or not. In non-profit organisations a similar situation exists as, for instance, it is the board of trustees of a charity that is responsible for setting and achieving objectivesand they need to fulfil these by attracting and keeping donors, volunteers and othersupporters through marketing.

Marketing and other business functions

This issue needs to be addressed in two ways. If marketing is a function of the business,marketers will have a specific relationship with colleagues which will be markedly different from that obtaining in a company where marketing is seen as the primary aim and driving culture of the business. In view of the fact that many (even most) com-panies regard marketing as a function rather than a primary aim, this set of relationshipswill be dealt with first.

Marketers will often find themselves in the position of having to persuade colleagues ofthe necessity for adopting a customer orientation. For example, an accountant is likelyto prefer using cost-plus pricing, because this is easy to calculate, ensures that all costsare covered, and appears to guarantee that a given product is profitable. Marketers are likely to prefer pricing according to the market conditions, and will price on thebasis of consumer demand as well as taking account of the competition. Even withinthis very different approach, a marketer might want to pitch the price higher than that of the competitors in order to signal higher quality. This is a concept which is notimmediately obvious to many people.

Likewise, production people tend to believe that marketers are there to sell what the company makes, whereas marketers take the view that the company should makewhat the marketers can sell, i.e. what customers want to buy. These viewpoints areboth somewhat extreme, of course. Marketers must accept that the company needs to play to its particular strengths and produce things which it has an expertise in, or

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a competitive advantage which can be exploited. Marketers and designers thereforeneed to decide together what the company can sell profitably within the constraints ofwhat is feasible in production terms. In some cases, new products might be rejectedbecause they cannot be made for a price which people are prepared to pay, or becausea product which is easy and cheap to produce has little or no market. Even in com-panies where marketing is the overall philosophy of the business this will be true.

In Figure 1.1, marketing is one of the four main functions of the firm. Each function hassome relationship with customers, but it is essentially in a one-way, firm-to-customerdirection. In effect, the business is doing things to customers in exchange for their money.

Figure 1.1 Marketing as a function of the business

Figure 1.2 Marketing as the driving force of the business

In Figure 1.2, customers are at the centre of everything the company does, with marketing acting as the mediating function between customers and other functions.This time, the communication is two-way: the business operates by doing things forcustomers (rather than to customers) in exchange for money. It is the responsibility ofmarketers to undertake this coordinating role and plan the effort of the organisationacross all functions to achieve outcomes that satisfy customers.

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In firms which have a legal department, lawyers may sometimes suggest that the company has fulfilled its obligations in terms of customer service once it has met itscontractual obligations. A marketer may want to go beyond the written contract incases where a good customer has a problem which was not envisaged when the original agreement was drawn up. This can cause conflict, since lawyers operate onprecedent and may be reluctant to do something which other customers might thenexpect as a right.

Budget setting can also cause conflict between professionals. Often, finance directorswill set overall budgets and managers will then have to justify their case for having a share of the pot. If times are hard and budgets have to be cut, they are often cut acrossthe board – leading to the paradox that, as business gets worse, the money earmarkedfor bringing in more business (the marketing budget) is reduced. This is likely to leadto a downward spiral unless the marketers can make a special case for increasing themarketing budget, at the expense of other departments. This is certain to create conflictwith colleagues.

Front-line staff such as drivers, receptionists, telephonists, invoice clerks and indeedanyone who has direct contact with customers will obviously have a role in marketing,but may not have job titles which reflect this. Salespeople might be expected to havesome understanding of marketing (although this is not always the case), but manyother front-line staff do not understand their role in creating a good impression. Adelivery driver who simply dumps packages at the customer’s premises and demands a signature will obviously create a much worse impression than will a driver who askswhere the customer would like the delivery to go and who waits while the customerchecks the packages against the delivery note before signing. The same is true of recep-tionists and telephonists: having a nice smile or a pleasant voice is no substitute forhelping a customer who has an appointment but has forgotten the name of the personthey are visiting.

Salespeople can present a particular problem, since they have considerable respon-sibility for dealing with customers, and in fact spend more time with customers than do the marketing managers. Not unnaturally, this fosters a belief that they are moreaware of customer needs than are other people within the company, and in many casesthis is quite true. However, salespeople may be unable to see the larger picture(Dewsnap and Jobber 1998; Blythe 2000) as they may want to have a new product to sell before it has been fully developed. Their need to have something new to showtheir customers might overshadow the fact that the new product has glitches whichhave yet to be overcome. The immediate sale might be more important than the prob-lems which will surface in the longer term. Because salespeople are usually chasingshort-term targets rather than long-term business objectives, they are very likely toignore the future. This may be a failing in sales management policy, or in motivationalrewards.

From the perspective of planning the marketing effort, it is essential that those respon-sible for coordinating marketing across all areas of an organisation should be aware ofhow each function contributes to satisfying customers, and that issues such as those

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raised here are addressed in the planning process. Planning from the point of view ofdelivering value to customers is therefore an important factor in determining how theorganisation delivers its offer to the market, in a sense being guided by the external factors of the environment, consumers and competitors. Nonetheless many firms tendto adopt a resource-based view of planning, i.e. rather than plan according to thenature of the market (an outside-in perspective), they plan according to the nature ofthe firm itself (an inside-out perspective). In other words, rather than asking what theneeds of the market are and deciding how these can be met, the planners decide whatthe resources of the firm are and decide what can be achieved within those strengthsand constraints. Clearly a balance has to be struck between the two and the process of marketing planning sets out to look at how both external and internal factors candetermine what is offered to the market.

Relationships in marketing-oriented firms

In a firm which has adopted marketing as the guiding philosophy of the organisation,relationships with colleagues will be different but not necessarily easier.Understanding the difference between meeting customer needs profitably and givingthe customer everything he or she wants is something that many professional marketers struggle with; marketers sometimes need to be reminded that a limited company is not a charity and will have to show a profit or go out of business. Charitiesand other non-profit organisations such as government agencies also need to be mind-ful of costs incurred compared with the value created by marketing; they need toensure that the benefit attained from the limited resources that they have available is maximised.

The conceptual problem for marketing in such a company is this: if everybody in thecompany has responsibility for marketing, where is the need for a dedicated marketingdepartment? There may be a case for doing away with a marketing department altogether, and breaking down the functional aspects of marketing into an advertisingdepartment, a PR department, a sales department, and so forth, coordinated by seniormanagers who will probably be qualified marketers. The implications are that everyoneworking for the company will now have to be trained in marketing to a greater or lesserextent. This could be a function of the professional marketers in the firm, or it could becontracted out to consultants.

Even in a customer-oriented or market-oriented firm managers will still have to consider the needs of other stakeholders, including shareholders and employees. This is the function of internal marketing – ensuring that everyone is part of the programme and is contributing to the overall aims of the organisation. This cannot beachieved by diktat: people cannot simply be ordered to be customer-oriented. Theneeds of staff members (promotion, job satisfaction, increased prestige, or even simpleappreciation for their contribution) should be addressed if they are to contribute effectively. Sometimes they will need to be persuaded of the importance of being market-oriented.

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Competitive advantage and the management of exchange

It is easy to adopt the idea that marketing is solely about meeting customer needs.Indeed, many marketers lose sight of the wider principle under which marketing operates: marketing orientation is about creating a competitive advantage throughproviding value to customers. In short, we look after our customers’ needs because it isthe best way we know of persuading them to spend their money with us rather thanwith our competitors. The same principle applies in non-profit contexts where organisa-tions are seeking to achieve different types of outcome through a similar process offulfilling the requirements of other stakeholders and audiences. This means that mar-keting is not an end in itself: it is a means to an end and competitive advantage, whichmay be achieved in different ways, should enable a firm to fulfil the primary objectivesof any organisation. This is true in a range of different contexts where customers havealternative ways of spending their money. It is just as relevant to the public-sectoragencies promoting the use of a service such as municipal swimming pools as it is to aprivately owned international computer manufacturing business. When undertakingmarketing planning there is a critical role in identifying sources of competitive advan-tage and looking at how these can be built into marketing strategies to fulfil objectives.

Marketing can also be seen as the management of exchange. This definition impliesthat the marketer is the manager of the exchange process: in fact, in most cases theexchange is managed, or at least negotiated, between the customer and the marketer, sothat both are engaged in the co-creation of value and its distribution. The management-of-exchange definition has other conceptual difficulties – not all exchanges can reason-ably be considered as marketing. A parent might agree to buy something for a child in exchange for good behaviour, but few people would regard this as marketing.Likewise, an advertising campaign to encourage people to give up smoking would be categorised as not-for-profit marketing, but it is rather difficult to see what theexchange is. These considerations apart, though, the management-of-exchange idea isappealing because it covers a wide range of what marketers do in their day-to-daywork, and it also implies that marketing is something that is done ‘with’ customersrather than something that is done ‘to’ customers.

Managing the exchange process can either be seen as the management of a set of transactions, or it can be seen as an ongoing process in which individual transactionsare subsumed into an overall pattern of value creation. In recent years, relationshipmarketing has become a hot topic in marketing. The assumption is that it is better forall parties to establish a long-term relationship with customers because it is easier tokeep an existing customer than it is to recruit a new one. Table 1.1 shows the differencebetween transaction marketing and relationship marketing.

The relationship marketing paradigm has been compared to courtship and marriage(Levitt 1983). This model holds that marketers and customers go through stages indeveloping the relationship, beginning with a ‘first date’ in which the customer iswooed, a stage of initial trial when a first purchase is made, a commitment stage equivalent to marriage, a honeymoon stage where the relationship appears rosy, and

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the marriage stage in which problems and disagreements arise but are overcome by the parties to the relationship. Sometimes the relationship ends in divorce, of course,but often it can continue to be rewarding and to lead to ever-closer bonds between theparties.

However, the courtship and marriage analogy has been criticised (notably by Tynan1997) on the following grounds:

l Often the power relationships between the partners are far from equal – in fact,some transactions appear to be more like seduction than like a courtship.

l Customers, and especially consumers, have little interest in establishing long-termrelationships with firms.

l Most, if not all, companies have to juggle relationships with a great many other ‘partners’. This is certainly inadvisable in a marriage.

In practice, relationship marketing has not fulfilled its early promise in consumer markets, although it appears to work well in business-to-business markets. This may befor the following reasons:

1 Business needs change much more slowly than consumer needs. Someone who currently buys baby products will have no need for them as the baby grows up, sowill be a customer for only a year or two; a motor manufacturer will have a need forcomponents such as springs and light bulbs for decades or longer.

2 Business-to-business marketing is more likely to provide opportunities to create a relationship of equals. Two firms of about the same general size might form a veryeffective relationship, whereas firms almost always have much greater resourcesthan the consumers they serve.

3 B2B markets are characterised by personal contacts between buyers and salespeople,whereas many consumer transactions are impersonal, conducted either in self-serviceretail outlets or online. Relatively few consumer transactions involve salespeople, sothe interpersonal element is lost.

Table 1.1 Transaction marketing vs relationship marketing

Transaction marketing Relationship marketing

Focuses on the single sale Focuses on customer retention

Quality is the responsibility of the Quality is the responsibility ofproduction department everyone

Orientation on product features Orientation on product benefits

Short timescale Long timescale

Little emphasis on customer service High emphasis on customer service

Limited customer commitment High customer commitment

Moderate customer contact High customer contact

Source: Relationship Marketing, Butterworth-Heinemann (Christopher, M., Ballantyne, D., and Payne, A. 1991), Thistable was published in ‘Relationship Marketing’, Christopher, M., Ballantyne, D., and Payne, A., Copyright Elsevier(Butterworth-Heinemann 1991).

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4 Businesses (apart from retailers) usually have relatively few customers and fewersuppliers overall than is the case for the average consumer. This means that formingrelationships is both easier and more rewarding.

Relationship marketing can be seen as a means to an end, of course: it is there in orderto facilitate exchange, and to ensure that exchanges continue into the future, i.e. securean ongoing stream of business. The marketing planning process has a key role in iden-tifying where relationships are important and how aspects of relationship marketingcan be built into marketing plans where appropriate.

Marketing has a further purpose within the firm. Internal marketing (marketing of themarketing philosophy) has become an important area of marketing thought in recentyears, especially as organisations have become aware that every employee has an inputinto the corporate reputation and the success of achieving marketing objectives. Sincemany employees also have contact with customers, ensuring that they all operate in thesame way is of considerable importance, and is more likely to come about if there is a good marketing plan in place. Marketing planning will enable the organisation to seehow it can best undertake marketing internally to ensure that the plan is implementedeffectively. In a sense internal marketing can be viewed as a means of translating marketing theory into practice through implementation. As we shall see, marketingplanning is pretty straightforward in terms of how to do it in principle, but the crux of planning is being able to do it in reality, and this is often down to how marketingmanagers sell and effectively market the advantages of a market orientation internallywithin the organisation.

The purpose of marketing planning

In volatile market conditions, where competition is strong and circ*mstances changerapidly, it may sometimes seem that any kind of planning is pointless. However, forward planning of the marketing effort is essential for all organisations that are in the business of providing customers with value and are aiming to achieve particularoutcomes themselves as a consequence. Marketing planning enables the organisationto budget its resources (money, manpower, intellectual property, equipment, premises,etc.) against expected targets, be they sales revenue, charitable donations, or evenchanged behaviour. Although in principle this may appear to be a somewhat unneces-sary and onerous task, for many organisations the benefits of planning can be seenthrough the focus it provides on the requirements of the market and internally in termsof how each element of the organisation contributes to fulfilling these.

Moreover, because competition has intensified in recent years, planning in general andmarketing planning in particular have greatly increased in importance. The increase incompetition has come about for a number of reasons, as follows:

l Globalisation. As barriers to trade have reduced worldwide, companies face com-petition from foreign firms, many of which have cost advantages due to lower labourcosts, easier access to raw materials, or easier access to markets which formerlybelonged to the firm.

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14 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

l A free-market, entrepreneurial political environment in many economies.

l Rapid technological innovation, creating new competitive drivers.

Marketing planning has been defined as follows (Hollensen 2006):

Marketing planning is the structured process of researching and analysing marketingsituations, developing and documenting marketing objectives, strategies and programmes,and implementing, evaluating and controlling activities to achieve the objectives.

Because the proposed process of marketing planning is systematic, it guides manage-ment thinking to recognise market opportunities and threats and use these as a basisfor formulating strategies and detailed marketing activities to support them in the market. Of course, because markets tend to be more volatile than they were (for thereasons outlined above), the actual plan is likely to need modification in the light of experience. Therefore, regular monitoring of the plan and its implementation willneed to take place. Marketing planning is thus an ongoing process, not a one-shotevent, otherwise the marketing plan will simply become yet another report which noone ever reads or pays attention to. Indeed, a common criticism of marketing planningand plans is that by the time they have been developed they are out of date, and that allthe effort and resources required in compiling them is therefore lost.

Yet it is in the process itself that the real benefit lies as, in undertaking marketing planning, any organisation can review its external markets and what drives them, andexamine its internal capabilities, including its particular strengths and any short-comings that it may have. In so doing it has a basis for setting objectives in the contextof what the organisation is trying to achieve, and developing an appropriate offer to themarket. What is critical is the iterative nature of the process and an understanding thatmarketing plans should change as time and forces outside and within the organisationchange. However, a plan needs to be produced from the process of planning which provides a basis for taking the organisation forward, and it has real benefits in its ownright.

Not least, the marketing plan itself should contain all the information that organisationmembers (i.e. employees and managers) need in order to know what to do next. Theacid test of a good marketing plan is whether people can tell from it what they have todo on Monday morning – vague recommendations which have no concrete instructionin them are not worth writing.

The main benefits of having a plan can be summarised as follows (see Figure 1.3):

1 It should provide a consistent set of instructions which fits with the overall corporateplan as well as with the aims of all the departments involved. This will minimise therisk of having to deal with unforeseen problems, acting on a case-by-case basis whichcharacterises short termism. The plan thus creates overall consistency.

2 The plan should indicate to people exactly what their responsibilities are for carry-ing out the plan. Ideally, they should be able to monitor their performance againstthe plan so that they are able to adjust their behaviour if necessary.

3 Apart from knowing what to do, the plan enables people to understand why they aredoing things. In other words, people should understand how their role fits into the

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larger picture, and should understand what the reasoning is behind their part in thecompany’s success. This is likely to be a strong motivator for staff.

4 A good plan should help to create a group commitment to its implementation.

Marketing planning therefore helps to create sustainable competitive advantage. Evenif the plan is not perfect, the process of developing it helps to create a corporate culturewhich emphasises cooperation, learning and common ownership of outcomes. This isachieved through a focus on customers and competitors in the market, and recognitionof what the organisation is good at and can build on, and what it may find more difficultto undertake and how this can be improved.

The plan needs to include the following elements:

1 An assessment of both the internal and the external environment in which the organ-isation operates. This is the marketing audit, and it takes account of all aspects ofthe company’s resources and capabilities, as well as information about customerneeds and wants, and the key forces in the markets that they serve.

2 A set of marketing objectives. These may be taken directly from corporate objectives,or they may be specific sub-objectives relating to marketing outcomes which providea basis for achieving organisational objectives.

3 A set of timescales for the achievement of the objectives. This is likely to vary accord-ing to the organisation and the markets that it operates in.

4 A clear indication of individual responsibilities, i.e. a clear statement as to who isresponsible for each part of the plan.

5 A system for monitoring the plan in practice, with suitable feedback systems toreport back to organisation members. This would include a way of assessing the success (or otherwise) of the plan, and controlling the way that the plan is imple-mented to ensure that the best use is made of the resources committed.

6 Systems for revising the plan as necessary in the light of new information providedthrough the monitoring process.

7 A budget of proposed revenues and expenditures associated with marketing.

Chapter 1 Marketing and marketing planning 15

Figure 1.3 Benefits of a marketing plan

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16 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

The role of the marketer in planning

As we have already identified, marketers have a crucial role to play in terms of the planning process, even in cases where the entire company is market-oriented. This isbecause marketers have the task of coordinating the planning process, leading othermembers of the organisation through it and eliciting their professional opinions.

In organisations which are not entirely market-oriented, marketers will usually havethe task of developing the entire marketing plan from scratch. They will therefore havethe primary responsibility for carrying out a marketing audit, developing marketingobjectives, working within the corporate objectives, developing marketing strategiesaimed at achieving overall objectives, and formulating tactical approaches to achievingthe objectives. They will then have responsibility for determining whether objectiveshave been reached, i.e. whether targets have been hit.

The marketing function therefore has a major task in undertaking planning, and thismust not be in isolation but rather should involve all other areas of the organisationthat contribute to success in the marketplace. Marketers’ contribution can be viewed ata number of levels: planning (bringing the resources together to deliver value in themarket), strategy (determining the most appropriate ways of fulfilling the needs andwants of customers) and tactics (implementing an effective mix of activities to meetthese customer requirements).

Stages of the marketing planning process

One way of considering the marketing planning process is as a number of stages thatare undertaken sequentially, and these are presented below.

1 Analysis. The planners need to assess the current situation in which the organisationfinds itself. If we don’t know where we are, we cannot find a route to get to wherewe’re going. Often regarded as the first stage of the process, it is seen to be the start-ing point for planning, i.e. identify where we are currently so that we can plan a wayforward.

2 Planning. This is the crucial stage. Working out what to do in order to achieve the corporate objectives means setting marketing objectives and planning how toachieve them through the most appropriate strategies and tactics. The second stepinvolves putting the plan together and coming up with the detail of how all the different aspects are to be accomplished.

3 Implementation. Putting the plan into action means ensuring that everyone is clearabout what they should be doing: each member of the organisation needs to knowexactly how they are expected to contribute. The penultimate stage involves deter-mining these responsibilities, setting timescales, identifying appropriate structures,systems and processes to enable this, and determining budgets to support the activ-ities involved.

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4 Control. Having suitable feedback systems in place enables the planners to adjustactivities to bring the firm back on course. Inevitably things will change – no plansurvives first implementation, because it is impossible to foresee everything.Flexibility and monitoring are therefore essential. The final stage involves recognis-ing that it will not always be the case – in fact it will be highly unlikely – that the planwill fulfil its original targets. Actions have to be taken to put the plan back on track,or realistically sometimes the specific outcomes in the plan need to be re-evaluatedin the light of changing circ*mstances (this could involve setting or lowering targetsdepending on performance so far).

A more detailed breakdown of the stages is shown in Table 1.2 (Gilmore et al. 2001;Day, 2002).

Chapter 1 Marketing and marketing planning 17

Table 1.2 Stages in the process of developing a marketing plan


Mission, corporate goals and objectives

Assessment of the internal and external environments

SWOT analysis

Segmentation, targeting and positioning

Strategic marketing plan

Tactical marketing plan

Marketing budget

Implementation and performance evaluation


The mission statement is an expression of the purpose of the organisation. It shouldsay what business the company is in, and is likely to include some goals. Goals aregeneral aims the company intends to achieve: they are not usually quantifiable, butthey do indicate which direction the organisation is hoping to go, whereas objectivesare quite specific outcomes that the organisation sets out to attain.

The marketing audit is the key tool for assessing where the company is now from bothan external and an internal perspective. The audit will include an examination ofwhether the corporate and marketing goals are appropriate, so it actually overlaps intothe previous stage of planning.

SWOT identifies strengths and weaknesses within the firm, and opportunities andthreats outside the firm. This analysis is commonly used but has the major drawbackthat it is almost entirely subjective: managers judge what is a strength and what is a weakness, and also what is an opportunity and what is a threat. In practice, they can easily get it wrong. The SWOT analysis provides a platform from which strategiescan be developed to achieve organisational objectives.

Deciding how the market breaks down is often more difficult than it would appear.Segmenting correctly pays dividends – it can often differentiate one organisation fromanother. Targeting the most appropriate segments means matching the organisation’scapabilities to the customers’ needs, and positioning means putting the organisationand its products in the correct place in target customers’ perceptions.

Strategy is about where the organisation is heading and how it is going to get there –effectively which customers are going to be provided with which products. Thedecisions about which segments to target and where the company wants to positionitself are a very important part of this and are at the heart of the planning process.

The tactical plan is the way in which the company will develop a mix of marketingactivities (marketing mix variables) in order to approach the specified segments. Thisplan should differentiate the firm from its competitors and will provide everyone in the marketing team with a clear set of instructions for what needs to be done.

With the tactical plan formulated, planners are in a position to determine the budget.This may be determined by senior management (the finance director) or it may becalculated by the planners and then sent to the finance director for approval. The former is more common, of course.

The plan is put into action and the outcomes are evaluated. There should be feedbackloops so that the tactics can be adapted as necessary, but in any event the evaluationshould be used when formulating the next plan.

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18 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

There are three main approaches to planning, as follows:

1 Top-down planning. Senior management set the goals and most of the plans formiddle managers. This approach assumes that top management have completeknowledge of what is happening both within and outside the firm, an assumptionwhich is difficult to justify. As an approach, it has the advantage that decisions aremade quickly and therefore the plan comes together rapidly. It suffers from thedrawback that implementation will take longer as junior managers and employeestry to understand the various aspects of the plan. Developing ownership of the planis also difficult – people usually prefer to join in with the planning process if they can.

2 Bottom-up planning. This approach means that the various departments of thecompany produce their own plans, based on their understanding of the needs of themarket and of their own departmental capabilities. These plans are then submittedto senior management for approval and coordination. In these circ*mstances, a marketing-oriented company will find the process easier because customer needswill act as the coordinating force. This also sometimes means that strategy developsfrom a consolidation of tactics (Chae and Hill 1996).

3 Goals-down-plans-up planning. This approach may be the most common. Seniormanagement set the overall goals, leaving the detail of the planning to the variousdepartments. This enables departments to plan around their own resources, whilemaintaining an overall direction for the firm.

In the case of top-down planning, marketers may be involved at high level but are morelikely to be operating in a marketing department which will have to show how they will bring in the business which the senior managers are planning around. In the caseof bottom-up planning, marketers will need to supply the necessary market data onwhich decisions are made by other departments. In the case of goals-down-plans-upplanning, marketers will have responsibility for developing a marketing plan based onthe overall corporate objectives.

Whatever the approach adopted, it may well be that the most appropriate means ofplanning is undertaken for an organisation which takes account of a range of factorsthat impinges upon the way that it faces up to the task of marketing. In the same veinthese factors will determine the way in which marketing planning is structured andimplemented: sequentially, iteratively, or as a cyclical process.

Is it really feasible to see the marketing planning process as a systematic,sequential set of stages that should be followed by all organisations? Do allorganisations, large and small, local and global, profit and non-profit, have towork through all these stages in the same order if they are going to be successfulat marketing?

In reality there must be some variation possible – do all the stages need to befollowed, can the order be changed, do you need to start at the beginning andfinish at the end? Is planning a finite, straight-line process, or is it something thatis cyclical and ongoing?

Surely it can be adapted to the circ*mstances of the organisation in question, andthe various factors that impact on it, in undertaking its marketing effectively!


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Content and structure of a marketing plan

The tangible outcome of the planning process is the marketing plan, which can take different forms in different organisations and circ*mstances, but broadly includes thefollowing sections:

l Overview of current position and organisational context

l Organisation mission and objectives

l External environmental analysis, including market and industry analysis

l Internal environmental analysis

l Gap analysis and identification of marketing opportunities

l Setting of marketing objectives

l Strategy formulation, including segmentation, targeting and positioning

l Marketing programmes providing a detailed specification of the extended marketingmix

l Implementation, monitoring and control.

A typical structure for a marketing plan is presented below.

1.0 Executive summary1.1 Background and context of current position of organisation1.2 Identification of key strategic planning issues

2.0 Organisational strategy2.1 Organisational mission and objectives2.2 Summary of overall position and organisational strategy

3.0 External and internal marketing audit3.1 Customer analysis, including identification of environmental drivers3.2 Industry competitor and intermediary analysis3.3 Market trends and projections3.4 Internal analysis of resources and capabilities3.5 SWOT analysis

4.0 Marketing objectives4.1 Specification of marketing objectives4.2 Financial and non-financial objectives

5.0 Marketing strategy5.1 Market segmentation analysis5.2 Competitive advantage5.3 Alternative strategy specification and selection of target markets5.4 Marketing programme positioning:

• Product• Price• Promotion• Place• Physical evidence• People• Process

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20 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

6.0 Implementation and control6.1 Timing of activities6.2 Responsibilities and structures6.3 Marketing resourcing budgets6.4 Monitoring processes6.5 Control mechanisms

7.0 Appendix7.1 Main planning assumptions7.2 Projected financial and non-financial outcome forecasts.

As already noted, the detail of the plan will obviously vary between situations butshould include each of these sections in order to provide a comprehensive basis for taking the organisation forward to achieve its objectives. The reality of planning inpractice, however, often precludes this, as many organisations and marketers withinthem find it difficult to undertake all of the tasks involved. Indeed, it is often the casethat the plan may be produced but it never reaches the implementation stage. Yet inprinciple the significance of marketing planning to organisational success cannot bedenied, and as this book unfolds we will examine further how to undertake the mar-keting planning process successfully.


Marketing activity cannot realistically happen without marketing planning. As with anyother business activity, setting out to achieve something requires a certain amount ofthought beforehand – knowing what each of us has to do to realise the common aim iswhat planning is intended to achieve. However, planning has another key benefit: itfocuses the minds of managers and helps them to identify areas for improvement, espe-cially in the process of carrying out a marketing audit.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ Marketers need to balance the needs of other stakeholders with the needs ofcustomers.

‘ Marketing can, and does, act as a coordinating force, especially in firms whichhave embraced the marketing concept.

‘ Marketing is often seen as a function of the business, rather than as its guidingphilosophy.

‘ Marketing has a further wide-ranging remit around competitive advantage,exchange and relationships within organisations.

‘ Planning focuses the mind.

‘ Plans should be comprehensive enough to provide a ‘blueprint’ for staff to work to.

‘ Planning can be undertaken in different ways and these should take account oforganisational factors and circ*mstances.

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Review questions

1 How might a small firm carry out its planning functions?

2 Why is the marketing concept sometimes difficult to implement in firms?

3 What is the importance of segmentation?

4 How does marketing work as a coordinating force in companies?

5 What is the relationship between the corporate plan and the marketing plan?

Chapter 1 Marketing and marketing planning 21

With a deeper understanding of the marketing concept, Hugh andMike began to analyse their current situation. They quickly came tothe following conclusions:

1 Their previous belief that the company was customer-oriented wassadly mistaken. They had been product-driven and had not fullyunderstood what their customers actually needed. More by luck

than judgement, they had hit on a range of products that was successful, but had been savedby Stephanie Walters’ understanding of the market and by Hugh’s experience in landscapegardening. Neither of them had any knowledge or experience of commercial tree surgery ororchard management.

2 The idea of having marketing as the driving philosophy of the business was certainly appeal-ing, but they would need to hire a qualified marketer to achieve this since their knowledgeof how it would work in practice was limited.

3 The value created by their products lay not in the physical products but in the outcomesfrom using them. People buying the Slick Mower were buying tidy lawns, people buying the special tools were buying a rewarding hobby, and so forth. This thinking led them toreconsider the new product – what benefits would it actually provide to the customers? Theydecided that the key benefit was time saving, which for an orchard manager would mean a saving in wages. Another benefit might be in safety, since most branches could be trimmedfrom the ground without using a ladder or (worse) climbing up the tree.

They also realised that they would have to consider their overall strategy for the business – up until now, they had simply carried on with whatever presented itself rather than having adefinite direction.




Case study JJB Sports

JJB Sports is one of the UK’s largest sports retailers, offering sports clothing, sporting equip-ment, games and fitness products. The company was founded by former footballer DavidWhelan in 1971 in order to acquire one sporting goods shop in Wigan; by 1976 the companyhad four stores and began a rapid expansion programme which saw it launched on the LondonStock Exchange in 1994, by which time it had 120 stores.


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22 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

Blythe, J. (2000): Intra-departmental conflict between sales and marketing – an exploratorystudy. Journal of Selling and Major Account Management, May.

Chae, M.-S. and Hill, J.S. (1996): The hazards of strategic planning for global markets. LongRange Planning, 20 (6) pp 880–91.

Christopher, M., Ballantyne, D. and Payne, A. (1991): Relationship Marketing (Oxford:Butterworth-Heinemann).


In 1998 JJB acquired Sports Division, its biggest competitor, thus becoming the UK’s largestsports retailer with more than 250 stores. The company also operates 50 fitness centres aroundthe UK; these have been extremely successful, despite the fact that the retail stores had asomewhat rocky ride during the 2009 recession. In September 2008 the company launched its first MiFit gym in Cardiff. This was billed as the ‘cheapest premium gym in the UK’, withmembers paying a one-off membership fee followed by a fee of £9.95 a month. The gym wasattached to the local JJB store, and accessed through it, so that members would pass by thegoods on display. The company plans to open more of these in-store gyms as finances allow,but MiFit is an entirely separate brand from JJB Health Clubs – there is no cross-selling and nomanagement convergence between the clubs.

JJB Sports has an online retail division which was 99 per cent owned by David Whelan, whosubsequently sold his shares. The company sponsors Wigan Athletic Football Club and WiganWarriors Rugby League Club: in each case the company logo appears on the club’s shirts.

The company does face some threats over the next decade. The French retailer Decathlon (asubsidiary of the giant Oxylane company) has entered the UK market and plans to expand fromits current six stores. The recession has also taken a toll – at the company’s July 2009 share-holders’ meeting the board reported that sales were down 40 per cent on the previous year,with gross profit margins also down by 11 per cent due to a sell-off of old stock at cost price.The company was also dogged by reports that executive chairman David Jones had accepteda £1.5 million loan from rival businessman Mike Ashley, who controls Sports Direct, which atthe time of writing is the UK’s largest sports retailer. The situation was further complicatedbecause Ashley had a personal shareholding in JJB and had accused the company of refusingto buy from Sports Direct (whose company owns the Slazenger, Donnay, Lonsdale and Dunlopbrands), allegedly because Sports Direct is a rival in retail markets.

On the positive side, JJB can expect to gain from the increased interest in sport created by the2012 Olympics, which are to be held in London. As part of the Olympic programme, the UKgovernment plans to get 2 million more people involved in sport between 2008 and 2012 – a very positive factor for any sports retailer or gym operator.


1 What needs might JJB’s stakeholders have?

2 What objectives might be appropriate for JJB over the next five years?

3 What barriers to planning might the company encounter?

4 How might JJB assess the true competitive threats the company faces?

5 What type of planning would be most appropriate for JJB?

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Day, G.S. (2002): Managing the market learning process. Journal of Business and IndustrialMarketing, 17 (4) pp 240–52.

Dewsnap, B. and Jobber, D. (1998): The sales and marketing interface: is it working?Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Conference, Sheffield.

Gilmore, A., Carson, D. and Grant, K. (2001): SME marketing in practice. MarketingIntelligence and Planning, 19 (1) pp 6–11.

Hollensen, S. (2006): Marketing Planning: A Global Perspective (Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill).

Levitt, T. (1983): After the sale is over. Harvard Business Review, September–October.

Narver, J.C. and Slater, S.F. (1990): The effect of a marketing orientation on business profit-ability. Journal of Marketing, 54 (October) pp 20–35.

O’Driscoll, A., Carson, D. and Gilmore, A. (2001): The competence trap: exploring issues inwinning and sustaining core competence. Irish Journal of Management, 22 (1) pp 73–90.

Tynan, C. (1997): A review of the marriage analogy in relationship marketing. Journal ofMarketing Management, 13 (7) pp 695–703.

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Chapter 2

Marketing plans and objectives

Because Eden Garden Tools had always been moder-ately successful, and because Mike and Hugh hadalways had a ‘hands-on’ approach to running the business, they had never set any objectives. Now, theventure capitalists were forcing them to set some – at the very least, they needed to set an objective to

launch on the AIM within seven years. This in itself would give rise to a numberof sub-objectives, some of which would be directly concerned with marketing,and some of which would not.

Mike and Hugh also thought they would need to consider their corporate vision– again, they worked closely together and felt they knew where the business wasgoing – but this would not be adequate for demonstrating direction to otherpeople, notably potential investors.




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26 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Describe the four main categories of corporate objective, and explain theirrelationship to marketing objectives.

‘ Describe circ*mstances in which corporate and marketing objectives might be inconflict.

‘ Explain where corporate strategy is derived.

‘ Explain the difference between vision, mission and strategic intent.

‘ Explain the difference between aims and objectives.

‘ Describe how complexity affects objective setting.


This chapter is about the role of the marketing plan, and its relationship to organisa-tional objectives. Organisations measure their success in many different ways: profit isonly one of several measures which might be used, and of course for grass-rootsemployees profit is not always a relevant factor in their daily work. For senior manage-ment in a company, profit is certainly a factor, but it is far from being the only criterionby which success is measured, and other commercial targets such as growth are oftenimportant to them. Furthermore, not all organisations have profit or a financial surplusas their primary goal; they may have aspirations to achieve different types of objectives,which may include financial as well as non-financial targets. Non-profit organisationssuch as charities, government departments and social enterprises will be aiming toachieve a range of outcomes from their operation, and these can equally be fulfilledthrough marketing planning.

Corporate objectives

There are, in general, four main measures of corporate success (although some firmswill have subsidiary measures which may be used). These measures are used as thebasis for management targets and are as follows:

1 Profitability.

2 Growth.

3 Shareholder value.

4 Customer satisfaction.

These measures are not necessarily mutually exclusive: marketers obviously argue thatcustomer satisfaction will lead to growth in revenues and profitability and improvedshareholder value. However, other professionals within the organisation may have dif-ferent views, which may not be consistent with what marketers believe.


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Chapter 2 Marketing plans and objectives 27


The main reason that profitability ranks highly in terms of objectives is that it is used byinvestors in the stock market as a key factor in valuing shares. Company directors areunder a legal obligation to act in the best interests of shareholders, an injunction whichnowadays translates as providing shareholders with a good rate of earnings per share,plus capital growth as the shares rise in value. From the personal viewpoint of direc-tors, a falling share price might result in dissatisfied shareholders or a takeover bid,which could see the directors looking for new jobs.

Profitability suffers from a number of problems as a measure of success. First, it is relatively easy for managers to manipulate the figures (at least in the short term) inorder to show a paper profit. For example, profitability rises if growth is funded withborrowed money rather than through equity, but the value of shares might fall becausethe firm is exposed to more risk. Also, managers might massage the figures by not writing off bad debt: the debt remains on the books as an asset, whereas writing it offwill depress the company’s value. Again, managers can cut investment in the shortterm, which will reduce outgoings and therefore boost profits, but this will probablylead to longer-term reductions in growth. This often affects marketers because it is easyto cut a promotional budget and improve short-term profitability while damaging thelong-term health of the business by not investing in brands.

Profitability, or return on investment, is a flawed measure because it looks at past performance of the firm, not its potential. This inevitably leads to short termism on thepart of managers.


Growth of sales turnover or assets is a main objective for 80 per cent of firms (Collinsand Porras 1994). The reasons for seeking growth are obscure, but one driver may be that‘being the biggest’ equates to being the most secure. Another explanation may be thatcompany founders and directors like the idea of running a large enterprise. Indeed,there is a clear link between the size of a business and the rewards of its senior managers,so growing a business can be a strong motive for its directors in terms of better remuner-ation packages and the sense of power that running a large business may give them.

In some cases, growth is achieved simply by having a superior product, business planand managerial ability. For example, the Internet search engine Google grew fromnothing to being the world’s largest in only eight years (incidentally making itsfounders the world’s fifth richest men). Such rapid growth is extremely rare, however;it is far more common for rapid growth to be achieved through acquisition of comple-mentary or competing firms.

As an objective, growth (like profitability) has a number of drawbacks. First, the cur-rent emphasis on sustainability precludes overall growth in the economy, which meansthat firms can grow only by taking share from competitors. These competitors areunlikely to allow this to happen without a fight. Second, the pursuit of growth is likelyto lead to expansion by acquisition, which means that managers will have to deal

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28 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

with a constantly changing set of new challenges as companies with different histories,cultures and markets are absorbed into the conglomerate. This is likely to lead to man-agement by formula, where the same targets are set for all firms within the group andwhere unrealistic objectives are often set.

A study of corporate failures in the late 1980s’ recession indicated that the best predic-tor of corporate failure was a very fast rise in sales (Financial Times 1991). The newchallenges, unforeseen threats and rapid change involved in dealing with many newcustomers make for an unmanageable situation for most companies. Expansion byacquisition usually means paying a heavy premium for the firm being bought out –stock markets typically add 50 per cent to the pre-bid share price if a takeover isexpected, meaning that the buying company has to be very sure that a suitable set ofsynergies will be in place after the acquisition has gone through. Often such acquisi-tions take many years to show a return, so if a company is acquiring other firms at toohigh a rate the returns will simply not happen sufficiently quickly to deliver a highenough level of profit to remain in business. Added to this is the effect on staff in thecompany being acquired – change of ownership often means job losses, so those whoare best able to find jobs elsewhere are likely to do so before the redundancies start,resulting in a drain of talent to competing firms.

The net result of this is that over-rapid growth often leads to an equally rapid decline.Steady growth targets are therefore probably a good idea: open-ended rewards for veryrapid growth are at best risky and at worst fatal.

Shareholder value

Shareholder value depends on three factors: dividends, a rise in the value of the shares,and cash payments in respect of assets sold on. Broadly speaking, shareholders willinvest if they believe that the company will provide them with a better return than theywould obtain by investing elsewhere. For some, this will mean receiving dividends,while for others the capital gain made as the shares rise in value is of greater interest(usually for tax reasons – capital gains are taxed much lower than income).

Policies aimed at increasing shareholder value are very different from those aimed atprofitability or at growth. Stock markets are understandably wary of companies whichgrow too fast (Copeland et al. 1995) and as we have already seen, the pursuit of short-term profitability damages the firm’s long-term prospects because it reduces investment.

Although shareholder value has a strong appeal in conceptual terms, and it fits in well with the directors’ legal responsibility to put shareholders’ interests first, it canpresent serious practical difficulties in implementation. First, it is very difficult to tell inadvance which of several tactical possibilities would be most likely to increase share-holder value. For example, a price increase might improve profitability, or couldequally lead to a shift in the perception of the brand. A PR exercise might well improvethe stock market’s perception of the company, but the same effort might pay off betterif directed at other stakeholders. Second, the bulk of the stock market valuation of afirm lies in its residual value rather than in its dividend stream (Marsh 1990). Second,companies in the UK (and even more so in the US) tend to have short payback expect-ations on investments – any major capital investment will be expected to pay off

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within five years at most, whereas German and Japanese companies might be happy to accept a ten-year payback period. This means that some investments are less likelyto be made, since the required profit from them might be as much as four times thatrequired by competing companies in other countries. Thus shareholder value is a policy best pursued by mature industries, where capital investment can be low andslow because most of the investment has already been made.

Customer satisfaction

From the viewpoint of a marketer, all three of the above measures of corporate objectives are seriously flawed because, although they may potentially be derived frommeeting customer requirements, they are not customer-oriented. The marketing con-cept tells us that customers have a choice, and if they are dissatisfied they will spendtheir money elsewhere. Therefore, customer satisfaction is a prerequisite for achievingany other objective. Winning new customers has always been a main objective forfirms, but in recent years the emphasis has shifted towards customer retention and,most recently, customer winback. Many large companies now survey their major customers regularly in order to determine their satisfaction levels.

Customer satisfaction does not, of course, mean that the company should give the customer everything he or she wants. Everyone would like top-quality products at low prices, but this is a quick way to the bankruptcy court for the company doing thesupplying. There will always therefore be a trade-off between the needs of shareholders,employees and managers on the one hand and customers on the other.

Research mainly shows that high customer satisfaction levels are associated withgreater loyalty and increased revenues (Anderson et al. 1994; Homburg et al. 2006;Rust et al. 2002). Using customer satisfaction as a measure of success has a great dealof appeal intellectually because it is relatively easy to understand as a concept (Guptaand Zeithaml 2006), but it does need to be put into perspective. It may be difficult to find out whether or not customers are satisfied, for example, and even then there isno guarantee that they will not defect anyway (Lam et al. 2004). In some business-to-business markets buyers might switch to another supplier because their firm has beentaken over by another firm and they are given no choice. These buyers will not showmuch loyalty to the new firm either, of course – given the chance, they are likely toswitch back to their former supplier, even if they are equally satisfied with the new sup-plier. In other cases, buyers might be forced to accept the lowest bid on a contract, eventhough they know that the existing supplier will do a better job. Therefore, customersatisfaction alone is not always a good predictor of loyalty, even though in most casesit would appear to predict loyalty very well.

Table 2.1 shows the difference between finance-led planning and marketing-led planning.

Of course, focusing on customer need does not, and cannot, ignore profitability. Firmsneed to be profitable in order to stay in the game – they cannot do otherwise. The mar-keting approach is regarded simply as the most effective way of getting people to spendtheir money with us rather than with a competitor.

Chapter 2 Marketing plans and objectives 29

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30 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

Other objectives

In order to support effective marketing through customer satisfaction, commercialbusinesses are increasingly looking at other ways of measuring performance, particu-larly from the point of view of being innovative, so a different set of objectives couldinclude new product introductions, the proportion of sales/profits from new products,number of patents registered, and time-to-market measures.

Yet it is apparent that many organisations do not have commercial corporate targets to meet as they exist for different reasons. Charities and central and local governmentdepartments will have non-profit targets, although these could involve achieving finan-cial objectives such as donations in the case of the former, or breaking even or achiev-ing a surplus in the case of the latter. It is also conceivable that some small businessowner-managers have alternative objectives as well as profitability and survival, whichmay relate to their need for autonomy or a particular lifestyle.

An interesting group of organisations is those termed social enterprises that exist toachieve a social mission through trading in goods and services, but with a broader set ofgoals in mind. They are driven by social and environmental considerations in additionto commercial outcomes – often termed the ‘triple bottom line’: people, planet, profit(Elkington 1994). It may be that the profits that they achieve are used to address a social or environmental issue, or that such an issue would be the purpose of the business (e.g. supporting local communities, ensuring fair trade or employing dis-advantaged people as employees). Some well-known social enterprises include the BigIssue magazine, Jamie Oliver’s ‘15’ restaurants, and the Eden Project. There will be

Table 2.1Finance-led business plan compared with marketing-led business plan

Product strategy

Pricing strategy

Place (distribution) strategy




Physical evidence

Finance-led business plan

Focuses on turnover, costsand inventory

Focuses on margins, turnoverand debt

Focuses on turnover, assetsand expenses

Focuses on cost, return onoutlay and short-term gain

Focuses on productivity,control and salary cost

Focuses on internal efficiency,cost saving and control

Focuses on cost, durabilityand efficiency in use

Marketing-led business plan

Focuses on performance, designand choice

Focuses on value for money, pricepromotions and discounts

Focuses on customer convenience,delivery efficiency and creditfacilities

Focuses on communication, brandimage and long-term investment inthe brand

Focuses on customer-facing skills,empowerment and corporateculture

Focuses on convenience forcustomers, added value andcustomer loyalty

Focuses on customer loyalty,image and durability

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Chapter 2 Marketing plans and objectives 31

many thousands of other less well-known enterprises with a social purpose that oper-ate as community cooperatives or trading arms of charities. In the case of these organisations a much broader set of objectives needs to be considered when develop-ing marketing objectives through marketing planning.

Another useful perspective on objectives and how organisations measure performanceagainst them is provided by the balanced scorecard (Kaplan and Norton 1992). Thisapproach proposes that managers should view business performance from four per-spectives: the customer, the internal, innovation and learning, and financial. Theadvantage of the balanced scorecard is, as its name indicates, having a more holisticview of organisational performance, beyond simply a financial viewpoint. Taking intoaccount all the different dimensions of an organisation should provide more of a strat-egic focus and discourage short-term tactics that provide immediate financial returnbut hinder long-term success.

Marketing plans and corporate plans

If the company is truly marketing oriented, the marketing plan and the corporate planwill be similar if not identical. However, in many cases marketing is seen as a function,and therefore the marketing plan will be seen as subsidiary to the overall corporateplan. The corporate plan is in essence the way in which corporate strategy (overalldirection and purpose) is translated into a practical set of actions.

Corporate strategy derives from mission, vision and strategic intent (see Figure 2.1).Two broad definitions of mission are currently in use (Campbell et al. 1990). On theone hand, mission can be regarded as an intellectual discipline and a strategic tool.Under this definition, mission addresses two questions: first, what business are we in,and second, what business should we be in? In some cases the answer to both questionsis the same. For example, a cinema chain might say, ‘We’re in the cinema business’ asan answer to both questions. A more market-oriented answer might be, ‘We’re in the

Figure 2.1 Developing functional strategy from first principles

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32 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

Creating a vision seems to be a good way of getting a company off the ground.After all, visionary leaders such as Richard Branson, Anita Roddick and JamesDyson created successful companies, apparently in the face of all the conventionalwisdom. So what’s the point of studying strategy when a school drop-out(Branson), a former teacher (Roddick) and an art-school graduate (Dyson) havebeaten the pants off most Harvard MBAs?

Of course, the picture doesn’t show all the people who were visionary, and whotried hard, and who failed anyway!


cinema business, but we should be in the entertainment business’, which redefines themission in terms of customer need and might lead the company towards offering otherentertainment such as restaurants, bars or games areas in its cinemas.

The other definition of mission runs as follows (Campbell et al. 1990):

A mission exists when strategy and culture are mutually supportive. An organisationhas a mission when its culture fits with its strategy.

By this definition, the mission is the organisation’s character, identity and reason forexistence. The mission divides into four parts, as shown in Table 2.2 above.

Vision is the original view taken by the founder of the firm and is often associated withan idea about the future. It concerns the achievement of an ideal, and is sometimes confused with mission. However, vision is about the firm’s long-term future, whereasmission is more concerned with the firm’s present situation and is usually based onpractical issues. For example, Ferdinand Porsche had a vision of bringing motoringwithin the reach of the working man at a time when cars were unattainable luxuries forall but the wealthy. His vision of a ‘people’s car’ resulted in the design and productionof the Volkswagen (literally, people’s car).

Although a vision and a mission can be identical, in general visions are associated withgoals (as in the case of the Volkswagen), whereas missions tend to be more about waysof behaving. Obviously if a vision is reached, it will need to be reformulated in someway, whereas a mission can stay in place indefinitely.

Table 2.2 Elements of the mission

Element Description

Purpose This is the reason for the company’s existence. This may or may not beprofit-related: most companies start out because the founders believe they are doing something which really needs to be done.

Strategy This is the company’s competitive position, as defined by its distinctivecompetencies. Strategy is a statement of how the company intends todifferentiate itself from companies in the same business.

Behaviour These are the norms and rules, sometimes stated as ‘the way we do things standards round here’. Behaviour standards will include the way customers are dealt

with and the way staff are treated.

Values These are the moral principles and beliefs which underpin behaviouralstandards. Typically, these values have been established by the founders ofthe company, but sometimes they evolve over time as circ*mstances change.

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Chapter 2 Marketing plans and objectives 33

The third concept underpinning corporate strategy is strategic intent (Hamel andPrahalad 1989). Strategic intent envisions a desired leadership position and establishesthe criteria by which the company intends to monitor its progress. Strategic intent isoften expressed relative to competitors. Canon, the office equipment manufacturer,had a strategic intent to ‘beat Xerox’. The concept of strategic intent implies that thereis a general view on where the company should be going rather than a definite state-ment of an expected outcome, and this means that there should be plenty of flexibilitywithin the statement to allow for staff initiative, team contribution and adaptation inthe light of changed circ*mstances.

Strategic intent suffers from the same problem as vision in that it might eventually beattained and will therefore need to be reformulated. Mission, however, is timeless andcan be changed only with some difficulty, since it contains the corporate culture withinit. Corporate culture is not only difficult to change, but even attempting change is dangerous: employees resent changes of this nature, understandably, and in manycases equate the corporate culture with their personal values.

Aims and objectives

There is often some confusion about the difference between an aim and an objective.The key difference is that an aim is a general direction, whereas an objective has a measurable outcome attached to it. For example, a company might run a promotionalcampaign with the aim of raising awareness of its brand. This becomes an objectiveonly if the company says that it wants to raise awareness from a current level of 10 percent of the population to 30 per cent identifying the brand in a prompted recall test.The objective should also have a timescale attached to it so that there is a clear measureof its achievement (or failure to achieve).

General categories of objective are shown in Table 2.3.

The general objectives in Table 2.3 are usually considered to be at the organisationallevel or business level of the firm, i.e. at a relatively high level, and are often termedcorporate objectives. At this level they would be incorporated into a corporate plan andassociated strategies and operational tactics would be put in place throughout theorganisation to achieve the overall objectives. These would relate to each of the busi-ness functions (i.e. marketing, production, finance and personnel) for which therewould be a separate plan that would feed into the corporate plan. There is in effect a hierarchy of plans and objectives, and it is important that there is a consistencybetween what is intended at the higher level and each of the functional areas at thelevel below.

The functional level of marketing will also have its own general classes of objectives.These fall into the following categories:

l Customers. These are objectives concerned with segmentation and targeting, andmight be assessed by such measures as market-penetration statistics.

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34 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

l Competitors. These objectives might be set at a strategic or at a functional level.They are concerned with the company’s performance within the market relative toits competitors. For example, this could be as simple as gaining a level of marketshare compared with its closest rival.

l Markets and distribution. Approaching specific markets and obtaining distributionfor products are key objectives. Aiming to get the product into two major super-market groups this year would be a reasonable, measurable objective.

l Technology and products. Using new technology in the business is almost alwaysa functional decision.

l Production capability. Setting targets for output of particular items is always a marketing decision, because it is actually a function of deciding what the demand is going to be for specific products. To an extent, demand can be driven or at leastdirected by marketing activities, but in the main demand is decided by consumers.

l Finance. Since financial objectives are easy to quantify, they are often set by com-panies. In almost all cases they are marketing-led.

l Environment. Objectives for dealing with the firm’s external environment might beset at any level, but they are likely to be difficult to quantify.

In setting objectives, one should move from the general to the particular, from thebroad to the narrow, and from the long-term to the short-term (McDonald 1984). Thismeans that objectives will tend to become more focused and therefore more attainable.

Table 2.3 General categories of objective


Business scope

Business orientation

Business organisation

Public responsibility

Performance evaluation

Explanation and examples

This is about changing the definition of what business we arein. To continue with the example of the cinema chain whichdecides to expand its range of services to become a leisurecomplex, the objective could be to have a restaurant and a games room in every cinema within two years.

This type of objective relates to general positions the companyseeks to adopt. For example, a university might need tobecome more research-oriented and therefore sets an objectivethat 60 per cent of its academic staff should become research-active within a two-year period.

Objectives relating to the structure of the business might be setduring a reorganisation. For marketers, this might includereorganising the salesforce, or it might include a more radicalconceptual organisation of the status of marketers andmarketing within the company.

This type of objective takes account of the impact of thecompany’s activities on the general public, and indeed onstakeholders in general.

An objective to reduce response times between customercomplaints and action to rectify the problem would be an example of a performance evaluation objective.

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Chapter 2 Marketing plans and objectives 35

Marketing objectives

According to McKay (1972) there are only three basic marketing objectives: to enlargethe overall market, to increase share of the existing market, and to increase profitabil-ity (see Figure 2.2). These objectives might be seen as strategic, long-term objectives:they would need to be broken down into sub-objectives, and even sub-sub-objectives.This might give rise to a set of objectives as follows:

l Enlarge the overall market: increase product innovation (either through improv-ing existing products or through developing new products), or increase marketinnovation (either through developing existing end-use markets or through discov-ering new end-use markets).

l Increase market share: either by emphasising product development and improve-ment (performance, quality or features), or by emphasising persuasion (sales effort,or advertising, or sales promotion), or by improving customer service (after sales,better credit and collection, or better availability and delivery).

l Improve profitability: either by increasing sales volume (more sales effort, strongeradvertising and sales promotion), or by eliminating unprofitable activities (pruneproduct range, prune sales coverage, cut customer services), or by improving prices(raise prices, or use price differentiation), or by cutting costs (improved effective-ness of marketing tools).

Some of these objectives might cause disquiet among marketers. Some seem sales-oriented, and the view that advertising is a strong force for persuasion might seem a little odd to some academics. However, the general principle that strategic objectivesgive rise to a number of sub-objectives still stands.

Figure 2.2 Deriving tactical plans from basic objectives

Enlarging the overall market is probably worthwhile only for the biggest firms in themarket. For smaller firms, increasing share by taking customers away from other firmsis probably a better strategy unless it creates a more cut-throat competitive environ-ment. Improving profitability is an option any firm can pursue, but it is often not as easyas it might seem: cutting costs and raising prices will always meet with resistance fromother departments and from customers.

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36 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

Complexity and objective setting

Objective setting is often made more complicated by the fact that every problemimpinges on every other problem. Complexity in decision making has three main characteristics:

1 Any policy-making situation comprises many problems and issues.

2 These problems and issues are usually highly interrelated: solving one problem usually creates another problem elsewhere, and there is rarely a global solution.

3 Few, if any, problems can be isolated effectively for separate treatment.

Complex problems do not have simple solutions (in fact, there is a common saying thatthere is a simple solution to every complex problem, but the solution is always wrong).Because the solutions create problems elsewhere, the organisation itself creates barriersto solutions: solving a problem in one department or for one individual is likely to create a problem for another department or individual, who will quite naturally resistthe change. Coordination is lost and the problem grows worse.

If solving problems simply creates more problems, why not just learn to live withthem? To use an analogy, if it’s not raining, you don’t need to mend the roof, andif it is raining, you can’t go up there to mend it anyway.

Why not leave things alone and hope the problem will go away? After all, manyproblems will just disappear if we ignore them – the colleague we don’t get alongwith might leave or drop dead, the customer we want to sell to might buy anywayand if not, another one will be along shortly. What’s the big deal with solvingproblems?


Handling change is a constant factor in business – some commentators refer to manag-ing changing rather than managing change. Although a detailed account of changemanagement is beyond the scope of this book, it is worth drawing a comparisonbetween managing change (discontinuous change) and managing changing (con-tinuous change). Table 2.4 illustrates some of the main differences.

Three elements are necessary for incremental, discontinuous change to happen:

1 Employees should be committed to continuous improvement. Everyone should becommitted to constructive dissatisfaction with the status quo (Stacey 1993).

2 Everyone must be committed to continuing professional development, in otherwords lifelong learning (Argyris 1990).

3 Everyone must be committed to continuous adaptation. This assumes that there will be flexibility in the firm’s structures and systems, and there will be a tolerantworking culture.

These three elements define the evolutionary organisation. If an organisation is evolu-tionary, adaptation to changing circ*mstances is relatively straightforward becausechange happens all the time anyway. There is therefore less likelihood of staff resist-ance to change.

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Chapter 2 Marketing plans and objectives 37

Understanding the wider implications of how organisations deal with constant changeis an important contextual dimension that underlies the way that marketing planningis undertaken. Changes in environmental forces and within the organisation itself areinevitable, and the rapidity of change in contemporary markets has had a significanteffect on the way that marketers approach the task of fulfilling customer requirementsand delivering value. With this in mind we will move on to examining some of the key drivers of change and the impacts that they have had on shaping the marketingplanning process within organisations.


The relationship of the marketing plan to the overall organisational aims depends on the status of marketing within the organisation. In many companies marketing isseen as a function, so the marketing plan will be seen as subsidiary to the company’sphilosophy and aims. This may create conflict if the corporate plan goes against theprinciple of the marketing concept, however.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ There are four basic corporate objectives: profitability, growth, shareholder valueand customer satisfaction. Only the last one is directly related to the marketingconcept.

Table 2.4 Continuous versus discontinuous change

Discontinuous changeperspective

Revolution over evolution


Creative destruction

Radical, comprehensive anddramatic

Abrupt, unsteady andintermittent

Sudden break with statusquo

Shock therapy

Under pressure thingsbecome fluid

Stable and unstable statesalternate

Punctuated equilibrium

Continuous changeperspective

Evolution over revolution


Organic adaptation

Moderate, piecemeal andundramatic

Gradual, steady andconstant

Permanent learning andflexibility

Continuous adjustment

In the cold everythingfreezes

Persistent transient state

Gradual development

Source: From ‘Strategy: Process, Content, Context’, Bob de Wit and Ron Meyer, Copyright 1998, ThomsonLearning (EMEA) Ltd. Reproduced by permission of Cengage Learning.

Emphasis on:

Strategic change as:

Strategic change process

Magnitude of change

Pace of change

Fundamental change requires:

Reaction to environment jolts

View of organisation crises

Long-term change dynamics

Long-term change pattern

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38 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

Launching on the AIM requires companies to satisfy a NominatedAdviser that the company is on a sound financial footing, that thedirectors are fit people to run the company, and that the companyhas a long-term future. The objective is to have everything in placewithin five years, which leads to a sub-objective of setting up a pre-liminary meeting with a potential Nominated Adviser to find out what

the requirements will be in detail. This would be the key to generating a list of sub-objectives.

Mike and Hugh also spent some time formulating the corporate vision, the final version ofwhich ran as follows:

The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd will be the leading company in horticultural innovationin the UK. This will be achieved by a policy of continuous innovation, coupled with soundengineering and a focus on customer need, whether for the amateur gardener or the pro-fessional grower.

Following on from the meeting with the Nominated Adviser, Mike and Hugh came back to the company with a list of objectives. Heading up the list was a requirement to reduce the company’s debt ratio and increase the sales turnover by 40 per cent.

The increase in the sales turnover could be achieved provided the tree-pruning equipment succeeded in the market, but the company needed a fall-back position, since many new prod-ucts fail. At this point, the partners decided they would need to recruit a professional to handle their marketing, and possibly another one to handle sales. This was added to the list ofsub-objectives and given a timescale of three months, in view of the timescales involved inincreasing sales in the medium term.

Another factor in their thinking was the company’s limited resources. Although they could borrow some money from the bank, the ongoing credit crunch meant that any bank lendingwould be limited, and in any case there would be a conflict with reducing the company’s debtratio. In the end, Hugh and Mike agreed that this was unavoidable in the short term if they wereto fund a recruitment exercise and increase the investment in their brand.




‘ Some organisations aim to achieve a broader set of objectives that encompassesmore than just financial outcomes.

‘ Marketing objectives will be subsidiary to corporate objectives unless the firm as a whole embraces the marketing concept.

‘ Corporate strategy derives from mission, vision and strategic intent.

‘ Visions are associated with specific goals, whereas missions are associated withbehavioural norms.

‘ An aim is a general direction; an objective has measurable outcomes.

‘ Complex problems can be solved only at the cost of creating new problems.

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Chapter 2 Marketing plans and objectives 39

Case study Richer Sounds

When Julian Richer was only 14 he began buying and selling hi-fi separates. By the age of 17he had three employees, and at age 19 he opened his first store, at London Bridge. That wasin 1978. This store entered the Guinness Book of Records for having the highest sales turnoverper square foot of any retail outlet in the world.

By 2009, the company had 49 stores throughout the UK, with 10 in London alone; the companyhas a set policy of not expanding too quickly, but rather going steadily in terms of its growth.Because the company is entirely owned by Julian Richer, there are no shareholders to maketheir wishes heard. Richer can therefore do whatever he wants with the business.

The result is a very individual approach to shifting hi-fi equipment. Richer has a reputation fora ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ approach to retailing, but in recent years the company has begunto stock equipment for hi-fi enthusiasts (called audiophiles) and also LCD and plasma-screenTVs. Richer says that staff are chosen on the basis of enthusiasm and friendliness rather thanhigh-powered salesmanship, but this is not the whole picture – most Richer Sounds staff arefriends or relatives of existing employees. In other organisations this would be regarded as corrupt practice, but in Richer Sounds it is seen as a good way to develop and maintain a corporate culture, and especially to make it easy for new staff to fit it. Staff are usually musicenthusiasts, and they are encouraged to advise customers but not to adopt a hard-sellapproach.

Julian Richer has a ten-point plan which he published in his book, The Richer Way (RicherPublishing 2009). He is happy to share the plan with others; probably few other business managers would have the charisma to make it work. The ten points are as follows:

1 Talk to your staff and managers. Change is always greeted with suspicion, even cynicism.Tell everyone you are seeking improvement and why, so everyone is infected with enthusiasm.

2 Examine your mission statement. If you do not have one, form a working party to draw one up.

3 Organise an attitude survey. Find out what employees really think, to set a baseline.

4 Think about fun. How can you liven up the workplace and create a happy atmosphere?Look at reward structures.

5 Revise the rule book. Get rid of outdated regulations and meaningless traditions.

Review questions

1 Why might customer satisfaction be a more appropriate objective than profitability?

2 Under what circ*mstances would corporate strategy and marketing strategy be identical?

3 Why might a company seek to help its competitors by increasing the overall marketfor the product category?

4 How might a hairdressing chain define what business it is in?

5 Why might a company reduce its product range?


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40 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

Anderson, E.W., Fornell, C. and Lehmann, D.R. (1994): Customer satisfaction, market share,and profitability: Findings from Sweden, Journal of Marketing, 58 (July) pp 53–66.

Argyris, C. (1990): Overcoming Organisational Defences: Facilitating OrganisationalLearning (Boston: Prentice-Hall).

Campbell, A., Devine, M. and Yeung, D. (1990): A Sense of Mission (London: HutchinsonBusiness Books).

Campbell, A., Goold, M. and Alexander, M. (1994): Corporate-level Strategy: Creating Valuein the Multi-business Company (New York: John Wiley).

Collins, J.C. and Porras, J.I. (1994): Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies(New York: Harper).


6 Set up a strategic customer service group. Examine your customer service and how it canbe improved.

7 Ask your customers what they think. Find ways of inviting their comments at each point ofcontact.

8 Launch a suggestion scheme. Get the backing of the top person in the organisation andallow ideas from everyone.

9 Review your recruitment. What happens on the first day in the job? Do motivation and communication start from day one?

10 Review the values you deliver. Are you happy with the value for money of your service orproduct? Could the quality be improved or the price lowered?

Julian Richer personally answers every customer complaint and meets every new staff member.This would clearly be impossible if the company had a high staff turnover, or a high rate of complaints, so Richer must be doing something right. It may be because of Richer Sounds’unique feedback system – customers are invited to comment on the shopping experience, andthe comment cards are sent straight to Richer. Staff and customers are encouraged to ‘shapethe shopping experience’ by commenting directly to Richer or to his store managers. Staff are empowered to solve customer problems instantly rather than refer them to a call centre ora head office address.

Richer Sounds is far from being the biggest hi-fi retailer in the UK, but there is little doubt thatit is one of the most profitable for its size. It is a great company to work for, and also a greatcompany to do business with – Julian Richer does not see these objectives as being incompat-ible, in fact quite the reverse.


1 Which type of corporate objective does Richer appear to be aiming for?

2 What appears to be the relationship between corporate objectives and marketing objectivesat Richer Sounds?

3 What are the marketing implications of Richer’s slow-growth policy?

4 What appears to be Richer’s strategic intent?

5 What has been the role of vision in developing Richer Sounds?

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Copeland, T., Koller, T. and Murrin, J. (1995): Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Valueof Companies (New York: Wiley).

de Wit, B. and Meyer, R. (1998): Strategy: Process, Content, Context (London: Thomson).

Elkington, J. (1994): Towards the sustainable corporation: win-win-win business strategies forsustainable development. California Management Review, 36 (2) pp 90–100.

Financial Times (1991): Clues that warn of collapse. 26 May, p 3.

Gupta, S. and Zeithaml, V. (2006): Customer metrics and their impact on financial perform-ance, Marketing Science, 25 (6) pp 718–39.

Hamel, G. and Prahalad, C.K. (1989): Strategic intent. Harvard Business Review, 67 (3) pp 63–76.

Homburg, C., Koschate, N. and Hoyer, W.D. (2006): The role of cognition and affect in theformation of customer satisfaction: a dynamic perspective, Journal of Marketing, 70 (3)pp 21–31.

Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P. (1992): The balanced scorecard – measures that drive perform-ance. Harvard Business Review, January–February.

Lam, S.Y., Shankar, V., Erramilli, M.K. and Murthy, B. (2004): Customer value, satisfaction,and switching costs: an illustration from business-to-business service context, Journal of theAcademy of Marketing Science, 32 (3) pp 293–311.

Marsh, P. (1990): Short Termism on Trial (London: Institutional Fund Managers Association).

McDonald, M.H.B. (1984): Marketing Plans (London: Butterworth-Heinemann).

McKay, E.S. (1972): The Marketing Mystique (New York: American ManagementAssociation).

Rust, R.T., Moorman, C. and Dickson, P.R. (2002): Getting return on quality: revenue expan-sion, cost reduction, or both? Journal of Marketing, 66 (4) pp 7–24.

Stacey, R.D. (1993): Strategy as order emerging from chaos. Long Range Planning, 26 (1) pp 10–17.

Chapter 2 Marketing plans and objectives 41

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Chapter 3

Drivers of marketing planning

Eden Garden Tools had emerged from the recessionbattered, but in better shape than many: althoughthere were no cash reserves, and considerably moredebt than was the case in 2007, the companyremained essentially viable as business picked up.

Hiring some specialist personnel went fairly well. Herethe recession had helped, since some very good people were unexpectedlyavailable due to redundancies among competing firms. Hugh and Mike recruiteda former marketing manager of a rival lawnmower manufacturer, Umar Sayeed.Sayeed came with knowledge of the amateur gardening market and someinsights into business-to-business markets. With his help, the company recruitedsalesman John Peters, a former sales rep for a manufacturer of cider-makingequipment. Although he had little direct experience of dealing with small-scalecider makers, he had a number of contacts with agricultural suppliers, and wasknown slightly by some of Mike’s family.

Umar’s first task was to explain to the directors what the key issues were in for-mulating a marketing plan. Having looked at the very rough outline of where the company needed to be in five years’ time, and also having considered thecompany’s vision statement, he outlined what he saw as the main influences they would need to keep in mind when deciding what to do about the firm’smarketing.




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44 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Explain how internal and external environmental factors may affect marketingplanning.

‘ Identify some of the key drivers of external environmental change.

‘ Explain the role of developing resources in creating a high-performance strategy.

‘ Describe the process of creating business capabilities from resources.

‘ Explain the role of knowledge in creating capabilities.

‘ Describe different categories of capability.

‘ Explain how individuals, groups and corporations hold competencies.

‘ Describe the likely outcomes of management of core competencies.

‘ Explain why organisations sometimes become market-driving rather than market-driven.


This chapter sets marketing planning against a backdrop of environmental change andexamines contemporary and emerging issues that should set the direction of marketingobjectives, plans and the planning process.

A coherent approach to environmentally driven and resource-based planning is essentialif the organisation is to have any realistic chance of success in marketing. Ignoringforces in the external environment and the resources and capabilities an organisationhas available for meeting its objectives is clearly unrealistic, yet it is surprising how manypeople believe that ‘resources should be made available’ when the organisation quiteclearly does not have the resources at all.

Both the external and internal perspectives on planning are considered here, along withhow they contribute to the marketing planning process both separately and together.In particular we identify some of the key drivers of external change in the marketingenvironment, and from an internal viewpoint the way in which the resource-based viewinfluences planning of marketing activities.

Planning and the marketing environment

Understanding the external marketing environment is essential for any organisationstriving to be successful in the task of marketing. Delivering value to customers can beachieved effectively only if marketing organisations are familiar with changes in theexternal environment and build these into how they affect consumer and competitorbehaviour and consequently shape the way in which the marketing offer is constructedfor customers. Even more, marketing planners are attempting to identify how changein the environment is going to affect buying behaviour and competitive marketing inthe future. They do this by considering current trends and projecting whether they are likely to continue to be important, or identifying whether there are other, as yet


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unpredicted changes that may be of significance in the market as time progresses.Alternatively we can view change as cyclical – ‘what goes around comes around’. As in the case of the 2008 recession, the question was always going to be, when will theeconomy crash rather than will it crash at all? Similarly, fashions change, with oldstyles often being replicated in the future, and ‘retro’ is often seen as a reinvention ofthe past in markets such as clothing and music.

In a sense we can see change as being both cyclical and following a pattern, or as evolu-tionary change which is more sudden and unexpected. In either case it is important formarketing planners to be able to take account of these changes when developing plans,setting objectives, formulating strategies and developing marketing programmes.Clearly, unpredictability is difficult to handle in such situations and the marketer mustmake the best attempt at foreseeing how wider forces will influence market behaviourinto the future. Assumptions are therefore extremely important in marketing planningand the basis for how the plan is developed. With uncertain change guaranteed in allmarkets, planners need to be able to assume that certain changes will occur, patternsand trends will continue, or not, and that this will form the basis of how the plan isshaped. At the same time, assumptions need to be made about internal factors such asthe availability of financial resources, staff and technology, and these also need to bebuilt into any plans. Critically, it is vital to be aware of the assumptions that underliethe plan, so that when change occurs that affects performance, the plan can be re-visited and realigned with how the future will look at another point in time.

Drivers of change therefore exist externally to the organisation and internally within itand they need to be assessed not only in terms of their likelihood of happening but alsoin terms of the potential effects and impacts they will have on the markets that theorganisation is operating in now or is intending to enter in the future.

Such drivers of change may be considered at different levels of the environment: macrofactors, micro factors and internal factors. The first two of these comprise the externalenvironment and can be associated with the concept of environmentally driven mar-keting strategy, or as a market-orientation perspective on marketing planning. Thissuggests that marketing plans should be built around wider external forces that shapeconsumer and competitive behaviour in the market.

Macro forces are often classified through the use of basic analysis tools to cover thefull range of external factors that may affect marketing behaviour. A typical way ofdoing this is using a STEP analysis – Socio-cultural, Technological, Economic andPolitical – or alternatively a PESTEL analysis – Political, Economic, Socio-cultural,Technological, Ecological and Legal. These will be considered in more detail in a laterchapter when we look at analysing the external environment.

Micro forces are also usually classified in a range of ways using models and frameworkssuch as Porter’s Five Forces Model (Porter 1990), or something as straightforward as the 3Cs framework, which considers the micro-environment as comprising customers, competitors and channels. Again we will discuss this further as moredetailed analysis of the external environment is undertaken later in the book.

As indicated, the process of externally driven strategy is based on the view that widermacro forces affect the marketplace in terms of their ability to drive changes in micro

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46 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

factors, including consumer behaviour, the way that competitors are able to operate,and the influences on the market of suppliers and intermediaries. Thus marketing planning that takes such an approach will inevitably emphasise what is going on out-side the organisation and is consistent with an ‘outside-in’ perspective.

Contemporary marketing planning has some major factors operating in the externalenvironment that have become key drivers of change. Marketers now need to incorpor-ate these influences into their strategic and operational decisions, as they have becomevery important in terms of their impacts on the way that customers make buying decisions and how competition takes place in markets.

Using a basic STEP analysis provides us with a useful starting point, and the followingexternal influences may be considered to drive change and hence marketing planning:

l Socio-cultural. This factor includes culture, fashions in thought, attitudes, social classissues, and consumer behaviour, which is constantly evolving as a consequence ofwider influences. In addition there has been major demographic change throughoutthe world, leading to an ageing population in many countries, and significant changesin migration patterns. Social mobility resulting from mass education has also becomean important factor in affecting consumer attitudes, expectations and behaviour.

l Technological. This factor includes engineering breakthroughs, new technology,availability of specific technologies (for example, some communications technologiesare unavailable in some parts of the world) and shifts in processes brought about bynew ways of doing things. Of major significance has been the growth in use of newinformation, computing and communications technologies, by both consumers andorganisations. The subsequent effects on buying behaviour and the production andsupply of goods and services have been revolutionary.

l Economic. This includes the general state of the national economy, the wealth andincome of the company’s customers, and economic barriers such as tariffs or avail-ability of foreign currency. Economies go into recession approximately every sevenor eight years, for example, which affects savings and availability of credit, whichhas a knock-on effect for consumers’ capacity to purchase and businesses’ ability to invest.

l Political. The political climate of the country can change dramatically according towhich party is in power. Some political parties are more pro-business generally, andare prepared to help organisations both through legislation and through direct help.Different parties also have different policies on spending priorities – a governmentwhich is in favour of increasing defence spending will obviously be a good thing asfar as a shipbuilder or aircraft manufacturer is concerned.

Beyond this we can identify some very broad considerations that can be regarded asdrivers of change, such as globalisation and corporate social responsibility.

l Globalisation in recent decades has meant that organisations have to deal with con-sumers that do not fit neatly into country segments but into transnational customergroups that straddle the boundaries of nations or even regions throughout theworld. At the same time organisations have to develop their production, supplychain and distribution models to take account of global economics and shift the

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way that they have traditionally operated by using new business models such as outsourcing.

l Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become another important factor ininfluencing marketing behaviour and planning. Organisations are now not onlyexpected to act in the best interests of their customers but also to be seen to besocially responsible in the way that their business impacts on employees, the widercommunity and the environment. As a consequence, we have become familiar withsome of the key issues around this, such as ethical consumption, sustainable busi-ness and stakeholder relations.

These factors do not include market forces such as the effect of increasingly more inten-sive competition. Competitive behaviour also impacts strongly on organisations – anew competitor entering the market, or a more aggressive stance taken by an existingcompetitor, can make a significant impact on the company’s chances of success.

All in all, changes in the external environment have an enormous part to play in determining the way that organisations go about planning their marketing effort, andthe significance of some of the key drivers in shaping strategy and plans cannot beunderstated.

Alternatively, the organisation can be viewed from an internal or ‘inside-out’ perspec-tive that emphasises that strategy and planning should be predicated on the distinctiveor unique resources that it is able to call upon to shape the way that it delivers value to customers in the market. The internal factors include corporate culture, mission,resources and capabilities. The effects of limited resources on the organisation’s objectives are widespread, since the organisation cannot do everything it might wantto do if the resources are not available. This has led to a rethink among observers andthe development of the resource-based view of the organisation.

Chapter 3 Drivers of marketing planning 47

We have considered some of the key drivers of change from an externalperspective and some of these are clearly going to be important to the future andbe incorporated into the marketing planning process. But who is to say that thefactors that we have identified now will be important in the future? What have wemissed out and how might these affect marketing planning?

Is it really worth spending time and effort factoring these influences into our planswhen we don’t really know what is going to happen in the future and whetherwhat is relevant to consumers and organisations in the present day will be of anysignificance as time progresses?


The resource-based view

The resource-based view of the organisation suggests that a high-performance strategydepends on historically developed resource endowments. Resource-based marketingtries to develop a good fit between the needs of the market (i.e. customers and

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48 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

consumers) and the ability of the organisation to produce benefits for them (i.e. tocompete effectively in the market).

This is something of a departure from the traditional marketing-orientation paradigm,in which the company seeks to respond to market needs by using high-quality, organisation-wide marketing intelligence. By including the idea that the organisationhas to operate within its resource constraints and competencies, the resource-basedmodel is much more in line with real-world experience.

The resources of the organisation are not static, of course, and will develop over timein order to meet market needs more accurately. Opportunities are identified andexploited when the organisation has a specific competence that enables it to pursue theopportunity more effectively than other companies are able to. This means that somemarket needs will be left for other companies to pursue.

Organisations are driven by many different forces, not just a desire for increasingshareholder value. Other stakeholders have an input into the equation, and some ofthese stakeholders represent part of the resources of the organisation: employees, suppliers and even customers (or at least the relationship we have with them) can all be regarded as resources. Organisations need to conduct an audit of the resourcesand capabilities at their disposal if they are to know how best to respond to marketopportunities.

Resource categories are (in general) as follows:

1 Technical resources. Technical skill is a key resource for many organisations in both manufacturing and service industries, because it enables the company todevelop new products and processes as the market’s needs change. Technicalresources also extend to intellectual property rights such as patents: Pilkington Glassmade more from licensing its patented float-glass technique than it did from makingglass in its own factories.

2 Financial standing. The degree to which the company has access to working capitalwill determine its ability to respond to opportunities. Equally, the credit standing of the organisation will be a key factor in securing supplies. Marketers within theorganisation will always have to ask for a budget in order to carry out any activities,from developing a new product through to attending a trade exhibition. Obviouslywealthy companies are in a much better position to commit financial resources tomarketing than are less cash-rich organisations.

3 Managerial skills. Top-flight, experienced managers can direct and motivate staffto create the maximum efficiency in operations. They can also be creative in gettingthe maximum use from physical resources such as buildings, equipment and vehicles.

4 Organisation. Organisational structure makes a significant difference to the effect-iveness of the organisation. The traditional pyramid or hierarchical structure oforganisations is extremely effective in markets where change is slow: the mechanisticapproach enables organisations to gain maximum efficiency through division oflabour. In more volatile market conditions, where change is rapid and un-predictable, a matrix (or organismic) organisation is probably better since it canrespond more flexibly to changes. The drawback of organismic organisations is that

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communication takes up a much greater proportion of time than is necessary inpyramid organisations.

5 Information systems. Having accurate, up-to-date information to hand can createa strong competitive advantage in itself. For example, the barcode readers in super-markets provide instant information on which products are selling well, allowing thesupermarket to ensure that stocks are held at the optimum level. Coupled with theloyalty card data, the supermarket is able to build up a clear picture of each cus-tomer’s shopping habits and preferences, and can also (by using customers’ postcodedata) analyse shopping preferences geographically, thus knowing which productsmight sell well in new stores opening in those areas.

Figure 3.1 shows a resource-based model for competing in a global environment. In this model, resources create competencies, which in turn create capabilities.Capabilities create a sustainable competitive advantage, which in turn leads to superiorperformance in the marketplace.

The basic resources, both tangible and intangible, that the organisation has availableneed to be managed effectively in order to develop capabilities. Developing resourcesin an appropriate manner is a longer-term proposition, but at every stage managementinput is essential to the creation of a capacity to operate effectively. A capability is theresult of bundling together a set of processes, and should be more than the sum of theindividual processes: synergies should result, meaning that the whole is greater thanthe sum of its parts. This will not happen if the processes are inappropriately linked orare mutually damaging in some way (Stalk et al. 1992).

Chapter 3 Drivers of marketing planning 49

So much for the marketing concept. Here we are, talking about marketing as if we were doing everybody a bit of good, as if marketers are the greatestphilanthropists the world has ever seen, and then we come up against reality – we simply don’t have the resources to do what we think we ought to do.

So are marketers really doing good in the world? Or are we simply like someonewho writes a big cheque for a charity, knowing it will bounce?


Having the competence to do something does not necessarily mean that the organisa-tion is now capable. Capabilities arise out of competencies plus knowledge and atti-tudes (Durand 1996). Knowledge (in turn) is the set of rules (know-how, know-what,know-where and know-when) and insights (know-why) that is used to make sense ofinformation (Dretske 1981). Knowledge is contained in the heads of employees, but itis also collective: technological expertise and understanding of the market are twoexamples. Corporate attitude is the shared tendency to behave in a particular way inresponse to stimuli. Some organisations are known for their caring attitude, some forbeing particularly litigious, some for being aggressive competitors. Such attitudes canrepresent considerable assets (or liabilities) to the organisation (Barney 1986).

Capabilities lead to sustainable competitive advantage when they offer something thatdifferentiates the organisation effectively from its competitors. If the capability leads tobetter value for money for the customers than that obtaining elsewhere, the company

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50 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

Figure 3.1 The roots of competitive advantage

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will have a sustained competitive advantage. If other organisations develop capabilitieswhich are better for customers, the competitive advantage will be eroded and may disappear entirely.

Capabilities can be seen as strategic, functional or operational. Strategic capabilitiesdefine the organisation’s overall direction, and include the organisation’s capacity tolearn, as well as the dominant philosophy which guides the senior managers. Ability to manage the strategy is also a key capability.

Functional capabilities include marketing capabilities, financial capabilities and oper-ations management capabilities. They address the ability of the organisation to carryout basic functions effectively and economically.

Operational capabilities are concerned with individual tasks in the overall processwhich leads to customer satisfaction. This might include efficient use of equipment,individual skills of workers, application of IT, efficient order processing, and so forth.

Competencies often lie with individuals, with teams within the organisation, or at thecorporate level.

1 Individual competencies reside within the individuals who work for the organisa-tion. This might include such necessary skills as those of a doctor, specialist learningderived from a research specialism (as might be the case in a university), or even a skill such as glass-blowing, which is, nowadays, possessed by a very few people. Forexample, a university might run a course in sales management which relies heavilyon one individual’s research interests. Such a course might prove difficult to run ifthat individual left or retired.

2 Group competencies can arise either from formal teams within the organisation or from informal groups. A formal team might be, for example, the research anddevelopment team which has responsibility for developing new products. If thisteam works well together and has complementary skills, there will be synergieswhich help in creating better working conditions. An informal group might arise, forexample, among administrators responsible for customer-facing activities such asinvoicing or dispatch. If a ‘can-do’ culture develops, greater efficiency in meetingcustomer need will arise, even though the company may not have formed a specificteam. Often, the informal network in a organisation (i.e. colleagues who becomefriends) is more powerful in getting things done than is the formal network, espe-cially when something unexpected comes up.

3 Corporate-level competencies arise from the corporate culture. They relate to theability of the organisation as a whole to carry out the necessary tasks, and may relate to the degree to which the company learns as a whole (rather than relying onindividual memory).

Important resources and competencies develop throughout the company’s history. Theprocess is usually a slow one: companies cannot develop a competency overnight, norcan resources be acquired instantaneously. Equally, it can be difficult to decide whatthe core competency of a firm actually is. Prahalad and Hamel carried out a study of successful international companies, concluding that any organisation is likely to be world class in only five or six areas of activity (Prahalad and Hamel 1990). For

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example, they discovered that Black and Decker’s true core competency lay in thedevelopment of small electric motors which could be used to run DIY power tools.

Prahalad and Hamel proposed three tests for identifying core competencies:

1 A core competency should be difficult for competitors to copy. If competitors caneasily copy it, it isn’t core to the organisation – it is common to all organisations.

2 A core competency provides potential access to a wide variety of markets. A corecompetency in, say, fibre-optic cable would enable a company to access telecommu-nications markets, aerospace markets, railway signalling markets, defence markets,and so forth.

3 A core competency should make significant contribution to the benefits the customerderives from using the product or service. The competency is worthwhile only if itcontributes to customer welfare – a criterion which is very much in line with the marketing concept itself.

The key issue is whether the competency can be combined with other factors within theorganisation to create unique value for customers. Grouping core competencies withother competencies (i.e. those which the organisation is good at but which are notunique to the organisation) should add to customer satisfaction, otherwise there is little point in the exercise.

The implications of this view are wide ranging. Management of core competencies islikely to be a driver for corporate planning and consequently marketing planning,which in turn is likely to lead to the following outcomes:

1 Greater emphasis on alliances with other companies, with each company bringing a core competence to the alliance. An example would be the construction of theEurotunnel, which involved companies with core competencies in mining, in large-scale concrete structures and in railway construction.

2 Divestment of non-core businesses and brands, accompanied by their sale to com-panies whose core competencies relate better to those businesses and brands.

3 Organisational changes away from strategic business units and towards a more over-arching strategic architecture. This would mean that the organisation would tend touse the core competencies to drive everything within the organisation, rather thanletting it sit in a subdivision or department.

Competencies do need to be something very specific. Saying that the organisation hasa ‘quality product’ or has a ‘strong competitive position’ is missing the point – these areattributes that derive from core competencies. The core competency of Toyota, forexample, is the organisation’s ability to retool rapidly to produce different vehiclesfrom the same stamp mills. This means that the company can respond very quickly toshifts in demand for vehicles, and can also launch new models much faster than its USand European competitors. A side benefit is that the stamp mills are used more inten-sively – an important consideration, given the high capital cost of buying them.

The list of competencies is likely to be short, perhaps even one or two items.Management will need to be agreed on what the competencies are, of course, and thiswill not necessarily be obvious. Dissent among managers might mean that the corecompetencies are not effectively leveraged, i.e. they do not underpin everything the

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company does. Misidentification of competencies will have a similar effect, in thatmanagers will try to play to strengths that the company does not have.

Collaboration with other organisations is a likely outcome of correct identification ofcore competencies. Being able to leverage the organisation’s unique competencies bylinking them with another organisation which has complementary competencies is anexcellent way of strengthening both organisations.

The following approach adds further insight into the dilemma of whether the organisa-tion’s environment or resources should dominate marketing planning decisions.

The market-driving approach to strategy

The marketing concept implies that organisations can, and should, plan around customer needs. Marketers frequently tell people that this is what they do, whereas infact many organisations operate on a market-driving principle, seeking to shape themarket and influence customer decisions.

Table 3.1 contrasts the two approaches.

The market-driven paradigm is more closely related to market orientation, whereasthe market-driving view is more closely related to the resource-based view. This isbecause organisations which begin by looking at what they can do for the market ratherthan what the market needs per se will almost always have to make some kind of proac-tive approach in persuading people that what is on offer will, in fact, meet their needs.

Although on the face of it the market-driving paradigm does not equate well with the marketing concept, it remains the case that organisations which seek to lead themarket are likely to produce innovative products. 3M’s invention of Post-It notes was aclear example of a product in search of a market: customers did not know that they hada need for Post-Its until the product appeared, yet now there are few offices which do

Chapter 3 Drivers of marketing planning 53

Table 3.1 Market-driven vs. market-driving


Organisation acts within theframework and constraints ofexisting market structure andcharacteristics.


Predict which technologiesare likely to be successfulgiven customer needs andpreferences. Respond tomarket structure.

Continuous benchmarking.Imitation.


Organisation can and will act to inducechanges in the market structure andchanges in the behaviours of the players(customers and competitors).

Be at the cutting edge of new customerneeds.

Shape customers’ behaviour proactively.Pioneer. Predict how customers’ needsand market boundaries evolve withvarious technical features.

Shape the market structure proactively.Identify and develop difficult-to-imitateinternal and external competencies.Discontinuous disruption.


Customer orientation

Identifying, analysing and answering to the customer

Competitor orientation

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not use them in their thousands. The same is true of almost all breakthrough inventions– home video recording, mobile telephones, television, aircraft, and many other prod-ucts had no market whatsoever until they became available.

Market-driven organisations, meanwhile, will be more heavily influenced by changesin consumer behaviour (rather than driving the changes by offering something new), bycompetitive innovations (often resulting from organisations which are market-driving),and by relationships within distribution chains (which a market-driving organisation islikely to control).

It is interesting to make the contrast here between these two different perspectives onstrategy, which are akin to the market-oriented and resource-based views. It cannot bedenied that the resource-based view adds an important dimension to marketing plan-ning, which extends decision making about the development of objectives, strategies,programmes and plans into the context of the organisation’s actual position – ratherthan simply suggesting that it should be governed by external forces that affect marketbehaviour.

It is clear that the reality of marketing planning success encompasses a degree of consideration of both ‘outside-in’ and ‘inside-out’ perspectives. The extent to whicheach perspective is influential in such decisions will obviously be determined by the circ*mstances and priorities of the organisation that has to embark on developing a marketing plan.


Although the marketing concept represents an ideal to which companies should aspire,most organisations are unable simply to give customers everything they want. Resourceconstraints will determine what an organisation can and cannot do. Many organisationstake this a stage further and seek to influence the market by what they do, rather thanbeing reactive.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ Objectives cannot be set in isolation: external and internal factors will constraindecision making.

‘ Key drivers of change exist in the wider environment that have shaped marketingstrategies and plans.

‘ A high-performance strategy relies on developing resources effectively.

‘ Resources create competencies, which in turn create capabilities.

‘ Capabilities arise from competencies plus knowledge.

‘ Capabilities can be strategic, functional or operational.

‘ Competencies might lie with individuals, with groups, or at the corporate level.

‘ Management of core competencies is likely to lead to strategic alliances, todivestment of non-core activities and to overarching strategic architecture.

‘ Organisations are often market-driving rather than market-driven, due to resourceconstraints and availability.

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Review questions

1 What is the difference between a competency and a capability?

2 How might a company set objectives relating to resources?

3 Why does management of core competencies often lead to strategic alliances?

4 How does the market-driving philosophy relate to the resource-based view of theorganisation?

5 Why do resource constraints militate against the marketing concept?

Chapter 3 Drivers of marketing planning 55

Umar explained that the company would need to assess the environ-ment thoroughly, and would need to be clear about the company’sstrengths and weaknesses. He planned to carry out an analysis overthe next few weeks, but in the meantime he explained what hethought were the key drivers for the marketing plan, based on thecorporate vision and the initial objectives the directors had already

put in place. These drivers (in no particular order) were as follows:

l Innovation. The Eden Garden Tools brand is based on an innovative approach to the amateurgardening market and should be extended to the commercial grower market as well.

l Social responsibility. The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd has a mission to make gardeningeasier for the infirm or disabled, and has a range of products which will help in doing that.

l Globalisation is clearly an issue for the company, at least regarding the new tree-pruningsaw, and in fact is an issue anyway. This area of the market had been neglected, since thecompany’s business outside the UK is handled by export houses rather than directly from the company itself. Umar flagged up the potential problem of foreign competition enteringthe UK market, a danger the directors had not considered.

l The current emphasis on sustainability in consumer thinking could be a major boost for thefirm since more and more people were looking to grow their own food.

l Stakeholder relations, in particular those between shareholders (Mike’s family business, Mikeand Hugh themselves, and of course the venture capitalists if and when they came onboard), would be of paramount importance.

The directors began to feel that things were moving ahead, but if they were to start to put theflesh on the bones of the corporate and marketing plans, they would need to have a muchmore detailed analysis.




Case study Toyota

Kiichiro Toyoda was born in 1894, the son of the inventor of the automatic loom. Toyoda inher-ited his father’s engineering commitment and skill, and devoted his life to developing cars. In1929 he travelled around Europe and the US finding out about car production, and in 1935launched his first passenger car and a light pick-up truck based on the same chassis and engine.


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56 Part 1 Introduction to marketing planning

In 1936 the company ran a public competition to design a logo, but Risaburo Toyoda (who hadmarried into the family) pointed out that changing the company name from Toyoda to Toyotamade the logo simpler and easier to pronounce.

The Second World War interrupted the production of private vehicles, and it was not until 1947that Toyota began production for private motorists again. Within ten years the company had entered the US market, and by 1972 had established a factory there. Originally, Toyotavehicles were branded as ‘Toyopet’, but this branding was rapidly dropped in the US becauseof the combination of ‘toy’ and ‘pet’ which seemed inappropriate for a vehicle.

Since Japan has virtually no natural resources of its own, manufacturing needs to be lean andefficient. This meant that Toyota cars were much smaller than their US counterparts, but luckplayed a part in Toyota’s destiny when the 1973 oil crisis forced many Americans to look forcheaper, smaller and more economical cars. Toyota pioneered the just-in-time stock system,whereby components arrive at the factory just as they are needed – the company keeps nobuffer stocks of parts. The company also developed rapid interchange of stamp-mill dies,meaning that production of body parts can be switched rapidly between models. The company’scompetency in production techniques is regarded as world-beating, and has helped Toyotabecome the world’s fifth largest corporation, producing around 9 million vehicles a year.

The company has invested heavily in environmentally friendly cars, having developed the Priushybrid petrol–electric car. This is an advanced piece of engineering: the car runs on electricpower only at speeds below 31 miles per hour, but at higher speeds the petrol engine auto-matically starts, in order to provide extra power. The petrol engine also charges the battery, sothere is no need to recharge the battery from the mains. The result is a car that will averageover 70 miles to the gallon and will (when in electric mode) have no emissions. Toyota hopesto offer a hybrid option for all its vehicles by 2012 and to produce all-electric vehicles duringthe decade.

Toyota also has an interest in robotics, having produced a robot which can play a trumpet, anda wheelchair which is controlled by thought alone. The company’s aim is to produce robotswhich can be used for the care of the elderly and infirm, and also for automated manufactur-ing processes.

Toyota has a truly global approach to business, with production subsidiaries in 26 countries. Inmany cases, production of specific components such as transmissions or engines takes place inone country, with the components being shipped to several other countries for assembly intothe finished cars.

Environmental issues play a prominent role in Toyota’s thinking. The company follows the twoconcepts of ‘zeronise’, which means removing the negative impacts of vehicles such as pollu-tion and traffic congestion, and ‘maximise’, which means increasing the positive aspects suchas fun and convenience. The company aims to introduce more sustainable factories as well asmaking the vehicles more environmentally friendly: production plants use wind and solarpower, and greenery is planted around the production sites to increase biomass. From 2005Toyota had a five-year environmental plan, which was directed at ‘the arrival of a revitalised,recycling-based society’. The plan was intended to build on the company’s previously issuedEco-Vehicle Assessment System, which included four elements: fuel efficiency, emissions andnoise during vehicle use; disposal recovery rate; the reduction of substances of environmentalconcern; and the total CO2 emissions throughout the vehicle’s lifecycle, from productionthrough use to disposal.

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Barney, J.B. (1986): Organizational culture: can it be a source of sustained competitiveadvantage? Academy of Management Review, 11, pp 656–65.

Dretske, F. (1981): Knowledge and the Flow of Information (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

Durand, T. (1996): Revisiting key dimensions of competence. SMS Conference, Phoenix,Arizona.

Porter, M.E. (1990): How competitive forces shape strategy. Harvard Business Review, 57 (2)pp 137–45.

Prahalad, C.K. and Hamel, G. (1990): The core competence of the corporation. HarvardBusiness Review, May–June, pp 79–91.

Stalk, G., Evans, P. and Shulman, L. (1992): Competing on capabilities. Harvard BusinessReview, March/April.


Chapter 3 Drivers of marketing planning 57

The underlying theme of Toyota’s corporate philosophy is that the company is working to build the world of tomorrow. This is reflected in the strapline for its UK advertising, ‘Today,tomorrow, Toyota’, but it is embodied in the corporate data book for 2008, in which the company has four objectives for shaping the future:

1 Opening the door to unexplored areas.

2 Starting new cycles of industry.

3 Expanding research into a variety of areas.

4 Building up human resources and organisational strength as the foundations of manufacturing.

These objectives, and indeed the whole Toyota corporate philosophy, are conveyed to employeesthrough the Toyota Institute, a university established by the company in 1981 for the purposeof developing employees’ skills and knowledge.

Toyota has come a long way since 1935: in that year, the company built only 20 vehicles andmade an overall operating loss. Now the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer, Toyota has nointention of resting on its corporate laurels. The company is continually looking to the future –today, tomorrow, Toyota.


1 To what extent is Toyota market-driven?

2 Why are environmental values so important to the company?

3 What are the drivers behind the creation of the hybrid car?

4 What are Toyota’s key competencies?

5 What are Toyota’s key capabilities?

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Part 2

All business is conducted within a competitive, legislative and economicenvironment. Business is not only about money – it is also about people, andfor marketers this is especially true since marketing is so intimately involvedwith meeting people’s needs. Planning is, above all else, the art of thepossible – whatever we plan to do must fit in around the environment inwhich we operate. So this section of the book looks at how planners cananalyse the environment within which the business must operate, survive and (we hope) grow.

Key in this analysis is the marketing audit, which is the subject of Chapter 4.The audit enables us to develop a ‘snapshot’ of the company’s currentposition regarding its marketing. The following two chapters look in moredepth at analysing the internal and external environments, and Chapter 7brings the environmental analysis together by looking at ways of identifyingsuitable strategies.

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Chapter 4

The marketing audit

Umar Sayeed knew that he had a somewhat dauntingtask ahead of him – carrying out a full marketing auditfor a firm which had few systems in place for assessingits marketing activities could be very time consuming,and he had a fairly tight deadline to meet if the com-pany were to be able to meet its targets for negotiation

with the venture capitalists.

Thinking about the practicalities of conducting the audit, he came to the follow-ing conclusions:

1 The audit would need to be carried out about once a year, since the companydid not have sufficient resources to carry it out more frequently, and in par-ticular he would not have time to do it on a regular basis since he would have to do all the work himself as well as carry out the rest of his duties asmarketing manager.

2 The audit itself would probably be fairly straightforward as the company carried out relatively few marketing activities – very limited advertising, no PR,and so forth.

3 He would have to take entire responsibility for the audit the first time round,but might expect some help from John Peters once he had had the chance toget out and interact with customers. That would make the following year’saudit easier, anyway.

4 There would be a need to revisit the audit in between full audits, because thecompany itself was going through a period of rapid change.

Having outlined the main issues for himself, Umar moved on to consider the detailof how he would conduct the audit.




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62 Part 2 Environmental analysis

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Describe the basic elements of the marketing audit.

‘ Explain how the audit helps in forward planning of marketing.

‘ Assess the frequency with which the audit should be conducted.

‘ Explain some of the problems in carrying out the audit.

‘ Show how the audit helps in focusing the thinking of managers.

‘ Describe some of the drawbacks of the audit.


Any planning process needs to be framed within the context of the planner’s presentcirc*mstances. Knowing where we are enables us to plan for where we are going: with-out this vital information, we cannot make realistic decisions.

In financial planning, planners begin by knowing what assets the organisation alreadyhas and what is currently being done with those assets. Accountants carry out audits tofind out what is owned, what is owed, and what is due to be paid to the organisation.Marketers can carry out a similar type of audit that sets out to examine what the com-pany’s current marketing situation is. The marketing audit is therefore an importantplatform in developing the company’s forward planning.

In this chapter the main elements of the marketing audit are explained and some of thepracticalities associated with undertaking an audit are discussed.

Elements of the audit

The marketing audit is a comprehensive review of the organisation’s strategies, tactics,objectives, performance and activities. The purpose is to provide managers with a complete overview of the organisation’s current position – a ‘snapshot’ view – so thatthey can plan for moving the organisation forward. In effect, the audit evaluates theorganisation’s effectiveness in terms of the 7Ps of the extended marketing mix (Band1984).

The audit is pivotal to the marketing planning process and supports decision makingrelating to strategic and tactical resource allocation in marketing. The marketing audit broadly has two components, external and internal, although it is commonly sub-divided into a number of elements.

The elements of the marketing audit are shown in Table 4.1. Some of the elements maybe difficult to assess – information may not be readily available, or may be expensive toobtain – but the aim is to find out as much as possible about what the organisation isdoing in each of the areas identified. This will help to show up any weaknesses in thecorporate marketing policy, and should provoke creative thinking among managers asproblems are identified.

Each of these elements will be dealt with in more detail in this chapter.


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Chapter 4 The marketing audit 63

Table 4.1 The marketing audit

Main areas

Marketing environment audit Macro environment

Task environment

Marketing strategy audit

Marketing organisation audit

Marketing systems audit










Distribution and dealers


Facilitators and marketing organisations


Business mission

Marketing objectives and goals


Formal structure

Functional efficiency

Interface efficiency

Marketing informationsystem

Marketing planningsystem

Marketing control system

New productdevelopment system

Issues to be addressed

Inflation, materials supply and shortages,unemployment, credit availability, forecast trends inpopulation structure.

Changes in product and process technology, genericsubstitutes to replace products.

Proposed laws, national and local governmentactions.

Attitude changes in the population as a whole,changes in lifestyles and values.

Cost and availability of natural resources, publicconcerns about pollution and conservation.

Market size, growth, geographical distribution,profits; changes in market segment sizes andopportunities.

Attitudes towards the company and competitors,decision-making processes, evolving needs andwants.

Objectives and strategies of competitors, identifyingcompetitors, trends in future competition.

Main trade channels, efficiency levels of tradechannels.

Availability of key resources, trends in patterns ofselling.

Cost and availability of transport, finance andwarehousing; effectiveness of advertising (and other)agencies.

Opportunity areas, effectiveness of PR activities.

Clear focus, attainability.

Corporate and marketing objectives clearly stated,appropriateness of marketing objectives.

Core marketing strategy, budgeting of resources,allocation of resources.

Seniority of marketing management, structure ofresponsibilities.

Communications systems, product managementsystems, training of personnel.

Connections between marketing and other businessfunctions.

Accuracy and sufficiency of information, generationand use of market research.

Effectiveness, forecasting, setting of targets.

Control procedures, periodic analysis of profitabilityand costs.

Gathering and screening of ideas, business analysis,pre-launch product and market testing.


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64 Part 2 Environmental analysis

Source: Adapted from KOTLER, PHILIP, MARKETING MANAGEMENT, 11th ed., © 2003. Reproduced by permission of Pearson EducationInc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Table 4.1 continued

Marketing productivity audit

Marketing function audits

Profitability analysis





Advertising, salespromotion, PR


Profitability of each product, market, territory anddistribution channel. Entry and exit of segments.

Costs and benefits of marketing activities.

Product portfolio; what to keep, what to drop, whatto add, what to improve.

Pricing objectives, policies and strategies. Customerattitudes. Price promotions.

Adequacy of market coverage. Effectiveness ofchannel members. Switching channels.

Suitability of objectives. Effectiveness of executionformat. Method of determining the budget. Mediaselection. Staffing levels and abilities.

Adequate size to achieve objectives. Territoryorganisation. Remuneration methods and levels.Morale. Setting quotas and targets.

Main areas Sub-sections Issues to be addressed

In order to carry out the audit, a large number of individuals will need to provide infor-mation; in some cases, these people will not be part of the marketing department andmay need to be persuaded to help. In most cases, people will want to understand howthe audit will benefit them, or make their lives easier. Marketers will need to satisfythem on these points, and will also need to make the provision of information as simpleas possible.

Marketing environment audit

This part of the audit is concerned with the various elements which surround the company and affect its activities. The macro environment is those elements whichaffect all organisations in the industry (and contains many elements which affect allorganisations, whatever their industry).

These elements are often called PESTEL elements (see Figure 4.1):

l political factors such as current government policy and the stability of the politicalclimate;

l economic factors such as demand in the national economy, interest rates, creditavailability, and so forth;

l socio-cultural elements such as language, social trends, and shared beliefs of thesociety in which the organisation operates;

l technological elements such as new products on the market, communications tech-nology, or scientific breakthroughs;

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l ecological elements such as conservation of natural resources, concerns about pollution, and availability of sustainable supplies of raw materials; and

l legal factors such as legislation and court decisions.

Most of the information regarding the macro environment is easily available throughpublished sources such as newspapers, government statistics, journals and books. Thedifficulty with auditing the external environment is that it changes rapidly: new lawsare passed, fashions change, and the economy can go through boom and bust quitesuddenly (as was seen in the autumn of 2008). This may mean that this part of theaudit needs to be updated regularly, perhaps through a management informationsystem.

The task environment consists of those elements which affect the immediate task at hand,in other words those factors which aid or inhibit the tactical processes the organisationis undertaking. In a marketing context these will normally be associated with satisfyingcustomer requirements and reaping the rewards from doing that. Task environmentelements include markets – these are all the actual and potential customers for theorganisation’s products. The audit results for this element should include the size ofmarkets (both existing and potential) and the organisation’s share in those markets.Customers are another element in the task environment: types of customer, marketsegments, needs and wants of the customers, and (perhaps crucially) their attitudestowards the company and its products are key pieces of information. This type of infor-mation can be collected through internal sources such as the salesforce and the invoicingdepartment, and by carrying out market research with customers.

Auditing competitors must begin by identifying who those competitors are. This can bemore difficult than it appears at first because a competitor might be any organisationwhich competes for our customers’ business. For example, a nightclub competes notonly with other nightclubs but also with cinemas and restaurants. In a broad sense,

Chapter 4 The marketing audit 65

Figure 4.1 The marketing environment

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66 Part 2 Environmental analysis

fashion stores also compete with nightclubs since they target the same groups of customer. Finding out the objectives and strategies of competitors is clearly extremelydifficult and will probably rely heavily on speculation on the part of managers. Someinformation might be available from competitors’ former employees, but this informa-tion is unlikely to be reliable. In some cases, competitors may even make publicannouncements about how they see the market moving, which may provide clues as totheir focus; in other cases, corporate statements intended for shareholders and otherinvestors might offer clues.

If competitors might be anybody who is competing for the customers’ money, isthere any point in even trying to find out what they are up to? After all, prettymuch every business in the country is trying to get money out of people, soultimately we are competing with everybody! There’s no way we could possiblyanalyse all of them.

Yet if we take that attitude, what’s the point of auditing the environment at all?With the world being such a volatile place, things changing all around us, whywould we want to put ourselves through it? Why not just go back to bed, pull thecovers over our heads and wait for it all to pass?


Distributors, dealers and suppliers form the rest of the supply chain or marketing channels of which the organisation is part. Auditing the supply chain is relatively easycompared with finding out about competitors’ plans: suppliers and distributors aremore likely to provide at least some information about their intentions, at least as faras the specific supply chain is concerned. Audit considerations might include powerrelationships in the chain, possibilities for recruiting new suppliers, or entering newmarkets currently served by other distributors. Auditors should be asking whether theexisting supply chain is the best that can be found, and if not, whether it is better to tryto adjust the existing arrangements or find new ones.

Facilitators and marketing organisations might include logistics companies (firmswhich ship our goods for us), advertising agencies, or consultancy businesses. Infor-mation about these should already be available within the company files, but againmost of them would be happy to provide missing information. The question here iswhether these are the best facilitators, given the organisation’s current circ*mstances.

Publics means anybody who is impacted by the organisation’s activities. This includesneighbours, the general public, government departments, pressure groups such asenvironmentalist organisations, and so forth. Publics are (not surprisingly) the subjectof public relations, or PR. The audit should consider what the current relationships arewith each of these publics, and should be able to flag up possible opportunities as wellas providing an assessment of the effectiveness of current PR activities.

Marketing strategy audit

The overall marketing strategy should be audited with a view to determining whether,in the light of competitive and other activities, it remains the correct one. Strategiesoften shift as a result of meeting with reality. Even if top management has set a

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strategy, the actual strategic thrust can be changed as the plan is implemented, for thefollowing reasons:

1 Market conditions turn out to be different from what was anticipated. For example,when Honda first entered the US market, the strategy was to sell large motorbikesbecause these dominated the US market. These bikes flopped dramatically – butCalifornians became interested in the 50cc bikes the Honda staff used to commute tothe Honda factory, and these became a great success (Pascale 1984).

2 Middle managers’ personal agendas cause them to alter the strategy.

3 Competitors force a change of direction. A competitor entering a key market candevastate the strategic plan.

The audit should look at the business mission. Many missions have a very specific endpoint – for example, a company may want to become the biggest in the industry. If themission has either been attained or is close to being attained, a revision might well benecessary and a new mission outlined.

Marketing objectives should be clearly stated and appropriate, but like the businessmission they may be close to being attained and should therefore be revised – the auditwill help in doing this.

Finally, the budgeting and allocation of resources should be considered. This is a difficult area, since every departmental manager would like an increase in budget andcan, of course, make a strong case for the increase. Any organisation relies on all itsdepartments – each one is essential to the smooth running and even the survival of theorganisation, otherwise it would simply be closed – so managers can always point tothe vital importance of their work.

Marketing organisation audit

Checking the organisation structure is important because the structure determines thefunction of most departments in most companies. In some companies, the organisationstructure might be organismic, in which case the structure flexes according to the taskfacing the company at any specific time; in other companies there is a rigid hierarchy,with each person’s task being carefully delineated. Such bureaucratic structures workwell in situations where the company operates in a stable business environment.

The question for the auditors is whether the existing structure is appropriate for theconditions and tasks the company finds itself in. For marketers, the position of market-ing in the overall organisation structure is also of great interest – if marketing and marketers generally occupy low-level positions in the structure, the priority given tomarketing is also low. Even if the marketers are unable to do anything about it, it doesat least indicate what their position and expected role are.

The structure of the organisation goes beyond the formal structure shown on theorganisation chart, of course. There is also the informal structure, which comprises thenetwork of social interactions within the organisation. These social interactions happenin many contexts – casual conversations near the photocopier, groups of colleagueswho meet for lunch periodically, chance encounters in the corridor, and so forth. The

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68 Part 2 Environmental analysis

informal network is extremely important in making up for shortcomings and commu-nication failures in the formal network, but it is also virtually impossible to auditbecause of its inherently chaotic nature. What can be considered is the degree to whichthe organisation encourages the informal network and facilitates social interactionbetween colleagues. Many companies do this by organising social events, by includingpersonal news in the staff newsletter, by having ‘For Sale’ notice boards on thepremises, having company clubs and sports societies.

Functional efficiency is about the effectiveness of internal communications, trainingsystems and product management systems. Good administration should provide theright support for the people who are doing the ‘real’ work – efficient office staff andadministrators contribute greatly to this. Of course, no system is ever perfect: what isappropriate for one group of staff may be wholly inappropriate for others. For example,marketing managers may need a constant stream of information from front-liners suchas the salesforce, but the salespeople resent taking time away from making sales inorder to fill in a lot of statistical information on forms. Good administration and newelectronic information systems minimise this type of conflict.

The final element in the organisation audit is interface efficiency. This looks at the con-nections between marketers and other departments and colleagues, and would be mostconcerned with the possibilities of conflict and the ways in which conflict is resolvedwhen it happens. Conflict is not necessarily a bad thing, since it often leads to creativesolutions (Ruekart and Walker 1987), but conflict-resolution methods need to be effective. (Unfortunately, in many organisations conflict resolution is conspicuous byits absence.)

Marketing systems audit

The systems audit looks at four main areas: information systems, planning systems,control systems and new product development systems. Each of these systems repre-sents a set of procedures which is always followed (perhaps with some flexibility in thesystem) in order to ensure consistency. The question is whether these procedures arethe most efficient, and whether they can be streamlined to improve their effectiveness.

Marketing information systems are there to provide a constant flow of information todecision makers about key factors. A good marketing information system should provide up-to-date information on sales, market share and competitive behaviour, butwill provide a great deal more information depending on the decision makers’ needsand the constraints of the industry. From the viewpoint of the audit, the questions arewhether the right information is being supplied, whether the information is being ana-lysed and disseminated correctly, whether the information is accurate, and whethereffective market research is being carried out. One of the problems with auditing theinformation systems is to ensure that a good balance is obtained between the cost ofcollecting information and its usefulness to decision makers. Often, information is collected and carefully collated into reports which remain unread on managers’ desks,or which are referred to only when things go wrong.

The marketing planning system should be capable of setting appropriate targets andforecasting outcomes. Clearly, it needs to be efficient in terms of using planners’ time well:

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keeping expensive executives in meetings all the time is not productive, yet this is exactly how many organisations behave. The audit should flag up inefficiencies in the system.

The marketing control system follows on from the planning system, since controlshould feed back into planning. Control systems should examine factors other thanprofit and turnover; marketers should, ideally, measure success in terms of customeroutcomes such as customer satisfaction rates, market share and customer retention.Whatever measures have been laid down by the planning system, the control and infor-mation systems should combine to provide managers with clear feedback on the degreeto which marketing activities have been effective in helping to hit targets.

New product development (NPD) is the lifeblood of most companies, since a lack ofnew products will (eventually) leave the company with only obsolete products to sell.Ensuring that ideas are collected correctly, that the screening process results in the most marketable products coming through (not merely the easiest to produce, orthe managers’ pet ideas) and that effective pre-launch tests are carried out are the keyfeatures of a good NPD audit.

Marketing productivity audit

The marketing productivity audit is intended to ensure that the set of marketing activitiesthe company is undertaking (the marketing mix) is generating optimum outcomes.Marketing is not necessarily only about profitability, of course – organisations may havemany different aims – but showing a surplus of income over outgoings is a prerequisitefor staying in business. The first part of the productivity audit is therefore a profitabilityanalysis.

Profitability should be analysed in several ways. Companies often tend to analyse profitin terms of the success of individual products, but while this is important in some ways,it certainly does not provide a full picture. The marketing audit therefore requires theauditor to assess the profitability of each market territory, distribution channel and targetsegment as well as entry and exit costs for markets as yet untouched.

Assessing the profitability of marketing territories allows the organisation to decidewhether specific territories should be dropped or downgraded, so that resources can bediverted elsewhere. For example, a ferry company operating from Dover would prob-ably find that most of its customers come from the south-east of England, so promotingheavily in northern England or Scotland would probably not be cost effective, whereasa ferry company operating from Humberside or Newcastle would find the reverse is thecase. In most circ*mstances, the differences between territories may not be nearly asobvious. The costs of servicing a rural territory may be high, since salespeople may haveto spend more time on the road, but equally some cities might be expensive to servicebecause of traffic delays, greater costs attached to expenses claims for meals and parking,and greater competition.

The profitability of distribution channels is another area which has hidden implica-tions. There is a tendency to believe that shortening a distribution channel will improveprofitability, since each member of the channel adds on a profit margin. However, it is

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often the case that shortening the channel reduces efficiency, since it reduces the gainsmade by having specialists at each point in the chain. Where an organisation has multipledistribution channels, it should be possible to compare their profitability, but again thecompany will need to be somewhat circ*mspect in making decisions to change channels.Even if a channel is less profitable than others, it may be the only way to reach a giventarget market, or there may be other issues attached to changing it – for example, thedistributors may be successful in handling some of the company’s other products, and might be annoyed to find their range reduced if a product is moved to another distributor.

For marketers, the profitability of a market segment should be central, due to the con-cept of customer centrality. Considering the needs of our most profitable segmentsshould be paramount because it focuses us on generating ideas for selling more to thesegment and for ensuring that competitors do not lure our customers away. In somecases, unprofitable segments can be dropped, or ways can be found to reduce theamount of resources devoted to them. Some companies have even divested themselvesof unprofitable market segments by selling them to competitors – for example, bankssometimes sell off unprofitable loans or loan divisions to specialists who are able tomake them pay.

Most definitions of marketing include somewhere the words ‘profit’ or‘profitability’. Indeed, if you ask most people what they think a company is for,they will answer ‘to make money’. But is that really the case? After all, manycompanies operate in industries where margins are very narrow – the packageholiday business is one – rather than in businesses where the profit margins arehigh, such as organised crime.

Is profit really all we are concerned with, as business people? Or is profit just a means to an end, a way of staying in the game while we do something that we think is really worthwhile?


Finally, companies need to look at the entry and exit costs for specific segments. A seg-ment might be identified as profitable but require high investments for entry; perhaps,more importantly, a segment may not be very profitable in itself, but may be so cheapto enter that the business might as well pick up what profit there is. There are manyexamples of market segments which have been passed up because organisationsbelieve the segment is not profitable, but which have been so cheap to enter that otherorganisations have scooped a large share at very little cost. Equally, a segment may belosing profitability but be expensive to leave (perhaps because the company has con-tractual obligations to customers, or long-term servicing agreements). Often these willbe business-to-business markets, but there are examples of consumer markets whichare expensive to leave – the second-hand car market is one, since car dealers have largeamounts of capital tied up in cars which would be difficult to sell quickly without dropping the price dramatically. Some organisations might have large amounts of capital tied up in manufacturing equipment or business premises, with little chance ofrecovering the money in the event of leaving a market.

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Marketing function audit

The marketing function audit is concerned with the marketing mix itself. This part ofthe audit originally looked only at the 4Ps model (product, price, promotion, place),but since the widespread adoption of the 7Ps model, which includes people, processand physical evidence, the audit is in need of revision.

The product audit is concerned with additions to the product line and to managing theproduct portfolio. This is an extension of the marketing systems audit, in which newproduct development systems were considered, but actually is more concerned withstrategy than with the mechanics of generating new products. Deciding which productsto keep and which to drop is the basis of product strategy, and is a set of decisionswhich needs to be made in the light of customer needs and wants. In some cases, ofcourse, products cannot be offered because there is no production or marketing syn-ergy with the existing product range; without some linkage of the company’s existingrange, the chances of success in the market are dramatically reduced (Calentone andCooper 1981).

Auditing the product range does not necessarily mean cutting out any products whichdo not show a profit. Such products may be necessary for retaining customer loyalty, orattracting new customers, or may be expensive to drop (see the profitability analysis).In some cases, products may even be kept in the portfolio because of historical or sentimental reasons – one example is Heinz Salad Cream, which suffered decliningsales for many years and was eventually scheduled to be discontinued by Heinz. Publicoutcry at the loss of what was regarded as a British icon and a nostalgic product linkedto many people’s childhoods resulted in the company shelving the plans (in fact, salesincreased once people became afraid that they might be about to lose the product).

The price audit includes considerations of customer attitudes towards the company’sprices. This may include customer perception of quality, value for money, or competitivepositioning. People rarely, if ever, buy the cheapest product in every category of goodsthey buy: most people make decisions based on what they consider to be value formoney (the relationship between quality and price) rather than on simple money cost.However, since price also relates to profitability, the audit should include an assessmentof whether the prices charged are sufficient to cover costs, at the very least.

Distribution issues include whether there is appropriate support for the supply chain(especially retailers) and whether the distribution chain is the most suitable for reach-ing the specific customer base. Market coverage is another issue in distribution: is theorganisation reaching all the segments of the market that it could or should be reach-ing? In some cases, channel members may need more support, or may be less thanefficient. The management of the channel should also be looked at in terms of thedegree of control the company is able to exert over its members. In some cases, a chan-nel may be dropped because one or other channel member has too much power.

The promotional audit includes all the communication tools the organisation has at its disposal. Auditing communications effectiveness is notoriously difficult – manyorganisations try to audit their advertising in terms of increased sales, for example,whereas there may be many other factors which influence sales. In general, communi-cations activities can be measured only by communications outcomes. For instance, an

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advertising campaign intended to increase brand recognition will not necessarilyincrease sales, since recognising the brand and wanting to buy it are two completelyseparate issues. Even though it seems likely that increasing brand awareness will meanbringing the brand to the attention of people who will want to buy it, there is still noguarantee that they will do so – an economic downturn or a competing product enteringthe market could have a powerful effect in reducing sales. Such a campaign could beassessed by measuring brand awareness before and after the campaign, however: thiscould be linked to sales if a connection could be established between brand awarenessand sales, of course.

The advertising audit should go further than simply seeing whether a campaign hasbeen cost effective. The auditor should also consider whether the objectives are them-selves appropriate, whether they are reachable, and whether they have a high degreeof fit with the overall marketing strategy. The execution of the advertising itself shouldalso be audited. Does the advertising achieve what it claims to achieve? Is the produc-tion of the advertisem*nts what it should be? Are there cheaper ways of achieving thesame impact, through producing less expensive advertising? A company, for example,might achieve as good a result by filming an advertisem*nt locally as it would by filmingit at an expensive overseas location.

The advertising budget should not merely be audited in terms of cost effectiveness,however. The basis for budgeting should also be re-examined. For instance, a companymight be using a percentage-of-sales budgeting method, whereby the budget is calcu-lated on the basis of the sales created last year. This method has the advantage of beingeasy to apply, but it suffers from the drawback that as sales reduce, the budget alsoreduces, whereas in fact there is a strong argument for increasing the budget if salesstart to fall. The audit is intended not to set the budget but to assess the basis on whichthe budget is set.

Media choice is also a subject for the audit. In some cases, the medium may have workedwell for years, but changes in audience tastes may have rendered the medium lesseffective. If people no longer buy a particular newspaper, or our target audience no longerwatches a specific TV show, this should be picked up in the audit and the necessarychanges should be made. Also, new media may appear: the Internet was an obviousexample which many organisations failed to exploit adequately. In some ways, theadvertising audit includes an external audit: watching for new developments in communication is clearly an important aspect of the audit.

Obviously the problem is much more complicated when it comes to measuring publicrelations efforts. PR is essentially about making people feel good about the company,and although there is almost certainly a link between this and many good outcomes(sales being only one of them), PR is extremely difficult to audit. Market research canhelp here, but it should be carried out with all stakeholders, not just customers. Forexample, one effect of PR is to encourage better-qualified employees to apply for jobswith the organisation. A good PR image also helps in motivating existing staff, in open-ing doors for the salesforce, and in improving the morale of suppliers. Good PR alsoeases the organisation’s relationship with government departments. All of these factorsare hard to measure, and in some cases may be impossible to measure (it is difficult to

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see how one might approach an MP with a questionnaire). In some cases, organisationsassess their PR according to the number of column inches of press coverage theyobtain, but this is an extremely crude measure. Apart from the fact that newspaper coverage is only one aspect of news reporting, the quality of the coverage and its impacton the organisation’s publics are clearly much more important. A positive story of onlyten lines is likely to be worth more than a fearless exposé of the company’s activitieswhich covers three pages.

Sales promotions, however, do have a fairly direct impact on sales. Running a goodpromotion can be measured directly by its effect on sales, but for the purposes of themarketing audit it would certainly create a fuller picture if the company could alsoassess the sales promotion’s impact on brand values. In some cases promotions have apositive effect (the Tesco ‘Computers for Schools’ promotion is a fine example) whereasin other cases the promotion devalues and cheapens the brand (for example,Pizzaland’s ‘Pizza for a Penny’ promotion meant that people went to Pizzaland onlywhen they had a voucher, so the brand was devalued). Promotions which associate thebrand with something upmarket are usually a good way to avoid devaluing the brand:a piggy-back promotion in conjunction with a leading brand can be extremely effective.Simply cutting the price will, of course, encourage brand switching, but such switchesare temporary, they damage profitability, and they usually hurt the brand image aswell.

The salesforce audit is perhaps among the most complex to carry out, not least becausesalespeople will try to avoid being made to look bad, and sales managers will certainlynot want them to become demotivated. This is a very real danger when people’s performance is being assessed, since they tend to feel threatened.

The salesforce as a whole can be audited in terms of the amount of business it brings incompared with the overall cost of running the group. This should provide a benchmarkfor assessing individual performance, but care needs to be taken: there may be perfectlygood reasons why a particular salesperson has lower sales and higher costs than another,for example because he or she is covering a widely separated geographical territory.Individual effectiveness may be affected by many other factors: level of training, levelof motivation, age, suitability for selling to specific customers, and so forth. A good salesmanager should be on top of these issues, and the audit should help provide furtherinformation for managing the salespeople generally.

Ultimately, of course, individual salespeople might be identified as needing extra train-ing, motivation or help: in the last analysis, poor salespeople need to be removed fromthe salesforce, of course, but care should be taken that this is not perceived as the purpose of the audit. If salespeople come to think that they are likely to be fired as a result of the audit, they are extremely unlikely to cooperate with the process.

The front-line people who have direct contact with customers should also be part of the audit. Even when such individuals do not have a sales role, they do form part of thecustomer experience, particularly in terms of the service aspects of the product. Truckdrivers, receptionists, telephonists, warehouse people and so forth all have a role increating customer satisfaction. Auditing how they feel about what they do, and whatcan be done to improve their performance, is of course a key aspect of the audit.

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Practicalities of undertaking a marketing audit

Some of the issues associated with conducting a marketing audit in practice revolvearound its frequency, the stages involved and how it should be performed effectively.

The timing of an audit depends on a number of factors, including the type of business,the length of the planning cycle and the rapidity of environmental change. In fast- moving markets it is probably better to have more frequent audits than when there is a relatively stable set of market conditions. If the organisation has an annual planningcycle, the audit will take place in sequence with this, or alternatively over some othertime period.

It is particularly helpful to have a standard approach to auditing as comparisons can bemade with previous periods. A common set of stages includes: the pre-audit, informa-tion collection, data analysis, recommendations and an implementation programme.The findings of the audit go forward to the next stage of the marketing planning process, and the more rigorous the audit systems in place, the better the basis will befor forward planning.

Kotler and Keller (2006) identify that for a marketing audit to be effective it should be:

l comprehensive: covers all the main elements;

l systematic: conducted in a structured and logical manner;

l independent: undertaken by someone who is unbiased and will be honest in theirassessment of the situation;

l periodic: carried out at regular intervals, not just when there is a problem with marketing in the organisation.

With this in mind the audit should be led by a senior manager who will have an auditteam in support that will liaise with any eternal auditors who are employed to conductthe audit. Using a balanced group of internal and external auditors in the process willensure objectivity as well as strategic organisational focus.


The marketing audit is a template for assessing the organisation’s current position interms of its marketing activities. It provides a comprehensive system for examiningeverything that impinges on the organisation’s marketing planning, but it is not in itselfa provider of answers. If anything, the marketing audit generates questions rather thananswers and is therefore more an aid to thought than a definitive tool.

There are some very real drawbacks to the audit, of course. These are as follows:

l It is time consuming if it is carried out thoroughly.

l Some aspects of the audit can seem threatening for staff.

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l Managers will sometimes ‘shade’ their responses to audit questions to make them-selves look good, or to follow a personal agenda of some kind.

l Much of the audit is subjective: it relies on judgement on the part of the auditor.

l By the time the audit has been carried out in its entirety the world has moved on andthe information may be out of date.

l A full audit will require market research, which is expensive and does not provideanswers very quickly in most cases.

Because of these very real drawbacks, companies need to make a judgement as to howoften the audit should be carried out, and also how assiduous they should be in carryingout a full audit. Carried out properly, the audit will focus the minds of decision makersand often generates creative solutions; carried out poorly, it can easily mislead decisionmakers and create more problems than it solves.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ The marketing audit has a number of basic elements which, if followed correctly,cover all aspects of the organisation’s marketing activities.

‘ The audit is a key starting point for all forward planning because it tells us wherewe are now.

‘ The audit should be carried out as frequently as time and resources allow: this maybe relatively infrequently, of course.

‘ The audit is by no means straightforward: it requires effort, resources and a largedegree of objectivity.

‘ The audit’s strongest benefit lies in focusing the thinking of managers, somanagers should be involved fully in carrying out an audit.

‘ The nature of the audit process adopted revolves around a number oforganisational and market factors.

‘ The audit has a number of drawbacks, many of which can be overcome if staff andmanagers ‘buy into’ the process.

Chapter 4 The marketing audit 75

Having spent a day or so familiarising himself with the company’sfiles, administration and customer records, Umar Sayeed felt able toplan out the audit process for himself. He knew he would have to beobjective, but as a new kid he knew this would be easy – the follow-ing year it might be harder, as he would be expected to audit his ownperformance.

He decided that the audit should encompass a future-oriented perspective, and that he wouldbe relying fairly heavily on internally held information. There simply would not be the time toconduct any formal, primary research into the market, but he would be able to use publishedresearch fairly easily – amateur gardening is an extremely popular hobby in the UK, since mostpeople live in houses with gardens attached, and many people also have allotments where theygrow their own vegetables. Commercial growing might be harder to research, but since thecompany currently does not seek out commercial growers, this was less of an immediate issue.





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76 Part 2 Environmental analysis

Review questions

1 Why is technology considered as part of the external environment?

2 What is the main problem with carrying out a salesforce audit?

3 How might a company decide how often to conduct an audit?

4 Who should be responsible for carrying out the audit?

5 What are the main benefits derived from carrying out a marketing audit?

Finding out about the competition should also be fairly straightforward, especially consideringthe experience Mike and Hugh had, plus some input from John Peters: there should also besome information available from Stephanie Walters’ records, even though this would be seri-ously out of date and would need some research to update it.

The basic tasks therefore appeared to be as follows:

l Trawl through the customer records to find out who buys what, when and in what quantities.

l Interview Hugh about his approach to selling the products.

l Look at the company’s advertising and compare with company records to see whether thereare any identifiable outcomes.

l Find secondary sources of information.

l Identify competitors.

l Evaluate the overall business environment.

l Aim to finish the above within three weeks.

The last task was perhaps the one that would be the hardest to carry out, especially as therewas no way of knowing in advance how long each of the other tasks might take, but Umar knewhe had to get on with the job if the company were to hit its deadlines and if he were to be ableto start on any actual marketing.

Case study Thomson Holidays

Thomson Holidays was founded in 1965, as part of the Thomson Travel Group. The companywas one of the early players in the air package holiday market. During the 1960s, air transportregulations meant that scheduled flights were too expensive for ordinary holidaymakers, butcharter flights could get round the regulations provided hotel accommodation was bought atthe same time.

Thomson Holidays went from strength to strength, expanding by acquisition. During the early1970s, a damaging price war caused Thomson to restructure the company and buy out theLunn Poly chain of travel agents, thus giving the organisation a place on the high street andeffectively integrating the distribution channel.

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Chapter 4 The marketing audit 77

The package holiday business has continued to be very price competitive, and in recent yearsthere has been further pressure on the industry due to the deregulation of air transport. Thishas opened the way for low-cost airlines to sell flight-only deals at low prices, resulting in anexplosion of independent travel to foreign destinations. Many holidaymakers now book theirflights and their hotels independently, thus increasing their choice and saving money as well.Package holidays are therefore in decline, despite the increase in leisure time that most peoplein Europe are now enjoying.

Consumer protection legislation in the package holiday industry has also increased dramatically.In the early 1970s, the cut-throat competition resulted in several package holiday businessesgoing bankrupt, leaving holidaymakers stranded at their holiday destinations. A combinationof legislation and industry initiatives means that people can be flown home in the event of a tour company going bankrupt, but the situation is less clear-cut if an airline disappears. This has given something of a competitive advantage to package tour operators, because their customers have a greater degree of security than would be the case if they travelled independ-ently. Yet the greater degree of control has restricted tour operators and increased their running costs.

Despite the competition from independent travel, the greater legislative controls and the narrow profit margins in the travel business, Thomson floated on the London Stock Exchangein 1998, with a valuation of £1.7 billion. The company was subsequently acquired by anotherbusiness, which is now called TUI AG, and Thomson Holidays is a division of this company tothis day.

Thomson has around one-third of the UK’s package holiday market and employs 3,000 people(most of whom work outside the UK). A sister company in the TUI AG group is Thomsonfly,which was formerly Britannia Airways. Thomsonfly operates partly as a low-cost airline andpartly as the carrier for Thomson’s package holiday customers. In effect, spare capacity on theaircraft is sold off to independent travellers, giving the company a foothold in the low-cost airline market. Thomsonfly is the UK’s third largest airline.

Thomson Holidays also has its own cruise line, plus six subsidiary brands which offer specialistholidays such as skiing, lakes and mountains holidays, and self-catering holiday homes.

The company has come a long way since the early days of flying planeloads of tourists to thesun. The market has changed dramatically in that time, competition has increased, customertastes have changed, leisure time has increased, and legislation has been introduced. Thomsonhas managed to ride out all these storms and remain at the forefront of the holiday and leisureindustry.


1 What external environment changes have occurred to affect Thomson?

2 What might be the problems facing Thomson if it were to conduct an internal audit?

3 How might Thomson define its competition?

4 What social changes should Thomson be monitoring?

5 What ecological factors might be of most interest to Thomson?

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78 Part 2 Environmental analysis

Band, W.A. (1984): A marketing audit provides an opportunity for improvement, Sales andMarketing Management in Canada, March pp 24–6.

Calentone, R.J. and Cooper, R.G. (1981): New product scenarios: prospects for success.American Journal of Marketing, 45 (Spring) p 480.

Kotler, P. (2003): Marketing Management, 11th edition (Upper Saddle River, NJ: PearsonEducation Inc.).

Kotler, P. and Keller, K.L. (2006): Marketing Management, 12th edition (Englewood Cliffs,NJ: Prentice Hall).

Pascale, R.T. (1984): Perspectives on strategy: the real story behind Honda’s success.California Management Review, XXIV (3) pp 47–72.

Ruekart, R.W. and Walker, O.C. Jr (1987): Marketing’s interaction with other functional units:a conceptual framework and empirical evidence. Journal of Marketing, 51 (January) pp 1–19.


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Chapter 5

Analysing the external environment

Umar decided that he should start by assessing theexternal environment, since this would have a bearingon the company’s past marketing activities and theappropriateness of its current activities. He began byidentifying sources of information, both internal andexternal, but quickly rejected the idea of carrying out

primary market research because of the cost and the time it would take. Afterall, the company still had only very limited money to spend – until the venturecapitalists injected new funding (assuming that they did), Eden Garden ToolsCompany Ltd would have to cope on a shoestring.

Umar found some published research from Mintel. This comprised three reports:‘Garden Products Retailing’ from 2008, ‘Gardening – The Consumer’ from 2004and ‘Gardening Review’ from 2007. From Datamonitor he found a report from2009 on gardening and DIY retail futures. In addition, Umar trawled the Internetfor information on government legislation and court cases involving gardeningsupply companies.

Internal sources included sales records, levels of late payment and default oninvoices, trends in sales of different items in the product portfolio, and discus-sions with Hugh about the general feel of the market. Umar knew that othersources might be needed – but this gave him enough sources to be able to makea start.




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80 Part 2 Environmental analysis

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Discuss the appropriateness of models used to analyse the external environment.

‘ Identify the range of external influences that affects marketing planning.

‘ Distinguish between the micro (task) and macro levels of the external environment.

‘ Explain how competition influences an organisation’s marketing plan development.

‘ Illustrate some of the main ways in which external factors affect marketingplanning in practice.

‘ Show the importance of marketing information systems and explain how they aredeveloped.


The external environment is the sum total of all the factors which affect an organisationfrom the outside. External factors include competitors, the government, the techno-logical environment, the industry structure, the wider economic situation, and the ecology, amongst others. These factors comprise the broader situation in which theorganisation has to function. In general, the external environment can be influenced,but typically cannot be controlled, except by the very largest organisations, and onlythen to a limited extent. Organisations therefore have to plan within the confines of thislarger picture, taking account of these forces on the market. Analysis of the externalenvironment is a critical aspect of the marketing audit and the marketing planning pro-cess. Information from this analysis provides, along with an understanding of internalfactors, one of the main platforms from which marketing strategy and operations aredetermined and subsequently contribute to the development of the marketing plan.

Modelling the external environment

The macro environment includes those wider forces at play outside the market. Thereare several models for analysing the external environment at a macro level. Some ofthese are very similar, being only incremental changes to earlier models. Perhaps oneof the best known is the STEP (or PEST) model, as follows:

l Socio-cultural factors.

l Technological factors.

l Economic factors.

l Political factors.

This model has been expanded to create the PESTEL (or PESTLE) model, as follows:

l Political factors.

l Economic factors.

l Socio-cultural factors.


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l Technological factors.

l Ecological factors.

l Legal factors.

This variation of the standard model includes ecological factors (those relating to thenatural environment) and separates legal factors from political factors. This is a logicaldevelopment, since the law often operates independently of politics – although govern-ments pass laws which affect business, it is often the case that judges make decisions ininterpreting the law which affect business even more strongly. Legal factors include thecivil law, which again can be interpreted in different ways by judges.

As is generally the case with models, the above do not cover all the possibilities. Neitherof them mentions competitors, nor do they consider suppliers or customers. Analysistherefore needs to be undertaken at the next level, which we have already identified as the task or industry environment but is often commonly recognised as the microenvironment.

An attempt to consider all of these factors is Porter’s Five Forces Model (Porter 1990).The model seeks to explain how competitive power and competitive advantage (thebases for strategic advantage) come about as a result of environmental factors. The fiveforces are as follows:

l The bargaining power of suppliers. If suppliers in the industry hold much of the power, they will be able to control the competition and dictate competitive positions. This means that competitive forces will be strong unless the organisationis on very good terms with the suppliers.

l The bargaining power of customers. If customers hold all the cards (for example, if a large car manufacturer outsources components from small engineeringcompanies), they will seek to play one supplier off against another, thus creatingstrong competitive pressures.

l The threat of new entrants. If new companies can enter the market easily, the competitive picture can change very rapidly indeed. If, however, there are strongbarriers to entry, competition is likely to be limited and the market will be stable.The washing-powder market is an example. There are essentially only two washingpowder manufacturers in the UK, Unilever and Procter & Gamble. This is becausethe capital cost of the equipment needed to manufacture powdered detergent isextremely high. The cost of setting up a pizza delivery service, however, is relativelylow, so new entrants to the market are fairly common.

l The threat of substitute products and services. If close substitutes are available, the competitive position can again become intensive – pizza delivery companies compete with many other types of take-away food, for example.

l Rivalry among current competitors. Some industries are oligopolistic, in that companies have a tacit agreement not to encroach on each other’s territories. In otherindustries competition is fierce, with companies battling it out for each customer. Ofcourse, companies are not allowed to collude in order to divide up markets betweenthem, but in industries such as the petroleum business, the major companies refrainfrom doing anything too dramatic to change the market, for fear of retaliation.

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The danger of new organisations entering the market is limited by the following factors:

l Economies of scale. In the washing-powder example above, only organisationswhich can capture a very large chunk of the market could justify the capital costsneeded to enter.

l Product differentiation. If products can be copied easily, competitors can enter, butif they are either too technically advanced or are protected by patents or strongbranding, the potential for entering the market is reduced.

l Capital requirements. If the capital needed to enter the market is significant, fewerpotential competitors will have the resources to enter. An example is the airlineindustry, which for many years was the exclusive domain of a relatively few nationalcarriers. As second-hand aircraft became available on lease, and as the regulatoryframework eased, new airlines were able to enter the market.

l Switching costs. If customers find it prohibitively expensive to change suppliers,competitive pressures will reduce.

l Access to distribution channels. If the distribution network is already tied up, newentrants will be unable to access the market. For geographically large markets suchas the United States, obtaining distribution is critical. However, the Internet hasmade strong inroads into distribution because it bypasses wholesalers and retailersfor many products.

l Cost advantages independent of scale. If an organisation has access to cheap rawmaterials, or has patent protection on a cost-effective manufacturing process, othercompanies will find it difficult to enter the market.

From the viewpoint of analysing the external environment, managers need to be awareof possible changes which might affect these factors. For example, if a competitor hasa good way of reducing or obviating switching costs, this will change the competitiveenvironment very quickly. Equally, if a technological breakthrough eliminates the needfor a high capital requirement, this will give an advantage to entrants.

Analysis at the micro level of the external environment is often also undertaken usingan alternative framework based around the 3Cs (customers, competitors and channelmembers) – see Table 5.1. These are the main actors at the industry level and can enablethe marketing planner to form a picture of the dynamics of the market environment.

Table 5.1 The 3Cs framework

Micro environmentcomponent



Channel members


Information about customers in the market; market trends in demand;seasonality and cycles; composition of the market: needs and wants,benefits sought; demographics, and other segmentation characteristics.

Identification of competitors; market presence; size, strengths andweaknesses; strategic groups; response profiles. Pattern ofcompetition adopted: price and non-price dimensions.

This relates to suppliers and intermediaries. Importance and reliancefor procurement and service. Market coverage. Relationships andpower balance.

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Macro-environmental influences on planning

The political environment

Political issues often affect business. A change of government can mean a change in thetaxation structure, changes in legislation affecting business, even increased help forsome sectors of industry. Governments do not entirely run the country, of course; whatthey do is set the climate in which the country operates, and individuals make decisionswithin that climate.

Governments in liberal democracies operate as clearing houses for pressures.Politicians try to seek compromises between the various pressure groups that confrontthem, all the time being aware that the electorate has the power to remove them fromoffice at the next election. This means that they can run the country only provided theyhave a broad consensus from the people they govern.

Political factors influence marketing planning because planners need to take account ofchanges in the political orientation of the country. Some political parties are in favour offree trade, others are protectionist; some favour the workers over the employers, othersfavour the employers over the workers; some favour direct taxes, others favour indirecttaxes. Being aware of what might happen if there is a change of government is part ofthe general anticipation needed for effective planning.

Chapter 5 Analysing the external environment 83

If politicians do not run the country, what are they good for? We elect thesepeople in the hope that they will make decisions and enforce laws that will,ultimately, benefit the nation as a whole, but we are now told that in fact theyonly set a general climate, and it is the citizens of the country who make the real decisions.

Yet perhaps that’s how politics works. Negotiating to create an equality ofdissatisfaction may be the only way we can get along without resorting toviolence – and even then, we still have to live with an element of terrorism. How can businesses respond? By ensuring that they are part of the negotiation, of course. This then begs the question: what is to stop the largest and mostpowerful firms from wielding the most power in influencing government?


The political environment includes local government and intervention by regulatorybodies. In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority tries to ensure that adverts arelegal, decent, honest and truthful. It has no powers of compulsion, but is generallyobeyed because advertisers and the media know that, without it, government regula-tions might be brought in which would inevitably be tougher and less flexible.

The economic environment

The economic environment comprises two parts: the micro-economic environment andthe macro-economic environment. The micro-economic environment is concerned

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with demand for products and is largely about questions of supply and demand; themacro-economic environment is about demand in the economy as a whole.

The micro economy is therefore about the relationship between what customers wantand what is available for them to buy. To an extent, this involves competitors: if competitors are producing close substitutes for what we make ourselves, we willquickly find that supply has increased in the market. The laws of supply and demandusually mean that we will have to lower our prices in order to compete, as Figure 5.1shows. In the diagram, as price falls, demand will increase but supply will fall becauseproducers find it less attractive to supply the market. If prices rise, demand will fall butsupply will increase. If the market is in equilibrium, the amount supplied and theamount demanded will be the same and the market is stable with the price fixed atpoint A. If, however, the supply curve moves to the right, due to an increase in supplyfrom competitors, supply curve B will require a price fall to price B for supply anddemand to equalise.

This is, of course, a somewhat simplistic view. It assumes that the products concernedare all identical, for one thing, yet there are likely to be differences in design or quality,or even in the service elements supplied by the organisations concerned, that will differentiate the products in the minds of customers. However, if the substitutes areclose there will certainly be some effect, if only among customers who are ready brandswitchers.

Likewise, changes in demand for the product might also be assumed to have an effecton price – changes in consumer tastes, changes in the technology and changes in thewealth of customers would all have an effect in those circ*mstances. Reduction in priceleads to a reduction in supply as suppliers decide the market is not worth the effort, solow-cost suppliers will still be able to show a profit and may even gain market share.

Another concept from microeconomics which affects the micro-environment is the concept of economic choice. Customers have only a limited amount of money to

Figure 5.1 Supply and demand

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spend and therefore have to make choices in their expenditure. Cash spent on one item cannot be spent on another, in other words, so if the demand for one category ofproduct rises, we might expect the demand for all other categories to fall. For example,if there is an increased demand for foreign holidays (perhaps because the poundstrengthens against other currencies, making holidays abroad cheaper), we mightexpect that people will spend less on other items in order to save up for a holiday. Formarketers, this is an important consideration because it means that every company is,ultimately, in competition with every other company for the consumers’ hard-earnedcash. It means that those companies which focus only on competitors which produceclose substitutes are very likely to miss seeing a competitive threat coming from some-where else.

Macroeconomics, meanwhile, deals with overall demand in the economy. There aremany factors which contribute to determining demand in the economy – the overallsupply of money, the cost of imports and exports, average earnings of people in thecountry, and so forth. In general, governments like to keep demand growing, becausethis increases wealth and improves job security as well as increasing revenue from taxation. They therefore try to control overall demand in the economy by regulatingthe supply of money.

This policy went badly wrong in 2008 when banks found themselves unable to lend dueto a high level of bad debt. This resulted in a rapid reduction in the supply of money,which limited people’s ability to spend and companies’ ability to invest. The globaleconomy quickly went into a downturn, continuing into recession, in which millions of people worldwide lost their jobs. The effect of this downturn in demand was thatcompanies were unable to sell their products – in the case of major capital purchasessuch as cars, the market virtually disappeared and car manufacturers were in the leadin terms of laying workers off and cutting, or even halting, production.

Managing demand in the economy is regarded as one of government’s prime respon-sibilities, along with defending the country and ensuring internal peace and stability. Ifthe economy takes a major downturn, people often suffer great hardship, losing theirjobs and even their homes.

The socio-cultural environment

Socio-cultural forces fall into four categories (see Figure 5.2):

1 Demographic forces. Demography is the study of the structure of populations, interms of age, gender, wealth, educational attainment, income distribution, ethni-city, race, and so forth.

2 Culture. Culture is the set of shared beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of a large population group. Culture includes religion, language, customs, behaviours andbeliefs.

3 Social responsibility and ethics. This area derives in part from culture, since itforms part of a collective belief system. It affects organisations because people withina given culture have views about how companies should behave, and in particularwhat constitutes ethical marketing and what does not.

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4 Consumerism. In the past 20 or so years, power has steadily shifted away from companies and towards consumers. In part, this has been driven by the Internet,since people can shop around more easily, but it has also been driven by many other factors, including increased consumer understanding of marketing techniques,much greater availability of goods and services, and tougher competition resultingfrom globalisation of supplies.

Figure 5.2 Socio-cultural forces

Demography is affected by immigration and emigration, by shifts in the wealth andincome distribution among the population, and by changes in the birth and death rates.Some of these shifts are well known: the dramatic increase in immigration into Britainfrom Eastern Europe has resulted in many new businesses springing up to serve theneeds of Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and Slovaks. Over time, some of these migrants arelikely to return home, but many will stay, adding to the cultural mix of the UK.

Another well-publicised demographic change is the shift in age distribution in WesternEurope caused by increased longevity and a reduced birth rate. At the time of writingthe birth rate is less than the death rate, so the population would be shrinking if it werenot for immigration from outside Europe. In some countries the situation is near crisispoint, with countries such as Spain actively encouraging immigration from LatinAmerica. A falling population means shrinking domestic markets for all goods, whichin turn means that businesses will have to contract unless they can find new exportmarkets. At the same time, the increasing age of the population means there are fewerpeople of working age, trying to support an increasing population of pensioners. In theUK, this has resulted in the government seeking to raise the retirement age.

In 2002 the European Union published ‘The Cruijsen Report’, an influential report onthe demographic changes expected within the 15 member states (by 2009 there were25 members). With substantial immigration, virtually no emigration and a reducedbirth rate the member states were experiencing a drop in the under-25 age group, andincreases in both the working population (due to immigration) and the elderly population

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(Cruijsen et al. 2002). Entry of the Eastern European states changed the situation in theshort term, since these countries have lower life expectancies. However, these countrieshave themselves experienced lower birth rates since 1990 (when communism collapsedin Eastern Europe), probably due to economic dislocation and worsening health care.

The report goes on to say that there would be the following demographic changes inthe 15 states as a result of allowing the 10 new states to join:

1 Population decline would occur several years sooner.

2 Population ageing would be slightly suppressed.

3 Population dejuvenation (reduction in the proportion of under-25s) would becomestronger in future decades.

4 The expected decline in the working population would be delayed.

So far, these predictions have been borne out, but since the report attempted to predictchanges over a 50-year period it is still too early to tell whether the authors will be vindicated. Technological changes in the care of the elderly could well mean that thecalculations are severely affected, since the authors assume that people are unlikely tolive much beyond 100 years of age.

For marketers, this shift in the age structure of the population means new opportun-ities. Retired people have greater leisure time, and since many elderly people retire onsubstantial occupational pensions, they have money to spend on enjoying themselves.On the other hand, age does bring more physical problems: sales of hearing aids, spec-tacles, walking frames, powered wheelchairs, and so forth are likely to increase, eventhough improvements in nutrition and health care mean that 70 year olds in the 21stcentury are as fit as 50 year olds were in the 1960s.

Income and wealth distribution vary from country to country. For example, there aremore millionaires in India than there are in the UK, even though the average wealth perhead of the population is much lower. This is due to greater wealth concentration, andof course a bigger population. Wealth concentration also changes over time – in the UKthe wealth is much more evenly distributed than it was even 50 years ago. This hasmeant that people in lower income brackets can easily afford products that would havebeen out of their reach in the 1960s: cars, foreign holidays, domestic equipment suchas dishwashers and even washing machines, entertainment systems, and so forthwould not have been affordable for the average person in 1960.

Culture is the set of shared beliefs and behaviours that characterises a group of people.Almost all human behaviour is learned, and the majority of it is culturally basedbecause we need to fit in with the people around us. Polite behaviour differs from oneculture to the next, simply because of differences in the learning process. For example,time sense differs between agrarian societies and industrial ones: in agrarian societies,each day is the same as the one before it and the one after it, so there is a belief that itdoes not matter much if tasks are not completed in one day, since the day will be givenback again in the morning. In industrial societies, each day is unique, and once it hasgone it can never be repeated. This accounts for the sometimes frustrating ‘mañana’attitude prevalent in rural areas worldwide, as well as for the stressful ‘no time towaste’ attitude prevalent in urban areas.

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Culture is extremely important to marketers in the international context because it dictates consumption patterns. What people wear, eat, drink and do for entertainmentare all culturally based. In some countries (notably Turkey and the United States) eventhe poorest people eat out in restaurants on a regular basis, usually daily. In the UK, this is less so because restaurants are much more expensive, but people frequently have cooked food delivered to their houses in a way that would seem bizarre to aFrench person.

Consumerism has grown rapidly over the past 20 or so years, with the advent of theInternet. Consumerism has its roots in the 1960s, when campaigners began to questionthe quality and safety of products. Ralph Nader’s book, Unsafe At Any Speed, forinstance, publicised the dangerous nature of the design of some cars, in particular theChevrolet Corvair. By the 1990s the Internet was giving consumers a global voice, andshadow websites (sites which exist to carry complaints about companies) now appearclose to most corporate websites. Consumers expect to have the power in the relation-ship between themselves and suppliers, and in many cases they exercise the poweralmost without restraint, backed by consumerist legislation and regulatory bodies.

The technological environment

Technologies change regularly. In recent years the emphasis has been very much onelectronics and communications technology, with the rise in the use of computers,mobile telephones and fibre-optic communication systems leading to a revolution inthe way information is stored and exchanged. However, technology also includesbreakthroughs in other areas of engineering. For example, car manufacture was revo-lutionised by Toyota’s invention of interchangeable stamp-mill technology, enablingthe company to re-tool a car factory within hours instead of the months it was taking itsAmerican competitors.

The technological environment can change rapidly if there is a major scientific break-through. Even 15 years ago the Internet was a minor consideration in most marketers’thinking; now it is absolutely central to marketing communications.

The technological environment is not limited to immediate competitors within the sameindustry, either. Technological change can render whole industries obsolete, as theInternet threatens to do to postal services and as the car did to horse-drawn transport.

The ecological environment

In the past 20 years or so, the ecological environment has come to the forefront of people’s thinking. Although there is considerable debate about the best course of action to take to preserve the natural world and protect the physical environment, there is little doubt that we cannot continue to use up the planet’s natural resourcesindefinitely.

Concerns about the ecology spill over into political and socio-cultural areas becausepeople and their governments have begun to take action against corporations whichare seen to be damaging the environment excessively. Legislation has been introducedin many areas to reduce industry’s impact on the natural world, and pressure groups

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have sprung up to protest about what is seen as corporate irresponsibility. Marketerscannot ignore these pressures.

The sources of environmentalist pressure are as follows (see Figure 5.3):

1 Customers. Many customers in developed countries use some environmentalist criteria in at least some of their decision making. Consumers may show concernabout the energy efficiency of the products they buy and often are concerned aboutthe industrial processes used in manufacture.

2 Green pressure groups. Pressure groups conduct campaigns to influence planning,both public and corporate, and to publicise their cause. Green pressure groups suchas Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace lobby government for changes in legislationand apply pressure to companies (mainly through PR stunts and protests) toinfluence their decision making. Sometimes direct action is taken – hammering steelspikes into trees to damage chainsaws, or sailing across the bows of ships at sea, forexample.

3 Employees. Sometimes employees become ‘whistleblowers’, taking their environ-mental concerns to the news media. In other cases employees are in a position to actdirectly, in their work as engineers or researchers, to influence policy towards moreenvironment-friendly alternatives.

4 Legislation. Politicians respond to pressure groups, and in some countries (notablythe Netherlands and Germany) ecological political parties are influential in theirown right. In some cases, politicians are lobbied by the industries themselves: organ-isations which want to be eco-friendly sometimes like to ensure that other organisa-tions have to compete on an equal footing.

5 Media. The news media are often interested in stories about species threatened withextinction, or organisations which intend to carry out environmentally damagingprojects. In 2008, the news that a colony of 2,000 orang-utans had been found in a remote part of Indonesia made headlines worldwide; 20 years ago this would not have rated a mention in the news.

6 Ethical investors. Many private investors like to be reassured that their savings arenot being invested in environmentally damaging projects. Therefore, many banksand trust funds now offer ethical investment packages for ecologically aware clients.

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Figure 5.3 Sources of environmental pressure

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The legal environment

The legal environment is created in two ways: first, through legislation passed by governments (and therefore part of the political environment) and second, through theinterpretation of legislation by judges, also known as case law.

Legislation is, in general, a somewhat crude tool. No parliamentary body can anticipateall the possible effects of a new piece of legislation, so courts have to decide how thelegislation applies in actual cases. Sometimes judges can rely on precedent (previousdecisions by other judges) but in many cases they have to interpret the actual circum-stances in the case before them.

Once a judge has made a decision in a specific case, it becomes part of precedent: otherjudges are then expected to follow the same decision in similar cases, although ofcourse it is always open to a judge to interpret the precedent as not applying. Lawyerswill argue for specific precedents to be followed, but since there are so many it is quitepossible for a judge to be faced with two conflicting precedents.

The problem for marketers in analysing the legal environment is that decisions arebeing made every day, and they are not always reported in the trade press. Some indus-try journals do monitor the courts for decisions which might affect companies, but it isstill often difficult for managers to know what the law actually is on a given issue. Atthe same time, ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it – we are allexpected to know the legal position regarding any actions we might take.

Why should companies have to take individual action to be environmentallyfriendly when consumers clearly don’t care? Litter in the streets, people usingtheir cars to travel when walking or cycling would be perfectly feasible, peopleburning their rubbish or dumping it in beauty spots, and even throwing awayperfectly good products simply because they have grown tired of them, all showthat most people actually don’t care.

How many of us actually avoid buying over-packaged products? How many of usbuy disposable products rather than ones which can be used over and over again?How many of us sell our unwanted goods rather than simply dumping them?

Clearly it is more profitable for a company to ignore environmental issues – afterall, company directors have a legal responsibility to shareholders to look aftertheir interests. Unless there is an equal liability to look after the environment, whyshould boards of directors do anything?


Companies need to consider ecological issues when developing products, so monitoringthe climate of opinion about the environment is as important as monitoring any otheraspect. The difficulty for marketers is that product planning often takes place monthsor years ahead of launch, so there is a need to anticipate swings in public opinion. Also,ecological awareness is patchy and disjointed – people are concerned, but opinion onwhat is and is not environmentally friendly is divided. For example, older cars are oftenless fuel efficient than newer ones, but scrapping an old car and making a new one isclearly wasteful.

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The law divides into criminal law and civil law. Criminal law is concerned with activ-ities which are damaging to the common good and which are punishable by fines orimprisonment; civil law is concerned with making reparations to the injured party.Taking money from someone for a product which does not exist would come under thecriminal law (fraud), but selling someone a product which is faulty would come underthe civil law. In most cases, civil law is likely to cause the most problems, since peoplecan sue for damages; provided one runs one’s business honestly, the criminal law isunlikely to come into play.

Competitor analysis

As part of any environmental analysis it is critical to have a detailed understanding of the competition that the organisation faces in the markets that it operates in andthose that it is planning to enter in the future. It also involves assessing the level of competition and whether competition is direct in terms of offering the same or similarproducts, or indirect where there is competition for the same ‘share of the wallet’ in a different market.

A key element of any marketing strategy will be the relationship that the business haswith its competitors and the way that it positions itself against competitors in the market.In particular it is essential to identify who the competitors are, and what strengths andweaknesses they have, their strategic positioning and source of competitive advantage,and the way that they are likely to respond to a competitive move by the organisation.The competitive response profile is also a major factor in any analysis. This latter aspectof competitor evaluation requires an understanding of how they are likely to respondtactically and strategically when the organisation undertakes a marketing initiativesuch as launching a new product, reducing its prices, or embarking on a sales promo-tion campaign. Some competitors will respond slowly, or not respond at all (laid-backcompetitors), whereas others may respond in an aggressive manner in terms of speedand weight of response (tiger competitors). This can be viewed as a continuum basedon speed and level of response, and sometimes may simply classify competitors asunpredictable (stochastic competitors), therefore making planning for their responsemuch more difficult to achieve.

A further level of analysis can be undertaken in terms of strategic groups or competitivemarketing strategy types. This classifies all the competing businesses in the industry asa whole according to the emphasis that they place on particular marketing strategies,clustering together different types based on the position that they take in the market.Once key factors have been identified to distinguish one type from another, the com-petitors are brought together into strategic groups and usually mapped, enabling possiblegaps in the market, and therefore exploitable sources of competitive advantage, to beidentified. A number of variables have been used to develop strategy group types, includ-ing size, market share, geographic market coverage, product range, price positioningand branding. Such information can be of tremendous help to marketing plannerswhen making decisions relating to where they are going to position the organisation inthe market or making specific decisions about strategy.

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Researching the marketing environment

A marketing information system consists of four elements:

1 Internal continuous data.

2 Internal ad-hoc data.

3 Environmental scanning.

4 Market research.

Internal continuous data is collected through customer feedback (both positive andnegative), sales records, individual performance records for salespeople, profitabilitycalculations, and so forth. This information may provide an advance warning of anenvironmental shift – for example, a drop in sales in a particular market may be as aresult of a competitor entering the market, or may indicate a change in consumer tastes.In many organisations, managers will regularly calculate the profitability of a specificproduct, but it is relatively rare for organisations to calculate the profitability of a marketsegment, even though this is probably a more logical approach for a marketer.

Internal ad-hoc data is information collected for a limited period to check on a specificissue. For example, a new product launch might necessitate collecting data on how thesales of the product are affecting other products in the range, or how they are imping-ing on competitors. This might be linked to an external scan on what competitors aredoing to retaliate.

Environmental scanning should be a large part of any marketing information system.Ideally, it should be carried out in a formal way, by checking the national press, thebusiness press, the trade journals, and business programmes on TV. There are alsowebsites which provide valuable information about current business issues; most ofthese are run by newspapers or other news agencies and are therefore fairly reliable.Environmental scanning can also sometimes be bought in – there are commercialresearch organisations (and even trade associations) which offer data on how the market as a whole is performing. In many cases organisations are prepared to provideinformation on their own marketing successes or failures in exchange for correspond-ing information about competitors.

One of the drawbacks of environmental scanning is that it can be time consuming. It isdifficult for a junior member of staff to recognise what might or might not be important,and the same is true for subscriptions to cuttings agencies (organisations which willsend any newspaper cuttings about you or your competitors, or indeed anything elseyou brief them to send).

Market research about the environment might be carried out in the following ways,depending on the specific problem facing the organisation:

1 Secondary, or desk, research. This would be appropriate as a starting point forassessing the environment for a new market (e.g. a foreign country).

2 Primary research. This is original research carried out to answer a specific problem,for example running a focus group to find out people’s attitudes to a new product

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line. Again, this is likely to be necessary when entering a foreign market because itwill assess cultural issues.

3 Environmental scanning. This is the process of monitoring the key issues in theenvironment on a continuous basis.

Secondary research is carried out by using already published data. It is always cheaperthan primary research, sometimes provides all the answers, and even if there are stillgaps in what needs to be known, secondary research will at least cut down on theamount of primary research needed. It is therefore always the starting point in anyresearch programme. Sources of secondary data include government publications,country guides, commercial market research such as that published by Mintel andKeynote, and journals (including newspapers – for example, the Financial Times fre-quently publishes detailed guides to doing business in specific countries or regions).Research on the Internet is extremely common nowadays, of course, but is not neces-sarily reliable – there are few, if any, controls on what can be published on the Internet,so people are quite capable of putting false information on there as a way of furtheringtheir own agendas.

Secondary research is useful in checking the legal, economic and political environmentsin foreign markets, and can also be helpful in checking the technological environment.Secondary research will usually provide good information on a country’s demographics,but it tends to be less reliable on cultural and social issues – for those, primary researchis almost always necessary.

Primary research is designed to answer specific questions, usually those which the secondary research has left unanswered. Good primary research can help organisationsavoid basic errors in planning – for example, using a brand name which is inappropriatefor the country being targeted. Many cultural gaffes could have been avoided simply bychecking with local people – Euro Disney’s disastrous start in Paris which eventuallyresulted in the theme park rebranding itself, and McDonald’s failure to establish itselfin Fiji, to name but two.

It is beyond the scope of this book to go into a detailed description of research methods,but primary research can be carried out either qualitatively or quantitatively.Quantitative research (typified by surveys) is good for telling us what, when, whereand how things happen. Qualitative research (typified by interviews and focus groups)is good for telling us why things happen. In recent years, qualitative research has cometo the forefront much more, partly because so much quantitative data is easily obtainedthrough secondary research, and partly because surveys have been growing muchharder to administer, as people refuse to participate. It has also been found that many people deliberately give false information on surveys, to the extent that (forexample) exit polls have failed to predict the outcomes of the last four general electionsin the UK.

Whatever the drawbacks of research systems and techniques, the fact remains thatinformation is extremely important for decision making. Without a clear idea of theenvironment in which the company operates, there is little chance of making correctdecisions: like driving a car in fog, correct business decisions cannot be made withoutsome idea of what lies ahead.

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Assessing the external environment means finding out about it and modelling it so thatdifferent decisions can be judged ahead of their implementation. Failure to analyse theenvironment correctly will inevitably lead to errors of judgement; equally, creating orusing the wrong model will lead to errors.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ Analysing the environment requires managers to apply the appropriate model.However, all models are flawed since they are abstracts of the real world.

‘ The political orientation of the country affects planning, even if legislation doesnot.

‘ Consumerism has become a major force – consumers wield a great deal of power,and are educated enough to know how to use it.

‘ Environmentalism is widespread and is not confined to pressure groups:customers, legislators, employees, the media and ethical investors all have someinput.

‘ Analysis of competitors and other marketing channel members is a key dimensionof the marketing audit and marketing planning.

‘ Marketing information systems provide a continuous flow of information on whichto base decisions, provided they are designed correctly.

Altogether Umar spent just over £7,000 on the published reports,which was a considerable sum from the budget but he got most ofthe information he needed. He was able to fill in the gaps from theInternet and from the internal sources.

At the end of the first week he was able to answer many of the ques-tions embodied in the external audit. The economic–demographic

part of the audit was straightforward enough – the newspapers provided plenty of answers.Credit availability was still limited, unemployment still rising, the population would continue to age (a good outcome for Eden Garden Tools, given that older people have more time forgardening and more need for tools for the infirm).

The technological audit was also relatively straightforward, since Eden Garden Tools was in factdriving the market to some extent, as the most innovative company in the industry. However,new technologies in production and process might come along. Umar’s discussions with Mikeon the technological aspects indicated that the tree-pruning saw would need some fairly innovative technology, since the battery life would need to be long enough for the saw to beused for most of an eight-hour working day.

No particular legal changes came to light, but the new pruning saw would certainly have tomeet health and safety regulations. Ecological concerns would probably be helpful for EdenGarden Tools, given the business it is in.




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Case study BAE Systems

BAE Systems is a defence manufacturing company based in the UK. It is the third largest defencecontractor in the world, and can trace its history back to 1560 and the Royal GunpowderFactory in Waltham, Essex – in the 16th century, making gunpowder was about as high-tech asit got. Over the ensuing centuries, various other companies were brought into the fold: ship-builders such as Yarrow, gun manufacturers such as Bofors, aircraft manufacturers such asVickers (later the British Aircraft Corporation), and electronics companies such as Marconi. The complex series of mergers, demergers, nationalisations and privatisations which led to thecreation of the modern BAE Systems is often difficult to follow: successive governments in theUK have decided that important defence industries should be owned nationally, or alternativelyhave decided that they should be free to pursue commercial objectives.

Few companies are involved in defence work exclusively for the national government; most alsomake products for civilian use, and many also manufacture for overseas governments. This cancause problems: apart from the obvious fact that no government wants its enemies to be as wellequipped as its own armed forces, and will therefore seek to restrict exports of some items,peace activists see the international arms trade as being inherently wrong and will seek to haveit stopped. Meanwhile, a company which has managed to develop a powerful new weapon willnaturally want to sell it as widely as possible in order to obtain economies of scale.

From the government viewpoint, supplying foreign powers is a double-edged sword. On theone hand, having overseas soldiers using British-made weapons against British armed forces isundoubtedly a political hot potato, raising all kinds of moral issues; on the other hand, a coun-try which has entirely British-made armaments is unlikely to start a war with Britain since thiswould inevitably lead to problems in obtaining ammunition, spares and servicing. Modernweaponry is extremely complex, and in some cases almost fragile: soldiers need to be highlytrained to use it and such training is best provided by the manufacturer.

According to BAE Systems, the defence industry is driven by customer demand for greatercapability for less money (not unlike most other industries). In the defence industry, this meansmore complex systems because a reliance on electronics, automation and communicationstechnology improves the capability of the weaponry, but at the same time it tends to increasethe training and servicing requirements. Also, modern armies need weaponry to be compatible– in the past, this may have meant only that ammunition should be standardised at least interms of calibre, but nowadays it means that communications, radar and guidance systemsshould also be compatible. For example, ground forces need to be able to pass information toaircraft, so radio and computer systems must be compatible.

Review questions

1 Why does choosing the right model affect analysis of the external environment?

2 How might a company counteract a shadow website?

3 How should a company monitor changes in the law relevant to its own operations?

4 What are the key factors in developing a marketing information system?

5 How might the political orientation of the country affect planning?


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96 Part 2 Environmental analysis

At the same time, weaponry needs to be upgradeable. This means that buyers will be com-pelled to enter into a long-term relationship with BAE in order to obtain the latest upgrades,which in turn militates against conducting any military adventure which might jeopardise relations with the UK.

BAE’s code of conduct is a substantial document, covering all the ethical issues any employeemight encounter, from workplace bullying through to breaches of security – these can happenaccidentally or deliberately, and are controlled by the criminal law. For example, an engineermight correspond by e-mail with a customer’s engineering department in another countryabout projects they are both working on. This could well break the law, since sensitive infor-mation might be passed without either engineer realising that they are doing anything wrong:e-mail communication is not secure.

Clearly, business practice differs in other countries. Bribes might be offered in some countries,or special rules might apply to the import and export of armaments. BAE has been accused ofbribing foreign government officials in order to make sales, but since every defence manu-facturer in the world has had such accusations levelled at it, the company is probably not especially worried.

BAE Systems operates in a complex environment, producing complex products. Even thoughpeople campaign for peace, and almost all of us would rather live in a world without war, BAEhas a bright future. Few companies in the defence business have the wide range of productsBAE can offer, which means that few have the opportunity or capability to provide fully inte-grated defence systems.


1 What would be the result of a PESTEL analysis for BAE? What factors would be included?

2 How might political orientation affect BAE?

3 What types of information should BAE collect via a marketing information system?

4 How does environmentalism affect BAE?

5 What ethical issues affect BAE and how can the company address them?

Cruijsen, H., Eding, H. and Gjatelma, T. (2002): Demographic consequences of enlargementof the European Union with the 12 candidate countries. Statistics Netherlands, Division ofSocial and Spatial Statistics, Project Group European Demography.

Nader, R. (1965): Unsafe At Any Speed (New York: Grossman Publishers).

Porter, M.E. (1990): How competitive forces shape strategy. Harvard Business Review, 57 (2)pp 137–45.


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Chapter 6

Analysing the internal environment

Having completed his assessment of the external environment, Umar Sayeed turned to the internal environment. This, he knew, would be the crucial one:the company was in for a period of rapid change, with new products and new disciplines coming to theforefront. If everything went well, the company could

expect to see some fairly rapid organic growth in the future, which would meannew roles and responsibilities for existing staff as well as hiring new staff.

Umar knew that he would have to consider the internal marketing of the firm andthe resources available, as well as looking at the product portfolio and potentiallife cycle of products. This would involve using internal sales records, interviewswith staff, and discussions with Mike about the technical aspects of the products.




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After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Explain the role of organisational culture.

‘ Describe ways of managing change.

‘ Explain how information systems can be constructed.

‘ Show how information systems can be used to encourage customer loyalty.

‘ Describe ways of monitoring and auditing strategy.


The internal environment comprises those factors which make up the organisation: itsstrategy, its culture, its structure, its management style and its information systems,amongst other things. The internal environment is what makes the organisation what it is, and it derives from the people who are its members, and other characteristics that it has. In particular its resources, competencies and capabilities need to be evaluated, especially in terms of how the organisation is able to respond to changes inthe environment.

Undertaking internal analysis

The purpose of an internal audit is much the same as that of a financial audit: it pro-vides a ‘snapshot’ of the current state of affairs within the organisation. In some ways,the internal audit is the easiest to conduct because all the information is (or should be)readily available from staff working in the organisation. The problem is that staff willoften feel that the audit is intrusive, or is perhaps an attempt on the part of managementto find fault with their work. In order to reduce the risk of this happening, the followingpolicies might be adopted:

1 Avoid using anything uncovered in the audit as a means to criticise staff.

2 Ensure that the audit process is transparent, in other words make it clear exactly whatthe information is to be used for, and make it available to staff whenever possible.

3 If possible, use outside consultants to carry out the audit. This will reduce the tendency for people to give politically motivated responses.

Since the audit relies heavily on honesty and openness, it could be distorted by wishfulthinking, or even by deliberate attempts to pervert the outcome by individuals with apolitical agenda. This is less likely to happen if the process is seen as supportive ratherthan punitive. Outside consultants are extremely useful in carrying out audits – becausethey have no political ambitions within the organisation, they are seen as impartial,and they are often able to help by asking the right questions. A good consultant (in thiscontext) is not someone who gives answers but rather one who asks the right questionsand causes the directors and managers of the organisation to examine what they aredoing in an objective manner.


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Assessing the organisation’s strategic position

Evaluating where an organisation is in terms of its strategic situation begins with look-ing at the mission statement. The issue here is whether the mission is clearly stated and whether it is attainable. The mission must also have a clear focus: some missionstatements contain little more than platitudes, which are unhelpful when it comes tothe day-to-day running of the organisation.

The marketing strategy should have clear objectives and goals. This means that the corporate and marketing objectives should be clearly stated, and the objectives should be appropriate in terms of meeting overall corporate objectives. The theorybehind management by objectives is that only that which is measured will be achieved.This means that a failure to set objectives will lead to a failure to achieve anything worthwhile.

Assessing the strategic situation should examine the core marketing strategy, the budgeting of resources and the allocation of resources. Budgeting resources is possiblyone of the most contentious areas for the organisation, since it is the area where eachmanager will want to maximise his or her budget in order to take advantage of theresources available for the department’s tasks.

Carrying out an internal strategic audit is usually a matter for the directors of the com-pany or the senior marketing managers. In some cases, ‘think tanks’ of individuals fromdifferent departments are used as a task force to examine the organisation’s objectivesand strategy. This has the advantage of keeping ownership of the process within theorganisation, while maintaining some objectivity. If undertaken in this way, the auditis less likely to be regarded as the domain of any one department.

In whichever way it is accomplished, the strategy evaluation should provide answers tothe following questions:

1 Are the objectives appropriate?

2 Are the major policies and plans appropriate?

3 Do the results obtained so far confirm the critical assumptions on which the strategyhas been based?

The issues which complicate strategic assessment surround the uniqueness of eachstrategy (in other words, comparisons are difficult), the evaluation of goals and objectives(which are easier to set and even achieve than they are to evaluate), and the perceivedthreat to managers inherent in any kind of review of their activities.

It is impossible to say that a particular strategy is absolutely correct: circ*mstanceschange too often to allow for this. However, it is possible to say that a strategy is flawed. For a strategy to be considered viable, it must fit within the criteria shown inTable 6.1.

Strategy evaluation is not a purely intellectual task – the issues are too important andthere are likely to be too many political ramifications involved for the evaluation totake place in an ‘ivory tower’. This means that auditing the strategy is likely to be anorganisational process, probably undertaken as part of the normal planning, reporting,control and reward systems of the organisation.

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Table 6.1 Criteria for successful strategy






Explanation and examples

Many strategies have not been specifically formulated, but have simply grown up as a result of adoption of a set of tactical actions. This means that ‘the way we do things round here’ canachieve the status of a strategy without ever having been examined. Indicators that the strategyis inconsistent are first, problems in coordination and planning, especially if these are issue-based rather than staff-based; second, if success for one department is interpreted as failure for another; and third, if operating problems are being constantly referred to senior managersfor resolution. All these difficulties indicate that the strategy is not performing its coordinatingfunction effectively.

The business must match and be adapted to its environment and at the same time competewith other organisations which are trying to match to the environment. The first aspect ofstrategy therefore deals with the basic mission of the business, the second aspect deals with the organisation’s special competitive position or ‘edge’. The difficulty in evaluating consonanceis that most of the threats to a business come from outside and threaten the entire industry,whereas managements are more usually preoccupied with their competitive position relative to other organisations within the industry. The key to evaluating consonance is to understandthe underlying reasons for the organisation’s (and the industry’s) existence. Understanding thebasic social and economic reasons for the organisation’s existence enables managers to decidewhich types of change are most crucial.

Generic strategy focuses on the common missions of an industry. Competitive strategy focuses on the differences between organisations rather than their similarities. For example,supermarkets have almost entirely replaced traditional grocery shops where assistants wouldweigh out goods and collect goods from the stock room for customers. As a generic strategy,the supermarket concept has been wildly successful, but an individual organisation in thesupermarket business needs to go further than this and differentiate itself from othersupermarkets if it is to compete successfully. The three main forms of competitive advantageare superior resources, superior skills and superior position.

Financial resources are usually the easiest to quantify, and in some ways are also the easiest tocontrol, but feasibility of strategies also depends on human resources and physical resources.To assess feasibility, the organisation needs to be assured that first it has the necessaryproblem-solving and special competencies for the strategy, second it has sufficient coordinativeand integrative skill, and third the strategy can challenge and motivate key personnel and isacceptable to them.

Organisational structures and systems

Organisations have both a formal and an informal structure, each of which influencesits performance. The formal structure is the one which appears on organisation charts.In the case of a hierarchical, bureaucratic structure there will be fixed lines of commu-nications and clear distinctions regarding roles, responsibilities and reporting. Theinformal structure does not exist as an organisational chart because it comprises myriadpersonal relationships which build up over time as people work in close proximity witheach other.

Informal structures

An organisational chart might make it perfectly clear that the correct way to obtaininformation on the company’s sales figures is to send a memo to the sales manager; in

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practice, it might be quicker and easier for all concerned to talk to the sales manager’ssecretary or personal assistant. The informal structure is important because it is therepository of the corporate culture – the set of beliefs and attitudes which grow uparound the organisation. This culture is reinforced by conversations at the photocopier,or over coffee in the canteen, or at people’s homes when they invite work colleaguesround for dinner.

Chapter 6 Analysing the internal environment 101

Informal communications at the photocopier or the coffee machine seem to bevery effective in cementing the corporate culture. They also seem to be prettygood for passing on hard information – and, of course, unfounded rumours and gossip.

So if the informal system is so effective, why do we bother having a formalsystem? Everyone knows that most e-mails are written only in order to protect the rear end of the person writing the e-mail – the real work gets done on thegolf course anyway. Maybe the formal structure gives us a way of recording andvalidating what was said. But equally, it may be simply a way of controlling theflow of information in a way that suits senior management. Can we stop thegossip and rumour and just keep the true information? Can we perhapsencourage staff to record their informal talks? If not, maybe we should look at banning such conversations altogether?


Some managers (particularly those that affirm the scientific management school ofthought) have attempted to stamp out the informal structure. Some organisations aretrying to restrict the use of office e-mail to prevent personal use of the system forexchanging jokes, arranging private parties, or simply chatting to friends at work andelsewhere. This type of restriction is likely to prove counter-productive, since staff willalways want to interact with colleagues on a personal level – using the local networkfor this is probably a time saver over the traditional photocopier or coffee-machinemeetings. Wiser managements will try to incorporate the informal structure into theorganisation by encouraging interaction between staff members. Organised staff socialevents, staff social clubs, and a laissez-faire attitude towards workplace gossip help tosmooth communications and improve staff loyalty – acting as a potential platform forinternal marketing initiatives.

Formal structures

Organisations all differ in their structures, but there are two main types of structurewhich represent the extremes of the continuum. The first is the hierarchical structure,also known as the mechanistic or bureaucratic structure. This is shown in Figure 6.1.

Wholly hierarchical organisations are somewhat rare nowadays and are usually confined to government departments and traditional industries that are not subject tosignificant change. The characteristics of a hierarchical organisation are as follows:

1 Members are appointed by reason of their formal qualifications and experience.

2 Communication is assumed to travel up the hierarchy and instructions come down.

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102 Part 2 Environmental analysis

3 The people at the top of the hierarchy are assumed to have full knowledge of every-thing that happens further down.

4 Roles within the organisation are clearly defined and are generally fixed unless theindividual is promoted.

5 Changes in the organisation are made through consultation and on instructions fromthe top.

Hierarchical organisations are extremely efficient, provided the industry or the environ-ment is slow to change. The efficiency comes from division of labour and specialisation:each individual becomes expert at his or her own part of the job. Little time is wastedon communication because the channels are clearly defined; communication is alsosmooth, provided nothing unusual happens. The problem with hierarchies is that theytend to be very slow to adapt to changing circ*mstances – because each person’s job isstrictly defined, there is resentment at any attempt to change. Communication is slowbecause it has to go up through the layers of the hierarchy (presumably being distorted ateach stage) and then instructions have to come back down from above to the levels below.

At the other extreme is the organismic organisation, as shown in Figure 6.2.

In a fully organismic organisation, communication flows between all the members in a completely open way. No one member is in overall charge – the task of leadership willchange according to the task faced by the organisation. This type of structure is againrare in its pure form, but might be typical of some consultancy organisations, researchgroups, or small professional partnerships.

In an organismic organisation, the formal qualifications of members are not necessarilythe only aspect of the person that is taken into account. Because such organisationsoperate best in rapidly changing environments, all the skills and experience of themembers are likely to be brought into play at one time or another.

Figure 6.1 Example of a hierarchical structure

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In practice, most organisations will occupy a position on a continuum somewherebetween the hierarchical and the organismic. In the future it seems likely that organismicstructures will be better able to survive, due to the need to adapt swiftly to changes.

Organisational systems

The functional efficiency of an organisation depends on its communication systems, itsproduct management systems and its training systems.

Communication systems which follow a formal, hierarchical approach tend to be slowand can suffer from distortion. Yet such systems tend to minimise the time spent incommunicating and maximise the time spent on tasks. The current trend in communi-cation is to use electronic methods, in particular e-mail, to speed up communicationand make all the members of an organisation accessible to each other. The short-coming of e-mail is that it is too easy to send messages to a global address list: there isa proliferation of messages, which means that members of the organisation often spendinordinate amounts of time ploughing through e-mails that are of little or no relevanceto their particular duties. Inevitably this distracts them from carrying out the tasks in hand. Moreover, those who are technophobic, or computer illiterate, or even slowtypists will find the system virtually unworkable and will retaliate by ignoring it or byusing the telephone instead.

If the formal communication system does not meet the needs of the employees, theywill fall back on the informal system, which will result in the most useful organisationalbusiness being conducted over the photocopier or coffee machine.

For the purposes of assessing the appropriateness of the organisation of marketing,managers will need to address the following questions:

1 Is the current structural type correct for the organisation’s environment and object-ives? Should it be more hierarchical or more organismic?

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Figure 6.2 Example of an organismic organisation

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104 Part 2 Environmental analysis

2 Do marketing managers occupy the right level in the structure? Should marketers beplaced in more strategic roles? Are their responsibilities correctly allocated?

3 If the organisation is essentially hierarchical, are people clear about what their rolesand responsibilities might entail?

Even if the organisation is essentially hierarchical in nature, the negative effects of sucha structure can be offset considerably by empowering employees to take decisionswithout referring them to more senior managers.

Information systems

Marketing information systems are often set up to provide an automatic flow of datainto the organisation, with systems for regular analysis of the data. These systems usedto be held on paper, with consequent emphasis on form filling by salespeople, logisticsdepartments, finance staff and others. In recent years, the increased use of computers(particularly desktop PCs) has allowed far more efficient systems to be put in place andhas reduced the amount of time spent on gathering information (Proctor 2000). Thereis always a trade-off involved between the value of information and the cost in time,effort and money of obtaining it; by reducing the cost element, computers haveincreased the possibilities for obtaining useful data and converting it into useable infor-mation. Computer-based systems such as these are called decision support systems –an example is the electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) systems used by large retailers. Theserecord every purchase made in the store so that the retailer can reorder stock in the correct amounts, can automatically analyse trends and can even (with the use of loyaltycards) track an individual customer’s purchases over a period of time (Evans 1994).

Decision support systems need to be user friendly so that managers without training in data analysis can use them. This is the main reason for their popularity over paper-based information systems (Sprague and Watson 1986; Bessen 1994). For example,the ways in which sales management information systems help sales managers areshown in Table 6.2.

As with any other management tool, there are problems attached to the use of salesmanagement information systems. First, there is the problem of information overload –

Table 6.2 Sales management information systems

Functional area

Sales reporting and analysis

Sales planning

Future options and projections


Collecting and analysing call reports, levels of actual sales comparedwith budgeted sales, analysis of sales by market segment, and profitdimensions of sales performances. These figures can be calculatedaccording to individual salespeople, teams or the entire salesforce.

Identifying leads, classifying prospects (segmenting the market) andbuilding up customer profiles. These can be assessed across a variety of criteria including organisation type, buying pattern, creditworthinessand size of average order.

Computer modelling enables the manager to try different options andpredict possible future scenarios. Although this is unlikely to provide thedefinitive answer to problems, it can often help in rejecting somealternatives and in clarifying the manager’s thinking.

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sometimes so much information is generated that it becomes impossible to wadethrough it all and arrive at a coherent decision. Second, computers sometimes give aspurious credibility to results which have been obtained from inaccurate input data –this is called GIGO (garbage in, garbage out).

Third, developing the systems usually means that managers have to come into contactwith IT specialists. Since neither of them knows enough about the other’s specialism tobe able to comment or make suggestions, it may take some time for them to work outan optimum system. The exigencies of making the system compatible with the rest of theorganisation’s systems may compel the IT expert to make inappropriate compromises.

Fourth, management requirements change rapidly. Developments in the market, the typeof products being sold, the size of the organisation or the management structure may meanthat the information needs change frequently and the system has to change with them.

Fifth, there is the problem of technophobia. Some staff (and managers) do not trust the computer and are almost hoping that the system will fail. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as the people concerned do not manage to provide the appropriateinformation at the right time.

Assessing the costs and benefits of using IT can also be problematical, since the costsare easily identified but the benefits often are not.

A customer information system (CIS) can be structured as a database to maximise theopportunities for developing customer loyalty. Database management is potentially a complex issue. Table 6.3 explains some of the current terminology and features ofdatabases.

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Table 6.3 Database terminology


This is a database in which all the information about a given customeris stored. Management of such databases is easy, since information iseasily added or edited, but the possibilities for using the database todrive strategic decision making are limited.

This type of database allows information about an individual customerto be accessed under several different categories. For example, a relational database containing details of doctors might be able tolist them by location, by medical specialism, by purchasing frequency,by age, or by size of practice.

This is an electronic storage facility which holds very large amounts of information. The information can be cross-checked against otherpieces of information to clean it, and can be manipulated in variousways to generate information for decision making.

This process of generating information by the use of advancedstatistical processes enables organisations to find significantrelationships between customers or chunks of customer information.This information provides almost instant market research, enablingorganisations to develop rapid responses to market trends.

Extranets allow companies to share some information while retainingtheir trade secrets. Driven through the Internet, extranets open someof the company’s files to authorised outsiders. Trading information inthis way can help markedly in ensuring industry survival.


Flat database

Relational database

Data warehouse

Data mining


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106 Part 2 Environmental analysis

Here is a checklist for ensuring that the customer information system is functioningcorrectly:

1 Has the system been designed to be state of the art? Beware of setting a technicalhorizon based on the user’s technical knowledge. Often managers will design thesystem based on their knowledge of what is possible rather than on what a technicianwould regard as possible.

2 What business needs should the CIS serve? What types of analysis should it be ableto handle? Determine the objectives of the system and put these in writing.

3 Involve the major users. They are closest to the system and can identify its strengthsand weaknesses better than anyone.

4 Is the system simple, both in terms of collecting information and in terms of provid-ing it?

5 Check that the CIS can sort information in a variety of ways: by customer purchasefrequency, by order size, by geographical location, and so forth.

6 Is the system cleaned regularly to ensure that data is still current?

7 Is the system suitably backed up in the event of a computer crash?

8 Is the system secure – but at the same time is it easily accessible for authorised users?

For many organisations, the information systems have become the core activity of thebusiness. More and more organisations are becoming database-driven, using a singledatabase to inform all decisions within the organisation. Integrating all the business’sactivities around a single database increases the coherence of the marketing communi-cations and increases the possibilities for establishing relationship marketing. A singledatabase puts the company in the position of the small retailer; the organisation knowsall its regular customers and can therefore anticipate and satisfy their needs muchmore effectively in terms of both product and communications.

Assessing marketing productivity

Measuring productivity of marketing is concerned with two areas: profitability analysis– although in non-profit-oriented organisations this may relate to another key objective– and cost-effectiveness analysis.

Profitability can be assessed for each product, each market, each territory or each distribution channel. Most organisations tend to measure profitability in terms of theprofit made from each brand or product, because this is relatively easy to calculate.Conceptually this is a flawed approach, at least for marketers, because it is not market-oriented. The most customer-oriented approach is to assess profitability in terms ofmarket segments. This may be expressed in geographical terms (so that territory is theissue), in terms of types of retail outlet (so that distribution channels are the key), or indemographics (so that the consumers are the key). In fact, any form of segmentationmethod can be the basis for a profitability analysis.

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The profitability analysis will affect strategic planning since it allows planners to decidewhether a segment is worth entering, or conversely whether a segment should be aban-doned. Not all customers are worth having: sometimes resources are better allocated toother segments.

Another approach, and one which may allow for triangulation to determine the mostprofitable activities, is to calculate the costs and benefits of various marketing activities.For example, the return on using a telesales operation rather than a direct-mail exerciseto generate leads might be calculated. The main problem with this type of calculationis that it tends to consider marketing activities in terms of short-term cash returnsrather than long-term benefits. It is extremely easy to run a lead-generating exercisewhich produces a quick result but which at the same time causes future problems. Forinstance, it is surprisingly common for organisations to run exhibition stands whichgenerate large numbers of potential sales leads and useful contacts. Often these leads arenot followed up and the contacts are left uncontacted, which not only wastes the effortthat went into their collection but also antagonises potential customers (Blythe 2000).Equally, salespeople might obtain quick sales by using high-pressure techniques at theexpense of building longer-term (and hence more valuable) relationships with customers.

Resources, competencies and capabilities

Competency to achieve a given strategic objective is derived from the way resources arecombined and utilised. Efficiency in the use of resources is the key to effectiveness instrategic success (usually expressed as competitive advantage). If resources are to beadequately utilised, managers must know what resources are available. In order toensure that those resources are being used effectively, competency auditing is alsoessential. Having said that, there are problems in translating theory into practice.

There has been considerable research into the importance of what are broadly termedthe resources of the organisation (Penrose 1958; Wernerfelt 1984; Barney 1991), parti-cularly from the perspective of how they contribute to competitive advantage andorganisational performance (Grant 2002). There is a problem of definition here, however – some authors prefer not to use the term ‘resources’ when writing of the rangeof means at the disposal of the planners and managers, but instead refer to ‘assets’. Thismeans that there is no generally agreed classification of resources (or assets) within thefield of strategic marketing planning.

Having said that, there are certainly some major distinctions which can be made. First,resources may be tangible or intangible. Tangible resources are those assets such asmachinery, buildings, vehicles, stock, work in progress and so on which can be touchedand handled. Intangible resources are intellectual property such as patents or software,brand equity, goodwill, and the intellectual resources of the employees. Of the two, itis the tangible assets which are the easiest to identify, value, buy and sell; the intangibleassets are more fragile (in that they can easily be lost) and are harder to value (sincefuture income streams can be difficult to predict). Intangible assets often represent themajor part of an organisation’s stock market valuation, however.

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The second classification which can be made is to divide intangible resources into rela-tional resources and competencies. Relational resources are all of the means availableto the organisation derived from its relationship with its environment (Lowendahl1997). These might include special relationships with customers, distributors and consumers, and also the organisation’s reputation and brand equity.

From the viewpoint of auditing resources and competencies, there are considerableconceptual difficulties. As far as tangible assets go, accountants have evolved somestraightforward techniques for arriving at a value; however, these values are valid onlyin particular circ*mstances. For example, a fixed asset such as a piece of machinerymight be valued in one of three separate ways.

First, its value in terms of what it can produce, or the income stream that might beexpected from it. This is also a function of the business environment, since the value of the production might vary or the demand for the product may shift dramatically. An injection mould which produces plastic components, for example, is valuable onlyso long as the demand for those components continues – as soon as the demand isremoved, the value of the mould drops to zero. Second, tangible assets might be valuedin terms of their purchase price and expected life. Thus a vehicle might depreciate by acalculable amount over a given period. The organisation’s accountants are usually ableto calculate the value of, for example, the salesforce’s company cars in this way. Third,tangible assets can be valued according to their resale value. This can be higher thanthe original purchase price (for example, buildings or office premises) or lower thanthe original purchase price (e.g. vehicles or machinery), or in some cases might be virtually zero (e.g. some of the tunnelling machinery used to build the Eurotunnel).

Each of these valuation methods will arrive at a different answer. Clearly the difficul-ties inherent in auditing intangible assets are likely to be greater, particularly if there ispressure to audit in financial terms. Therefore few organisations do this. This is one ofthe problems faced by marketers when trying to justify expenditures on, for instance,brand building.

Auditing knowledge is likely to be judgement-based, since knowledge has a high rateof decay in a changing environment. A linked audit might be to consider the organisa-tion’s ability and disposition towards maintaining its knowledge base. This is a functionof the training of staff, of staff development initiatives, and also its propensity to spendmoney on research and development. This audit can be assessed qualitatively by makingbenchmarking comparisons with other organisations in the same industry.

Auditing capability is likewise a judgement-based activity, though there may be someobjective elements involved. Capability might be judged by events in the recent past(for example, an exceptionally effective new product development and launch) or byassessing the individual capabilities of the organisation and aggregating them to givean overall view of capability (i.e. what we should be able to accomplish). This lattermethod has the advantage of being more up to date but has the major drawback of nottaking account of possible synergies or unforeseen weaknesses.

Corporate attitude is probably subject to more instances of self-delusion on the part ofsenior managers than any other element in the competencies framework. Often theattitude of senior management is not reflected further down the hierarchy, and (worse)

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employees may be at some pains to conceal their real attitudes for fear of appearing tobe out of step with the management. This is likely to have a severely damaging effecton the coordinating function of the strategy, since employees are likely to act in oneway while trying to convince senior management that they are in fact acting in a different way. For this reason, corporate attitudes need to be monitored at grass-rootslevel. Attitudes are difficult to measure at best, because behaviour is not a good guideand self-reports may conceal political agendas.

Relational resources are even harder to pin down: with whom does the organisationhave a relationship, and what is the value and status of the relationship? Relationshipsoften break down – in business as well as in real life. What is the value of the organisa-tion’s reputation? This can sometimes be arrived at in general terms by looking at thedifference between the organisation’s balance-sheet asset value and its stock-marketvaluation, but this is a somewhat nebulous measure, relying as much on factors such as the general state of the economy, the general state of the industry, and the state ofcompeting investments, as on the current state of the organisation.

Valuing a brand is not as straightforward as might at first appear, either. A well-established brand tends to have a less elastic demand curve; in other words, it is lessprice-sensitive (Hamilton et al. 1997). This means that a price increase on a strongbrand will have less effect than a price increase on a weak brand. This implies that astrong brand will have a much better chance of weathering a recession than a weakbrand. This is in itself a valuable characteristic and one that is well worth investing in.

Carrying out a resource and competency assessment is, notwithstanding the conceptualand practical difficulties, an essential activity for any organisation attempting to planstrategy.

The resource audit will cover the areas shown in Table 6.4. It should include all theresources the organisation can tap into, even when it does not actually own these –

Chapter 6 Analysing the internal environment 109

Table 6.4 Elements in the resource audit


Physical resources

Human resources

Financial resources


Examples and explanation

A list of the fixed assets of the organisation, for example machinery,buildings and equipment. The audit needs to include the age and conditionof the assets, their location and their capability as well as their financialvalue (which is often calculated in an arbitrary manner in any case). This is to determine their usefulness in achieving strategic advantages.

This can be a problematical area, since much of the value of staff depends on their motivation and commitment rather than on their paper qualifications and the numbers of them within the organisation.

This should include the sources of money (whether equity or loan), theliabilities the organisation has and the possible availability of capital orloans should it become necessary to acquire more funding. This isessentially the organisation’s credit rating.

From a marketer’s point of view, intangible assets such as brands, patents,reputation and relationships with customers (goodwill) are at least asimportant as any of the organisation’s other assets, since these are thecapital from which marketers derive competence.

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intangible resources and financial resources which can be called upon if needed fallinto this category. Particular weight should be given to unique resources – thoseresources which competitors are unable to duplicate, for example patented products orother intellectual property.

Competence analysis cannot be measured in absolute terms – it always has to be measured against competitors’ provision and customers’ expectations. In particular it isimportant to identify the organisation’s core competencies – the particular competen-cies that ensure that the organisation can outperform its competition in some respects.Competencies can be understood and analysed in two steps: value chain analysis andcompetence bases.

Value chain analysis examines the ways that organisations add value to products asthey pass along the chain. This involves analysing both what happens within the organisation itself and what happens in the supplier and distributor parts of the chain.Value chain analysis recognises that each organisation and process in the chain addsvalue to the product, otherwise there would be no point in their becoming involved in the process. Each increment of value should be greater than the costs attaching to its production, otherwise that part of the chain is not operating efficiently and should be changed or removed. Much of the efficiency gained by effective organ-isations lies in their ability to manage the linkages between the activities of otherorganisations.

Within the value chain, there exist categories of activity which are shown in Table 6.5.

Very few companies undertake all the value activities from raw material through tofinal product. The oil industry is a notable exception. Specialisation of role is thereforethe norm, with each organisation adding only part of the value to the product. Forexample, in the food industry a basic product such as tuna might pass through eight ormore organisations on its way from the fishermen to the consumer’s larder, each organ-isation adding something to the product (canning, shipping, delivering, displaying,advertising, etc.).

Identifying core competencies will vary from one industry to another. Threshold competencies are those which any business in the industry would need to have in orderto survive. Any car manufacturer needs a threshold competence in engineering and indesign, but some car manufacturers have developed core competencies which singlethem out from the competition. Ferrari, for instance, has a core competence in stylishdesign, Volkswagen has a core competence in reliability, and Ford has a core com-petence in low running costs. Core competencies have relevance only when comparedwith competitors and with market segments.

Core competencies might also be linked to critical success factors. The critical successfactor in an industry is the basic elements that have to be right if the organisation is tosucceed, rather than merely survive. For example, Internet-based organisations need athreshold competency in information technology, but the critical success factor is likelyto be the design of the web page. A well-designed page will encourage business, whereasa poorly designed one is frustrating to visit. Examples of poor design abound. The ill-fatedBoo.com had a state-of-the-art animated website which was able to show all the organisation’s clothes in three dimensions. Unfortunately, prospective customers needed

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a state-of-the-art computer to download the images in anything like a reasonableamount of time. Most simply got bored and went elsewhere, or found that the connec-tion timed out before they were able to make a purchase. Some airline websites do notgive the times of the flights, but require prospective passengers to enter the time of theflight in order to check availability. Wrong guesses mean wasted time where the systemsays ‘There is no flight at that time’. Some cheap flight websites will not offer flights thatdo not exactly fit the customer’s specification. This means that a customer may end uppaying more than necessary, simply because the site is not able to mention that a muchcheaper flight is available the day before. Such websites lose out to those whichdevelop a core competence in website design, such as easyJet or Amazon.

Chapter 6 Analysing the internal environment 111

Table 6.5 Primary and support activities

Primary activity

Inbound logistics


Outbound logistics

Marketing communications

Before-sales and after-sales service

Support activities


Technology development

Human resource management


Explanation and examples

All the activities concerned with receiving, storing and distributingraw materials or other inputs. Warehousing, inbound shipping andmaterials-handling systems are examples.

The processes which transform the incoming raw materials into theorganisation’s finished product. This may, of course, become rawmaterials or components for another organisation, for example whenan electronics manufacturer makes car radios for a car manufacturer.

Collection, storage and delivery to customers. Much of this activitymight be undertaken by a distributor or transport company.

Here we are looking at the functional aspects of marketing, in whichcustomers are made aware of the products and fine-tuning of theproduct offering is made to suit the needs of individual customers.

All those activities which enhance or maintain the product value. For example, installation of equipment, repair of faulty equipment,training, and so forth.

Explanation and examples

The processes involved in obtaining the resource inputs needed forthe primary activities. These would include raw materials purchase,equipment purchase and acquiring suitable spaces (factory, shop oroffice).

Technological advances may reside in the product (through researchand development or through product design), with the processes(more efficient production or delivery methods) or with resourceimprovements (for example making use of a previously ignored rawmaterial).

The activities involved in shaping an effective workforce. These mayinvolve hiring suitable people, offering appropriate training, ensuringsuitable motivation and reward structures are in place, and (whenunavoidable) firing unsuitable employees.

The systems of planning, finance, quality control, informationmanagement, communication, and so forth. The routines andstructures of the organisation often determine the level of flexibilitythe organisation has – greater flexibility means greater ability tocope with change.

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Overall assessment of the resources and competencies of an organisation providesinsight into its particular capabilities to compete effectively in the marketplace by providing value to customers, usually through exploiting a particular advantage that ithas. Normally such an advantage comes from the valuable capability providing theorganisation with a means of meeting the needs of the business environment and beingdifficult to copy by rival organisations.

Of particular significance in highly volatile contemporary business environments are an organisation’s ‘dynamic capabilities’, which refer to an organisation’s ability tointegrate, build and readjust internal and external competencies to address rapidlychanging environments. The main thrust of the dynamic capabilities framework is thatin contemporary, fast-moving markets, organisations are compelled to respond quicklyand to be innovative when dealing with rapid change. Three dynamic capabilities arenecessary to maintain a competitive advantage in a fast-changing environment. First,in order to meet these challenges organisations and their employees need the capabilityto learn quickly and to build strategic assets. Second, new strategic assets, such as technology, knowledge and customer feedback, have to be integrated within the organ-isation. Third, existing strategic assets have to be reconfigured or transformed. Buildingon the resource-based view of the organisation, the dynamic capabilities approachrequires that success comes from more than just selecting resources on which to basecompetitive advantage; rather it indicates that success will stem only from effectiveresource development and renewal as external factors change. In the context of market-ing planning, therefore, assessing the internal resources of a business needs to beundertaken from a dynamic perspective with the future in mind rather than simplylooking at the current situation.

Audit analysis

Finally, the audit process itself should be examined and decisions taken as to whether it is appropriate, feasible and effective. Here is a checklist for determining whether theaudit has been correctly carried out:

1 Were the right people involved? Did they have the relevant knowledge, and the necessary objectivity, to carry out the task?

We are always being told that we need to be different, to develop corecompetencies which make us stand out from the crowd. But if everybody standsout from the crowd and adds value to the core generic product, who will makethe commodity products?

Maybe there’s still a market out there for the basic, cheap, simple product. Maybenot everybody wants the extra bells and whistles. Although this might be amarketing heresy, could the production of the ‘commodity’ version actually be a core competency in its own right?


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2 Were the right questions asked? Did the questions elicit reliable and relevantanswers?

3 Has the process been non-threatening for the people concerned? Might anybodyhave felt constrained to provide a particular answer in order to avoid losing face oradmitting to a problem?


The internal environment is at the root of corporate strengths. The people who workwithin the organisation, and the organisation’s physical assets, are the basis of its capabilities for dealing with the external environment. In strategic terms, they are theequivalent of the army’s soldiers and weapons.

Some of these assets are difficult to assess. Again, to use the military analogy, the soldiers need to be tested under fire before the generals can be sure of their mettle.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ Internal audits provide a ‘snapshot’; they do not provide a permanent view of whatis happening.

‘ Audits should not be used to discipline staff.

‘ Introspection, honesty and integrity are paramount. Sometimes it is better to useexternal consultants or interdepartmental groups in order to minimise politicalagendas.

‘ Hierarchical organisations are efficient, but extremely slow to change.

‘ Organismic organisations are flexible, but require more time spent incommunication.

‘ Information support systems must be user-friendly, or they will be unused or,worse, corrupted.

‘ Systems should be designed around corporate need, not perceived technicalcapability. Technicians can usually rise to the challenge.

‘ Resources are harder to define and to quantify than might at first be expected,particularly with regard to the ability of the organisation to adapt to future change.

‘ The audit process itself should be audited.

Chapter 6 Analysing the internal environment 113

Umar’s analysis of the internal environment turned up one or two surprises. First, an examination of the sales figures showed that theSlick Mower was not selling as well as it should have been – sales werestill moving upwards, but not as fast as the growth in the market saidthey should have been. This probably meant that the Slick Mowerwas heading towards a downturn, becoming obsolete in the face

of competition from other mowers. Since the Slick Mower was the company’s flagship productand should have been a cash cow, this presented an immediate problem to be solved.





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114 Part 2 Environmental analysis

Review questions

1 How might an organisation in the public sector, for example a local authority, carryout an internal audit?

2 How might an internal audit differ in an organismic organisation as opposed to a hierarchical organisation?

3 How might a database be used for audit purposes?

4 How might an organisation decide the frequency of auditing activities?

5 If an audit is a snapshot, and a decision-support system provides a constant streamof information, how can the one be reconciled with the other?

Other products in the portfolio were clearly in the maturity stage, but Umar was unable to identify any stars (see Chapter 8). Equally, there were no dogs, and in fact most products hadperformed fairly consistently during the recession, none standing out as being worse hit thanany other, even though sales across the board were somewhat down. Umar’s inference fromthis was that the company needed some new products fairly quickly, and in particular a newversion of the 12-year-old Slick Mower was needed as a matter of urgency.

Analysis of the company’s resources showed that the fixed assets (equipment, machinery, factory space, etc.) were in good shape, but the financial position was poor. This meant thatthere would be very little in the budget for marketing unless the venture capitalists came onboard – leaving Umar with something of a problem. The order book looked moderatelyhealthy, though.

Interviews with the staff also revealed something surprising – employees thought the companywas somewhat old-fashioned and not especially innovative. This opinion directly contradictedthe directors’ view of the company and flew in the face of the new vision statement. Obviouslythe internal marketing had gone badly wrong somewhere!

Case study Iveco

Iveco manufactures trucks, light commercial vehicles, buses and specialist vehicles such as fire-fighting trucks. The company was formed in 1975 through the merger of the commercialvehicle divisions of Fiat, Magirus-Deutz (of Germany), Unic (of France) and several other Italianindustrial vehicle makers. The result was the Industrial Vehicle Company, or Iveco.

In 1975 the European Union was not as integrated as it is today, and cross-border alliances andmergers were less common, indeed were resisted by many national governments. The fledglingcompany therefore found itself in a difficult position at first and had to make considerableefforts to integrate the member companies into a single unit. The first problem was language– Germans find Italian and French difficult to learn, and at the time of the merger few of the

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Chapter 6 Analysing the internal environment 115

French and Italian managers spoke each other’s languages. Iveco management took theunusual step of adopting English as the corporate language, spending thousands of lire, francsand deutschmarks on a dedicated English-language course for hundreds of senior managers.Even the course texts were copyrighted to Iveco. This paid off handsomely later, when Iveconegotiated a joint venture with Ford UK.

During the ensuing years, Iveco focused on developing a single range of vehicles, using theexpertise within the member companies to develop a wide range of vehicles which still tookadvantage of the economies of scale available to the organisation. Officine Meccaniche (OM)provided expertise in light vehicles, Fiat in the area of medium to heavy lorries, and Magirus-Deutz in off-road, heavy-duty and firefighting vehicles.

In 1980, Iveco restructured the company to create greater integration. Engineering, manufac-turing, purchasing and administration were integrated under a single senior manager for eachfunction, creating a truly cross-border management system. In addition, separate divisionswere created for specialist areas of enterprise: diesel engines, buses and fire-fighting vehicleswere each given their own division, again operating across borders.

In the early 1990s Iveco further reorganised itself, in response to market pressures. This time thecompany reorganised around specific customer types, in an attempt to become more customer-oriented. In 1995, the company’s EuroClass luxury coach was voted International Coach of theYear, and the EuroCargo medium lorry became the market leader in the UK, Spain, Bulgariaand Slovenia as well as in its native Italy. In 2000, the Daily light van was voted InternationalVan of the Year.

A renewed focus on customer needs has certainly helped Iveco capture a large share of its chosen markets and the company now outperforms the original parent company, Fiat, which at the time of writing was in some financial difficulties due to the recession. Iveco has a pro-gramme of continuous improvement: new models, and new versions of existing models, roll offthe drawing board and onto the production line regularly, in response to customer need. Atthe time of writing, Iveco was testing diesel–electric versions of the Daily with FedEx. Initialresults showed a 26 per cent reduction in fuel consumption and a total of 7.5 tonnes of CO2

per vehicle saved in only the first six months of operation.

Iveco’s willingness to organise the company around the market rather than try to change themarket to suit its own structure has been an important aspect of its success. However, there isno question that skilled design and engineering have been the key factors in growing the company to become one of the world’s largest commercial vehicle producers.


1 How should Iveco go about conducting an internal audit? What special problems mightthere be?

2 What type of information should Iveco collect to help its decision making?

3 What type of organisation structure should Iveco have?

4 What special problems might arise in setting up a decision support system for Iveco?

5 What would be the key benefits of adopting English as the official language of the company?

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Barney, J.B. (1986): Organisational culture: can it be a source of sustained competitiveadvantage? Academy of Management Review, 11 pp 656–65.

Barney, J.B. (1991): Organisation resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal ofManagement, 17 (1) pp 99–120.

Bessen, J. (1994): Riding the marketing information wave. Harvard Business Review,September–October pp 150–60.

Blythe, J. (2000): Objectives and measures at UK trade exhibitions. Journal of MarketingManagement, 16 pp 203–22.

Dretske, F. (1981): Knowledge and the Flow of Information (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

Durand, T. (1996): Revisiting key dimensions of competence. Paper presented to the SMSConference, Phoenix, Arizona.

Evans, M.J. (1994): Domesday marketing? Journal of Marketing Management, 10 (5) pp 409–31.

Grant, R.M. (2002): Contemporary Strategy Analysis, 4th edition (Oxford: BlackwellPublishers Inc).

Hamilton, W., East, R. and Kalafatis, S. (1997): The measurement and utility of brand priceelasticities. Journal of Marketing Management, 13 (4) pp 285–98.

Lowendahl, B.R. (1997): Strategic Management of Professional Business ServiceOrganisations (Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press).

Penrose, E.T. (1958): The Theory of the Growth of the Organisation (New York: Wiley).

Prahalad, C.K. and Hamel, G. (1990): The core competence of the corporation. HarvardBusiness Review, May–June pp 79–91.

Proctor, T. (2000): Essentials of Marketing Research, 2nd edition (Harlow: Financial TimesPrentice Hall).

Sprague, R.H. and Watson, H.J. (1986): Decision Support Systems: Putting Theory intoPractice (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).

Stalk, G., Evans, P. and Shulman, L. (1992): Competing on capabilities. Harvard BusinessReview, March/April.

Teece, D.J., Pisano, G. and Shuen, A. (1997): Dynamic capabilities and strategic manage-ment. Strategic Management Journal, 18 (7) pp 509–33.

Wernerfelt, B. (1984): A resource-based view of the organisation. Strategic ManagementJournal, April/June pp 171–80.


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Chapter 7

Identifying marketing strategies

A month after Umar Sayeed had joined the company,Eden Garden Tools’ senior management met to dis-cuss the marketing audit. At this point, Umar was ableto provide a fairly complete picture of the company’scurrent situation, even though he admitted that theremight well be several gaps since he had been unable

to carry out primary research within the time frame.

The purpose of the discussions was to identify where the company needed tomake changes in order to get on track for the future. This meant being very clearindeed about where the company wanted to be – not just in vague terms of‘wanting to be successful’ or ‘wanting to be the best’ but in exact terminologywhich would enable it to know what to do each day and to monitor its progresstowards the final goal.

Identifying the gaps between where it wanted to be and where it was now wasthe key purpose of the meeting.




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After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Explain what is meant by the planning gap.

‘ Explain the difficulties of identifying underlying problems.

‘ Describe the basic strategies for developing the business.

‘ Describe the winning strategies of business – and identify the failing ones.

‘ Describe value disciplines and explain what is meant by them.

‘ Explain how recessions can be good for businesses.

‘ Describe the different ways of entering overseas markets.

‘ Explain the purpose of SWOT analysis.


Knowing where we are is one thing; deciding where we want to be is another, and oftenrather harder, set of decisions. Between the two lie the decisions on creating appropriatemarketing strategies.

This chapter examines the use of the planning gap as a means of identifying oppor-tunities to fulfil the organisation’s marketing strategy, and assesses the issues and constraints arising from the marketing audit and their consequences for developing themarketing plan.

Included in this chapter are objectives and the planning gap, generating alternativestrategic options, closing the planning gap with new and existing strategies, evaluationof marketing opportunities and competitive advantage, prioritising and executingSWOT analysis, specifying marketing objectives, strategies and plans, and considerationof timescales for implementation.

The planning gap

Setting objectives implies that marketing planners would like something to change inthe way the organisation operates. There is an assumption that, without some kind ofdirect intervention, the business will not reach the stated objectives and will carry onto some other undesired destination. The difference between what the planners expectto happen as a result of the new objectives and what would happen if they did nothingis called the planning gap (or sometimes the performance gap). In other words, it isthe gap we need to plan for, and fill.

Planners begin by assessing what would happen if the organisation takes no action,basing this projection on available data. This is called a reference projection and isthe baseline by which the various planning suggestions will be judged. For example, acompany may be considering which objectives to aim for in order to increase profit. Thereference projection would be based on market growth/decline, previous performance,competitive activity, consumer behaviour, and so forth on the assumption that theorganisation continues with present policies. Different possible strategic and tactical


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programmes would then be modelled to see which (if any) would result in an improvedperformance in terms of, say, profit at the end of the year. Obviously profit may not be the only objective, but the basic premise still has validity. Whatever aspect of thecompany’s activities is under scrutiny, there is likely to be a planning gap.

The intention of planning is to close the gap, so that the new reference projectionaccords with the new plan. Objectives might, of course, be revised to direct the com-pany towards the point at which it will arrive anyway, or (more likely) tactics can bedeveloped in order to hit the objectives originally identified, rather than the referenceprojection.

If the planning gap is large, it would be reasonable to suppose that the organisation hasa problem. The fact that there is a problem does not necessarily mean that there is aneasy solution to that problem, and still less does it imply that the planners know what the solution is. There may be many possibilities for closing the planning gap,some of which will be wrong. Understanding the full extent of the problem will meanunderstanding the full extent of the possible solutions. In most cases, solutions createproblems of their own, which need to be addressed or at least taken into account as a cost of the solution.

The immediate problem may not necessarily be what needs to be addressed – theremay be an underlying problem. For example, an organisation might perceive a competitor’s surprise new assault on the market as being the problem, whereas in factthe underlying problem is the organisation’s poor information system which did notpredict the competitive response.

Closing the planning gap through marketing strategies

There are likely to be many options for closing the planning gap, but the successful oneswill necessarily take account of the organisation’s resources. Unless the organisation isfacing an immediate crisis, in which case something will need to be done very quickly,planning will be guided by the following factors:

1 The situation as revealed by analysis of the planning gap.

2 The manager’s understanding of the problem. This will be coloured by the manager’sperception of what the real problem is – not necessarily the underlying problem.

3 The historical situation of the company, taken from the marketing audit.

4 Current strategy, tactics, mission and vision.

5 Existing capabilities, competencies and resources as well as those which might bedeveloped or acquired by forming alliances.

Marketing strategy search is likely to be logical and formulaic in part, but there shouldalso be space for inspiration to strike: sometimes one of the planning team will have anidea which goes straight to the heart of the problem. However, it is more common forseveral possible strategies to be proposed, and the management team will then havethe problem of discussing the alternatives and possibly modelling the proposals to see whether they will close the gap or not. The basic difficulty here is that the modelsthemselves are likely to be more than a little subjective – managers have to make

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assumptions, and are likely to select assumptions which will support their chosen viewof what should happen.

Before embarking on discussion of possible marketing strategies, however, it is worthconsidering what we actually mean by this term and how it fits into the bigger pictureof the marketing planning process. A marketing strategy is generally considered to bethe identification and pursuit of a marketing opportunity based upon a specific targetmarket and a particular competitive advantage. The marketing strategy needs a clearfocus and should be consistent with the organisation’s overall goals and needs to takeaccount of the key dimensions of planning: customers, competitors and internal factors.

The marketing opportunity that we identify needs to relate to a target market andshould involve adopting a strategy which enables effective positioning through marketing activities to fulfil the requirements of that customer group. Effectively weare concerned with targeting a particular market segment with an appropriate market-ing mix. This process will be discussed in detail in the following chapters.

One way of generating marketing strategies is through the contextual application of Ansoff’s product-market matrix. Ansoff (1965) identified four basic strategies forachieving growth (see Figure 7.1).

1 Market penetration. The company can try to grow by increasing its share of theexisting market. This can be achieved either by attracting customers away from competitors or by encouraging existing customers to use more of the product. Takingshare from competitors invites retaliation – the competitors are unlikely to stand stillwhile their customers are lured away, and will inevitably try to retain customers, or(better still) try to lure customers away from other organisations. This type of competition usually benefits consumers, at least in the short run, but can be verydamaging for companies. Encouraging customers to use more of the product invitescopying on the part of competitors – if we have a way of persuading our customersto buy more and use more, competitors will quickly join in. For example, if we dis-cover a new use for a product, our competitors can publicise it in the same way. Thisstrategy often involves price cutting, promotion, or finding new distribution outlets.

2 Enter new markets. Taking an existing product into a new market can be an easyway to grow. The new market may be an overseas one, in which case the organisationwill face competitive retaliation from local producers, or it may be a new segment inthe home country. For example, classical music tends to be more popular with olderpeople, but a concert hall could specifically target a young audience with a differentrepertoire.

3 Develop new products. Products can be entirely new, or can be adaptations of ourexisting product range. For example, an insurance company might offer an entirelynew product (insurance for children) or might adapt an existing product for a newmarket (specialist car insurance for family motorists).

4 Diversify. Entering entirely new markets with entirely new products is a high-riskstrategy, but it can be very effective, especially if the organisation contracts analliance with another organisation in order to enter the new market. Obviously thisapproach can work only if the organisation’s core competencies can be used to goodeffect in the new market. For example, Honda’s capability for manufacturing petrol

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engines with a high power-to-weight ratio enabled it to capture the light motorcyclemarket in the 1960s, but the same capability enabled it to make inroads into the out-board motor market, the portable generator market and the power garden toolsmarket as well.

Chapter 7 Identifying marketing strategies 121

If marketing strategies are so easy to identify, why is it that so many businessesget this part of their planning wrong? Using a basic tool like the Ansoff matrixshould enable all organisations to produce a range of strategic options, whatevertype of business they are in. Yet why is it the case that so many fail to identify thebest options? Why is it that some organisations always go for complex solutionslike product development and diversification, when the more straightforwardalternatives of market penetration and development may be much better choices?

Is it because the decision makers ignore the process or that they just have ablinkered view about what needs to be done?


An alternative view of available strategies has been offered by Porter (1985). Portersuggested three potential winning strategies and one failing strategy. The potentialwinning strategies are as follows:

1 Overall cost leadership. A company which succeeds in minimising its productionand distribution costs is able to offer a price advantage over its competitors withoutsacrificing profits. To this end, many companies have moved their manufacturingoperations to low-wage economies in the Third World, and many more have stream-lined their distribution operations or combined them to create an integrated logisticssystem.

Figure 7.1 Growth strategy alternatives

Various models exist for assessing market potential, i.e. the attractiveness of given markets, but most rely on subjective judgements at some point or another. The max-imum attainable usage of a product might be obtained from market research, but theextent to which the product will attain those levels of usage is somewhat harder toassess. Typically, planners will use surrogates – similar products in similar markets – tomake these judgements, but often such surrogates do not exist and the calculationsamount to little more than guesswork.

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2 Differentiation. Companies which can show the customers that their products aresignificantly different from others on the market are able to charge premium prices(provided different equates to better in the eyes of some customers). Differentiationcomes from two sources: first, real differences in the features and benefits the productoffers, and second, strong promotional efforts to make these differences apparent toprospective customers. Both these sources cost money to implement, so the organ-isation needs to be confident that the premium which customers are prepared to payfor the differentiated product will more than cover the extra costs.

3 Focus. Here the company concentrates on a few market segments rather than trying to compete in the whole market. Often these will be exclusive markets: themarket for luxury yachts falls into this category. In business-to-business markets,some organisations specialise in providing for a specific product type – Novo Nordiskof Denmark specialises in producing industrial enzymes and has become highly profitable by being the best in its chosen specialisation.

The failing strategy is to seek to achieve more than one of the above and thus fail toachieve any of them. Combining low cost with differentiation is impossible, because a differentiation strategy requires higher expenditures on R&D and promotion if it is towork. Combining low cost with focus is also unlikely to work, because low cost requireshigh volumes in order to attract economies of scale. Focus and differentiation combinewell, but there are cost implications. The essence of the problem is to pursue a clearstrategy which customers can identify with. If they are unable to recognise whether theorganisation is cheap, or best at serving its market segment, or offering the highest per-ceived value, the organisation’s products will not stand out and will thus be relegatedto a lower status in the decision-making framework.

Organisations occasionally attempt to carry out more than one strategic approach at atime because of disagreements among top managers. Consensus among managersimproves performance at the strategic business unit (SBU) level, especially for differ-entiation strategies (Homburg et al. 1999), but appears unnecessary if the organisationis pursuing a low-cost strategy, perhaps because this is an easy strategy to understandand relate to, even if disagreements occur elsewhere.

Yet another way of looking at competitive strategies is that proposed by Treacy andWiersema (1993) – see Figure 7.2. This identifies three strategies or value disciplinesaimed at increasing customer value:

1 Operational excellence. Here the company provides better value for its customersby leading the industry in price and convenience. Similar to the cost leadershipapproach, the organisation tries to reduce costs and create an effective and efficient delivery system.

2 Customer intimacy. Here the company creates value by detailed segmentation,meeting the needs of its chosen customers very precisely. This strategy is likely to bebased on developing close relationships with customers, which in turn meansempowering staff to make decisions close to the customers, and developing detailedknowledge of customers’ needs. Such companies attract customers who are preparedto pay substantial premiums to get exactly what they want, and who are prepared tobe loyal to companies which deliver.

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Chapter 7 Identifying marketing strategies 123

Figure 7.2 Treacy and Wiersema’s value disciplines

Unlike Porter’s strategy categorisations, the Treacy and Wiersema categories are notmutually exclusive. It is possible to pursue operational excellence and customer intimacy, for example (as easyJet does), or customer intimacy and product leadership(as Virgin does). Pursuing all three is probably somewhat difficult, since the companywill be providing exceptional value for money, which is of course likely to lead toreduced profit margins.

Organisations might be market challengers, which seek to increase their share of themarket by adopting a market penetration strategy. They might be market followers,which allow the market leader to make most of the investment in developing a newmarket, then follow along behind and pick up any segments the leader has not alreadytaken. Finally, an organisation might be a market nicher, concentrating on a small segment of the market. This is a typical strategy of a small organisation with fewresources, but with a strong competency in one area.

Market challenger strategies

Market challengers are organisations which seek to increase their share of the market,usually through aggressive competitive tactics. Market challengers are in a differentposition from market leaders in that they have two choices of competitor to attack: theycan attack the market leader (a high-risk but potentially high-gain strategy) or they cantry to pick off the smaller competitors, either by out-competing them or by taking themover. Attacking the market leader probably means that the organisation will be upagainst a larger organisation than itself – the market leader probably has the resourcesand the experience to mount a vigorous defence, whereas the smaller organisations may

3 Product leadership. Companies pursuing this strategy offer leading-edge, state-of-the-art products and services, aiming to make the competitors’ products (and indeedtheir own) obsolete. Such companies have large R&D expenditures, staff innovationprogrammes and systems for getting new products to market quickly.

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not be so able to withstand a determined assault. However, beating the market leaderwould mean becoming market leader oneself – which has quite obvious advantages.

In order to attack the market leader, the challenger must have a clear competitiveadvantage: a cost advantage, or the ability to provide better value for money by offer-ing a better product. Attacking smaller competitors may only require an aggressive promotional campaign, a short price war, or a takeover policy. The strategies open to amarket challenger are shown in Table 7.1.

Table 7.1 Market challenger strategies


Frontal attack

Flanking attack

Encirclement attack

Bypass attack

Guerrilla attack


The challenger matches the competitor’s marketing efforts across the board. It attacksthe competitor’s strengths, not its weaknesses, and in effect enters into a war ofattrition. The company with the greater resources usually wins in these circ*mstances.

Here the challenger concentrates on the competitor’s weaknesses rather than itsstrengths. The challenger tries to find some portion of the competitor’s business which is being poorly served or which it feels able to serve better, and attacks that.Sometimes the competitor will withdraw without much of a fight. A lot depends on the relative resources of the two organisations.

This strategy involves attacking from several directions at once. This approach worksbest when the attacker has more resources than the defender.

Here the challenger bypasses the market leader completely and targets new markets.This might involve entering new geographic markets, or using new technology to tapinto new groups of customers. This has the advantage of not offering a direct threat to the competitor and thus minimising the risk of retaliation.

The challenger makes occasional attacks on the larger competitor, using differenttactics each time in order to demoralise and confuse the market leader. For example, a challenger might run a cut-price offer for one month only, followed the next month bya sales promotion, followed the next month by a promotional campaign. This constantswitching of tactics does not allow the market leader time to organise a retaliatorystrike, but instead forces the leader to become a follower, retaliating after thechallenger has moved on to the next tactic. Guerrilla actions work best for smallorganisations which are able to respond quickly and have the flexibility to move on as soon as their larger, perhaps more bureaucratic, competitors try to retaliate.

Market follower strategies

Most organisations operate with the view that competitors are ‘the enemy’ and there-fore will try to attack their competitors to seize market share. However, challenging themarket leader, or indeed competing aggressively at all, is not necessarily the best wayforward. The primary task of any organisation is to survive, and retaliation from a morepowerful company might well make this difficult.

Market followers allow the market leader to make most of the investment in develop-ing new products and markets, then follow on to pick up on any spare segments whichthe leader may have bypassed. The follower gains in terms of reduced costs and

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Table 7.2 Market follower categories






These organisations make almost exact copies of the leader’s products, distribution, promotionand other marketing strategies. They can often do this at much lower cost because they do nothave the market leaders’ development costs or risks. Organisations making exact copies ofproducts are relatively rare, due to patenting and other intellectual property defences, but insome markets (particularly agricultural markets) cloning is perfectly feasible.

Here the follower copies most of the leader’s strategies, but retains some differentiation. Thisapproach is more common than cloning because it often avoids direct competition with themarket leader, and can even help the leader to avoid charges of monopolistic behaviour. Typicalimitator strategies would be supermarkets selling own brands which look like the market-leaderbrands, or burger restaurants which imitate the McDonald’s high-speed service system.

Adapters go one step further than the market leader, producing improved versions of products ormarketing programmes. Adapters can become industry leaders, and are really only one step shortof being challengers.

reduced risk, and although followers will never become market leaders, they are oftenas profitable as leaders (Haines et al. 1989).

Market followers fall into three types, as shown in Table 7.2.

Being the leader always carries risks: the vast majority of new products fail when theyreach the market, and the successful products have to pay for all the unsuccessful ones.Followers are able to be much more confident that their products will succeed, sincethey can copy only those products which are already successful. The same applies topromotional activities and distribution strategies – even though the bulk of the marketis likely to go to the innovators, the costs of doing this are great, and the profits oftengo to the followers.

Market nicher strategies

Market nichers are organisations which concentrate on small segments of the market,seeking to meet the needs of those customers as closely as possible. Nichers operate ona low-volume, high-margin basis, so this is often a suitable strategic position for medium-sized companies (Clifford and Cavanagh 1985).

Competitors are closed out of the niche because the niche company develops an intimateknowledge of customer needs which would be difficult for a new entrant to acquire.Also, the niche is often too small to support more than one company. The key to successin niche marketing is to specialise. Table 7.3 shows some of the ways niche marketerscan specialise.

Niche marketers run the risk of their chosen market declining or disappearing. A nichemarketer has all his eggs in one basket, which is fine as long as he follows Mark Twain’sadvice and watches that basket, but even so there is a strong chance of problems arising.For this reason some niche marketers concentrate on more than one niche and so hedgetheir bets.

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Collaborating with competitors

Hamel et al. (1989) propose collaboration with competitors as a way forward in secur-ing markets. Strategic alliances generated through joint ventures, product licensing, or cooperative research strengthen organisations against competitors from outside thepartnership by increasing the market coverage, reducing costs, generating greater efficiency and raising the profile of both companies. It can be a low-cost way for organ-isations to access new markets, and many Japanese organisations have used thisapproach to enter European Union markets, where they would otherwise have to paysubstantial tariffs to import directly from Japan.

Hamel et al.’s research shows that collaboration between Japanese organisations andWestern partners often leaves the Western partner worse off in the long run. This theyattribute to poor negotiating skills, poor fit between strategic goals and poor protectionof sensitive information. More recent research from Hennart et al. (1999) shows that,provided the partnership is well managed, the benefits of collaboration outweigh therisks. Organisations which benefit most from competitive collaboration tend to followthe principles outlined in Table 7.4.

Western companies often enter alliances in order to avoid making investments, eitherin moving into new markets or in developing new products. Unfortunately this oftenplays into the hands of the partner organisation, which then has the capability to

Table 7.3 Niche roles


End-use specialist

Vertical-level specialist

Customer-size specialist

Specific-customer specialist

Geographical specialist

Product or feature specialist

Quality-price specialist

Service specialist


The organisation specialises in meeting all the needs of one type of end user. Forexample, Maplin’s aims to supply all the needs of amateur electronics hobbyists.

The organisation specialises in one level of the production–distribution cycle. Forexample, Pickfords specialises in moving heavy equipment and abnormal loads.

Here the organisation concentrates on marketing to organisations of a particularsize. Often smaller organisations are neglected by the industry majors, allowing a foot in the door for nichers.

The organisation specialises in supplying one or two very large organisations. Thisis typical of small engineering organisations: they offer specialist manufacturingexpertise to larger organisations which find it cheaper to outsource than tomanufacture in-house. Weber carburettors is an example: the organisation supplieshigh-quality carburettors to most car manufacturers for their high-performance cars.

Here the organisation stays within a small geographical area. For example, Welsh-language book publishers do not operate outside Wales and Argentina, where theWelsh language is also spoken.

The organisation specialises in producing a particular product, or one with uniquefeatures. This type of specialisation is often based on a patented system or process.

The organisation operates within a niche at the top or bottom of the market. Forexample, the market for executive jet planes is dominated by Lear and Cessna.

The organisation offers a service which is unavailable elsewhere. Only NASA offersa recovery and repair service for satellites, and only the Russian space agencyoffers space tourist flights (albeit at an extremely high price). This is set to changein the next few years, as Virgin Galactic starts commercial space flights for tourists.

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Table 7.4 Principles for successful collaboration


Collaboration is competition in a different form

Harmony is not the most important measure of success

Cooperation has limits

Learning from partners is paramount


Successful collaborators remember that their partner may well try totake over the whole market later on and become a major competitor.The collaboration may not last for ever!

Occasional conflict may well lead to creative solutions for problems:like a marriage, if the partnership is a sincere commitment, argumentswill happen now and then. Harmony usually prevails only where neitherparty really cares about the outcome, or indeed about the relationship.

Strategic alliances often result in substantial transfers of information,perhaps well beyond that originally envisaged by senior managementwhen they hammered out the deal. Successful collaborators will ensurethat employees are well aware of what information can and cannot bepassed on.

Successful collaborators ensure that the new knowledge gained fromthe partner is diffused throughout their own organisation. Thisknowledge will remain even if the partnership dissolves.

control the situation to their advantage. Mutual gain is, however, possible if the partnersconform to the following conditions:

l The partners’ strategic goals converge while their competitive goals diverge. Eachpartner must allow the other to prosper in the shared venture, but should avoid competing directly.

l The size and power of both partners is modest compared with the industry leaders.The partners should also be of similar size compared with each other. These condi-tions ensure that neither partner develops a controlling influence, and also ensuresthat it is in both partners’ interests to continue the alliance in order to avoid clashingwith the industry leader.

l Each partner can learn from the other, while restricting access to sensitive information.

Collaboration offers a way forward for many smaller companies, and indeed somelarger ones as well. Collaboration between Ford, Volkswagen and Seat has producedseveral car designs, notably the Ford Galaxy multi-purpose vehicle, sold by Volkswagenas the Sharan and by Seat as the Alhambra.

Marketing strategy in a recession

During recessions most markets shrink, and a common response to this is for organisa-tions to retrench, put their expansion plans on hold and wait for the economic climateto improve. In fact, for the astute organisation a recession offers tremendous oppor-tunities for growth, provided the company is prepared in advance. Growth in decliningmarkets is likely to happen through acquisition of ailing competitors, and this is nevereasier than during a recession. Here is a list of strategies for riding a recession and coming out of it in better shape than when the recession started.

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l Cash is king. During a recession, credit becomes tighter, so companies with cashreserves are able to force down prices from suppliers or buy out competitors muchmore easily.

l Debtors default much more often. Giving credit to customers is a bad idea duringa recession – payment dates stretch out and the debtor organisation may well gobankrupt, leaving the debt unpaid. Debtors can be a useful source of expansion bytakeover: some organisations have achieved enviable vertical integration in this way.

l Deals can be struck with liquidators. If a competitor, supplier or distributor doesgo bankrupt, it is often possible to buy the organisation from the liquidators for afraction of its going-concern value. In fact, some organisations even strike lucrativedeals with directors before the company goes under, in order to avoid the stigma ofbankruptcy or even to save the directors from the scrutiny of regulators.

l Markets shrink for suppliers as well. An organisation which has been a good customer in the past and shows signs of being a good payer is a valuable asset to asupplier, and one which is worth offering concessions to.

l Good staff often become available unexpectedly. As organisations go bankrupt,some highly skilled people enter the jobs market, often for salaries below what theymight have commanded in their previous jobs.

l Most financial managers insist on promotional budget cuts when times arehard. This means that share of voice is easier to achieve, since competitors promoteless, but it also means that advertising rates are likely to be cut as media struggle tosell space.

l Raw material prices drop. Many organisations destock during recessions. Towardsthe end of a recession, and indeed when dealing with liquidators, it is often possibleto stock up with raw materials or components at very favourable prices.

Such strategies all have implications for marketing and can affect the marketing strat-egies adopted. Overall, recessions can be viewed as an opportunity rather than a threat.The key to success in a recession is to ensure that the organisation goes in with lowfinancial gearing, and preferably with a cash ‘war chest’ in order to snap up bargains.Recessions normally last only a few months and are replaced within a year or two byboom conditions, during which it might be advisable to shed some assets while pricesare high – in order to have cash on hand for the next recession.

If recessions are such a good thing, why do people complain about them? Surelya rattling good recession provides so many opportunities we should be openingthe champagne, not crying into our beer!

Maybe recession favours only those who saw it coming, though – and fortunetelling is a hit-and-miss business. Or perhaps the downside is greater than the upside, with companies losing business and people losing their jobs.

Of course, recessions might provide a good opportunity for the economy to cullthe weak businesses – get rid of businesses that should never have been startedin the first place. So are recessions good or bad? Much depends on yourviewpoint and your level of preparedness.


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International market entry strategies

There are five basic strategies for entering foreign markets, as shown in Table 7.5.

Two basic models of internationalisation are thought to be operating. The first is thestages of development model, in which organisations move through a series of stagesas shown in Table 7.6.

In practice, most organisations use a customised approach to markets. Even organisa-tions pursuing a globalisation strategy rarely use an entirely standardised approachacross all the target countries (Harris 1996). Of 38 multinational companies surveyedby Harris, 26 claimed to standardise their advertising, but in fact only 4 used com-pletely standardised advertisem*nts.

An alternative view of internationalisation strategy is offered by Dunning (1993), whoproposes the eclectic theory of internationalising. According to Dunning, organisationsdetermine their specific competitive advantage over organisations both at home andoverseas, and plan their market entry strategies accordingly. This means that an organ-isation will examine its strengths and weaknesses in relation to the overseas competitors,and instead of beginning by exporting and gradually making a greater commitment tothe market, will enter the market by playing to its strengths. For example, IKEA hasstrengths in managing retail stores at minimum cost whilst also minimising customer

Chapter 7 Identifying marketing strategies 129

Table 7.5 International market entry strategies


Keep product and promotion the same worldwide

Adapt promotion only

Adapt product only

Adapt both product and promotion

Invent new products


The advantage of this is that it minimises entry costs. Coca-Cola often adopts this approach, using basically the same advertising worldwide but translating anyvoiceovers into the local language. The major drawback of the approach is that it takes no account of local customs and attitudes, and tends to lead to a ‘lowestcommon denominator’ advertisem*nt which can be understood by everybody andoffends nobody.

The product remains the same, but the promotion is adapted to local cultural norms.This is a fairly common approach, since it enables the marketing communications toreach the consumers more effectively while at the same time avoiding a redesign ofthe product itself.

This is less common, but has been done by some detergent manufacturers to allowfor differences in local water supplies and washing machines. Likewise, thesupposedly ‘global’ Ford Focus is substantially modified for different markets inorder to meet local emission standards and road-safety laws.

Sometimes it is necessary to adapt both the product and the promotion, as in thecase of Cheer washing powder, a Procter & Gamble product marketed in Japan.Cheer was reformulated to allow for the extra fabric softeners the Japanese use, and the promotion emphasised that the powder worked well in cold water (sincemost Japanese wash clothes in cold water).

If the existing products cannot meet the conditions in the new market, a newproduct must be invented. For example, the clockwork radio was invented for use incountries where there is no mains power supply and batteries are difficult to obtain.

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Table 7.6 Stages of development model



Establish a sales office in the foreign market

Overseas physical distribution

Overseas manufacture

Multinational marketing

Global marketing


This implies the smallest commitment to the foreign market. The exporter producesthe goods in the organisation’s home country and ships them overseas to be soldthrough agents or distributors. In the early stages of export, the organisation mighteven be using a reactive strategy, fulfilling orders only if a foreign distributoractually seeks them out rather than making any deliberate approach to the foreign market.

The organisation is now committed to the market, but could withdraw if necessary.Manufacture and decision making still take place in the home country, but sometactical marketing has been transferred into the target country.

This would involve establishing a warehousing and distribution system in the targetcountry, implying an even greater commitment to the market. At this stage muchof the marketing strategy is devolved to the organisation in the target country,bringing the decision making closer to the customers.

Manufacturing the product in the overseas market means that the company canshorten the lines of supply and be more responsive to the customers’ needs.

The company makes and sells the products in whichever countries are mostadvantageous. Components might be supplied from several countries for assemblyin several others, for onward export to still more countries.

Global marketing means standardising products for perceived global segments.This is the approach taken by major computer manufacturers and otherorganisations where economies of scale are available for very large-scalemanufacture. National boundaries almost cease to exist for such organisations, and their size ensures that their activities transcend national governments.

error in purchasing flat-pack furniture. IKEA therefore entered the UK market with full-blown retail stores, rather than operating concessions within other stores or simplyexporting the furniture to other retailers.

Evaluating strategies through SWOT analysis

The above approach looked at how the organisation starts to assess its internalstrengths and weaknesses when deciding on its market entry strategy in an inter-national context. When evaluating marketing strategies generally, however, a similarapproach is usually adopted and made more comprehensive through the inclusion ofexternal opportunities and threats. Hence we commonly see SWOT (strengths, weak-nesses, opportunities, threats) analysis as a key component of the marketing planningprocess (see Figure 7.3).

In effect the SWOT matrix depicts the marketing strategy process through bringingtogether the external and internal evaluation of the organisation’s situation using infor-mation collected from the marketing audit. The process of strategy selection involved

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Chapter 7 Identifying marketing strategies 131

Figure 7.3 SWOT analysis

requires that the business tries to match its internal marketing opportunities with itsinternal strengths. Alternatively it should try to convert weaknesses into strengths andthreats into opportunities. Strategising around this is a key aspect of the marketingplanner’s task and needs to be undertaken through a full assessment of all the infor-mation gleaned through the marketing audit using a range of appropriate analysis toolsand techniques.


Choosing an appropriate strategy as a way of closing the planning gap means makinga series of complex decisions. Some of these decisions require a degree of subjectiveinput, some are made as the result of sudden insights, most will require discussion withcolleagues, and all involve an element of risk. In some cases, decisions are made inhaste, in other cases they can be deliberated over for some time in order to calculatean answer.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ The planning gap is the difference between what the company would like to havehappen and what will happen if the company changes nothing.

‘ Identifying the real problem often relies on managers’ subjective perceptions.

‘ Growth can be achieved by market penetration, entering new markets, developingnew products, or diversification.

‘ Winning strategies are cost leadership, differentiation, or niching. Trying tocombine these will result in failure.

‘ Value disciplines are operational excellence, customer intimacy and productleadership.

‘ Recessions can be good, if the organisation is well prepared.

‘ Entry to overseas markets can be incremental or eclectic.

‘ SWOT analysis is used to facilitate decisions about marketing strategy.

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Umar’s analysis had identified that the Slick Mower was potentiallyheading into the decline phase of the product life cycle. The referenceprojection for the company assumed that, within five years, this product would be obsolescent and therefore a prime candidate forbeing dropped from the range. This would leave only the hand toolsas the company’s cash cows, sales of which would almost certainly

be inadequate for maintaining profitability or indeed retaining credibility in the Eden GardenTools brand.

Another problem Umar had identified was the perception on the part of the staff that the company was a traditional, even old-fashioned one. The reason for this perception was unclear– possibly it arose mainly from the feeling that the company was run in an old-fashioned way,possibly it was because few new products had been introduced in recent years.

Stopping the decline would require some drastic action. The basic alternatives were to enternew markets, develop new products, diversify, or increase penetration in existing markets. Theaudit had shown that Eden Garden Tools had a high share of its markets due to the innovativenature of the products (relatively few direct competitors could match the features and benefitsEden Garden Tools was offering). This meant that increased penetration would be difficult orimpossible – Hugh pointed out that he was doing his best anyway and did not feel that JohnPeters would be able to do any better.

The management team decided that the company’s core competency lay in its ability to innov-ate, even though this had been on the back burner during the recession. The vision statementhad already emphasised this, and the group agreed that developing new products was the wayforward. The tree pruning saw was only one of many innovative products the firm would need,and the feeling of the group was that, even if the venture capitalists’ injection of cash did notmaterialise, the company needed to spruce up its product portfolio.

This in turn led to a decision about the company’s competitive position. Clearly a cost leader-ship position would be impossible, given that cheap gardening tools were coming in fromChina at prices lower than Eden Garden Tools could manufacture them. Although the currentcompetitive strength of the firm came (at least in part) from a focus strategy (supplying toolsfor women and disabled people), this approach had proved to be something of a dead end:there were no new markets to conquer.

The group decided that, if the company was to become a major player rather than a niche specialist, they would have to go the differentiation route.




Review questions

1 Why is it often difficult to identify the problems that create the planning gap?

2 Why is a combination strategy likely to fail?

3 What are the main benefits of recessions?

4 Explain the difference between the stages of development approach and Dunning’seclectic theory.

5 How might companies choose between different strategies when trying to close theplanning gap?

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Case study AeroMexico

Aerovias de Mexico S.A., operating as AeroMexico, is an airline based at Mexico City Airport.The airline runs extensive local services throughout Mexico itself and has subsidiary hubs atMonterrey and Hermosillo.

AeroMexico was founded in 1934, with one aircraft. The inaugural flight was from Mexico Cityto Acapulco, a distance of around 300 km. The company was helped a lot by Pan Am, whichowned 25 per cent of the fledgling airline, and after the Second World War AeroMexico grewby acquisition, buying out small airlines such as Aerovias Guest, which at that time owned theroutes to Paris and Madrid. Buying up war surplus Douglas DC-3s, the company was able toexpand rapidly and by the 1960s began replacing the piston-engined aircraft with fast jets suchas the Comet IV-C.

The company was nationalised for a while, along with all other Mexican airlines, but during the1980s it suffered a major setback following an accident in which a private plane collided withan AeroMexico airliner over Los Angeles, killing all 64 passengers and crew on the airliner andanother 15 people on the ground. The pilot of the private plane was blamed for the crash ashe had strayed into controlled airspace without permission – but the bad publicity bankruptedAeroMexico. In August 1988 the company was privatised and relaunched, with a commitmentto meet high standards of punctuality, trustworthiness and care in the use of the equipment,i.e. the aircraft. In fact, AeroMexico is the second most punctual airline in the world (after, per-haps surprisingly, Aeroflot). In the mid-1990s the company suffered some financial setbacks,and reformulated its approach to make its routes more productive and to generate greatershareholder value by maximising income and reducing operating costs. The company becamestructured into three market segments (beaches, businesses and borders) in order to competeeffectively with the new generation of low-cost airlines springing up. The main plank in this platform was the establishment of AeroMexico Connect, which uses small aircraft as ‘feeders’from regional airports such as La Paz and Vera Cruz to bring passengers into the main ‘hub’ airports of Mexico City and Monterrey. Connect operates in much the same way as any other low-cost airline – tickets are bought online and fares are determined mainly by demand:tickets from Mexico City to La Paz can be bought for as little as £10 (plus airport fees andtaxes).

Where Connect differs from other low-cost airlines is that passengers can choose from fourseparate fare deals, each one of which allows the passenger different facilities and rights tochange the fare or the route. This enables people to choose whether they want the cheapestfare with no frills, or to pay extra and have greater flexibility and comfort.

AeroMexico’s entry into overseas markets appears somewhat haphazard, with routes beinginherited from other companies and sometimes added or dropped arbitrarily. The route toMadrid is an obvious one for a Latin airline to choose, since so many Mexicans live in Spain andvice versa (in the same way as flights between New York and London are an obvious route forBritish and American airlines). However, the routes to Japan and China are less obvious, eventhough AeroMexico is the only Latin airline flying to the Far East at the time of writing.AeroMexico has scored well in sharing its frequent flyer programme with Air France, KLM and Delta. This naturally increases the links between these airlines and encourages through-ticketing whereby each airline can accept bookings for the others, thus covering routes whichwould otherwise not be feasible for any one of the members.


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Ansoff, H.I. (1965): Corporate Strategy (Harmondsworth: Penguin).

Clifford, D.K. and Cavanagh, R.E. (1985): The Winning Performance: How America’s High-and Midsize Growth Companies Succeed (New York: Bantam).

Dunning, J.H. (1993): The Globalisation of Business (London: Routledge).

Haines, D.W., Chandran, R. and Parkhe, A. (1989): Winning by being first to market – or last?Journal of Consumer Marketing, Winter pp 63–9.

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Harris, G. (1996): International advertising; developmental and implementational issues.Journal of Marketing Management, 12 pp 551–60.

Hennart, J.F., Roehl, T. and Zietlow, D.S. (1999): Trojan horse or workhorse? The evolutionof US–Japanese joint ventures in the United States. Strategic Management Journal, 20 pp 15–29.

Homburg, C., Krohmer, H. and Workman, Jr., J.P. (1999): Strategic consensus and per-formance: the role of strategy type and market-related dynamism. Strategic ManagementJournal, 20 (4) pp 339–57.

Porter, M.E. (1985): Competitive Advantage (New York: The Free Press).

Treacy, M. and Wiersema, F. (1993): Customer intimacy and other value disciplines. HarvardBusiness Review, January–February pp 84–93.


AeroMexico has had a somewhat chequered past, and given the current state of the world air-line industry probably has an equally problematic future. In the meantime, the company knowsits domestic market well and is making strong inroads into international markets.


1 What are the fundamental problems underlying AeroMexico’s future?

2 What model of internationalisation does AeroMexico appear to be following?

3 Which of Porter’s strategies is AeroMexico following?

4 Which value disciplines might work best for AeroMexico?

5 How might AeroMexico best grow its business?

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Part 3

Choosing the right group of customers to target is one sure way of usingresources wisely. Adopting a ‘scattergun’ approach in which marketing effortis spread across a wide range of customers is, however, a sure way of allowingcompetitors to gain the upper hand.

This section of the book considers segmentation, targeting and positioning indepth. Choosing the right way to segment the market, choosing the rightsegment to target, and then positioning the company against its competitorsin the customers’ perception will avoid squandering the firm’s resources onchasing people who have no interest in, or use for, the products on offer.

Chapter 8 considers strategic aspects of segmentation. Chapter 9 moves onto a more tactical viewpoint. Chapter 10 is about choosing which segments totarget, and Chapter 11 considers positioning.

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Chapter 8

Segmentation strategy

The senior management of the company (MikeWinton, Hugh Parris, Umar Sayeed and John Peters)met to consider the overall market the company wasin. Mike expressed the idea that the company was inthe gardening tools business, Hugh said they were inthe business of making life easier for gardeners, John

said they were in the business of moving engineering products, and Umar saidthey were in the business of improving the lives of several groups of people,including homeowners and disabled people.

After a certain amount of discussion among the team, they decided that Umarhad a point – there were several groups of people that the company served, outof a large overall market which might be defined in terms of ‘people who growplants, either because they like to or because they earn money doing it’. Thissomewhat clumsy definition of the market helped to clarify their thinking, butdid not help much in knowing what they should be doing on a day-to-day basis.What they needed to do was define their customers much more closely – inother words, segment their market.




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138 Part 3 Marketing strategy through segmentation

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Explain what is meant by the served market and outline its significance in planning.

‘ Describe the different levels at which segmentation works.

‘ Explain why people are prepared to pay more for a customised product, and whythe one-size-fits-all approach rarely works.

‘ Explain why multiple segmentation bases should be used.

‘ Describe the difference between strategic value of a segment and tactical value,and evaluate the trade-offs between them.

‘ Explain the components of product strategy.

‘ Describe the strategic functions of pricing.

‘ Explain the integration of the marketing mix in developing strategy.


Strategy is about where the company is going, as opposed to tactics, which is how thecompany is going to get there. In many companies, marketing is seen as an essentiallytactical tool, but marketing strategists believe that marketing should be the guidingprinciple of the business and therefore marketing strategy should also be the company’soverall strategy.

Whether or not marketing strategy and corporate strategy are identical, segmentationis a key factor in deciding in which direction the company is going. Segmentation is theprocess of dividing up the market according to customers’ needs, wants and behaviour.It is a crucial aspect of marketing because it indicates where resources can be bestdirected to achieve the company’s objectives.

Defining marketing boundaries

Segmentation is only one of several factors which define the boundaries of a market.For example, there are various ways of cooking a meal: gas cookers, electric cookers,microwave ovens, even electric kettles can be used to boil water for preparing instantnoodles. There are devices such as electric griddles, meths-fuelled fondue sets, and barbecues as well. Should all these products be lumped together as a single market, orcan they be separated out in some way? After all, most of us would not be able to copevery well if we could cook only on a barbecue or in a microwave.

Traditionally, markets have been defined in terms of product and market space(Srivastava et al. 1981). This leads us to talk about the car market, the book market, orthe housing market. Alternatively, we might define the market in terms of buyers, talk-ing about the motoring public, book buyers, or homeowners. In fact, these definitionsare not anywhere near precise enough for practical marketing in the complex world ofthe 21st century.


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An alternative approach, originally put forward by Abell (1980), looks at the marketfrom three dimensions: technology, customer function and customer group.Technology refers to the different ways the same function can be performed using different technologies. Using the cooking example, one can deep-fry fish and chips in a pan on an electric cooker, in a pan on a gas stove, or in a deep-fat fryer. In terms ofthe end result for the customer, the differences are small – other factors such as the typeof cooking oil used will be a great deal more important.

Customer function refers to the end result for the customer. In the cooking example,the end result of using all three methods of deep frying is a meal, but there is more toit in the sense that some methods are messier or smellier, or more expensive in termsof fuel use. The customer function is what provides the overall range of customer benefits.

Customer group is what is also referred to as a market segment. It is a group of peoplewith similar needs and characteristics. These groups can be targeted by companies withthe necessary technology to provide a customer function.

A market might be defined by any combination of these three factors. For example, an electronics manufacturer such as Samsung has moved from supplying televisionsand radios to supplying microwave ovens; the technology is similar, even though thecustomer function and customer group are different from those the company hasaddressed in the past. The market boundary for Samsung is defined by electronic tech-nology, cooking function and customers with the money, the desire and the need for a fast way of heating food. (Customers might be defined even more tightly, of course –since many people use microwaves mainly for reheating pre-prepared food, the marketboundary on that dimension might be defined as people who can’t cook.)

As markets evolve, the boundaries may very well need to be restated. New technologywill change the boundaries, as will changing customer need and the changing profile ofthe segments. New customer groups might enter the market (microwaves were origin-ally owned only by the wealthy – it was some time before they became cheap enoughfor everyone to own one) and some customers might leave the segment permanently,either because they move on to a better solution for their needs or because the need nolonger exists.

This leads to the concept of the served market. The served market is the parts of theoverall market that the company is able to serve, in other words the amount of marketshare the company can realistically capture. The served market is usually a lot smallerthan the total market, because of lack of resources and presence of competition. Thedecision about which parts of the market to serve is based on the following criteria(Jain 2000):

l The managers’ perception of which product function and technology groupings canbest be protected and dominated.

l Internal resource limitations that force a narrow focus.

l Cumulative trial-and-error experience in reacting to threats and opportunities.

l Unusual competencies stemming from access to scarce resources or protected markets.

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140 Part 3 Marketing strategy through segmentation

In practice, of course, the decisions are not likely to be made in such a calculated manner. Managers end up making decisions in various ad-hoc ways, with limited infor-mation and time pressures added to the mix. Strategically, the choice of served marketmight be based on the following possibilities:

1 Breadth of product line. The company might specialise in a particular technologywith a broad range of product uses. For example, an electronics manufacturer mightproduce everything from radios to guided missile systems – the silicon chips used forvideo games might well be the same ones used for missile guidance systems. A firmmight equally specialise in product use, using a wide range of technologies – forexample, a firm might specialise in security equipment and offer locks, burglaralarms, security shutters, window bars, security doors, and so forth. Specialising ina single technology with a narrow range of uses is another option, especially for a small, science-based firm – for example, biohazard detection systems using live animals is a highly specialised business. Firms might specialise in a broad range ofrelated technologies and uses, or might (finally) have a broad range of quality andprice levels.

2 Types of customer. The firm might target a single segment or multiple segments,offering either an undifferentiated or a differentiated treatment.

3 Geographic scope. This could be local or regional, national, or multinational.

4 Level of production. This could be raw or semi-finished materials, finished prod-ucts, or wholesale or retail distribution.

For most marketers, the firm’s technology is a given factor beyond the control of themarketing department, at least in the short term. Equally, the customer function aspectis beyond the control of the marketer (although it is possible to decide which customerfunction we intend to address). This means that the main strategic area the marketerswill be involved in will be in dealing with segmentation.

Strategic issues in segmentation

The main strategic problem in segmentation lies in choosing the most appropriate basison which to divide the market. It is easy to make a wrong assumption when choosing asegmentation base. The classic example is nightclubs, which were assumed to be aimedmainly at a segment of young people, so the market was segmented according to age.In fact, nightclubs are used by single people, most of whom are likely to be young, butmany of whom are divorced or widowed and looking for a new partner. The result ofthis insight was the over-30s, over-40s and even over-50s nights which are now a reg-ular part of the nightclub scene.

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The same can be true of industrial market segmentation. It may appear that a marketsegments according to the industry the customers are in, whereas in fact it segmentsaccording to the end use of the product. For example, it may be the case that the fishingindustry uses a particular type of heavy-weather protective clothing, and thus the manu-facturer segments the market according to industry, whereas in fact the clothing mightbe equally appropriate for other outdoor workers or even hikers.

Segmentation operates at four levels, as follows:

1 Mass marketing. This is not really segmentation at all – the firm simply producessomething that a very large number of people will want, then produces it in vastquantities at very low prices. Clothing items such as baseball caps and T-shirts fallinto this category. In the 21st century, this approach is all but impossible to carryout, since consumer expectations have shifted and people want products which aremore nearly tailored to personal needs. Also, there are very few products whicheveryone wants – and most of those are already in production, meaning that com-panies in those markets are forced to compete on price.

2 Segmented markets. At this level, the marketers have identified substantial groupsof people with similar needs, and have also identified a means to satisfy those needs.The company will choose which segments to target, and can direct resources in themost efficient way, at the same time reducing competition.

3 Niche marketing. Typically, this approach is carried out by companies with verylimited resources or with very high levels of expertise in a given area. Niche mar-keters focus on a small sub-set of a segment, offering carefully targeted products.The advantage is that these sub-sets are often too small to be economic for a largefirm to tackle, so there is unlikely to be strong competitive pressure. The small firmis therefore able to carve out a comfortable living and can often charge premiumprices for what is, after all, a specialist service.

4 Micromarketing. At this level the company tailors its products to the exact require-ments of each customer. Two hundred years ago, this was how almost all products

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All very well saying that it is easy to get the segmentation base wrong, but howdo we know we are getting it right? If business is good and we have a nightclubfull of young people, why should we care that the market is defined as a singlemarket rather than a young market? In any case, it’s more likely the bouncers willbe excluding people who appear to be too young (under age) rather than peoplewho are obviously a bit older.

If somebody else comes along and opens a nightclub for the over-30s, why shouldthat affect us? After all, young people won’t want to go to a club that’s got areputation for being full of old people! The big question, at the end of the day, iswhether we need to worry about segmentation at all. In the words of the KevinCostner movie Field of Dreams, ‘Build it, and they will come’. If we offer what weoffer, those who like what we offer will spend their money with us, surely?

Or maybe it’s about directing our advertising better?


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were made. Each customer would commission a craftsman to make somethingexactly to order, whether it was a pair of boots or a bed frame. Micromarketing usesmodern production techniques to create tailored products – for example, the opti-cian chain Vision Express manufactures spectacle lenses on-site in each of its shops,so that customers can have an eye test, choose suitable frames and walk out with tailor-made glasses within an hour. Unfortunately, many people are not prepared topay the premium prices necessary to cover the increased cost of such a service(Bardacki and Whitelock 2004).

In general, people are prepared to pay more for a more customised product, but thereare limits. Since most firms operate in global markets, the economies of scale involvedin manufacturing a wide range of products mean that most people are able to findalmost-perfect products without too much difficulty. At the same time, there is a greatdeal more choice of supplier, so marketers who do not treat their customers as individ-uals, with individual needs and wants, will find themselves losing business.

For a larger firm, the degree to which the company will cover a given market is a strate-gic issue. Abell (1980) offered five basic strategies for market coverage, as shown inTable 8.1.

Table 8.1 Market coverage strategies


Product/market concentration

Product specialisation

Market specialisation

Selective specialisation

Full coverage


This is niche marketing by anothername. The company chooses a small,specific group of customers with veryspecial needs.

The firm produces a full line of aspecific product type.

The company produces everything thata specific group of customers needs.

The firm enters selective niches thatare not closely related but areprofitable.

The firm enters every possiblesegment of its potential market.


Pickfords heavy haulage is a company whichspecialises in moving unusual loads such as largemachinery. It has a fleet of special lorries, contactswith the police, and an in-depth knowledge of the road system (for example, where there are lowbridges or tight corners which would prevent theload from passing).

Campbell’s produces soup almost to the exclusionof everything else.

Titleist produces everything a golfer needs, fromclubs to balls to golfing clothing.

British Telecom sells telephone services to privateindividuals and businesses, and also sells sparecapacity on its satellites to TV stations.

Honda produces every possible form of privatetransport, from light motorcycles to cars, includingoff-road quad bikes and sports motorcycles.

Strategic evaluation of segments

Correct identification of the segments means that marketers can meet the needs of the segment members much more effectively than the competition can. The segment

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will be profitable provided customers are prepared to pay a sufficiently large premiumto cover the extra costs of producing a more tailored product. These costs can be substantial, since narrowing down the segment means a smaller number of potentialcustomers.

The strategic potential of a segment goes beyond its immediate tactical value (seeFigure 8.1). Simply choosing the segment which offers the highest immediate profitlevel is far from adequate. A given segment may have potential in many other ways, asfollows:

1 The segment may have future potential. For example, some airlines target youngbackpackers taking a year out before going to university, since these people will(eventually) become professional people who may well travel business class. Thesame applies to some fast-food restaurants – McDonald’s notoriously targets chil-dren, even though the margins on children’s meals are relatively low and childrenare likely to be more troublesome than adults in the restaurants.

2 The segment may have influence over other segments. Celebrities are an obviousexample, but in the business-to-business world it is common for some companies to have influence or even power over others. For example, when Westinghouseinvented air brakes for trains, it targeted a railroad which operated out of Chicagoand persuaded it to fit the system. This meant that any other railroad companywhich intended to run trains through Chicago needed to adopt the same system inorder to be compatible with other trains.

3 The segment may open the door to a market for other products in the range.People who look for a cheap computer printer will need to buy ink cartridges, andlikewise people who buy computers are likely to be in the market for software of various types.

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Figure 8.1 Strategic assessment of segments

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144 Part 3 Marketing strategy through segmentation

Evaluating segments

Segments can be evaluated against a number of criteria, both internal and external, as follows:

1 Immediate profit. A segment which will show a quick profit is, at first sight, attract-ive. However, managers need to be aware that competitors are likely to enter themarket since the segment will appear profitable to them as well. This may not be a major problem, but does require special preparation.

2 Sustainability. This is the degree to which the segment will retain its members inthe longer term. In consumer markets, there are relatively few segments that remainsustainable long term because individuals pass through various life stages, and in any case fashions alter – the market for top hats is now very limited, whereas a century ago the market was substantial. Business markets tend to be more stablein the long run, because business needs change at a slower rate.

3 Future potential. The segment may be growing in size, or it may be growing inspending power.

4 Current size. The greater the number of customers in the segment, the less import-ant each individual customer becomes. This allows the company the possibility ofmaking a few mistakes – if it has only one potential customer for the products onoffer, the risk becomes very high, in part because the potential customer may notagree to buy anything, and in part because the potential customer will wield a dis-proportionate amount of negotiating power.

5 Current spending power. If the segment members are financially robust, the segment appears attractive. This consideration applies in both business-to-businessmarkets and consumer markets (although marketers need to bear in mind thatwealthy individuals are often extremely careful about how they spend their money).In business markets, it may be the case that a particular segment is cash-rich due to special circ*mstances such as a rise in commodity prices (e.g. oil companies) orinterest rates (e.g. banks).

6 Fit with the firm’s strategic objectives. The degree to which the segment will helpthe company towards its ultimate strategic objective will influence the decision.Otherwise, it would be too easy for the firm to waste resources chasing segmentswhich may be profitable in themselves, but which simply serve to blur the firm’sfocus and reduce its competitive edge.

7 Fit with the firm’s core competencies. The closer the needs of the segment fit withthe company’s capacity to meet those needs, the more likely it is that the segmentwill be viable for the firm.

8 Fit with the firm’s vision and mission. In some cases, a segment might raise ethical issues, or may simply not fit well with the firm’s vision of itself and its future.This differs from having a poor fit with the firm’s immediate strategic objectives – it implies a general malaise with the segment, a feeling that this would be a poormarriage.

It should be possible to create a scoring system for evaluating segments, but in practicesuch systems inevitably rely on managerial judgement.

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Marketing strategies for marketing objectives

Marketing strategies exist as a means towards meeting corporate objectives. Each ofthe 7Ps has a strategic dimension, and each of these dimensions has implications forreaching objectives. This section examines some of the implications.


Product strategy falls into two sections: new product development strategy and port-folio management strategy. New product development is driven by innovation object-ives, which in turn are driven by the corporate vision. In some cases, the company willsee itself as wishing to be at the forefront of technology (e.g. 3M or Sony), where inother cases the company sees itself as exploiting existing technology more effectively.

Basic innovation strategies are as follows:

1 Imitative. Here the company simply copies an existing product. This strategy meansthat the company can be reasonably sure of finding a market, because the productalready exists: capturing a section of an existing market is clearly advantageous.Provided the product also has marketing or production synergies (or both), it islikely to succeed, but without these it is likely to fail (Calentone and Cooper 1981).The biggest drawback of this strategy is that it almost inevitably implies competingon price, which of course reduces profits.

2 Defensive. This strategy means that the company copies an existing product, butmakes some improvements or at least changes it enough to differentiate it. Again,the company may end up competing on price, but it may very well have a productthat overcomes some of the drawbacks of the first-to-market product, and of coursethe company will not have incurred anything like the development costs that theinnovating company had to invest. Often a defensive strategy comes about becausethe company is threatened by new competition and is forced to produce somethingwhich offers similar benefits – for example, when low-cost airlines began to makeserious inroads into traditional routes flown by major flag-carrier airlines, the flagcarriers often started their own low-cost subsidiaries. Such products are often called‘me-too’ products.

3 Offensive. Here the company takes pride in being the first to market with truly new-to-the-world products. This implies a heavy investment in research and develop-ment, and also making considerable efforts to protect the intellectual property of thecompany, but it does have the advantage that the firm might capture the whole ofthe market.

4 Dependent. A dependent strategy means that the firm produces new products onlywhen told to by a customer. This often happens in business-to-business markets,where (for example) a small firm supplies a much larger firm. The small firm mightbe asked to supply components made to a particular specification as a result of thelarge firm bringing out a new model.

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5 Traditional. This strategy is not innovative at all. The company simply produces olddesigns, either because it has always produced them or because the products aretried and tested and need no improvement. For example, tin-opener technology hashardly changed in 100 years. Equally, some companies take pride in continuing toproduce items that have been in their portfolio almost since the company began –the Acme Whistle Company still markets the same whistles that were supplied toofficers on the Titanic, and manages to make a very good business of it.

6 Opportunistic. This strategy involves marketing new inventions. Most inventionsare technology-driven rather than market-driven, so they often fail to find a market,but occasionally something will come along that succeeds in capturing a segment.The clockwork radio (invented by Trevor Bayliss and marketed by his companyBaygen is one such example). Companies operating on an opportunistic basis wouldusually have to take on a lot of new products to obtain a relatively few successes –but such a strategy can provide all the advantages of the offensive strategy withoutthe up-front development costs (which have mainly been borne by the inventor).

In recent years, the traditional strategy has received a boost due to the interest in ‘retro’products. 1950s-style household appliances and radios have been launched, and ofcourse the car industry is full of examples – the new Volkswagen Beetle, the MiniCooper and the Chrysler PSV are all revived designs which have done well in the market.

Whether a new product should go ahead or not rests on four decision dimensions(Carbonell-Foulquie et al. 2004). These are as follows:

1 Strategic fit. This is the degree to which the new product will take the companynearer to where it plans to be in the future. Specifically, this will rest on whether theproduct is effective in meeting the needs of a specific segment the company wishesto target.

2 Technical feasibility. This is about offering the product as part of a portfolio, as wellas the question of whether the product can be made economically. If making theproduct will detract from the production of other products in the range, it may notbe feasible to go ahead.

3 Customer acceptance. Many products are launched each year which fail to find aplace in the market. Obviously no marketer should consider launching a productwhich does not meet a specific need better than the products which are already available, but people do make mistakes – it is far from uncommon for managers tofall in love with a product to the extent that they lose sight of the fact that no one elseloves it.

4 Market opportunity. This is about the level of competition the firm is likely to meetand other factors in the external environment. Careful monitoring of the externalenvironment will help to inform this decision, but the main elements are the cus-tomers and the competitors because these make up the market.

5 Financial performance. This does not necessarily mean profit, but firms do have toshow an overall profit if they are going to stay in the game. If a product can never beprofitable, the firm does need to consider whether it should be launched at all – onlyan overwhelming strategic argument in favour of launch could make it worthwhile.

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Ultimately, it is customer acceptance that is the deciding factor. If customers cannotaccept the product, launching it is a waste of time and effort. Almost everything elsecan be overcome if customers like the product.

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Launching new products seems to be pretty risky, one way or another. It’sexpensive to develop a new product, it’s expensive to launch it, products caneasily be copied by other firms and even then the customers might not buy it. So why bother?

Is it some kind of ego trip on the part of the company’s directors? Is it a view thatwe need to do something the competitors aren’t doing? Is it about obsolescenceof existing products? Of course, if no one ever produced anything new, the horsewould still be the quickest way of getting from one cave to another, but why risk it?

Maybe we should find out how many estate agents are making a living fromselling caves, though. People like new products – but should we be the ones whorisk launching them?


Portfolio management strategy

Few, if any, companies have only one product to sell. Almost all have several productsin the portfolio, so they need to decide how to allocate resources between the variousproducts.

The classic model for doing this is the 1970 Boston Consulting Group Matrix, whichsought to trade off market share and rate of growth of the market to decide whether a product was worth keeping. In fact, the Boston Consulting Group now say that the model was never intended to be used in this way, and that it was more about theattractiveness of markets than about the viability of products. Having said that, themodel is widely quoted.

In the diagram, a product with a high share of a rapidly growing market is categorisedas a star. This product is probably not profitable yet, but it will be eventually – at pres-ent it is fighting off competitors and having a lot spent on its growth.

A product with a large share of a low-growth market is a cash cow. This is because itrequires very little marketing input: other firms are not very interested in entering themarket because it is not growing, so occasional reminder advertising will usuallysuffice to keep the product in the market. Meanwhile the product can be ‘milked’ forcash to fund others in the portfolio.

A product with a small share of a high-growth market is a problem child or questionmark. This product is worrying because it is getting left behind by other people’s stars. Many managers make the error of believing that year-on-year growth in sales ofa product mean that it is a success; in fact, if the market is growing faster than growthin sales of the product, the company is falling behind. Building market share is likely to be difficult, since other products are better established, so adapting the product maybe necessary. The difficulty for marketers lies in working out why the product is notsucceeding when others like it are – hence the ‘problem child’ label.

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148 Part 3 Marketing strategy through segmentation

Finally, a product with a small share of a low-growth market is called a dog. The impli-cation is that the product has failed and should be dropped. Obviously there may bestrategic reasons (or even sentimental reasons) for keeping an old brand that has beensuperseded, but the theory is that such products should not be kept in the portfolio.

The BCG Matrix considers only markets which are growing. However, markets do notalways grow – as the financial crisis of 2008 demonstrated. In 1982, during an earlierrecession, Barksdale and Harris (1982) added two more categories to the BCG Matrix(see Figure 8.2). These were the warhorse, which has a large share of a shrinking market, and the dodo, which has a small share of a shrinking market. There wouldappear to be no imaginable justification for keeping a dodo in the portfolio, but a warhorse might conceivably have some worth since it is extremely unlikely to needmuch, if any, marketing expenditure and can therefore be allowed to fade away whileproviding a cash flow, much like a cash cow.

Figure 8.2 Expanded BCG Matrix

There are several difficulties with this type of analysis, however. First, the categoriesare arbitrary: whether a share is ‘high’ or ‘low’ demands judgement on the part of themanager. The same applies to growth rates. Second, the purpose of the portfolio manage-ment exercise is to allocate resources more effectively. If there are no current outlets for resources (for example, the manager has underspent the budget), the company maywell feel that it is worthwhile taking a risk with a cash cow or a problem child.However, a sudden drop in available resources (perhaps because business is worsethan was expected) might mean that a promising star has to be cut from the portfolio.


Price is more than just a way of getting money in. Price signals the quality of the prod-uct and can help in positioning (see Chapter 11). Setting the right price is one thing;having the right pricing strategy is another.

Pricing strategies fall into the following categories:

1 Price skimming. This means charging a high price initially, then steadily reducing itas competitors enter the market and the company’s intellectual property wears thin.In some markets price skimming has become so commonplace that consumers willwait until the price falls. The home electronics market is one such example.

Source: Barksdale and Harris, 1982.

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2 Demand pricing. This means setting the price at a level that the market will bear, inother words a price level that people see as good value for money, but which returnsa profit to the firm.

3 Price penetration. Here the company sets the price low in order to capture a largepart of the market before competitors can respond. This strategy is extremely dangerous – it can easily trigger a price war, in which only the firm with the deepestpockets will come out the winner.

4 Customary pricing. This strategy means that the price stays the same but the product gradually shrinks. This is the way telephone companies price calls from public call boxes. The strategy avoids the necessity of resetting the boxes every timethe price of a call goes up.

Strategic pricing means setting prices according to the characteristics of the target segment. Being the cheapest product in the market is not usually a very good strategyto follow – apart from the profit implications, it signals poor quality. Most companiesconcentrate on representing good value for money to their chosen segments, ratherthan aiming to be cheap.


Distribution strategy is concerned with getting the products to the right place at theright time and in the right quantity. Distribution should aim to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy the product – the more convenient the distribution is forcustomers, the more likely they are to buy.

Since distribution covers so many different possibilities in terms of routes to market,the strategic plan needs to consider the needs of channel members. Clearly a channelmember might be extremely concerned if the company does something which mightundermine the channel member’s position in any way. Channel strategy is determinedby the following:

1 Convenience for target customer groups.

2 Cost – which includes making an allowance for the profit margins of channel members.

3 Need for speed in getting products to market.

4 Need for reliability of distribution.

Note that there are trade-offs involved here: greater speed to market and/or greaterreliability of distribution will involve extra costs.


Developing an appropriate strategy for a product or company is likely to lead to adegree of integration of promotional tools. Planning a promotional campaign is a majorundertaking in itself – there are many considerations to take into account, especially interms of customer needs, likes and dislikes.

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Promotion strategy is concerned with the following aspects:

1 The message platform, in other words the basic message to be conveyed.

2 Media choice.

3 Branding.

4 Choosing the correct promotional tools.

5 Deciding the degree of integration of the promotional mix.

6 Budgeting.


Employing, training and motivating the right people has strategic implications. If the company expects people to act on their initiative, for example, this implies hiringpeople who like to make their own decisions, training them to know what they can andcannot do, and ensuring that they do not become demotivated if their decisions are lessthan perfect.

People who are in the ‘front line’, i.e. those who meet customers on a regular basis, areobviously extremely important from a marketing viewpoint since (for the customers)they are the company. Having said that, other people in the firm will affect the customer experience – even people such as accounts department staff who prepareinvoices. Everyone within the firm has some role in generating customer satisfaction,but in service-oriented businesses staff become even more important, since not only arethey the company, they are often also the product.


Especially in service industries, the process by which benefits are delivered to con-sumers is part of the overall package. From a strategic viewpoint, planners need todecide what the delivery process needs to be in order to meet customer needs mosteffectively. Process decisions revolve around the following:

1 Convenience for the customer.

2 Cost.

3 Reliability.

4 Corporate competencies – the degree to which the company is able to carry out a specific process.

As with all other strategic decisions, cost and overall effectiveness will come into play,as will competitive pressures. Often the process is what differentiates a company.McDonald’s differentiated itself by the speed with which the food was delivered, untilother fast-food companies developed similar systems.

Physical evidence

The tangible elements in the product mix can be the biggest differentiators. In the caseof a physical product, this is clearly the case, but it can also be true of service productssuch as restaurants or hairdressing salons. Such businesses need to look clean, efficient

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and welcoming, and may well provide physical souvenirs of a visit – an appointmentcard for next time, or a gift to take home.

Planning for physical evidence may be constrained by the available premises and bycustomer expectations – clearly a business buyer would not expect a lollipop after making a purchase of wheel nuts.

Finally, marketing planning will also encompass the combination of the 7Ps to createan overall package – the marketing offering.


Strategic approaches to market segments involve choosing the segment, then choosingwhich of a range of possible strategies can be used to approach the segment. The choiceof segment depends on a number of strategic issues, one of which is, of course, the easewith which the segment can be approached with a suitable marketing mix strategy.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ The served market is the parts of the overall market that the company canrealistically serve the needs of.

‘ Segmentation operates at four levels: mass markets, segmented markets, nichemarkets and micromarketing.

‘ People are prepared to pay more for a customised product.

‘ The segmentation base is critical: one base for segmentation is unlikely to be sufficient.

‘ Strategic potential for a segment may go well beyond its immediate tactical value.

‘ Product strategy comprises new product development (NPD) and portfoliomanagement.

‘ Price has many strategic functions other than generating income.

‘ The marketing mix needs to be seen as a strategic whole.

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The company’s overall strategy would be one of segmented market-ing rather than mass marketing or niche marketing. The firm’sresources could not possibly stretch to mass marketing, nor could thecompany produce mass-market products: its competencies clearlylay in producing innovative products for specialist segments.

The served market for Eden Garden Tools had clearly been thehobby gardener, but now the company was planning on moving into a new market with thepruning saw. Commercial growers and professional tree surgeons would need an entirely newapproach – but the strategic fit, financial viability, technical feasibility and market opportunityall seemed to make this worthwhile. Strategically, the team felt that the new product mighthelp reposition the firm in the commercial arena, as well as open up further opportunities togo global with a technically superior product.

The only real problem was a lack of marketing synergy for the new product – it would need to gothrough new channels, to a whole new customer base about which little was known. Meanwhile,the team was still no nearer to defining its market, since it had yet to make a clear segmentation.




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Review questions

1 What is the relationship between price and customisation?

2 Why is mass marketing unlikely to be a successful strategy?

3 Why might a company target an unprofitable segment?

4 What are the problems in using matrix models for portfolio management?

5 How might a company calculate the size of the served market?

Case study Boutique Caravans

Caravanning has been a part of the British holiday scene since the 1920s. The idea of towing a mobile home behind your car and heading out onto the open road is apparently as appealingnow as it has ever been, despite legislation limiting caravan owners to licensed caravan sites.

However, there has been something of a shift in the market in recent years. Although there isstill a market for the traditional lace-curtained caravan, many older people are selling theirhouses, selling off their possessions or giving the family heirlooms to their children and settingup home in a caravan instead. In some cases, people are buying caravans to travel, heading offaround Europe or further afield to follow the sun and have a few adventures before making theinevitable trip to the care home, but in other cases downsizing to a static caravan on a caravanpark frees up the equity in their houses so that they can have more spending power.

During 2009, as the pound weakened against foreign currencies and the recession began to bite, more and more people began to look at having their holidays in the UK rather thantravelling abroad. This meant an increase in the number of people taking up caravanning, especially among 30- and 40-somethings, many of whom have young families.

Into this market has stepped Dick Shone, founder of Boutique Caravans. ‘There are people of my generation, approaching 50, whose main asset is their house, who are thinking aboutdownsizing to park homes for retirement. But when I looked at what was on offer, the aestheticwas rather old-fashioned,’ says Shone, an art publisher. He set about rethinking the originalconcept of the caravan and came up with the Indy home. This is a caravan with a difference,more like the inside of a penthouse suite than a caravan. Its super-insulated wood and glassinterior has full-size beds, state-of-the-art top-brand kitchens, power showers, underfloor heat-ing and a sophisticated ventilation system. The Indy is intended as a static caravan, but can beused as an office, a home extension, or a summer house. Parking a caravan like the Indy doesnot usually require planning permission, and it can be delivered on a truck and be ready tomove into in a single day. The caravans are not cheap, of course – from £40,000 for a very basicversion, to more than £70,000 for the top-of-the-range version.

Shone is hoping to find a suitable piece of land to develop into an Indy park. This would be on the south coast of the UK, convenient for weekenders from London or for more permanentresidents. The aim is to promote caravan holidays as being as luxurious as being at home – people no longer want to ‘rough it’ on holiday, especially if they are travelling with children.Old-fashioned caravans carry the image of being cold, noisy when it rains, inconvenient anduncomfortable; Dick Shone aims to break the mould.

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Other companies are tapping into the ‘new’ caravanning market. T@B Caravans are touring caravans with a difference – smart, modernistic pods that are ultra-lightweight and can there-fore be towed behind very small cars. The interiors still have king-size beds and enough spaceto seat five adults (although the caravan sleeps only two). T@B caravans even have an electricwindow so that the owners can sleep under the stars if they want to. The slightly larger versionscan be fitted with a leather sofa, flat-screen TV, DVD player, gas fire, underfloor heating and aretro ‘diner’ area.

For years, caravanning has suffered from childhood memories of holidays spent sitting in acold, damp, smelly caravan listening to the rain hammering on the roof and playing boardgames around a Formica table. Modern caravan producers are seeking to break the mould,attracting Generation X families to the new touring caravan and well-off Baby Boomers to theluxury static market. Boutique Caravans and T@B are at the sharp end of this new wave.


1 How might Boutique Caravans define its served market?

2 How does the caravan market appear to segment?

3 At what level of segmentation is Boutique Caravans operating?

4 What is the role of price in the company’s thinking?

5 Why would Shone want to develop a special park dedicated to Indy caravans?

Abell, D.F. (1980): Defining the Business: The Starting Point of Strategic Planning(Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).

Bardacki, A. and Whitelock, J. (2004): How ready are customers for mass customisation? Anexploratory investigation. European Journal of Marketing, 38 (11/12) pp 1396–416.

Barksdale, H.C. and Harris, C.E. (1982): Portfolio analysis and the PLC. Long Range Planning,15 (6) pp 74–83.

Calentone, R.J. and Cooper, R.G. (1981): New product scenarios: prospects for success.American Journal of Marketing, Spring (45) pp 48–60.

Carbonell-Foulquie, P., Munuera-Aleman, J.L. and Rodriguez-Escudero, A.I. (2004): Criteriaemployed for go/no-go decisions when developing successful highly-innovative products.Industrial Marketing Management, 33 (4) pp 307–16.

Jain, S.C. (2000): Marketing Planning and Strategy (Cincinnati, Ohio: South-Western CollegePublishing).

Srivastava, R.K., Leone, R.P. and Shocker, A.D. (1981): Market structure analysis: hierarchicalclustering of products based on substitution-in-use. Journal of Marketing, 45 (Summer) pp 38–44.


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Chapter 9

Segmenting markets

Choosing the right segmentation strategy was onething, choosing the right base or bases was somethingelse again. Identifying groups of customers with similarneeds was potentially a minefield, since the companyhad no market research of its own telling managementwhat the existing customer base needed or did not need.

This meant that the senior management team had to rely on secondary data,and on looking at surrogates such as sales of other products with a similar poten-tial market. Umar Sayeed was desperate to get some solid data on the currentcustomer base, but there simply was not enough cash in the budget to carry outthe necessary market research. All the company had to go on was an incompletedatabase of returned warranty cards, but since around two-thirds of consumersdid not bother sending in the cards (especially if their purchase was a hand tool,where the cost is relatively low and the reliability relatively high), this was farfrom being an adequate basis for research.

The company was therefore shooting in the dark, relying on experience andhearsay rather than solid data. This was not a good place for Umar to be.




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156 Part 3 Marketing strategy through segmentation

Objectives After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Describe the main bases for segmenting markets, and identify some sub-bases.

‘ Explain the difference between a priori and a posteriori segmentation.

‘ Explain why some segmentation bases are unreliable.

‘ Explain the role of behaviour in segmentation.

‘ Describe the nested approach to segmentation in business-to-business markets.


Segmentation is the process of dividing up the market into groups of customers withsimilar needs. The purpose of the exercise is to channel the firm’s resources into areaswhere they will do the most to generate competitive advantage. Segmentation is neces-sary because firms all have limited resources: it is not possible to please everybody, somanagers have to decide which groups of customers will be the most beneficial (notalways the most profitable) for the firm.

Choosing a base for segmenting the market is not as simple as it might appear at first.

Segmenting the market

Effective segmentation, like anything else in marketing, begins with developing a goodunderstanding of customers’ needs and wants. Sometimes this comes about from directexperience of dealing with people, sometimes it is the result of good market research.Either way, knowing which are the key issues that divide and unite people is essential.In practice, segmentation follows three stages:

1 Develop an understanding of the various customers in the whole market. It israrely possible to have a perfect knowledge of everyone’s needs, but the greater one’sknowledge, the better the chances of finding a previously unidentified segment.

2 Group customers according to their needs, behaviours and characteristics.Identifying the most relevant characteristics is the difficult part of segmentation –whether people have red hair or not is unlikely to be a useful factor for a car manu-facturer, but might be crucial for a hair cosmetics manufacturer.

3 Select the groups to be targeted. Rejecting some groups as being unprofitable ordifficult to deal with is an important part of targeting – managers need to decidewhich groups of customers are undesirable, since this is a way of minimising thewaste of resources that servicing such groups would entail. For example, a groupmight be geographically distant despite being desirable in other ways, or might simply be unlikely to pay the prices the company needs to charge.

There are many possible bases for segmenting markets, but in consumer markets they fall into three main categories: behavioural factors, psychographic factors and

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profile factors. These general groupings are not mutually exclusive, and in fact it is verylikely that firms will use several different segmentation bases at once to refine theiranalysis of the market. Use of one base alone is likely to be too crude for the complexmarkets most companies face.

Figure 9.1 shows a possible segmentation of the market for motor vehicles, based onproduct type. The customer types are drawn somewhat crudely, however, and it wouldbe better to begin by identifying a particular group of customers and deciding whattype of vehicle they might find useful. For example, quad bikes were originallyintended as a fun, sports vehicle; they are now frequently used by cattle ranchers inAustralia and the United States instead of horses.

Figure 9.1 Segmentation of the motor vehicle market

In industrial markets, segmentation bases fall into two main groupings: a priori, orbefore the fact, approaches which consider factors which can be identified throughresearch, and a posteriori, or after the fact, approaches which identify factors whichhave become apparent only after starting to deal with the customers.

In the first instance, we will look at segmentation in consumer markets.

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Behavioural segmentation

If we can segment a market according to people’s behaviour we have (at first sight) a very straightforward base for decision making. A firm manufacturing golf clubs, for example, needs to know only that its customers play golf. Anyone who plays is a potential customer for the product, so (on the face of it) the company already has itssegmentation and targeting strategy in place. In practice, though, the market segmentsfurther: some golfers are beginners, who may not want to spend a lot on a set of clubs,while others might be championship players, who are prepared to spend very highlyindeed. Some golfers play frequently, some less often, some play on courses which tendto favour particular types of club, and so forth. So far these all fit within behaviouralsegmentation – but some golfers are influenced by celebrity endorsem*nt while othersare not, and some golfers rely on the advice of their club professional while others donot. These are psychographic variables.

The main behavioural bases for segmentation are as follows:

1 Benefits sought. In some cases, people are looking for practical benefits, somemight be seeking the prestige that comes from owning an upmarket product, whileothers might be looking for the hedonic (pleasurable) aspects of using the product.Sampson (1992) called these people functionality seekers, image seekers and pleas-ure seekers respectively.

2 Purchase occasion. For some customers, the product might be a gift for someoneelse (it has been said that, in the UK at least, the bulk of after-shave lotion is sold to women). In other cases, the product might be purchased for own use. Purchaseoccasion may mean buying different versions of a similar product at different times– the traveller who stays in a four-star hotel on a business trip may prefer a tradi-tional old bed-and-breakfast when having a weekend break at the seaside. A restau-rant that one goes to when one is too tired to cook may not be the same one chosenfor a special celebration.

3 Purchase behaviour. This covers a lot of possibilities. Some people shop onlinebecause they find it convenient and time saving, others because they find it easier toseek out bargains. Some people enjoy browsing in second-hand shops for bargains;such people are not necessarily poorer than those who shop in mainstream stores.Brand loyalty is also part of purchase behaviour – brand switchers simply pick up thecheapest, or the one on special offer, whereas brand loyalists will seek out theirfavourite brands.

4 Usage. People may be heavy users, medium users, light users, ex-users or non-users.Finding out why people have become ex-users or non-users can be very useful for acompany. Often, ex-users represent the most lucrative market since they are alreadyfamiliar with the product. In recent years, customer winback has become of increas-ing importance to firms. What many marketers try to do is target heavy users andlure them away from competing firms. This is problematical, however, because therewill undoubtedly be resistance from the competitor. A better tactic might be toencourage light users up to being medium users, and medium users to heavy users,while re-recruiting ex-users.

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5 Buyer readiness stage. All buyers go through a series of stages before reaching thefinal purchase decision. Some people may be unaware that the product exists,whereas others may be at the point of making a decision. Although the buyer readi-ness stage does not affect the product offering itself, it certainly does affect the typeof communication the firm might need to use. For major capital purchases such ashouses or cars, salespeople need to be aware of the buying stage – someone who is still information gathering will almost certainly be scared off by a full-blown sales pitch, whereas someone who is at the decision-making point will welcome thediscussion.

6 Attitude towards the product. In some cases, non-users or ex-users may haveformed such negative attitudes towards the product that they will never be persuadedto change their minds.

Behavioural segmentation can be misleading: sometimes people are loyal to a productbecause they have few, or no, other choices. Sometimes people behave irrationally,sometimes they feel coerced, sometimes they simply do not know that there is a betterway of doing things. It would therefore be dangerous to rely entirely on behaviour as a base. Finding out why people behave as they do may also be important in the long run.

Geographic segmentation

Location affects consumption in many ways. Differences in climate, terrain and, ofcourse, culture will have marked effects on what people buy. People in cold countriesneed warm clothes, warm housing, central heating and so forth; in hot countries people need air conditioning, sun screen, solar heating and cooler clothing.

However, geographical segmentation goes further than this. At the micro level, peopleliving in particular areas of a city will have many things in common. They live in similar types of house, they have similar income levels, and they often have similar education levels. In many cases, they share an ethnic background: many cities in the UKhave Chinese districts or Bangladeshi districts. Several systems exist for categorisingareas in this way: ACORN and MOSAIC are two well-known ones, through which retailerscan decide where to place stores and what to stock in them, insurance companies cancalculate which areas are most likely to make claims, and home-improvement firms canestimate which areas are most likely to have houses which will need the product.

Geographic segmentation sometimes indicates behavioural differences which are noteasily explained, such as food choices, but some less obvious purchase choices can have a geographical basis. For example, most washing machines in the United Statesand Australia are top-loading, whereas European washing machines are virtually allfront-loading. The reason for this is that American and Australian homes are larger and there is therefore more room for top-loaders (which are easier to use and more reliable). Front-loaders fit conveniently under kitchen worktops, which saves space.Interestingly, people in hotter parts of Europe such as Spain, Greece and Italy oftenkeep their washing machines outside anyway, so fitting under a worktop is not an issue.

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Some problems with geographic segmentation are as follows:

1 It is often used for the firm’s convenience, not for the customers. Salespeople areusually allocated geographical territories in order to minimise travel times, forexample.

2 There is so much world travel and migration that boundaries become blurred.People come back from foreign travel with new ideas and needs, and migrants taketheir eating and clothing habits with them.

3 Sometimes people adopt food and clothing from other parts of the world as a way ofidentifying with them. For example, African Americans sometimes wear African-style clothing in order to identify with Africa, even though they have never been toAfrica and are unlikely to go (deBerry-Spence and Izberk-Bilgin 2006).

Geographic segmentation can easily be confused with other segmentation bases. Forexample, a geographical region may have a specific dominant culture which influencesconsumption (e.g. a Muslim country will not be importing very much bacon), but thisis actually a cultural issue rather than a geographic one; the country next door mightbe predominantly Christian and therefore would have no problem with pork products.This can even be the case within a single country – the Indian state of Goa is predomin-antly Christian and therefore is virtually the only place in India where pork curries areavailable.

Demographic segmentation

Demographics is concerned with the structure of the population in terms of age,wealth, income, gender, occupation, education level, and so forth. Demographic segmentation is extremely widely used, because it is relatively easy to identify themembers of given segments and data is readily available from government and othersources. Consumption patterns often correlate well with demographic variables: people with large incomes tend to spend more money and also save more, but of coursethere are not many firm correlations with what they spend their money on. We cannotsay for sure that wealthy people will always drive expensive cars, for instance, but wecan say that poor people rarely do so.

Demographic segmentation can be misleading. It may, for example, appear that a product appeals to better educated people, whereas in fact it appeals to people withhigher incomes. Since better educated people often have higher-than-average incomes,the two factors can easily be confused.

Age segmentation

Although demand for some products does change with age, for the majority of productsage is irrelevant. Products such as pension plans and products to overcome physicalchanges such as wrinkles and grey hair will obviously become of greater interest as onegrow older, but products such as cars, clothes, food, entertainment and holidays showvery little relationship with age. The relationship between age and behaviour is farfrom linear (Simco*ck et al. 2006).

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Age segmentation is also sometimes crudely applied, for example by carrying outresearch in which everyone aged over 65 is classified together. This implies that a 66-year-old woman has something in common with her 88-year-old father, which is plainlyridiculous. As the population ages, there may well be people over 65 with living grand-parents – so researchers will need to have more boxes to tick in these older age groups.

For children, clothing is often sized according to age, but mothers quickly learn how todecide whether their child should be in an age larger or smaller. Children’s toys tend tobe age-specific, but even here age is a crude measure: a year is a long time in a child’slife, and a six year old may well be able to play happily with toys intended for mucholder children. Gender is in fact a much better predictor of interest in toys, and in anycase as children grow older they develop their own interests and attitudes so that otherfactors become much more important.

Age is an indicator of life experience: people in their 80s remember the Second WorldWar, people in their 60s remember the Vietnam War protests, and people in their 30sgrew up with the telecommunications revolution. These life experiences can be usefulwhen designing communications, because marketers can use nostalgia to attract atten-tion and evoke appropriate feelings. Music from one’s teenage years is particularlypowerful in this context.

Gender segmentation

Gender segmentation was, at one time, very clear. In recent years, gender roles havebecome much less prescriptive and consequently purchase behaviour is much less gender-specific. Research by Mintel shows that 28 per cent of men take the mainresponsibility for cooking, 20 per cent take responsibility for all the laundry, 40 percent of men aged over 55 do at least half the grocery shopping. Men still take the bulkof the responsibility for household repairs and gardening, but women are graduallytaking on more of these tasks.

Although many older couples still divide the housework along traditional gender lines,most young couples split the tasks more equally. Most younger women tend to havecareers rather than the ‘pin money’ jobs their mothers’ generation had, which meansthat household tasks must be divided more equally. Of course, women still take timeout of their careers to care for small children at home, so may take on more of thehousehold tasks, especially if the male half of the couple has to work longer hours tobring in money.

There are, of course, products which will always be gender-specific simply because of physical differences between men and women, and social mores also drive somepurchases. It is still rare for men to wear facial make-up in Western societies, and fewwomen take up contact sports such as boxing or wrestling.

Marketers have not been slow to notice these changes and act upon them. Advertisingwhich shows men performing household tasks such as cooking and cleaning are com-mon, especially when the advert is demonstrating something which makes the taskseasier or quicker (thus explaining the task to men who were not shown how to do it bytheir mothers), and flat-pack furniture instructions no longer assume that the customerstudied woodwork in school.

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Gender segmentation also includes sexual orientation. hom*osexual people tend to bewealthier and better educated than average, and have fewer outgoings since they areless likely to have dependent children. In the UK, hom*osexuals’ disposable income(called the Pink Pound) was estimated at over £6 billion a year as long ago as 1998(BBC 1998). In the intervening decade the value has doubtless increased substantially.The same research showed that hom*osexuals earn (on average) 23 per cent more thanthe average, have twice as many credit cards as the general population, and spendmore than the average on entertainment.

Estimates of the number of hom*osexuals in the population are difficult to make becausethere is still some reluctance to ‘come out’ and identify oneself as gay, since there is stilla large degree of hostility towards gay people in some quarters.

Income segmentation

Segmentation by income is widely practised, although it is not a reliable base on itsown. The reason is that someone may have a high income, but also have high out-goings. Someone earning £40,000 a year is earning almost double the UK averagesalary, but may be paying £1,000 a month for a mortgage and may have children tosupport, meaning he or she will have very little disposable income. Equally, someonewith a pension of £15,000 a year may have paid off his or her mortgage, may have nodependent children now and may have a relatively high disposable income as a result.

Disposable income is therefore the key factor. Even then, disposable income tells usnothing about the individual’s tastes and preferences, nor does it tell us about thedegree to which the individual is prepared to spend rather than save. Rich people areoften very careful about how they spend their money – not surprisingly, since this isprobably how they became rich in the first place.

In some cases, companies have become successful by targeting people on low incomes.Discount retailers such as Lidl, Aldi and Netto site their stores in poorer areas, partlybecause this keeps costs low since rents are lower, and partly because it puts them closeto their target market. However, during 2008 these stores reported a rise in turnover asthe recession caused wealthier people to start looking for ways to cut their outgoings.

Religion, ethnicity and nationality

Nationality is a legal condition rather than a cultural condition, so it has relatively little effect on purchase. Its main effect is in global marketing, where companies often segment by nationality because of the legal restrictions which apply to productsin different countries. Apart from flags, patriotic symbols and legal services, there arepractically no products which are specific to nationality.

Ethnicity is a combination of factors which derive from culture and race. The culturalelements include eating habits, clothing, some entertainment products and some cere-monial products (for example the funeral money sold in Chinese grocery shops).Segmenting by ethnicity has become blurred in recent years because marketing activitiesand increased travel have caused culture swapping. People often eat food from othercultures and even adopt clothing from other cultures (Jamal 2003).

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Race has some effect on purchasing, mainly in the area of cosmetics. Dark-skinnedwomen need different cosmetics from light-skinned women, and the characteristics ofhair differ between black, Asian and white people, which means that hair formulationsneed to be different – demand for different hairdressing treatments varies across racialgroupings.

Religion affects many aspects of purchase, in particular food buying. Some foods areforbidden to the faithful of various religions: Jewish people should not eat shellfish,Jains and Parsees are strict vegetarians, Mormons do not drink tea, coffee or alcohol,and many Catholics still eat fish on Fridays even though this particular restriction wasrescinded many years ago. Religion also affects some clothing purchases (burkas forMuslim women, yarmulkes for Jewish men) and of course affects purchase of religiousartefacts such as crucifixes, rosaries, menoras and religious books. In Western indus-trial countries these religious influences are probably declining, but still have someimportance.

Psychographic segmentation

Markets can be segmented according to lifestyle or personality characteristics. Lifestyleis the set of behaviours associated with a particular set of preferences, and therefore isboth created by and dictates purchase choices. For example, someone who decides tolive in an upmarket inner-city area probably enjoys what the city has to offer in termsof shops, entertainment, social life and so forth. Someone who chooses to live a self-sufficient lifestyle in the countryside would have very different purchasing patterns, butin each case these lifestyles are a product in themselves: the apartment the city-dwellerbuys, and the smallholding the country-dweller buys, are each statements in themselves.

Lifestyle segmentation has the big advantage that it relates directly to purchasebehaviour. Segmenting consumers according to their chosen way of life is logical, considering that marketing is often said to deliver a lifestyle. One well-known lifestylesegmentation model is the VALS (values and lifestyles) structure. The model postulatesnine basic lifestyle positions, as follows:

1 Survivors. These people have extremely limited income and wealth, and can barelymanage to survive. They live in poverty and struggle to maintain any kind oflifestyle. They have very limited choices.

2 Sustainers. These people are slightly better off than survivors, but are still poor andhave few choices available.

3 Belongers. These people can meet their basic needs comfortably and have enoughspare resources to join with mainstream society. They are not excluded by reason oftheir poverty.

All three of these groups are driven by need and are concerned with security andbelonging. The need to belong can be very powerful indeed – for example, members ofa football fan club often resist buying anything from outside the group which might notconfirm their membership of the group (Richardson and Turley 2006).

The next five groups are better off and divide into inner-directed groups (who tend tobe independent thinkers who do not care what people think of them) and outer-directed

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groups (who are concerned with appearances and with good behaviour as judged bythe society they live in). The following three groups are the inner-directed ones.

4 I-am-me. These people live their lives regardless of what others think, and some-times with little regard for other people’s comfort. They tend not to be heavy consumers, but often represent the more creative element in society. The artists,musicians and writers who make (and spend) very little money, but who producecutting-edge work are often drawn from the I-am-me group.

5 Experientals. These people seek out new experiences, so are customers for travel,concerts, unusual foods, experiential gifts such as hot-air balloon flights or FormulaOne driving experiences, and adventurous pursuits such as climbing and windsurfing.

6 Societally conscious. This group tends to be cause-oriented, the kind of people whobecome activists of one kind or another and who become involved in charity work,pressure groups and political parties (Donnelly 1970).

Outer-directed groups are concerned with other people’s opinions. They are as follows:

7 Emulators. These people take their cues from their neighbours and others. They aresusceptible to suggestions from marketers and will typically follow fashion and beinterested in what opinion leaders such as celebrities do and say.

8 Achievers. These people look for respect from other people and therefore are customers for prestige products such as upmarket cars, designer clothing andbranded goods (Zhinkan and Shermohamad 1986).

The final group is usually the wealthiest and has adopted a balanced attitude to theirlifestyle.

9 Integrated. The integrated group like to be respected and to respect others, but theydo not let this drive their lives: they still like to act independently, to satisfy theirinternal drivers, but can equally be respectful of the feelings of others.

Personality characteristics

One of the advantages of segmenting by personality traits is that personality changesvery slowly over time, if at all. This means that an individual is likely to stay in the segment for a long time. This is certainly not true of segmentation by age, and is oftennot true of segmentation by income.

The drawback is that it is extremely difficult to identify groups of people through theirpersonality traits because it is virtually impossible to test large groups of people. Forexample, an insurance company might wish to target people who are afraid of beingburgled because they would tend to have alarms fitted, have better locks on theirhouses, and take out bigger insurance policies. Unfortunately, there is no clear way toidentify those people and no advertising medium which is aimed at them. The mainway of approaching a segment defined by its personality is to use similar people in theadvertising, an approach which has been used extremely successfully by FrizzellInsurance. Frizzell aims for a segment of public employees, and has been extremelysuccessful using direct marketing approaches in the workplace. Public employees such

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as teachers, civil servants, local authority workers and the like have obviously chosen a safe lifestyle. However, Frizzell needed to expand its customer base, so it createdadvertising which used actors who appeared similar to the target market. The adver-tising was a runaway success, not least because it did not appeal to the customersFrizzell did not want.

A relatively recent concept in personality segmentation is that of the ‘savvy’ consumer.These are people who are marketing-literate and have wide knowledge of the availablechoices. They have the following characteristics (Macdonald and Uncles 2007):

1 They are competent in technology, especially communications technology.

2 They are competent in interpersonal networking.

3 They are good at online networking.

4 They are marketing-literate: they understand what marketers are doing to try toinfluence them.

5 They are empowered by their self-efficacy, in other words they know that they arecompetent consumers.

6 They are empowered by the expectation of firms, because they know how to manipu-late marketers.

Savvy consumers pose a particular problem for marketers, because they know how tomanipulate situations to their advantage. It is likely that savvy consumers will increasein number as time goes by – they are also prone to advise others on how to get the better of marketers.

Another emerging psychographic segmentation approach is the concept of interpretivecommunities, or groups of people who have similar ways of interpreting and respond-ing to messages (Kates 2002). Interpretive communities are hard to identify except by the way they interpret messages, so the only way to reach them is by running anadvert in a particular style and seeing who responds. For example, some people preferto interpret messages visually, some are more open to tactile (kinaesthetic) interpret-ations, and some process information aurally. Each group will respond to advertisingdifferently (Skinner and Stephens 2003).

So consumers are becoming more savvy. This is hardly surprising really – after all,so many people have studied marketing, and there is so much in the press and onTV about how marketers ‘manipulate’ people into buying things. There are reallyno secrets any more – no marketing technique remains unexplored by theaverage consumer, who by and large has conceived a deep mistrust of marketingand marketers.

So what does that mean for segmentation? How do we know whether somebodyreally belongs in a particular segment, or whether they are simply manipulatingthe marketers for their own advantage? Does it matter anyway – after all, if we areproviding something that people need, at a price they can afford, why wouldsomeone who doesn’t need the product and can’t afford it try to manipulate the marketers?


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Segmenting business markets

Segmentation of business-to-business markets differs somewhat from that for business-to-consumer markets, for the following reasons:

1 Consumer markets are characterised by customers who are the end users for theproducts, or at least are very close to the end users. Business buyers do not them-selves use the products in most cases.

2 There are many more customers in consumer markets than is the case in business-to-business markets, so a greater degree of customisation is usually necessary.

3 Psychographic and demographic variables are almost always inappropriate becausebusiness buyers are (at least in theory) less influenced by personal factors.

Segmentation variables in business markets can be divided into two categories. Thefirst, identifiers, are used by firms to establish segments a priori or before any directdata is collected (Day 1990). The data for these variables is relatively easy to obtain,either through observation of the buying situation or through published sources. Thesevariables include operational factors, data on the product required and variables relat-ing to the purchasing situation as well as the equivalent of demographic variables (sizeof firm, location, turnover, competitive situation, etc.).

The other group of segmentation variables is the response profile, or a posteriori group,which includes vendor product attributes, customer variables, application variablesand the personal characteristics of the decision-making unit.

Identifier variables

Identifier variables are as follows:

1 Demographics. This includes industry classification, for example using the NorthAmerican Industry Classification System (NAICS) which categorises firms accordingto what they produce. Firms might also be classified as original equipment manu-facturer (OEM) firms which make end products to sell to consumers and others, asend users which use up the products entirely in the course of their business, or asaftermarket or maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) firms which provide ser-vices to companies and consumers. Demography would also include geographiclocation and financial status – credit rating, in other words.

2 Operations. This would include the type of technology used, the level of use of theproducts on offer (heavy, medium, light, etc.) and whether the firm has centralisedor decentralised purchasing.

3 Product required. This is a question of whether the customer company wouldrequire a standardised product or a customised product.

4 Purchasing situation. This includes the buying situation (whether it is a new task,a repeat purchase, or a modified rebuy). It also includes the purchasing firm’s attitude towards our firm and whether we have a good relationship with thedecision-making unit.

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For the most part, a priori variables can be estimated before making a sales pitch for aproduct.

Response profile variables

The response profile is about the way the vendor would respond to our sales pitch andwould include the following variables:

1 Vendor product attributes. This encompasses the overall value of the product, itsquality, the reputation of the vendor, the innovativeness of the product from the pur-chaser’s viewpoint, the delivery reliability and the overall cost.

2 Customer variables. This would include the make-up of the decision-making unit atthe purchasing company, the importance of the purchase, their attitude towards theproduct, and the corporate culture as it applies to buying new products (corporateinnovativeness).

3 Application. This means the end use to which the product will be put and the import-ance of value-in-use (the money made or saved by using this product rather thananother).

4 Decision-making unit (DMU) personal characteristics. This would include theirrisk tolerance, their loyalty to their current supplier, their age and experience, andtheir education level.

These variables are often a posteriori, i.e. they become apparent only after first contactwith the customer.

The nested approach to segmentation

The nested approach uses multiple segmentation variables to refine the segment(Bonoma and Shapiro 1984). The nested approach is shown in Figure 9.2. Using thisapproach means that the selling firm can target the most likely customers more accurately. In business-to-business markets, the level of resources needed to make asale is often much higher than that in consumer markets, and because there are fewerpotential customers and the sales values are generally very much higher, the need toget the segmentation right is much greater.

The nested approach has been widely used in business-to-business markets, but in fact the method applies equally well in consumer markets. One segmentation methodis rarely sufficient: several bases must be used to fine-tune the approach to an exact segment.

Global segmentation

There are many market segments which cross national boundaries, especially in business-to-business markets. For example, ICI Nobel Explosives offers mining

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explosives across various countries to similar customer types, coordinating its activitiesin each country by segment and offering products and support activities accordingly(Gillespie et al. 2004). The main drawback is, of course, collecting data in differentcountries. Statistics are often collected differently, companies might be classified differently, and information may be missing entirely in some countries. Despite thesedifficulties, Schuster and Bodkin (1987) found that more than 40 per cent of firms theysurveyed gathered substantial segmentation information on a global basis. More than20 years have elapsed since then and globalisation has become much more importantin the intervening period, so it might be safe to assume that firms gather a great dealmore information now.

According to Yip (2003), customers can be segmented according to their degree ofglobalisation, as expressed through their purchasing behaviour. Global customers arewilling to purchase from outside their home country, but control purchasing centrallyfrom their headquarters. National global customers buy from all over the world, butuse the products only in their home countries. Finally, multinational global customersbuy from suppliers in many countries, but also use the products in many countries as well.

Figure 9.2 The nested approach to segmentation

Source: Adapted from Bonoma and Shapiro, 1984.

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The main problem with global segmentation is differences in the purchasing decisionprocess across borders. A study of purchasing decision processes in the US, Sweden,France and five South-East Asian countries found differences in the buying process and also in the structure of the DMUs (Mattson and Salehi-Sangari 1993). However,marketers need to look for commonalities in global markets rather than be daunted bythe differences between countries: doing so will help generate economies of scale.

An alternative approach was suggested in 1999 by Keillor and Hult. Their NATID(national identity) approach comprised the following elements:

1 National heritage. This is the degree to which national history pervades the think-ing of people from the culture.

2 Cultural hom*ogeneity. This is the degree to which people within a given cultureagree on its basic tenets.

3 Belief system. This is the shared set of beliefs people have about the way societyshould operate. These beliefs are the basic foundations of behaviour in any culture.

4 Consumer ethnocentrism. This is the degree to which people believe that their culture is ‘right’ and everyone else’s culture is a poor imitation.

This framework was further developed by Phou and Chan (2003) to create a model inwhich five cells compare NATID scores with consumer ethnocentrism. Each of thesecells has implications for segmentation.

The resulting five cells were:

1 High NATID coupled with high ethnocentrism. Customised products with high local content are most likely to succeed in these markets because these consumers share a strong belief in their history and culture, and believe foreign cultures are somehow inferior. Examples offered by Phou and Chan are Korea and Thailand.

2 Low NATID with high ethnocentrism. Standardised (i.e. global) products can succeed well, but the threat of imported products needs to be downplayed andthe benefits to the nation as a whole need to be explained in any promotions. Anexample of this type of situation is Hong Kong, which has little national identity (asa former colony of Britain and a recent addition to China) but does have a strongbelief that other cultures are inferior to its own.

3 High NATID coupled with low consumer ethnocentrism. Here the aim is to determine which of the key dimensions of national identity would be most helpful insegmenting the market. Standardised (global) products can compete extremely wellwhen the marketing mix is adjusted correctly.

4 Low NATID with low consumer ethnocentrism. This combination means thatstandardised products can succeed well if the country is highly hom*ogeneous, but ifthe market is heterogeneous the segmentation will need to focus on psychographicor other variables.

5 Middle ground. Finding a basis for differentiation is difficult in these circ*mstances,so marketers will probably have to fall back on traditional segmentation variables.

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The difficulty with this type of segmentation is that the differences between indi-viduals from a given culture frequently outweigh the average differences between the culture as a whole. This means that moving from the general to the particular is likelyto prove disappointing – in other words, trying to guess how an individual from a givenculture will behave, based on an overview of his or her culture, is unlikely to be veryeffective.


Splitting the potential market into manageable segments is a key function of marketing,but it can be effective only if the bases for segmentation are realistic. It is rare for onebase to be sufficient to segment a market, and it is easy to make a mistake by confus-ing one set of data for another.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ The main segmentation bases are behavioural, psychographic and profile. Withinthese general categories there are many sub-bases.

‘ Segmentation can be a priori (carried out before any business is done with thecustomer group) or a posteriori (carried out after having some experience ofdealing with the customers).

‘ Segmentation by age is often unreliable, as is segmentation by gender.

‘ Segmentation by ethnicity has become blurred in recent years.

‘ Lifestyle segmentation relates directly to purchase behaviour, as do all behaviouralsegmentation approaches.

‘ The nested approach to segmentation is essential in business-to-business markets,and extremely useful in business-to-consumer markets.

After some wrangling, in particular about definitions of who the cus-tomers are, the team settled down to segmenting the market. Theysaw the domestic, amateur gardening market as segmenting acrossthe following bases:

1 Behavioural. People who spend time on gardening, versus thosewho do not.

2 Demographic. Able-bodied versus disabled, gender, age, wealth (wealthier people tend tohave larger gardens, for example).

3 Psychographic. People who see the garden as another household chore, versus those whosee gardening as a hobby.

Looking at the company’s served market, the team realised that in fact they did not know agreat deal about their end customers, the consumers. They had made a number of assumptions– that the Slick Mower mainly sold to wealthier people with unusual-shaped lawns or large,rambling gardens, and that the tools were sold to people who were committed to gardening




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Review questions

1 Why is a single segmentation base insufficient?

2 How can a priori segmentation be carried out?

3 Why is segmentation by age or by gender unreliable?

4 How might a company identify savvy consumers?

5 What are the main problems in segmenting global markets?

as a hobby – but it could equally be the case that the mowers sold to people who had not gotthe time to create a smooth lawn, and the tools were sold to people who were simply lookingfor the easiest way to garden.

Finally, the directors agreed to find Umar some money to research consumers. He set up anonline survey, mainly because the cost would be low, even though he knew the results mightbe problematic due to the tendency for online surveys to attract a particular type of person andexclude others. On balance, Umar thought this was better than nothing, though, so he wentahead. Sure enough, the study showed that most current customers for the hand tools werewomen, and of these the vast majority were hobby gardeners. The male respondents werelargely reluctant gardeners, who saw gardening as a necessary chore rather than a pleasure.Umar was aware from his reading of the published market research that this view was commonamong younger men, since they had less time to spare from their careers than did older, retiredmen. The disabled market turned out to be smaller than anticipated, with few respondents.Whether that reflected a reluctance on the part of disabled people to participate in surveys, orwhether they were in fact under-represented in the customer base, was impossible to say.

The consumer market therefore appeared to divide into segments, as follows:

1 Time-constrained younger men looking for a quick solution (behavioural, gender, age andsituational factors involved).

2 Women with money to spend on their hobby (wealth, gender, behavioural and psycho-graphic variables).

3 Well-off older people with large gardens (age, wealth, situational and behavioural factors).

4 Disabled and infirm gardeners (behavioural, psychographic and situational factors).

In the commercial arena, the way was somewhat clearer. Here, the market clearly segmentedas follows:

1 Commercial growers according to size.

2 Tool hire companies.

3 Independent contractors (tree surgeons, etc.).

All these segments would need to be approached, but each would need a different strategy.

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Case study BMI

BMI, or British Midland International, is a UK-based airline which operates services throughoutEurope, as well as to some long-haul destinations. BMI has its roots in the late 1930s. It beganlife as Air Schools Ltd, an independent flying school which specialised in training RAF pilots.During the Second World War the company grew dramatically as many more pilots wereneeded, so when the war ended the company’s finances were in very good order, but of coursedemand for pilot training reduced dramatically.

In 1949, the company began trading as Derby Airways, eventually becoming British MidlandAirways when it moved operations to the newly opened East Midlands Airport in 1964. In 1993,it became the first airline in Europe to offer a separate business-class cabin on short-haulflights. By this time the company was part-owned by Scandinavian Air Services (SAS). In 1999,Lufthansa bought part of SAS’s share, so each foreign airline owned 20 per cent of the com-pany, which became BMI in 2001.

In 2002, BMI launched BMI Baby, a low-cost subsidiary which operates entirely independentlyof BMI and has its own distinct branding. In the early part of the 21st century BMI expandedits long-haul routes, with flights to the US, India and the Middle East. The company bought outBMED in 2007 and thus acquired a number of new routes to Africa.

BMI Regional operates a fleet of Embraer commuter jets, which carry either 37 or 49 passengersdepending on the type. These aircraft fly internal routes in the UK from 14 regional airports and act as feeders for long-haul flights. It is therefore possible for a passenger to travel fromAberdeen to Addis Ababa simply by changing aircraft at London Heathrow. Business-class passengers and frequent flyers (i.e. members of BMI’s Diamond Club) have free access to theairport lounges at all airports on their itinerary.

BMI Baby operates at the other end of the spectrum from BMI’s business class. As a low-costairline, it offers no frills whatsoever: in-flight meals can be ordered and paid for, but they areof the sandwich-and-a-drink variety. Hold baggage is paid for, and hand baggage is strictly limited: the size and weight of cabin bags are checked, and any oversize or overweight bagsare charged for. Check-in is online for those travelling with hand baggage only, and there is a charge for checking in at the airport. The fares are, of course, extremely low, provided onebooks far enough in advance – late booking, or booking for a popular route or time, will meanpaying quite a lot for the ticket. Tickets are not issued – the passenger needs to print out theticket, and the boarding pass if checking in online, before leaving home.

BMI Baby operates from regional airports such as Cardiff, East Midlands and eight others.There are some internal flights as well as those to European destinations. Cardiff has flights to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Jersey, for example. In the main, BMI Baby’s flights to Europeandestinations are the big sellers, though, especially those to holiday destinations in Spain,Switzerland and Portugal.

In overall size, BMI is not the largest airline in Britain, but it is a respectable size. It operates atotal of 54 aircraft in the BMI fleet, plus 20 in the BMI Baby fleet. This compares with Aer Lingus(the Irish national airline), which has 44 aircraft plus 13 on order, or with the 234 aircraft operated by British Airways (with a further 51 ordered). BMI seeks to operate in all its possiblemarkets, including hiring aircraft for private charter. Having separate branding for each ele-ment of its service is just one way of ensuring that its brands remain strong.

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BBC (1998): BBC News, Friday 1 July.

Bonoma, T.V. and Shapiro, B.P. (1984): Evaluating market segmentation approaches.Industrial Marketing Management, 13 (4) pp 257–68.

Day, G.S. (1990): Market-Driven Strategy: Process for Creating Value (New York: The FreePress).

deBerry-Spence, B. and Izberk-Bilgin, E. (2006): Wearing identity: the symbolic uses of nativeAfrican clothing by African Americans. Advances in Consumer Research, 33 (1) p 193.

Donnelly, J.H. (1970): Social character and acceptance of new products. Journal of MarketingResearch, 7 (Feb) pp 111–13.

Gillespie, K., Jeannet, J.-P. and Hennessey, H.D. (2004): Global Marketing: An InteractiveApproach (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company).

Jamal, A. (2003): Marketing in a multicultural world: the interplay of marketing, ethnicity andconsumption. European Journal of Marketing, 37 (11) pp 1599–620.

Kates, S. (2002): Doing brand and subculture ethnographies: developing the interpretivecommunity concept in consumer research. Advances in Consumer Research, 29 (1) p 43.

Keillor, B.C. and Hult, G.T.M. (1999): A five-country study of national identity: implicationsfor international marketing research and practice. International Marketing Review, 16 pp 65–82.

Macdonald, E.K. and Uncles, M.D. (2007): Consumer savvy: conceptualisation and measure-ment. Journal of Marketing Management, 23 (5/6) pp 497–517.

Mattson, M.R. and Salehi-Sangari, E. (1993): Decision making in purchases of equipment andmaterials: a four-country comparison. International Journal of Physical Distribution andLogistics Management, 23 (8) pp 16–30.

Phou, I. and Chan, K.W. (2003): Targeting East Asian markets: a comparative study onnational identity. Journal of Targeting, Measurement and Analysis for Marketing, 12 (2) 1 November pp 157–72.

Richardson, B. and Turley, D. (2006): Support your local team: resistance subculture and thedesire for distinction. Advances in Consumer Research, 33 (1) pp 175–80.

Sampson, P. (1992): People are people the world over: the case for psychological marketsegmentation. Marketing and Research Today (November) pp 236–44.

Schuster, C.P. and Bodkin C.D. (1987): Market segmentation practices of exporting companies.Industrial Marketing Management, 16 (2) pp 95–102.



1 How does the airline market segment?

2 What are the implications of operating BMI Baby as a separate brand?

3 Why offer a separate business class?

4 Why operate from so many regional airports?

5 What is the purpose of providing internal flights from both BMI Regional and BMI Baby?

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Simco*ck, P., Sudbury, L. and Wright, G. (2006): Age, perceived risk and satisfaction in consumer decision-making: a review and extension. Journal of Marketing Management, 22 (3/4) pp 355–77.

Skinner, H. and Stephens, P. (2003): Speaking the same language: the relevance of neuro-linguistic programming to effective marketing communications. Journal of MarketingCommunications, 23 (3/4) pp 177–92.

Yip, G.S. (2003): Total Global Strategy II (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall).

Zhinkan, G.M. and Shermohamad, A. (1986): Is other-directedness on the increase? An empirical test of Reisman’s theory of social character. Journal of Consumer Research, 13 (June) pp 127–30.

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Chapter 10


Deciding where to spend the company’s very limitedresources was the next problem for the managementteam. Umar quickly realised that he had made a fundamental error in segmenting the market – he had considered only Eden Garden Tools’ existing customers for the consumer market, and not people

who were not customers but might be in the future.

Secondary research sources showed that there was a growing trend for childrento become involved in gardening, not least because parents who are keen gardeners want their children to enjoy the same pleasures. Parents were alsocoming to realise that a child who grows vegetables is likely to want to eat them – gardening was thus seen as a sneaky way of getting children to eat more healthily. Allotment holders were another growing market that Umar hadnot even considered – again, the kind of mistake a professional should beashamed of, but Umar consoled himself with the thought that he was still notable to carry out any primary research.

Choosing which segments to target would be the next task facing the seniormanagement team – and Umar would have to explain how it works.




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Objectives After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Assess which segments are worth targeting.

‘ Understand how risk can be assessed when selecting targets.

‘ Explain how competition relates to assessing a target market.

‘ Explain why firms need to target more than one segment.

‘ Explain some of the problems of targeting more than one segment.

‘ Describe the advantages and difficulties of targeting marginal segments.


In Chapter 9 we examined the process of segmenting the market. This chapter considershow to choose which segments to approach. Selecting the right segments is not just amatter of estimating which will be most profitable; correct targeting can in itself generatecompetitive advantage by playing to the firm’s strengths. In some cases, going for themost profitable segment merely invites competition.

Assessing segments

For a segment to be viable, it must have the following characteristics:

1 It must be measurable, or definable. If we cannot identify the members of a segment,we are not in any position to approach them with a product offer. Equally, if we cannot measure the size of the segment, we have no way of knowing whether thereare enough potential customers in the segment to make targeting it worthwhile.

2 It must be accessible. This means there should be some way of contacting the members of the segment. If we cannot communicate effectively with them, we haveno chance of promoting our brands. Accessibility also implies that we can deliver our products to the segment – if there is no way of doing this, business cannot result.

3 It must be substantial. The segment should be large enough to be worth targeting.Obviously this is a consideration that applies to different firms in different ways. A segment that is too small for one firm may be the right size for another; equally, a small firm with very limited resources will not be able to market effectively to avery large segment, tempting as it might be to try.

4 It must be congruent. Members of the segment must have needs similar enough thatthey can be targeted with a single product offering, or at least one which requiresminimal adaptation.

5 It must be stable. The members of the segment should remain within it for a reason-able period of time. Equally, the basic needs of the members should remain stableover a reasonable period of time. Of course, what is reasonable in some cases maynot be in others – no one expects a baby to stay in nappies for ever.

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The three key criteria from the above are accessibility, substance and measurability,but of course it is important to look at the underlying reasons for people being members of the segment in the first place.

Freytag and Clarke (2001) have developed a model for segment selection, as shown inFigure 10.1. The first stage in the process is to consider the future attractiveness of thesegment. This will include its current size and its potential growth: it may well beworthwhile to target a segment which is currently very small, if it is expected to grow.This would mean that the firm’s brand would be established early on in the market andwould (with luck) become the industry standard. Profitability is an issue in attractive-ness, although it is not the only criterion. Sometimes a segment is worth approachingfor strategic reasons, for example to lock out a competitor, even when the segment isnot in itself profitable.

Figure 10.1 Segment selection

The selection decision, according to Freytag and Clarke, is based on a combination of the future attractiveness of the segment, the resources available to the firm and the firm’s strategy. As we saw in Chapter 3, firms cannot always simply follow what the market needs, because they have resource constraints which prevent this from happening. The future attractiveness of the segment is a more important considerationthan its current attractiveness, because there will be a time lag between deciding toapproach the segment and actually being able to target it effectively. Finally, whatever

Source: Adapted from Freytag and Clarke, 2001.

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is decided must be decided within the context of the overall strategy of the firm, inother words its general direction and desired outcomes.

The relative risk of approaching one segment rather than another is an additional factor. For example, entering an overseas market when one has no experience of globaltrading is more risky than staying with one’s home market, even if the foreign marketis otherwise very attractive. Relative risk is difficult to assess, but one method is to multiply the potential loss by the percentage likelihood of loss. For example, if the company’s downside loss could be £1.4 million, but the risk is only 10 per cent that itwill happen, the risk can be assessed as £140,000. This might compare with a projectwherein the loss is likely to be only a maximum of £700,000, but the risk is 50 per centof the downside happening – this would value the risk at £350,000, a much worseproposition. The difficulty with this type of calculation is, of course, that it is subjective:estimating the percentage chance of the downside happening is a judgement call on thepart of the manager, and very often the downside losses are also an estimate, since a failure may be damaging to the company’s image and this may not be quantifiable.

The existence of competition is clearly a factor, but the company needs to look beyondthe obvious. A great many managers think that there is no competition, whereas in factthere is always competition in any market. This is because people always have ways ofsolving their need problems, so there will be no competition only if there is no need forthe product. For example, before there was television, there was radio, and before thatpeople entertained themselves by conversing, playing games, playing musical instru-ments, and so forth. In order to assess competition, marketers need to consider howpeople are solving the need problem at the present time, rather than looking at firms inthe same industry. A failure to recognise competition has been a classic error which hasdestroyed, or at least severely damaged, many established industries. The Swiss watch-making industry, for example, did not recognise competition from electronic watchesuntil it was too late, whereas Japanese watch makers such as Seiko embraced the newtechnology very quickly.

We often hear people say that there is no competition for their product –especially when they are trying to recruit people to sell it. Well, of course there is always competition, and even where there is a unique product we have topersuade people to buy it rather than spend their hard-earned cash on somethingelse entirely.

OK, so that’s established in our thinking, but where do we draw the line? At whatpoint do we say, ‘That product is competition, that one is not’? How can wemeasure the degree of competition we might expect from a similar product andthe degree we might expect from something more distant?


Government and environmental considerations include more than just legislation andthe ecology. The firm should look at the whole of the business environment, not just theimmediate factors.

Customer demands and the technology needed to meet them are key factors in access-ing a segment. If the firm lacks the appropriate technology to meet customer needs, the

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segment cannot be targeted, no matter how attractive it may be in other ways. Forexample, airlines are now expected to have online booking systems as a result of theincursions of low-cost airlines. An airline with a poorly performing website, or no website at all, will lose business to airlines with effective websites.

Present relationships with customers within the segment, or with distribution chainmembers which serve the segment, are clearly an advantage. For example, a firm mayrecognise a sub-segment within its main customer group and be able to target it with a specially adapted product – a firm which supplies baby products, for instance, may be able to supply other products to the baby’s parents.

The potential for developing new relationships is often what makes small orunprofitable segments worth targeting. For example, major airlines offer low-costflights to students on their gap year because they know that those students will, even-tually, graduate and may well end up as business-class passengers in future.

The resource situation is one which often prevents a firm from targeting a segment atall. A lack of technology, lack of the appropriate relationships, lack of appropriateemployees, having the wrong image, and lacking the resources to develop a product tomeet customer need are as important as capital in terms of a firm’s ability to target thesegment.

Finally, the segment to be targeted must fit within the firm’s overall strategy – going off at a tangent will not help the firm achieve its desired outcomes, so the target must fit with management commitments and organisational requirements. Accordingto Bonoma and Shapiro (1984), the two major criteria for choosing a segment are customer conversion analysis and segment profitability analysis. There is some sense inlooking at customer conversion analysis: after all, we cannot expect everyone in thetarget segment to adopt our product, so we will have to make an estimate of how muchof the market we are likely to capture, and how quickly. However, profitability of thesegment is only one of many possible criteria, as we have seen in the Freytag and Clarke model.

Targeting multiple segments

When considering targeting a segment, it is easy to forget that most firms actually needto satisfy the needs of several segments if they are to generate enough business to sur-vive. Even small neighbourhood restaurants have to satisfy the differing needs of theirlunchtime trade, their evening trade, vegetarians and children: each of these groupshas differing needs and expectations, even when they have already made a fairlyfocused decision, (a) to eat out and (b) to choose a specific restaurant or type of cuisine.

In some cases, the company will have different brand names for the products aimed ateach segment. A brewery might offer ‘Lite’ versions of its branded beers, or it may havea completely different brand name. An airline might have one brand name for its sched-uled services and another for its charter flights, or it may have a low-cost subsidiarywhich has a completely different brand name.

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As we saw in Chapter 9, producing an undifferentiated product for a mass market willusually result in competing on price alone, so most firms will try to target segmentedmarkets. If the firm is targeting several segments, the key issue is the degree to whichthe brand values will be affected if the firm uses the same brand for all segments. Eachsegment will impinge on all the others if the same branding is used. Although somebrands such as Richard Branson’s Virgin seem to be infinitely extendable, most brandsare not, and even Virgin suffered as a result of extending the brand to a railway service.If the firm believes that the brand might be damaged or at least altered by extending toa new segment, managers will need to decide either to target another segment or tolaunch a new brand. This is, of course, a more expensive option but might be worth-while in the long run if it prevents an inadvertent repositioning of the firm’s existingbrand.

Examples of setting up a new brand to cover a different market segment include Iveco, thetruck manufacturer. Iveco is a consortium of motor manufacturers including Fiat, Ford and Magirus-Deutz. The company shares its design and manufacturing capacity,and the brand is marketed as a subsidiary of each firm (Iveco Ford, Iveco Fiat, etc.).Another example is the Opodo online travel agency, which seeks to compete with otheronline agencies in targeting independent, bargain-seeking private travellers. Opodo isowned by nine major airlines, each of which has its own website and online bookingsystem. Opodo is not limited to its owners’ flights, of course – it will book passengerson any available airline – but since the nine majors have links with almost all theworld’s scheduled airlines it is fairly likely that the same flights could be bookeddirectly with the one airline.

Companies have to make these decisions on the basis of the level of resources they areable to commit: a low-resource company cannot hope to approach a market charac-terised by large numbers of undifferentiated customers. Table 10.1 offers a decisionmatrix for illustrating this.

Table 10.1 Resourcing and degree of differentiation

High-resource company

Type of market Highly differentiated customers Undifferentiated customers

Mass market Differentiated product Undifferentiated product

Specialist market Differentiated product Concentrated marketing

Low-resource company

Type of market Highly differentiated customers Undifferentiated customers

Mass market Concentrated marketing Differentiated (perhaps geographically)

Specialist market Concentrated marketing Concentrated marketing

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Targeting decisions

Choosing a target is a function of the segment size, the profit per unit sold and the level of competition in the market. The marketing strategy obviously needs to be builtaround the segment (see Chapter 8). This means that each of the 7Ps needs to be tailored to meet the needs of the segment. Accurate targeting cannot be achieved with-out a thorough understanding of the people in the target segment, and this is also trueof business markets: knowing what buyers need, as well as what the companies theywork for need, is as important in targeting as it is in segmentation.

Table 10.2 illustrates the relationship between the factors, and offers a decision ratio-nale for each.

As with other decision matrices, this matrix can give a spurious impression of reliabil-ity. It is, in fact, fairly subjective: managers may have differing opinions as to whethera segment size is large, medium or small; they may have differing opinions about whatconstitutes a ‘high’ profit, and levels of competition are equally open to interpretation.This becomes even more acute a problem if the managers making the decisions havedifferent experiences of other industries – competition which is regarded as cut-throatin one industry might be regarded as exceedingly gentlemanly in another.

Table 10.2 Targeting decisions

Segment size









Level of competition









Strategic decision rationale

Competitors will be attracted to a large, profitable market, so there is likely to be a price war as firms seek to maximise market share. This will lead to reduced profits and eventually to companies leavingthe market.

This is a mature market, is probably stable, and will be difficult toenter.

This market might be captured in its entirety by using a penetrationpricing strategy, but this is dangerous since it will trigger a price war in which only the companies with the deepest pockets will win.

A large, profitable segment will attract competitors eventually. A price-skimming strategy is probably best, to cream off maximumprofits before prices have to be dropped to match incomingcompetitors.

This is a mature, low-risk market. Lack of competition makes capturinga share easy, and the low margins will discourage new competitors,but the margins may be too small to be worthwhile.

This market is dying. High levels of competition and low margins makeit unattractive unless there is another strategic reason for entering.

This is a niche market, very suitable for a small firm: a tight targetingstrategy could easily capture the whole market.

This market is clearly not attractive unless there is a way of reducingcosts for supplying the small number of customers (in which case it willbecome a niche market).

Profit per unit sold









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182 Part 3 Marketing strategy through segmentation

Making a decision to target a specific segment is not necessarily irreversible (seeChapter 11), but it can mean a large commitment of resources which might be wastedif the wrong target is chosen.

Targeting marginal segments

Sometimes there will be a wide range of segments, making it difficult to target pre-cisely. In some cases, it may even be difficult (or prohibitively expensive) to identifyindividuals within the target segments, even though we might be aware that the seg-ment exists. There are three generic approaches to this type of situation (Forsyth et al.1999). The first is self-selection. This allows the customers to find the most appropriateproduct themselves (for example, the firm might offer three or four different pack sizes without needing to know who buys which size of pack, or why). Second, thecompany might use scoring models to put customers into specific categories when theycontact the company. This is essentially what credit-card companies do when they areapproached by a new applicant. Third, the firm might adopt dual-objective segmenta-tion, in which customers who do not quite fit into existing segments are grouped intonew segments. In some cases these customers will never be targeted; in other casesthey may be sufficiently numerous to constitute a new segment.

Self-selection is a relatively straightforward approach for fast-moving consumer goods.The product is put on the shelves of appropriate retailers and consumers either buy it or not. The targeting issue comes into play when the firm is making distribution decisions, i.e. deciding which retailers to target for selling the product. At this level, thefirm might still be able to use self-selection by placing the product in a cash-and-carrywarehouse, where the retailers become the self-selecting customers. This has theadvantage that retailers are closest to the end consumers, and presumably will be ableto make a judgement as to what the customers will buy.

This may not always be appropriate, of course. In the case of financial services, banksand other lenders might credit-score customers, and have a cut-off point beyond whichthe institution will not lend. Part of the problem in the banking crisis of 2007 was thatbanks consistently pushed the boundary further out until they were lending to peoplewho were unlikely to be able to repay the loans.

Grouping customers into new segments would mean identifying similarities amongthose customers. For example, Disneyland Paris found that there was a large numberof people who would never visit the theme park because they had no children. In theUnited States, people who have no children are quite likely to visit Disneyland, butEuropeans regard it as entirely an activity for children. Disneyland marketers decidedto target the childless by offering a cut-rate evening ticket: people could enter the parkafter five in the evening, paying a reduced entrance fee. This opened up a whole newmarket, primarily among young Parisians going out on a date. After five in the evening,parents often take smaller children home (or to a hotel) because they need to sleep, sothe park would tend to empty out. Disneyland’s targeting of a marginal group kept thepark filled all evening.

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The purpose of targeting marginal segments is to pick up business at a relatively lowcost from people who do not quite fit the main target markets. Often a marginal segment will prove to be profitable in the longer term, since the segment can now beassessed a posteriori, or after the event (see Chapter 9).

Generic targeting strategies

The five basic strategies of market coverage were outlined by Derek F. Abell in 1980.They are shown in Table 10.3.

Choosing the right market and then approaching it with the right marketing mix are probably the most important activities a marketer carries out. Choosing the wrongsegment to target, or worse still not attempting to segment the market at all, leads tolost opportunities and wasted resources.

Accessing the target market is an issue which is likely to affect the viability of the seg-ment. For a segment to be viable, it must be possible to communicate effectively withthe people in it, usually through some readily identifiable communications medium.The segment may even be defined by the medium. Some segments comprise peoplewho read a particular magazine or watch a particular TV station. For example, the UK men’s magazine Loaded is aimed at a very specific group of young men. Loadedreaders represent a group of ‘laddish’ men, usually with high disposable incomes andinterests which involve expensive cars, gadgets, dating-game products and sport.These men represent a valuable market segment in their own right, but can probablybe easily identified as a group only because they read Loaded.

Table 10.3 Market coverage strategies


Product/market concentration

Product specialisation

Market specialisation

Selective specialisation

Full coverage


Niche marketing; the companytakes over one small part of the market.

Firm produces a full line of a specific product type

Firm produces everything that a specific group of consumersneeds.

Firm enters selective niches thatare not closely related, but areprofitable.

Firm enters every possiblesegment of its potential market.


Tie Rack, Sock Shop.

Campbell’s Soup.

Titleist golf clubs, golf balls, tees,caddies.

British Telecom sells telephoneservices to consumers andindustry, but also owns satellitetime which it sells to TVbroadcasters and others.

Renault, which manufactures everytype of vehicle from compact carsthrough to giant articulatedlorries.

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Targeting is about choosing the right group of potential customers to help the companymeet its strategic aims. The choice is not always straightforward, because of competi-tion considerations and because of the time lags between deciding to aim for a specificgroup and actually gearing up the company’s marketing thrust to reach the group.

Targeting also implies rejecting some groups, which (on the face of it) seems counter-productive. However, there are certainly some groups of customers which are not worthwhat it would cost the firm to target. These groups should be left alone.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ Segments must be measurable, accessible, substantial, congruent and stable ifthey are to be worth targeting.

‘ Risk needs to be assessed, possibly on a weighted basis.

‘ If there is no competition, there is no need for the product.

‘ Most firms need to target several segments.

‘ There is a risk of losing brand focus if the firm targets several segments.

‘ Targeting marginal segments can lead to the discovery of new main segments.

As a relatively low-resource company, Eden Garden Tools would beforced into adopting a concentrated marketing stance. This wouldenable the firm to direct its resources into the most effective segments.

Since the company was trying to adopt a forward stance, Umarthought it would be best to think of the segments in terms of theirpotential, especially since garden tools and machines are relatively

infrequent purchases. Looking at the consumer segments with the most potential, the obviousone is the children’s market. Producing scaled-down versions of Eden Garden tools wouldencourage children to garden and would help parents in getting children interested. The toolsmight also make good gifts for children, especially with the modern emphasis on educational toys.

The resource demands for this segment would also be relatively small, since there would be notechnical development for the products – some retooling in the factory would be required, butnothing else. The main problem would lie in protecting the idea – there would be absolutelynothing to stop competitors jumping on the bandwagon with ‘me-too’ products once therange was launched, so the Eden Garden Tools brand would be the only defence the companywould have for its new market.

Another segment worth considering was the allotment holders. The problem with this segmentwould lie in accessing it effectively – there is no specific way of identifying and contacting allot-ment holders, since they come from many different walks of life, age groups and income levels. Without primary research, it would be difficult to identify specific needs that allotmentgardeners have which are not the same as other gardeners. Perhaps the lack of electricity onsite to run power tools might be a factor, perhaps the need either to transport tools to andfrom the allotment or to leave them there, with consequent risk of theft, or any number of otherpossibilities might need to be explored.




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Review questions

1 What defines whether a segment is accessible or not?

2 Why is there no need for a product if there is no competition?

3 Why do firms need to target multiple segments?

4 What are the problems of extending the brand to new segments?

5 What are the dangers of targeting marginal segments?

As far as the pruning saw was concerned, the biggest market undoubtedly would be the com-mercial growers, with tree surgeons coming a close second. The tool-hire market woulddevelop once the product was established with professionals, and the professionals could be easily identified through sources such as Yellow Pages. It appeared, on the face of it, thattaking a new product into a new market was going to be easier than sticking with the consumermarkets.

Case study Balfour Beatty

Balfour Beatty is one of the UK’s leading construction companies, specialising in major con-struction works such as social housing projects, railways and electrical engineering. The company was founded in 1909 by George Balfour, a mechanical engineer, and Andrew Beatty,a chartered accountant. The partners’ first contract was to build a tramway system for the townof Dunfermline, in Fife, Scotland.

During the 1920s the UK economy suffered badly after the First World War, unemployment was high and business hard to come by. Balfour Beatty looked further afield to find work, building hydro-electric power systems in East Africa and water-supply systems in what was then Palestine (now Israel). By the 1930s Balfour Beatty was well established internationally,with offices in South America (Montevideo and Buenos Aires) and Malaya. George Balfour hadbecome a Member of Parliament in 1918, and his contacts no doubt helped the company wincontracts.

After the Second World War the company won a lot of new contracts for reconstruction, especially in rebuilding the bomb-damaged rail network and establishing the National Grid forelectricity. The election of Labour in 1948 meant a lot of industries were nationalised, however,so Balfour Beatty began to look overseas again for work: the company won major contracts inIraq and Canada.

During the 1950s Balfour Beatty found itself well placed to participate in the expansion of the London Underground. The unique combination of heavy construction experience, railwayconstruction and electrical engineering meant the company was ideal for the task of buildingan electric underground railway. To this day, the majority of the world’s underground railwaysystems have Balfour Beatty components in them.


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Abell, D.F. (1980): Defining the Business: The Starting Point of Strategic Planning (EnglewoodCliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).

Bonoma, T.V. and Shapiro, B.P. (1984): Evaluating market segmentation approaches.Industrial Marketing Management, 13 (4) pp 257–68.

Forsyth, J., Gupta, S., Haldar, S., Kaul, A. and Kettle, K. (1999): A segmentation you can acton. The McKinsey Quarterly, 3 pp 6, 10.

Freytag, P.V. and Clarke, A.H. (2001): Business to business market segmentation. IndustrialMarketing Management, 30 (6) pp 473–86.


Later, Balfour Beatty was the natural choice to lead the British consortium which built theChannel Tunnel: experience of underground railways was, of course, crucial to the project. Thecompany also built the Cardiff Bay Barrage (in a joint venture with Costain) and the terminalbuilding at Hong Kong’s new airport.

Balfour Beatty is ranked 19th in size of all construction companies in the world, but is thelargest railway contractor in the world. Recent railway projects include the Metro system inOporto, Portugal, the Metropolitan Line upgrade in London, the 190 km Botnia line in Swedenand the Los Angeles Metro Eastside extension.

The company is now organised into four divisions: building, building management and service;civil and specialist engineering services; rail engineering and services; and investments. Thecompany has expanded by acquisition, buying out such firms as GMH Military Housing, a UScompany which specialises in building accommodation for the defence forces.

Balfour Beatty has weathered many storms in its 100-year history. Two world wars, a dozenrecessions, the Great Depression, nationalisation of its key customer (the UK rail network) and many other tribulations have been visited on the company. Despite everything, it has continued to grow and prosper, and bids fair to do so for at least another 100 years.


1 Why has Balfour Beatty targeted the underground railway business?

2 What strengths does the company bring to construction of airports?

3 Why does the company not target house building?

4 What positives might there be for the company’s railway-building business?

5 Why might the company seek to expand by acquisition rather than expand organically?

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Chapter 11


After Umar Sayeed presented his thinking to Mike andHugh, the three decided that adding the children’smarket segment to their existing segments wouldmake sense in the short run. Although Umar was reluc-tant to admit his error in failing to segment the marketproperly, he did say that the company should, in the

longer run, commission some qualitative market research to complete its under-standing of the market as a whole, not just its existing customers.

Having decided on the segments Eden Garden Tools would be tackling, thethree then turned to considering the position the brand currently had in theminds of consumers, and (perhaps more importantly) the position they thoughtit should have, relative to competitors. This would be a crucial piece of informa-tion once the company started planning its communications campaign and if the company were to compete successfully against other firms in the gardentools business.




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After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Explain the elements of perception.

‘ Describe what is meant by positioning.

‘ Explain the eight generic factors that determine position.

‘ Describe the basic positioning strategies.

‘ Understand the role of direct experience as opposed to promotion in developing a position.

‘ Explain the rationale behind repositioning.


Positioning is the process of creating a perception of a brand relative to competingbrands. In effect, positioning refers to the place the product occupies in consumers’minds: high or low quality, high or low price, reliable or unreliable, and so forth acrossseveral dimensions.

Positioning is very much the domain of marketing communications. Company-generatedcommunications will help to promote aspects of the product and create an overall image.The image needs to correspond closely with the customer’s subsequent experience ofthe product, of course.

Perception and positioning

Perception is the means by which people make sense of the world. All of us carry in ourheads a model of how the world works, based on our experiences and on our analysisof what we experience. This mental view of the world is in fact our reality. Althoughpeople tend to talk about perception as if it differs from reality in some way, this is notthe case – what we have in our heads is the only reality we know.

Perception is both analytic and synthetic. We cannot possibly take in all the informa-tion that surrounds us in the course of a day, so we analyse our surroundings and pay attention only to what appears important. This means that each of us takes in a different view of the world, and it also means that there are big gaps in our world view. The result is that our subconscious minds fill in the gaps, or synthesise part of theworld view.

Thus each of us carries around a slightly different view of the world. Fortunately, ourworld views are generally close enough that we are able to function with each other,and we can easily function at the level of knowing how to open doors, how taps work,how to drive, and so forth. The differences in world view are what make conversationinteresting, of course.

From a marketer’s viewpoint, marketing communications are aimed at shifting percep-tions. What we are trying to do is create a collective perception among our target audience such that they are more likely to want to do business with us.


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The world view, or perceptual map, that people carry around with them contains infor-mation about the brands and products that people buy, consider buying, or wouldnever buy. Positioning is about placing the product at the appropriate point in people’sperceptual maps, relative to competing products.

Figure 11.1 shows a simple perceptual map for a group of products. This map has onlytwo dimensions: price and quality. In the real world, perceptual maps are multidimen-sional, but this is somewhat difficult to show in a book.

Figure 11.1 Simple perceptual map

Product A is perceived as having a high quality, coupled with a high cost. This isdefinitely the upmarket brand and will be bought by people who are looking for thebest in the category. Product B is perceived as being a low-quality, low-cost productand will be bought by people who have less money and are prepared to accept a lower-quality product as a result. Product C has a problem: it is perceived as being poor qualitybut is medium-priced, which means it will be seen as poor value for money and willprobably not sell well. Product D offers a slightly downmarket but reasonably pricedproduct and will probably sell well. Finally, Product E is perceived as a good-quality,reasonably priced version and is probably the market leader. Of course, offering goodquality at a low price is likely to cut profit margins – being market leader comes at a price.

Given that positioning is a multidimensional construct, companies are not limited tothe price/quality trade-off. A brand can be positioned as the ‘friendly’ brand, or the‘safe’ brand. Many companies seek to provide themselves with a differential advantagein this way – sometimes with greater success than at other times.

Factors in positioning brands

Positioning the brand against its competitors is a matter of positioning it in the minds of the consumers. It means developing a theme which provides a ‘meaningfuldistinction for customers’ (Day 1990) so that the product stands out from the othersaround it. This is intended to produce a differential advantage, i.e. a perceived advant-age over the other products in its category. Obviously this will not necessarily be

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a perceived advantage for every customer (since everyone has a different world view),but the aim of good marketing communications is to create a position in the majority ofthe target audience’s minds.

Developing a new position is somewhat like the new product development process, andbegins with identifying alternative positioning themes. There are, of course, many pos-sibilities and the various themes need to relate to competitors. Having come up with aset of possible alternatives, managers should screen each alternative according towhether it is meaningful to customers, feasible for the company (in terms of its com-petencies and customer perception of the firm as it is), whether it is superior to thecompetition’s position and provides a unique advantage which is difficult for them tomatch, and finally whether the new position is congruent with corporate objectives.

This screening process may still offer several feasible alternatives. If this is the case, thecompany should choose the alternative that arouses the most enthusiasm and commit-ment among the staff who will have to implement the new position. Finally, the com-pany needs to design the programmes which will be needed to achieve the new position.

Although this process appears straightforward, there are many subjective factors whichwill affect the outcomes: for example, someone who has spent a great deal of time andeffort on developing a new product might well be disappointed if the company decidesthat it should be positioned as a downmarket, cheap brand.

Many products already have a distinctive position in the minds of customers, and thesepositions can be difficult to dislodge (Ries and Trout 2001). There are eight generic factors which determine a brand’s position, as follows (Blankson and Kalafatis 2004):

1 Top of the range. Products in this position are regarded as being of the highest qual-ity and probably also as the most expensive. Being the most expensive is not necessarily a drawback – plenty of people like to buy the top of the range, whether itis a consumer buying a prestige gift for a friend, or a business buyer choosing a newcomputer system. ‘Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM’ is a well-known adage inbusiness-to-business marketing, for example.

2 Service. The service element of any brand is often a key differentiator. Offering atop-class service will certainly be a factor in positioning the brand.

3 Value for money. This does not necessarily mean being the cheapest. Value formoney is the relationship between quality and price, so a cheap but poorly perform-ing brand is not going to represent value for money in the same way as a well-made,medium-priced brand will.

4 Reliability. Some brands have a reputation for reliability which makes them standout from all others. Volkswagen is one example: the cars are regarded as extremelyreliable, to the extent that a Volkswagen Sharan is regarded as a better car than aSeat Alhambra, even though they are in fact identical and the engines for both carsare made by Volkswagen.

5 Attractiveness. The attractiveness of a brand may be a factor in some markets morethan in others, but in any market where appearance counts, attractiveness will be a factor in positioning.

6 Country of origin. The country where a product is made will affect its brand values. Germany has a reputation for good engineering, Italy has a reputation forstylish design, and China has a reputation for cheapness. There are undoubtedly

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German brands which are poorly engineered, ugly Italian products, and very expen-sive Chinese products, but the perceptions still stand. Country of origin may haveless effect in consumer markets. A study conducted in Canada found that 93 per centof consumers did not know the country of origin of goods they had just purchased,and of the ones who did know, only 2 per cent thought that the knowledge mighthave affected their decision to purchase (Liefeld 2004).

7 Brand name. Having a good brand name helps ‘pigeonhole’ the product in people’sminds. For example, Cif cleaning products convey virtually nothing as a brand name,whereas Mr Muscle carries an image of strength and energy.

8 Selectivity. People are selective in the information they take in and consequentlymay not position a product in the place the company would like them to. Positioningis largely about perception, and perception is, by its nature, both selective and syn-thetic. In other words, people select limited information from their surroundingenvironment and then use their imagination to fill in the gaps. There is more on thisin the next section of this chapter.

According to Ries and Trout (2001), there are three generic strategies in positioning.First, the company can strengthen its position by reinforcing the factors that gave it thatposition in the first place. Second, the company can find a new position by seeking outgaps in the consumer’s mind. Third, it can attempt to deposition or reposition the com-petition. This strategy can be dangerous, since it usually means saying something aboutthe competitors, which of course means putting their name forward in consumers’minds. The most successful example of this approach comes from the car-hire business.When Avis wanted to assail Hertz’s dominant position in the market, it came up withthe concept ‘We’re Number Two, so we try harder’. This immediately characterisedHertz as being complacent, without ever mentioning the company’s name. In fact, Aviswas no bigger than any of the other companies jockeying for second place after Hertz,but it immediately established itself in the second position in the market.

Are we really this easily manipulated? Do we really develop a whole newperspective on a company, simply because of a brand name?

Shakespeare’s Juliet asked, ‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ Yet if a rose was called ‘stinkweed’ or‘cabbage flower’, we might well feel differently about it. How many of us, aschildren, have made fun of another child’s name? Or said to somebody we’ve justmet, ‘That’s a nice name!’

Maybe we really are that shallow!


In the case of companies with multiple brands, people tend to look at the overall,umbrella brand first before considering the position of the sub-brands. Thus peoplehave a perception of Virgin and use this to interpret the sub-brands (the airline, therecord company, the railway, the finance company, the TV cable company, etc.).Sometimes the perception of the sub-brands will affect perception of the overall brand,but the fact that people tend to consider the parent brand first is what allows brandextensions to work so effectively.

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Positioning and the marketing mix

It could be argued that the entire marketing mix is aimed at obtaining the right posi-tion. Clearly communication has a strong part to play in perception, but communica-tion alone will not overcome direct experience – actually using a product or service iswhat counts the most in people’s perceptions. The following section looks at the effecteach element of the 7Ps has on positioning.


The product itself will have some (probably several) features that distinguish it from itscompetitors. Some of these may simply be about appearance, others will be about easeof use of the product, still others will be about its quality or reliability. Direct experi-ence of the product, either by buying it or by borrowing it, will put the product firmlyinto the individual’s perceptual map.


Price not only provides income for the firm, it also signals quality. People tend toassume that a higher-priced product is also of a higher quality. Obviously, if directexperience of the product contradicts this, the customer will be disappointed and a complaint of some sort is likely to result. Price is one of the most important tools in positioning. Interestingly, people will tend to buy the mid-priced product (in theabsence of other information), so it is frequently the case that a low-priced competitoractually helps the sales of a higher-priced product.


The location where the exchange takes place will affect perception of the product. If theproduct is offered only through exclusive, upmarket outlets it will be positioned as an exclusive, upmarket product. In the case of services, the location of, say, a restaurantwill immediately position it in the minds of its customers – being in a posh part of thecity centre provides a very different perception from being in a run-down suburb orslum area.


In the absence of other cues, marketing promotion is used as a temporary indication ofan appropriate position. Once an individual has direct experience of a product, the pro-motional message tends to be ignored in favour of direct knowledge. Promotion istherefore important in the early stages of developing a position, but once the productis established in people’s minds it becomes hard to shift. Some elements of the promo-tional mix have specific risks and benefits – over-use of sales promotions can easilydamage the brand and make its position worse, whereas effective salespeople canmove a brand up in people’s estimation.

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The individuals who have direct contact with customers are crucial in establishing a position for the overall parent brand. In the case of services, of course, these peopleoften are the product anyway: hairdressers, chefs, waiters, accountants and motormechanics are selling their time and skills. Even salespeople actually are the companyas far as the buyers are concerned. Rude or careless staff will undoubtedly position thebrand badly in the minds of the people they annoy, and helpful staff will put the brandin a good position. Since most firms employ a lot of people, and people have good orbad days, perception of the brand (especially in service industries where the people element is strongest) can vary greatly.


Process has a bearing on quality. The process of buying a hamburger in McDonald’s isvery different from buying a hamburger at the Hard Rock Cafe, and the positioning of the restaurants is therefore very different. McDonald’s is perceived as a place to grab something fast to eat, or to take children, whereas Hard Rock is regarded as anupmarket, interesting restaurant. A hamburger served in a five-star restaurant will becalled a Vienna steak, but the process will position the restaurant as somewhere for a special occasion.

Physical evidence

Physical evidence includes paperwork, decor, souvenirs, and indeed anything that canbe touched. In positioning, it provides a tangible part of the overall experience, whichreinforces the position the brand holds. Physical evidence can be used to create impres-sions of quality, of reliability, of consistency, even of solid respectability (this used tobe the main consideration when designing banks). Physical evidence is, of course,important in any market, but comes to the fore in services markets, where it acts as a reminder that the service has taken place at all.

Positioning multiple brands

As we saw earlier, companies with multiple brands will often have an ‘umbrella’ brandwhich covers all of the sub-brands in the set. When new products are introduced, theyshould be positioned carefully to avoid cannibalism of existing products as far as possible.Obviously there will always be some cannibalism – if the company launches a newproduct it is quite likely to take sales from existing products, but this is not necessarilya bad thing. If the new product meets customers’ needs better than does the old product,it is clearly better that the company should be meeting those needs rather than that a competitor do so.

Cannibalism rates will vary according to cost structure, degree of market maturity andthe appeal of competitors’ offerings. If a current brand is vulnerable to competitors,

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then sooner or later they will enter the market, so it is clearly a good idea to introducea new product into such a (presumed) gap in the market even if it does result in somecannibalism.

There may be other effects on the positioning of the company’s other brands. For example, the launch of a more upmarket sub-brand might cause existing brands to be perceived as higher quality. It is certainly the case that the reverse is true. Bic wassuccessful in marketing disposable pens, then disposable razors and disposablecigarette lighters, but disposable underwear failed completely.

Often firms end up going the multiple-brand route because they find that competitorsare attacking their lead position. A firm which markets a single brand (these are few in number) may well find its lead being eroded by competitors with differentiatedproducts, in such a way that the firm finds it necessary to produce its own ‘specialist’versions of the product in order to avoid losing ground.


Moving an existing brand from one position to another can be difficult because it is necessary to remove people’s existing view of the product first. There are four main reasons for repositioning:

1 A competitor produces something which is positioned head-on against the company’sbrand and appears to be taking substantial market share.

2 Consumer preferences change. This happened to Heinz Salad Cream in the UK.Consumers moved towards mayonnaise over a period of years, until eventually saladcream was repositioned as an ingredient rather than as a salad dressing.

3 New customer preferences are identified, such that they might be met with the exist-ing product. For example, Lucozade was originally marketed as a drink for invalids,helping people to recover from illnesses. During the 1980s it was repositioned as anenergy drink for athletes.

4 A mistake is made in the original positioning. The breakfast cereal Ready Brek wasoriginally launched in the UK as an instant porridge, aimed at people who liked por-ridge but did not like the messy saucepans it created. Unfortunately, real porridgefans did not take to the product – some did not like the flavour, others said it was not‘real’ porridge because it was too easy to make. Eventually Ready Brek was reposi-tioned as a children’s breakfast, using the strap line ‘Central heating for kids’.

Repositioning is risky. The promotion needed to move the product in people’s percep-tion might alienate existing users without attracting sufficient new users. Equally, thenew position might turn out to be less attractive than the former position – not a goodoutcome either. Finally, repositioning can be carried out only occasionally: continuallytrying to shift the brand around in people’s perceptions will simply create confusion.

Repositioning has three main sub-divisions: repositioning for existing customers, re-positioning for new users and repositioning for new uses.

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1 Repositioning for existing customers. One of the safer ways of repositioning a prod-uct for existing customers is to suggest alternative uses for it. This can be useful inmoving the product from being a standard, regularly purchased commodity to beinga product which is keeping up with new ideas.

2 Repositioning for new customers. Repositioning for new users means trying to establish a new image among people who do not currently buy the product. Theymay not buy it because they have an unfavourable opinion of it, which of coursemakes it difficult to persuade them, or it may simply be that they are unaware of allthe features and benefits of the product and therefore have an inappropriate opinion of it.

3 Repositioning for new uses. Often, consumers discover new uses for products. Astutemanufacturers will discover these new uses and use them in their promotions. Forexample, some women use powdered gelatine to strengthen their fingernails, sogelatine manufacturers could promote this as a new use for the product. Other usesfor products may be less attractive from the producer’s viewpoint, of course – somegardeners use beer as a bait for slugs, for example.

All repositioning carries a degree of risk. Provided the product is selling reasonably wellin its existing market, it may be better to leave well alone, but if the product is losingground, repositioning may be the best option.


Positioning the product in consumers’ minds relative to competitors is a major functionof marketing communications. The purpose of positioning is to ensure that people havea clear idea of what they are buying – and what it will represent in terms of value formoney. Clearly, though, marketing communications is no substitute for direct experi-ence of the product, and in practice all the elements of the marketing mix have an effecton positioning.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ Perception is both analytic and synthetic.

‘ Position has many dimensions.

‘ There are eight generic factors which determine a brand’s position: top of the range, services, value for money, reliability, attractiveness, country of origin,brand name and selectivity.

‘ There are three generic positioning strategies: reinforce the existing position,reposition, or deposition competitors.

‘ Promotion is important in positioning, but cannot substitute for experience of the product.

‘ There are four reasons to reposition: responding to competitors, a change inconsumer preference, the discovery of new consumer preferences, and a mistakein the original positioning.

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196 Part 3 Marketing strategy through segmentation

Review questions

1 What are the dangers of repositioning a product?

2 How might a company reinforce the position of its brands?

3 What is the strategic importance of positioning?

4 How might a firm provide experience of a product?

5 What are the potential dangers of depositioning a competitor?

According to Umar’s discussions with staff, the company appeared tobe positioned as being old fashioned and reliable. The ‘reliable’ partof this seemed fine, but the ‘old fashioned’ part had come as a shockto Mike and Hugh, who thought the company was go-ahead andinnovative. At present the senior management team had no real ideawhether the staff view of the company was close to the customers’view or not.

Having said all that, the company would still need to reinforce its position as an innovative company – the situation was not that it needed repositioning, it needed to be positioned firmlyin the first place. This would be especially true in the new markets (children’s tools, pruningsaw) where currently the firm had no presence.

Given the very ready availability of cheap garden tools made in the Far East, Eden GardenTools would hardly be able to compete on price. Mike knew that UK manufacturing costsmeant high prices if the firm was to be profitable, and although John Peters (as a salesman)would tend to prefer prices to be cut to the bone, he also knew that positioning Eden GardenTools in the ‘cheap and cheerful’ category would be a disaster. There were other aspects toconsider apart from the price/quality relationship too. Another perceptual dimension was innovativeness, and yet another was the ‘fun’ aspects which could be played on for the children’smarket. The Eden Garden Tools brand conveyed a sense of fun, but also an old-fashioned,kitsch image. The team wondered whether it was time to rebrand altogether as a simpler alter-native, but the cost could be high and rebranding is always risky since it is easy to lose thebrand equity one already has without gaining any new advantages.

Finally, the team narrowed down their decisions. Innovativeness, solid reliability and practical-ity would be the position adopted for the pruning saw, which would place the tool at the highend of the medium price range. For the children’s market, the team decided that they shouldtry to come up with a fun sub-brand for the tools, retaining a clear link with Eden Garden Tools.Various suggestions were made, but by this time the team members were running out ofenergy, so they agreed to meet once more to discuss possibilities. Again, there would be anemphasis on innovativeness and solid quality: the children’s tools would be real tools, not justtoys, and they would help create a genuine love of gardening. The design of the tools wouldrely on Mike’s expertise, but the team felt very positive about the new project.




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Case study Bulmer’s Cider

Bulmer’s Cider has been around a long time. The traditional British summer drink, especially inrural areas, cider was first made commercially by Henry Percy Bulmer and his brother Fred, thesons of Reverend Bulmer, a keen amateur cider maker who proposed commercial productionas a way of using up surplus apples in years when the harvest was especially good. The Bulmerbrothers worked hard to get the business off the ground, but in 1893, just seven years afterstarting up, they were producing between 3,000 and 4,000 gallons of cider per day.

Some of the company’s best-known brands were launched early in the company’s history.Woodpecker was launched in 1896, and Pomagne was launched in 1906 after Fred visitedGermany on a fact-finding tour. Woodpecker proved to be somewhat sweet for customers inthe 20th century, so Bulmer’s launched Strongbow in 1960 as a direct competitor for beer.Strongbow is a strong, dry cider and has always been positioned as a ‘macho’ drink, using theimagery of two arrows being fired into a bar top.

The company also manufactured perry (made from fermented pears), but in recent years hasrebranded this as pear cider. This is because younger audiences did not understand what perrywas, so to save lengthy explanations, the company simply called the drink pear cider. This alsohelped to distance the product from Babycham, the perry which was popular in the 1960s and1970s, and which was positioned as a girls’ drink. Babycham had lost popularity with the adventof ready mixed drinks, and had become the butt of a great deal of humour. Several attemptsto relaunch the brand have met with mixed, or even poor, results. The pear cider tactic has certainly worked in terms of providing a more macho image for perry.

In 1934, a Tipperary man by the name of Magner began producing cider from local apples. In1937, he agreed a joint marketing arrangement with Bulmer’s of the UK and began marketinghis cider as Bulmer’s, taking advantage of the UK brand’s popularity. In 1949, the companieswent their separate ways, but Magner retained the Bulmer’s name within Ireland (effectivelybeing prevented from exporting the cider). Unable to expand beyond Ireland, the Bulmer’sbrand saturated the Irish market.

Within Ireland cider acquired a bad reputation in the 1980s for being the drink of choice ofhooligans. So-called ‘cider parties’ became a synonym for groups of hooligans getting as drunkas possible as cheaply as possible: strong, cheap cider was reputed to fuel their behaviour.Bulmer’s in Ireland brought in Grayling, a PR agency, to reposition cider generally and Bulmer’sin particular. Grayling began by establishing the Cider Industry Council, an organisation man-aged by Grayling to act as a focal point for queries from the press and the judiciary. The CiderIndustry Council issued press releases and sponsored various events in the sport, music andcomedy arenas. The aim of the campaign was to place the cider where people might notexpect to see it: in golf clubs, at race meetings, and so forth.

At the same time, the company reduced the alcohol content of the cider from 6 per cent to 4.5 per cent and abolished the 2 litre flagons it had been sold in. These changes reduced the perception of cider as being a high-alcohol, cheap drink. Bulmer’s ad agency, Young RSCG,developed a campaign which emphasised the traditional heritage of the drink. The agencyavoided the slick, jokey approach of most beer ads and concentrated on showing Irishorchards, focusing on the natural qualities of the product.


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Blankson, C. and Kalafatis, S.P. (2004): The development and validation of a scale measuringconsumer/customer derived generic typology of positioning strategies. Journal of MarketingManagement, February, 20 (1) pp 5–43.

Day, G.S. (1990): Market-Driven Strategy: Process for Creating Value (New York: The FreePress).

Liefeld, J.P. (2004): Consumer knowledge and use of country-of-origin information at thepoint of purchase. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 4 (2) pp 85–96.

Ries, A. and Trout, J. (2001): Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind (New York: McGraw-Hill).


The theme carried over into the UK market, where the Irish company now exports the ciderunder the brand name Magner’s. This has led to the bizarre situation in which Irish Bulmer’s iscompeting with UK Bulmer’s using a different brand name. Magner’s in the UK uses the samebasic advertising platform as that used in Ireland and has made considerable inroads into theUK market.

Positioning cider and perry as sophisticated drinks has a long history; Babycham, Woodpecker,Bulmer’s Original and Magner’s have all gone that route. Whether the success story will con-tinue, or whether further repositioning will be needed, remains to be seen.


1 How might Babycham be repositioned?

2 What were the key features in repositioning Bulmer’s in Ireland?

3 What are the key factors in Magner’s success in the UK, in terms of its positioning?

4 How might Bulmer’s in the UK counteract the threat from Magner’s?

5 What positions currently appear to be available in the cider market?

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Part 4

The final section of the book examines the contexts in which marketingplanning operates. For plans to work, they must be implemented. This is byno means as easy as it sounds, since competitors do not stand still or quietlygive up their share of the market without a fight, and in many cases vestedinterests within the firm itself might resist, or even sabotage, plans.

Chapter 12 considers some of these issues, while Chapter 13 examines theways in which marketing planning has to be prepared to adjust to events asstakeholders respond to the company’s initiatives.

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Chapter 12

Implementing marketing plans

When the team met again to discuss brand names for the children’stools range they decided to pool their ideas, without criticism, anddecide as objectively as possible. The suggestions were:

Little Green FingersLittle GardenerPlay FarmGarden ElvesGrowing UpPlay Planters.

The general feeling was that anything to do with ‘play’ should be dropped: these were not toys,they were serious gardening tools. Garden Elves was a popular name, but there was somedoubt as to whether it would play well to boys. ‘Little’ seemed condescending, especially forolder children.

In the end the team decided to run the names past some children of around the age of the target market. Asking round the office and factory, they found several employees with children of about the right age, and asked for their help in choosing. The result of this exercisewas a victory for Garden Elves. The slightly mischievous aura of ‘elves’ may have helped, ofcourse.

Promoting the brand would rest on two factors. First, the new line would be sold into majorretailers and garden centres, placing an emphasis on personal selling. John Peters would be looking to recruit some people to form part of a national sales team in order to gain muchbetter coverage. He would handle key accounts himself, possibly with help from Hugh, whoalready had established relationships with many major buyers. The second element of the promotional campaign would be a national gardening competition aimed at children. Details





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202 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Explain how creativity can be managed.

‘ Describe the bases for marketing measures.

‘ Explain the role of feedback.

‘ Explain the role of control systems and describe the main systems in use.

‘ Recognise the problems of applying feedback systems which have been designedfor machines rather than for people.

‘ Describe the basic control methods used in organisations.


Translating strategy into tactics, and then carrying out the tactical tasks, is the finalstage of the planning process. The strategy itself cannot be set in stone, because circ*mstances change. Therefore managers need to monitor the implementation of thestrategy to ensure that the firm remains on course.

This chapter is about the challenges involved in implementing plans: managing change, budgeting, developing suitable feedback systems which will inform the strat-egic planning process, and which will also help in flagging up key issues for the staffwho have the task of implementing the strategy and converting it to a set of tactical outcomes.


would need to be worked out, but the team envisaged a vegetable-growing theme rather thana flower-growing theme, thus tapping into the ‘healthy eating’ campaign. With luck, children’sTV programming might be persuaded to come on board and promote the competition – showssuch as Blue Peter, the long-running BBC children’s show, might well be prepared to give airtime to the competition, or could participate in some way.

The objective would be for 20 per cent of the children in the country to have at least someGarden Elves tools within five years. This would amount to 1.2 million children approximately,with total sales of around 2 million tools.

The pruning saw presented another problem, since the Eden Garden Tools brand was regardedas purely a domestic, hobby brand. Estimating sales was problematic, since the business-to-business market was new to everyone, and global marketing even more so. The export housethe company had been using for the Eden Garden Tools range would be unlikely to have theexpertise to handle the saw, and none of the team had much experience of dealing abroad.The best way forward seemed to be to find a company already in the garden products marketworldwide, and try to piggyback the product with them. The team set an objective of achievingan expression of interest within three months, and a completed deal within a year of obtainingthe funding from the venture capital company.

This rough outline of objectives would need to be refined considerably, and sub-objectivesdeveloped as the plan crystallised, but the team began to feel they were getting somewhere.

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Implementing the plan

It is one thing to formulate an effective marketing plan, but quite another to implementa strategy. Unless the strategy is implemented effectively, nothing will change, and it isnot unusual for strategic plans to be shelved and forgotten about. Piercy (1997) calledthis phenomenon SPOTS (Strategic Plan On The Shelf). In some cases this happens asthe planners have only produced a strategic plan because their bankers or shareholdersrequired one; in other cases, implementation fails because of resistance to changewithin the organisation; in still other cases, the planning process was so time consum-ing that the plan was obsolete by the time it was completed – business carries on whileplanners finalise their strategies.

Planning therefore cannot be divorced from implementation. The questions whichneed to be asked are as follows:

1 Is the structure of the organisation capable of implementing the strategy?

2 Are resources deployed effectively, and if not, can the necessary changes be made?

3 Are managers suitably empowered to implement changes?

4 Do organisational policies support the strategies?

5 Will staff members be affected by the strategy in such a way that they might try tosabotage its implementation?

Even when planners believe they know the answers to these questions, subsequentexperience can prove them wrong. Effective monitoring and control systems need to be in place because responsibility for operations is delegated. The structure of the monitoring systems is dictated by the strategy, but the problems raised when the systemgoes into operation are likely to lead to changes in the interpretation of the strategy.

For example, if managers decide on a strategic objective of increasing sales to a particulargroup of customers, a system may be put in place to compare sales to this group withsales overall. The system may be designed to give extra rewards to salespeople who sella higher proportion of the business to the special group of customers, but the resultmay be that salespeople concentrate almost exclusively on the special group, neglectingtheir existing customers in the process. A shift in the proportion of sales to the newgroup may then occur simply because sales to anybody else fall off due to this neglect.In other words, what gets measured is what gets done – what is not measured suffersas a result.

The relationship between strategy and systems structure is therefore iterative. Strategydictates system, which in turn dictates strategy, and so forth.

Translating strategy into tactics

The dividing line between strategy and tactics is often blurred. Network-level tactics(tactics which occur between companies) become strategies at the corporate level, and

Chapter 12 Implementing marketing plans 203

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tactics at the corporate level become strategies at the functional level. In most firms,marketing operates at a functional level, the level at which the 4Ps (or 7Ps) are handled.Strategies are formulated and handed down to managers to achieve, and in turn thesemanagers need to organise resources (including staff) to carry out the strategic plan.

One of the key identifying features of tactics (as opposed to strategy) is that tacticaldecisions are relatively easier to reverse. This means that tactics can more easily bechanged in unstable environmental conditions.

For a strategy to be converted to tactics, the following four elements need to be put inplace:

1 A specific action (what is to be done).

2 An accountability (who is to do it).

3 A deadline (when it should be done by).

4 A budget (what it will cost to do it).

Usually a set of tactics will be developed to implement the strategy, and these tacticswill need to be coordinated. An example in marketing is the development of integratedmarketing communications. For example, a biscuit manufacturer might decide that itis worth running a TV ad campaign only once at least 50 per cent of the retailers in thearea stock the product. The tactical approach to this will involve the salesforce pushingthe product and working to a strict timetable – one of the key elements in the sales pitchwill be that a TV campaign is planned. The salespeople will need to be fairly specificabout the timescales involved, and the advertising agency will have to produce theadvertisem*nts and book the media space appropriately. If the processes do not happenat the right times, the whole campaign will be adversely affected: if the salespeople donot deliver, the product will not be available when the campaign begins, and likewiseif the campaign does not materialise on time the firm’s credibility with the retailers will be lost. Furthermore, market research will need to be carried out in the area on aregular basis to ensure that the product is on the shelves and people are aware of it.Within the framework described, a failure to reach 50 per cent penetration within thespecified time frame will result in a shift in tactics – the market research should, if it isconducted properly, reveal better ways of achieving the ultimate strategic goal. Notethat the strategy remains unaltered by the tactical changes.

Strategy and organisational structure

The structure of an organisation is intended to define the roles, tasks and work to becarried out, breaking it down into components which might define the boundaries ofthe various departments or business units which have to carry out the work.

It is not always clear whether strategy dictates structure, or structure dictates strategy.Although the former view appears more logical (because the strategy dictates mostthings), the latter view also has its merits. The existing organisation structure will be a factor in deciding which strategies are appropriate, and a lack of an appropriate

204 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

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structure might preclude some strategies from consideration. A different kind of struc-ture, however, might well help create a different type of competitive advantage. Forexample, a small organisation with a flexible structure might be able to develop com-petitive advantage by being quicker to respond to customer needs. A small engineeringcompany might be able to respond much more quickly to customer needs simplybecause it is small and has a more organismic structure which is able to adapt to changemore quickly.

Equally, a hierarchical, inflexible structure does not lend itself to rapid changes and thestrategy needs to take account of this. A strategy which involves maintaining the statusquo is appropriate for such organisations, and works well in firms which are largeenough to have some degree of control over their environment – for example, major oilcompanies. A large firm such as BP has considerable control over the environments inwhich it operates and can therefore operate well with a fairly hierarchical structure.

Managers need to ask the following questions:

1 Is the structure capable of implementing the ideas?

2 Are resources deployed effectively within the organisation?

3 Are managers suitably empowered?

If any of the answers to these questions is No, then either the structure of the organisationis wrong or the strategy is wrong. Either one can be changed, but obviously the decisionwill rest on which is the easier (or safer) to change in order to ensure the organisation’ssurvival in the longer term.

Implementation and change

Any new strategy will involve change for the members of the organisation. Difficultiesarise because change may mean that some people lose out. Resistance to change iscommon, and in particular change is likely to be resisted in hierarchical, mechanisticorganisations where the individual’s status might be adversely affected by any changes.

Changes brought about by implementation may be direct or indirect. Indirect changesare often the most desirable, but direct changes are often the easiest to dictate. Equally,direct changes are the most likely to provoke attempts at sabotage, and indirectchanges are more likely to pass unchallenged. Aspects which can be changed directlyare shown in Table 12.1.

When strategic plans are implemented, some changes will occur indirectly. These areas follows (Thompson 1997):

1 Communication systems. Formal information flows are effected directly by man-agement, but a large part of the communication system within any organisation iscarried out informally. Any changes to this system are indirect (for example, if staffare moved to a different location), and it is not usually possible for management tomake direct changes.

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206 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

2 Managing and developing quality and excellence. Much of the quality and excel-lence in the organisation’s work comes from the attitude of staff and their willing-ness to pay attention to detail. This cannot be dictated by management, although itcan be fostered by appropriate policies.

3 Manifested values and the organisational culture. The organisational culture isthe product of the people who work within it. Again, this cannot be directly changedby management, even though changes can be fostered. If staff are not prepared toaccede to management plans to change the culture, they will not go along with it.

4 The fostering of innovation. Creativity and innovation cannot be ordered. InEdison’s words, creativity is 2 per cent inspiration and 98 per cent perspiration, andthere is really no way that managers can demand that people be inventive. It is, ofcourse, possible to reward creativity and create the right conditions under which itcan flourish, but this alone will not force it to happen.

There are four basic problem areas associated with strategy implementation (Owen1982):

1 Strategy and structure need to be matched so that they support each other, but at thesame time each product in the organisation’s portfolio needs to match closely withits target market. This inevitably creates conflicts.

2 Communications and feedback systems may not be adapted to the new regime, sothat the managers have difficulty in assessing whether the strategy is running intotrouble or is proceeding smoothly.

3 Any strategic change involves risk and uncertainty. This creates problems for staff,who may therefore agree to changes when in meetings but will not implement thechanges later.

Table 12.1 Directly changeable aspects of implementation


Organisation structure

Management systems

Policies and procedures

Action plans and short-term budgets

Management information systems

Explanation and examples

The hierarchy of the organisation can be redrawn with new postscreated or old ones removed. The informal structure will remain intact,insofar as the individual staff remain employed under the new structure.

Information systems, feedback systems and control mechanisms (forexample, rewards and sanctions offered to staff) will need to bechanged carefully, and with consultation.

Procedures are often the easiest aspects to change and therefore areoften the first aspects which the less competent manager will address.

Action plans outline the tactics to be used to achieve the strategy.Tactics are relatively easy to change. Short-term budgets can also bealtered with relatively little difficulty.

The methods by which management is fed information affect the typeof information that is supplied. Managers cannot be aware ofeverything that is going on within the organisation; therefore they are,to some extent, at the mercy of the staff below them, who supply theinformation on which decisions are based. Changes in the informationsystem will inevitably impact on future strategic decision making.

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4 Other management systems such as staff development schemes, pay structures andcommunications systems have been developed to meet the previous strategic structureof the company. Constant modification is difficult or impossible, so these historicalschemes may stand in the way of implementing the new strategy.

Problems can arise if managers do not take full account of the amount of time thatimplementation will take, fail to forecast correctly the bases on which the strategy wasformulated and do not recognise the obstacles that may appear (Alexander 1985).Second, there are many other distractions which divert attention away from makingstrategic changes – the day-to-day problems which arise in any organisation can forceattention away from long-term projects. Third, because strategy implementation isnecessarily time consuming, the reasons for making the changes might disappear or atleast change in nature in the meantime.

Overcoming these problems is never likely to be totally effective, but some precautionsmight help. Owen (1982) suggests the following:

1 Clear responsibility should be allocated for the outcomes of strategic change.

2 The number of changes being implemented at any one time should be limited. Theability of staff to cope with change is often a key determinant of strategy.

3 Necessary actions to implement strategy should be identified, and responsibilitiesallocated.

4 Progress measurement points should be established, so that the strategy implemen-tation can be mapped against expectations.

5 Performance measures should be established, along with suitable monitoring andcontrol mechanisms.

In the 21st-century environment, change is a constant factor. It is no longer feasible inmost industries to consider change as a series of discrete events, but rather to see it asa continuous flow.

Chapter 12 Implementing marketing plans 207

We hear a great deal about the rapid change that is characteristic of 21st-centurybusiness life. But is change really more rapid than it was 100 years ago? Where isthe evidence?

In 1903 the Wright Brothers carried out the first powered flight. Within thefollowing decade, airmail services had been established, war aircraft had beendesigned and built, and the first passenger services were beginning. Within 20 years of the first flight, air travel had become regular, with scheduled servicesbetween London and Paris. Within 50 years, jet transport was available,intercontinental passenger services were established, and the sound barrier hadbeen broken – not to mention that the first space flights were well under way.

Compare with the Internet, which has its beginnings in the 1960s. Forty yearslater, most people in the world still do not have access to it, most companiesusing it for commercial purposes have lost money at it, and it is beset by softwareproblems, from viruses to simple overload of the system. So is change reallymoving faster? Or is this just a perception of the stressed-out, overloaded 21st-century mind?


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208 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

These practical problems may mean that it is easier to change the strategy, and somemanagers will certainly take this option. Yet a change in the strategy might prove fatalto the organisation, and therefore the strategy which is correct for the organisationmight be forced through over the objections of the staff.

This is clearly problematical. If staff do not support the changes, feel threatened bythem and feel that their status or job security is threatened, they are likely to sabotagethe changes. This may happen officially, through industrial action or union representa-tion, or it may happen covertly through non-cooperation with the changes.Managements in hierarchical organisations can easily acquire the reputation of beingbullies, and it is common for firms in trouble to bring in ‘hatchet men’, who use force ofpersonality to push changes through, often with little regard for casualties.

The tactics outlined in Table 12.2 might be useful in reducing the problems outlinedabove.

Table 12.2 Tactics for improving the acceptance of structural changes


Career paths become unclear

Networks with colleagues will disappear

New roles take time to learn

More mistakes will be made

Staff may feel that this is an opportune moment to leave

The most talented people will find it easiest to leave

Some people will lose status

Tactical alternatives

New career opportunities under the new regime will exist and these should be pointedout early on the process – for example, a document which begins, ‘Due to our ongoingcommitment to improving the organisation, a restructuring will be implemented. This willmean that the following posts will be created, and priority will be given to existing staff inmaking appointments to these posts.’ This positive approach is more likely to besupported than an approach which says that posts will disappear.

Time spent in building networks is never wasted. People who are well networked shouldbe identified, as they are often the best drivers for the new structure since they areusually influential in the organisation.

Before the new structure is implemented, an audit should be taken of staff to find outwho already has the necessary skills for the new structure. These people should be givenstatus and preferably also the task of teaching others whenever this is possible. Obviouslymanagers should be tolerant of mistakes at this early learning stage.

Tolerance of mistakes is of course essential, but managers need to be extra vigilantduring transition periods. Training is only partly effective: often people will do well in thetraining sessions, but apply the learning correctly only once they have started trying to dothe job they have trained for.

Change is always disruptive, even when it is beneficial. Staff who can see that the changewill be beneficial to themselves are more likely to accept the changes. Emphasising thecareer benefits and medium-term improvements that the changes will bring will certainlyhelp. Emphasising the ways in which the firm will benefit is likely to be counter-productive,since it signals that the management are more concerned with the shareholders than withthe staff. Although this might be obvious to staff anyway, it is tactless to make it explicit.

Any strategic changes should (ideally) benefit the most talented staff most directly. Thesepeople need to be brought into the confidence of senior management – in fact, ifpossible, everybody in the organisation should be kept as fully informed as is reasonable.

Ideally, this should not happen, but if it does, then such people should either becompensated in some way or should be offered the chance to take redundancy payments.They would almost certainly be entitled to this anyway, as a reduction in status would be regarded as a constructive dismissal by an employment tribunal. Perhaps surprisingly, however,some people may be prepared to downshift in status if this also means a quieter life.

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Sometimes replacement of staff is unavoidable. Some skills become obsolete, othersbecome essential and are unavailable from within.

Strategic changes will be easier to implement if managers (and indeed staff) feel thatthey own the mission and corporate strategy. Suitably empowered managers and staffwill be able to be more innovative, more flexible and more able to take risks in order toimprove the outcomes of environmental threats and opportunities.


Budgets are clearly extremely important in terms of resource allocation. Table 12.3illustrates some methods for setting marketing budgets.

Chapter 12 Implementing marketing plans 209

Table 12.3 Promotional budgeting methods


Objective and task method

Percent of sales method

Competition matching method

Marginal approach

All-you-can-afford method


Identify the objective to beachieved, then determinethe costs and effort requiredto achieve those objectives.

The planner simply allows a fixed percentage of the company’s sales to beused for promotion. This is a common method ofbudgeting.

The marketer matchesexpenditure to that ofcompetitors. Thus the firmdoes not lose ground if a competing firm increases its budget.

Marketer spends only up tothe point where any furtherspending would not generateenough extra business tojustify the outlay.

The marketer spendswhatever money can bespared from other activities.Often used by smallbusinesses when starting out.


This is logical andlinks to the firm’sstrategic goals.

This is simple tocalculate and alsoensures that, if salesdrop off, costs alsodrop.

This method shouldmaintain the firm’sposition relative tocompetitors, reducingwasted expenditure.

This method shouldmaximise profits sinceno excess spendingwould result.

Company cannotbecome over-committed or run intotrouble by relying onsales which do not, inthe end, materialise.


The marketing research neededfor this method is expensive andoutcomes are hard to predict.

This is based on the false premisethat sales cause promotion, ratherthan promotion causing sales. Itwould be more logical to increaseexpenditure if sales fall.

The method is not customer-oriented, and also means thatcompetitors are setting the firm’sbudgets.

Given the changing nature ofmarkets, this method is almostimpossible to calculate.

This means that expenditure bears no relationship to the stateof the marketplace. Also, it meansthat marketers have to fight forbudgets with colleagues within thefirm, which causes resentment andalso means that the size of budgetdepends on office politics, not onthe needs of the company and itscustomers.

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210 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

In the real world, marketers usually adopt a combination strategy, using several of theabove methods (see Figure 12.1). Even an objective-and-task approach might begin bylooking at what the competition are spending (comparative parity approach) if only todetermine what the likely spend would have to be to overcome clutter. Likewise, a mar-keter may be part-way through a campaign and be told by the finance department thatno more money is available (or perhaps be told that more than anticipated is available)and will switch to an all-you-can-spend policy.

Figure 12.1 Setting marketing budgets

Budgeting seems to be somewhat hit and miss. After all, we can’t be rigid abouthow much money will be available – the customers and investors have controlover that. We might not be as good at bargaining as are our colleagues – if weare negotiating against the managing director’s blue-eyed boy, we won’t havemuch chance of success.

Maybe marketers need to develop the kind of rigid systems that accountantshave, where everything is calculated to the last decimal place (at least, that’s whatthey tell us) and there is no argument. Maybe marketing hasn’t reached that levelof sophistication – but isn’t it time it did so?


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Monitoring and evaluating marketing performance

Feedback is essential for monitoring performance and in an ideal world no marketingactivity should be undertaken without having a monitoring and evaluation system inplace beforehand.

There are two basic groups of approaches for performance analysis: sales analysis andmarketing cost analysis. Sales analysis looks at the income generated by the firm’sactivities, whereas marketing cost analysis looks at the costs of generating the income.Table 12.4 illustrates some sales analysis measures.

The collection of the amount of information needed for this type of analysis mayinvolve the firm in substantial market research expenditure, since market research isthe cornerstone of monitoring and evaluation.

Chapter 12 Implementing marketing plans 211

Table 12.4 Methods of sales analysis

Analysis method

Comparison with forecast sales

Comparison with competitors’ sales

Comparison with industry sales

Cash volume sales analysis

Unit sales analysis

Sales by geographic unit

Sales by product group or brand

Sales by type of customer


The firm compares the actual sales achieved against what was forecast for the period.Discrepancies may mean that the forecast was wrong, or that something has gonewrong with the marketing tactics.

Provided the information is available, the firm can estimate the extent to whichmarketing activities have made inroads into competitors’ business. The problem here isproving that the difference has been caused by the high quality of the firm’s marketingactivities rather than by the ineptness of the competitor.

Examination of the firm’s performance in terms of market share. This is commonly usedin industries where a relatively small number of firms control the market – for example,the car industry.

Comparison of sales in terms of cash generated. This has the advantage that currencyis common to both sales and costs. It has the disadvantage that price rises may causethe company to think it has done better than it has.

Comparison of sales in terms of the number of units sold, or sometimes the number of sales transactions. This is a useful measure of salesforce activities, but should not be taken in isolation – sometimes the figures can be distorted by increased sales ofcheaper models.

Sales are broken down regionally so that the firm can tell whether one or two regionsare accounting for most of the sales, and whether some less productive regions arenot worth what they cost to service.

This is particularly important for judging the product portfolio (see the BCG Matrix inChapter 8). This serves two purposes: it is possible to identify products which shouldbe dropped from the range, and it is also possible to identify products which aremoving into the decline phase of the product life cycle and should therefore berevived.

This analysis can reveal, for example, that too much effort is being expended on a group of customers which makes relatively few purchases. This is not a problem ifthe customers have potential, but it is a problem if they will continue to be rarepurchasers.

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212 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

An alternative approach to monitoring is to assess the cost of achieving the goals whichhave been specified. Marketing cost analysis is a set of techniques for breaking downthe costs of the firm’s activities and associating them with specific marketing objectives.Costs can be broken down (broadly) into direct costs, such as salespersons’ salaries,which can be directly attributable to a given activity, traceable common costs, such ascosts of advertising, which can be traced back to specific products, and non-traceablecommon costs, such as the cost of PR or corporate advertising, which cannot be allocatedto any particular product range or brand.

The main problem with marketing cost analysis is that the firm’s accounting systemsmay not be organised in a way that easily permits analysis. For example, payrollrecords may not be easily broken down by job function. In a small firm, it may bedifficult to find out how much time each person spends on marketing-related tasks, andit may even be difficult to find out what the pay bill is for the salesforce if salespeoplehave other duties such as delivery, servicing or collecting debts. Likewise, definingwhich jobs constitute marketing jobs and which do not also presents problems, espe-cially in firms which are strongly customer-oriented.

For the market-oriented firm these answers are obvious, since all the activities of thefirm are regarded as marketing activities. In other firms, not all managers agree withthe basic premises on which marketing is based, and may find it difficult to gear theorganisation’s activities towards a consumer orientation.

A problem with all of the above evaluation approaches is that they are financially basedand predicated on the assumption that marketing is about making sales rather than aboutachieving strategic marketing objectives. For example, a firm may have a legitimatemarketing objective to improve customer loyalty. While this may increase sales in thelong run, the appropriate measure of success would be the degree to which customersmake repeat purchases, which in the short term may actually lead to a reduction insales as the firm shifts the emphasis away from recruiting new customers towardsretaining existing ones.

Balanced scorecards

The balanced scorecard approach was suggested by Kaplan and Norton (1992). Theauthors suggest that the organisation should measure performance using a limited,specific set of measures derived from the success factors which are most important tothe stakeholder groups.

The measures to be used can be grouped in the following categories:

1 Financial measures. These would include return on capital employed, cash flow,growth in share value, and so forth.

2 Customers. These measures would include perceived value for money (not neces-sarily cheapness), competitive benefits package, and so forth.

3 Internal processes. These might be enquiry response time, or conversion rate fromenquiry to order.

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4 Growth and improvement. This would include the number of new products onoffer, the extent of employee involvement and empowerment, employee attitudes tothe firm, and so forth.

The balanced scorecard is an attempt to integrate all the factors which would impacton the organisation’s long-term success so that the strategy does not become unbalanced.To be most effective, managers need to apply some weighting to each of the factors inorder to ensure that attention is paid to those areas which are most closely allied to thecorporate mission or vision.

Feedback systems

Discrepancies will almost always appear between the plan and the real world, in whichcase the marketing manager will need to take action. This will usually take the follow-ing sequence:

l Determine the reason for the discrepancy. Was the original plan reasonable? Havethe firm’s competitors seized the initiative in some way, so that the situation haschanged? Is someone at fault?

l Feed back these findings to the staff concerned. This can be in the form of a meetingto discuss the situation, or can be less formal – an e-mail or a report.

l Develop a plan for correcting the situation. This will probably involve the coopera-tion of all the staff concerned.

Feedback should be both frequent and concise, and any criticisms should be construct-ive. Managers should never, for example, go to a sales meeting and offer only criticismsince this sends the salesforce out with negative feelings about themselves and thecompany.

Marketing strategy and planning is much like any other planning exercise – it relies on good information, a clear idea of where the organisation is going, and regular examination of both outcomes and methods to ensure that the plan is still on target.

Control systems

The purpose of any strategic control system is to decide whether the current strategy iscorrect and should therefore be retained, or whether circ*mstances have altered insuch a way that the strategy should be scrapped and a new one formulated.

Most control seeks out variances in performance and applies a correction to redress thevariance. Negative feedback acts against the trend of the variance in order to reduce it.Positive feedback tends to increase the variance and is generally considered to becounter-productive since it creates a situation where the system runs entirely in onedirection. Positive feedback can happen if there is a temporary change in performancewhich is over-compensated so that variance increases rather than decreases. Thiscomes about because of time delays in the feedback systems.

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214 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

Feeding back into the system seems to be fraught with risks. Too early a feedbackincreases the problem, too late a feedback seems to be wasted effort. If we lookat the most important fluctuation of all, the economic cycle, we must wonderwhether it’s worth bothering at all.

Since the 1930s, governments have sought to control the boom-and-bust cycle,taking the credit when the economy booms and passing the buck when theeconomy crashes. Yet all the feedback, government initiatives, job-creationschemes and rhetoric seem to have done nothing whatsoever to cure the problem.

Maybe there is no problem. Maybe fluctuations are just a natural part of life: the process of sleeping and waking, applied to business. In which case, why arewe bothering with feedback at all?


Some fluctuation is inevitable; minor deviations from the plan will always occur sooneror later. The difficulty for managers lies in judging the extent to which such deviationsare permissible before action must be taken.

Difficulties with control systems

The type of thinking that applies to engineering problems is not necessarily applicableto human problems. Each has its own set of assumptions which may not hold true forthe other; certainly many of the assumptions made by managers prove to be false whenattempts are made to put them into practice. Finlay (2000) says that there are fourassumptions borrowed from engineering which do not transfer to management. Theseare shown in Table 12.5.

Table 12.5 Assumptions underlying control systems


Objectives can be devised and can be stated precisely

Achievement can be measured and a measure of variance can be calculated

Variance information can be fed back

The feedback is sufficient to maintain control

Problems with this view

Most organisations do not have clear objectives, but rather have broad goals. For example, it is almost impossible to set objectives for a personneldepartment or a legal department, and in many cases it is difficult to do so fora marketing department. Companies led by visionaries neither have nor needobjectives – the vision is sufficient.

Without measurable objectives, achievement cannot be measured. Even ifthere is a measurable objective, the reason for the variance may be difficult tocalculate – a fall in sales may be due to a great many factors, some of whichare beyond the marketer’s control.

Unstructured activities involve judgement and are often unique, so feedbackfor one activity is unlikely to be directly applicable to another. Indirectfeedback is about accumulating knowledge and extrapolating from it, notabout applying a set, known correction.

The system will work only if the applied feedback is bigger than theenvironmental shift. For example, a company selling over-the-counter cold medicines might decide that a fall-off in sales should be followed by an advertising campaign to boost customer interest. This will not work ifsomeone finds a permanent cure for the common cold.

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Because of these problems, firms need to use adaptive controls. While much of the control system can be automatic, managers need to use human judgement to overridethe system when necessary, otherwise long-term change is unlikely to happen. Twomethods of control exist: first, to change the organisation’s behaviour in some way toovercome the difficulty and reach the objective, or second, to change objectives andaim for something that is achievable rather than something that is not.

Controls come in hierarchies, and levels of control are exercised at different levels ofthe organisation. Three generic ways of controlling the course of events in the businessare available: first, changing the inputs to the system; second, the process itself can becontrolled; third, the objective of the organisation can be changed.

Tactics of control

There are three basic types of control, as shown in Table 12.6 (Johnson and Gill 1993).

Administrative control is often exercised through planning systems, which control theallocation of resources and monitor the utilisation of resources against the plan. Planningsystems might be top-down, centralised systems in which the standardisation of workprocedures is paramount. Even in service industries the routinisation of working practiceshas been achieved – McDonald’s hamburgers are produced in a routinised way whichwould have been thought impossible in the restaurant businesses of 100 years ago.

Such centrally planned systems often use a formula approach, for example setting budgets as fixed percentages of turnover or allocating resources on the basis of numbersof customers dealt with. This tends to place an emphasis on bargaining within theorganisation to vary the formula in some way.

Control through direct supervision is common in small organisations, where one personis able to control resources effectively. In large organisations it is really possible only inconditions of stability, or during times of crisis (for example if the survival of the organ-isation is threatened). Autocratic direct control by one person might be the only waythe necessary changes can be forced through – although, of necessity, this is a routewhich is likely to lead to considerable resentment among lower-grade staff who are displaced or undermined.

Chapter 12 Implementing marketing plans 215

Table 12.6 Types of control

Explanation and examples

Based on systems, rules and procedures, administrative control is typicalin hierarchical organisations which often have large numbers of rules andregulations.

The control exercised by workmates and the organisational culture. This is common in organismic organisations and smaller organisations.

Control exercised by individuals on themselves, based on their owninterpretation of correct behaviour. This is common in organisationscomposed of professional people, who may be working to a professionalcode of ethics rather than a set of rules laid down by the employer.

Type of control

Administrative control

Social control


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216 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

Control through performance targets became popular during the 1990s, especially as a way of controlling the newly privatised natural monopolies of power supply, railways,telephone systems, and so forth. Setting the correct performance indicators is far fromeasy – indicators often give only a partial view of the overall situation, and it is usuallythe case that activities which are measured are the ones that get done, regardless of thereal-life situations faced by the staff and managers in the organisation.

Responsibility for marketing is likely to be devolved to the divisions, since marketing(in a customer-oriented firm) pervades all the activities of the organisation. An organ-isation given to using financial controls is likely to establish such divisions as profit centres, which rather complicates the issue for the divisions since they will be workingtowards marketing-based objectives, but will be judged on a finance-based objective.Strategic planning-based organisations will be more likely to use cost or revenue centres,with marketing planning being carried out at the centre.

Social and cultural control comes from the corporate culture. In organisations with astrong culture, people behave in the way they do because it is the right way to behave, notbecause of administrative controls and procedures. In the 21st-century organisation,this type of control is likely to become much more prevalent – people are becoming moreindividualistic and more idealistic, and less inclined to obey orders blindly. Also, socialcontrols are much more effective in organisations which are facing chaotic situations orcirc*mstances of rapid environmental change, in which it is impossible to lay downfixed procedures for dealing with every possible eventuality.

Social controls can sometimes hinder senior management because cultural norms aredifficult to change, and people who regard themselves as professionals are likely toprove difficult if asked to do something which they feel impinges on their professionalprerogatives.

In some respects, the 21st-century workplace is likely to be less about controls and moreabout influences. Managers may not be able to impose fixed procedures on workers,partly because such procedures will be difficult to formulate and partly because a well-educated, independent-minded workforce is unlikely to be as prepared to acceptmanagement by diktat as workers were 50 or 100 years ago. Influence can come frommany sources, but the greatest influences are likely to be social ones, created by and in turn creating obligations between the staff. This implies that managers will need to be charismatic rather than autocratic, and will need to lead rather than drive theworkforce.


Feedback and control are essential if the strategy is to be kept on course, even if thecompany is in a changing environment. For firms in stable environments, formalised systems of feedback with clear parameters for working will be effective; in a rapidlychanging environment, the strategic vision is maintained by social and cultural controlsrather than by formal regulations.

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The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ Creativity can be encouraged, but cannot necessarily be ordered.

‘ Marketing measures are usually based either on sales or on costs.

‘ Feedback is about identifying divergence from pre-set targets.

‘ Control is reactive: it responds to divergences identified by the feedback system.

‘ Human beings are not machines. Feedback systems based on engineering theory will need to include the possibility of being overridden by humanmanagers.

‘ Administrative controls work best in stable environments; socio-cultural controlswork best in conditions of change; self-controls work best in professionalorganisations.

Chapter 12 Implementing marketing plans 217

Forecasting the sales for the pruning saw would naturally proveextremely problematic, since this was entirely new territory for thefirm. By the same token, monitoring outcomes would be equally difficult. The obvious solution, and one which appealed to UmarSayeed, would be to measure tactics on the basis of marketing outcomes.

If this approach was adopted, the company would measure the success of its personal sellingby the number of retailers stocking the Garden Elves tools. The success of the pruning sawwould be judged on the company’s success in finding a partner, and subsequently on brandawareness in overseas markets. Success of the gardening competition promotion would begauged by the number of entrants and the level of press coverage gained, and so forth.

Bringing the employees on board presented another set of problems. Hugh thought it wouldbe good to have some special events to celebrate the product launches – office parties or similar – and this was generally thought to be a good idea, but at the same time Mike thoughta more formal explanation of what the new strategy consisted of would be more effective.Eventually the team compromised – the firm would have an ‘away day’ during working hours,closing the factory and offices for one day and taking the staff to a conference centre. Duringthe morning the new plan would be outlined, then the afternoon would be given over to a barbecue at a local beauty spot. Umar and Mike were to work out the morning programme,while Hugh and John took charge of organising the ‘fun’ part of the day. In the run-up to theaway day, Umar and Mike would draw up a detailed plan of what needed to be done, andwould identify individuals within the organisation who would be most effective in implement-ing the plan. These new roles and responsibilities would be announced at the away day, oncethe individuals concerned had accepted their new roles.

Already both Hugh and Mike could envisage problems with some staff members. Some of the factory-floor workers were known for being conservative, putting it kindly, and at least oneof the company’s administrators was known to be difficult about questions of status. Thesepeople would certainly need careful handling.




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Review questions

1 A common method of obtaining feedback in service industries is the use of customerresponse forms. How might you ensure that every customer completes one of theseforms?

2 If control is reactive, how might you ensure that managers are able to vary theresponses to match actual circ*mstances?

3 Socio-cultural controls exist in the minds of staff. How might this affect an inductionprogramme?

4 What are the problems associated with giving feedback in circ*mstances of rapidenvironmental change?

5 How might administrative controls be helpful in an organismic organisation?

Case study Organising Honda

Honda’s annual report contains the following statement:

By following a corporate policy that stresses originality, innovation, and efficiency in everyfacet of its operation – from product development and manufacturing to marketing – Hondahas striven to attain its goal of satisfying its customers.

Nowhere is this emphasis on originality and innovation more apparent than in Honda’s internalmanagement systems. For most managers in most companies, management problems appearas a series of trade-offs: individualism versus group needs, quality versus cheapness, cost savings versus differentiation, and so forth. Japanese business practices have tended to rejectthese trade-offs and replace them with something wholly new – getting the quality right firsttime, for example, actually saves money in wasted materials and time over the previous systemof testing at the end of the production line.

Honda has applied this type of thinking to the conflicts inherent in organisational structure andmanagement. To this end, the company has virtually done away with the hierarchical manage-ment structure. Although there are still clear vertical lines of control, the company cuts pastthese on a regular basis. Senior executives meet regularly with shop-floor supervisors, forexample, and manufacturing managers share viewpoints with sales personnel. The career paths of individuals do not necessarily follow a hierarchical path, either – it is quite feasible fortechnical staff to be promoted several times without ever having to manage people. Staff areoften promoted diagonally – in the late 1980s one of Honda’s senior marketing people waspromoted to oversee the expansion of one of its US factories.

Furthermore, Honda is a company which places an emphasis on praising individuals in the firm. Quality circles operate company-wide; individuals are rewarded for innovation, andremain closely associated with the products and processes for which they have become respon-sible. However, individualism is not stressed above cooperation – each has its place in theorganisation.

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Alexander, L.D. (1985): Successfully implementing strategic decisions. Long Range Planning,18 (3).

Dermer, J. (1977): Management Planning and Control Systems: Advanced Concepts andCases (New York: Irwin).

Finlay, P. (2000): Strategic Management (Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall).

Hofstede, G. (1978): The poverty of management control philosophy. Academy of Manage-ment Review, 3 (3) July pp 450–61.

Johnson, P. and Gill, J. (1993): Management Control and Organisational Behaviour (London:Paul Chapman Publishing).

Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P. (1992): The balanced scorecard – measures that drive perform-ance. Harvard Business Review, January–February.

Owen, A.A. (1982): How to implement strategy. Management Today, July.

Piercy, N. (1997): Market-led Strategic Change: Transforming the Process of Going toMarket (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann).

Thompson, J.L. (1997): Strategic Management: Awareness and Change, 3rd edition (London:International Thomson Business Press).


Chapter 12 Implementing marketing plans 219

Honda’s decision-making process is characterised by collectivism. The company’s top executivesdo not have separate offices, but instead share one large, open-plan office in which there arespaces for them to sit together and talk, as well as their individual desks. Executives are allowedto have individual offices if they so wish, yet most do not do so, preferring the collective systemand easy communication of the open-plan room.

Honda has undergone some fairly dramatic changes of direction in the past 25 years. Again,these are seen as positive by the management: each change of tack moves the company a little further forward, building on the progress made in previous years. No doubt the firm willchange direction again many times in the next 25 years, but for Honda this is just part of beinga flexible and responsive company.


1 What problems might arise for Honda in carrying out an internal audit, given the fluidity ofits structures?

2 How might Honda’s senior management reconcile the problem of creating career paths forthe staff?

3 What type of organisation structure does Honda appear to tend towards?

4 What would be the problems for Honda in setting up a decision-support system?

5 How might Honda respond to a technological breakthrough, for example a new type ofmotive power for cars?

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Adapting marketing planning to context

The plan was certainly coming to fruition now, eventhough there were still some gaps to fill (not least ofwhich was the finance needed to implement the plan).The final piece of the jigsaw was to consider the effectsof the plan within the different contexts in which thefirm operates, or rather was intending to operate.

The key arenas in which the firm was entering new territory were the business-to-business arena, the global arena and the consumer arena, at least as far as thechildren’s tools were concerned. Given the current discrepancy between thestaff view of the company and the directors’ view, there would also need to be some internal marketing in place.




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222 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

Objectives After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

‘ Explain how planning might be different for firms in business-to-business marketsas compared with business-to-consumer markets.

‘ Describe some of the key elements in planning for global markets.

‘ Explain the specific problems faced by charities in terms of planning.

‘ Identify the differences between services marketing and physical productmarketing in terms of planning and strategy.

‘ Explain the different strategic paradigms as they affect small-to-mediumbusinesses.


As with every other activity, planning relies on its context. Marketing operates in manycontexts, and although the examples usually given in marketing textbooks tend toassume a manufacturing company with a portfolio of physical products which it sells toconsumers, this is not the scenario most practitioners are faced with.

Planning in business-to-business markets

Business-to-business markets differ from business-to-consumer markets in the follow-ing ways:

1 There are relatively fewer customers.

2 Order values are much bigger.

3 Business buyers are buying on behalf of an organisation, not for their own use.

4 Businesses may not consume the products themselves – they might simply sell them on.

Business customers can be classified as follows:

1 Business and commercial organisations. These organisations buy goods and ser-vices for two purposes. Some of what they buy is consumed in the course of runningthe organisation (for example, copier paper used in the offices, or legal services).Some of what they buy is incorporated into their own products (raw materials, components, servicing agreements for end users). The things supplied might befoundation goods and services (which are used to make other products), facilitatinggoods and services (which help the organisation achieve its objectives), or enteringgoods and services (which form part of another product after being processed by theorganisation).

2 Reseller organisations. These are wholesalers and retailers who buy goods simply to sell them on, unchanged.

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Chapter 13 Adapting marketing planning to context 223

3 Government organisations. Governments buy everything from paperclips to warships through their various departments. Because they operate under very specificrules, special planning is needed to approach such organisations.

4 Institutional organisations. These include charities, educational establishments,hospitals, and so forth. Usually they have needs which greatly exceed their resources,so special tactics may be needed (for example, finding creative ways for them to payfor the goods and services they need).

Business-to-business markets tend to be less volatile, and it is easier to develop long-term relationships, so planning is easier in many ways. Relationship marketing is moresuccessful in a business context as opposed to a consumer context because businessesare slower to change their needs than are people – for example, BMW continues to needelectrical wiring, oil, nuts and bolts, and windscreen glass just as it has done for morethan 100 years. Few human beings would retain the same needs for that length of time.

Planning in business-to-business markets is therefore likely to be much more detailedand careful (since there are fewer customers, it is dangerous to lose even one) and islikely to focus on establishing long-term relationships. Salespeople and key-accountmanagers become much more important in this context.

Globalisation strategy

In the global context, competitive advantage can be achieved in different ways for eachmarket the firm operates in. A company which is the cost leader in its domestic marketmight very well find itself to be a differentiator in a foreign market, perhaps because its products are unknown there. Firms will find it more difficult to achieve customer intimacy in a foreign market, especially when they first enter the market – establishinga rapport with customers requires a deep understanding of the local culture, and thiscan take some time to reconcile with the existing corporate culture.

Firms which succeed in establishing themselves globally usually develop internationalcompetitive strengths that are not available to purely domestic firms. They will alsoview the market globally, looking for opportunities and threats on a worldwide basis.This does not, of course, preclude the firm from having a national strategic orientationin its local markets.

There are four main strategic options open to the globalising company (Grosse andKujawa 1992):

1 Aim for a high share of a global market.

2 Aim for a niche in a global market.

3 Aim for a high share of a national market.

4 Aim for a niche in a national market.

The firms seeking a high share of a global market will look for high-volume segmentswhich exist globally, in other words segments which cross national boundaries.

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Examples are the global car business and the global airline business. In most cases firmswill need to produce a wide range of products to meet the needs of that market segment or those market segments. Because global niche marketers can capture bigenough markets by targeting people with very specific needs, the global high-sharecompany must seek those benefits which come from being able to supply a wide rangeof products. These include inbound logistics advantages such as being able to use thesame raw materials to produce many products and the ability to offer customers awider range of choice.

Global niche strategists target a single industry or a single type of problem. For example,Microbiological Systems Ltd supplies biologically based environmental pollution-detection systems to the chemical industry. The firm is at the cutting edge of researchin the area and is able to supply systems which are cheaper, more sensitive and morereliable than anyone else’s. Such firms protect their market niche by holding the keypatents on the processes they use and by spending large amounts on R&D in order tostay ahead of the competition.

Global nichers usually avoid competing directly with major firms, because they do nothave the resources for an extended battle. A niche policy works best for firms whichhave a global advantage (i.e. an advantage over all other firms in the industry whereverthey are located) and where the product does not need to be adapted much (or at all)to meet local conditions.

National high-share strategists target countries where they think they can obtain a highshare of the market. This may come about because of tariff barriers which prevent otherforeign firms from entering the market (as in the case of a customs union or commonmarket), or it may be that local firms are unable to supply the demand for the products.In some cases the production facilities for a firm may be located in a country where the raw materials are easily available. For example, Rio Tinto produces aluminium inAustralia and New Zealand, copper in Papua New Guinea, and uranium in Namibia. Ineach case the company is well placed to supply local or regional demand for the endproduct as well as to supply export markets. National governments will often help suchfirms to establish production facilities rather than simply export raw materials becauseadding value in the host country provides employment and increases revenues.

Selecting one country rather than another is difficult when there are so many to choosefrom. A number of researchers have proposed using an adaptation of the well-knownGE matrix. This market choice matrix is shown in Figure 13.1.

The market choice matrix compares the firm’s specific competencies with a particularmarket’s attractiveness. On the vertical axis, the firm’s product or business strengthsrelate to the specific competencies of the firm. Some possible factors for this axisinclude:

l Business size

l Financial strength

l Technology superiority

l Brand perceptions

l Personnel.

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Chapter 13 Adapting marketing planning to context 225

The horizontal axis, market attractiveness, would include factors such as:

l Trade barriers

l Competition

l Cultural acceptance

l Technological readiness

l Previous corporate establishment

l Availability of distribution.

Each of the factors for product/business and market attractiveness should be given a weight and then each sub-factor rated. When the weights and ratings are summarised,an overall number can be developed. From this number, the placement on the countrymarket portfolio grid would be determined. The relative size of the market can beshown by varying the size of the circles representing each country market.

Figure 13.1 shows a firm whose business strengths are only around the medium levelfor competing in China. China also is only medium attractive as a market, but the countryis represented by a large circle since it has a very high market potential due to its size.Sweden is represented as a market where the firm’s competencies would be high com-pared with competitors, but the attractiveness is again only medium due to high levelsof competition. The size of the Swedish market is shown with a smaller circle, becauseit is a much smaller market overall. Finally, Nigeria is shown as a medium-sized circlein the lower right-hand corner because the firm has little strength and the marketattractiveness is low. The overall market size in Nigeria is about the same as that ofSweden, because Nigeria is a relatively poor country. This firm would be unlikely to

Figure 13.1 Market choice matrix

Adapted from: GE Strategic Planning Grid

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226 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

target Nigeria, and planners would need to make an executive decision whether to gofor the large Chinese market where they have relatively low competitive advantage, or to go for the much smaller Swedish market where the company should be able tocompete successfully.

In some cases national high-share strategists allow the national government a share inthe firm. This type of joint venture is favoured in Sweden and in many Third Worldcountries, where the governments find it a useful way to raise revenue without increas-ing taxation. From the firm’s viewpoint, having the government as a shareholder meansthat legislation will often favour the firm over some of its competitors.

National niche strategists specialise on a national basis because this helps defend theirsegments against local and international rivals. This works best where global productstrategies are not compatible with local demands, especially where products have to be adapted from country to country. Competitive advantage derives from the firm’sability to adapt to local needs. For example, a car manufacturer may need to adapt thevehicles to suit local climatic, geographic and infrastructure differences. The quality of the roads is likely to make a difference to suspension specifications, mountainouscountries require different gear ratios, countries with extensive motorway, freeway orautobahn networks will require overdrive top gears, and so forth.

Garten (2000), in reviewing the requirements for global strategy, advises the following:

l Rethink everything about the strategy – even what the strategy means in a fast andbrutally competitive environment.

l The best strategies are developed by organisations which can gather and processmassive amounts of information.

l Companies that succeed globally are constantly innovating.

l To succeed globally, firms need to create a culture which allows for extensive internaland external collaboration.

l Global change offers unprecedented opportunities to capture markets.

In general, globalisation generates economies of scale and allows firms to spread theirrisk across a number of countries. The downside is that it creates problems of adapta-tion of strategy to meet local conditions in the target markets.

Non-profit marketing

Not all marketing activities take place in a profit context. Defining marketing solely as profit-led is misleading, since many activities which we would normally define asmarketing take place within a non-profit context. Charitable organisations spend largesums on advertising in order to persuade people to donate, or to change theirbehaviour in ways which fulfil the aims of the organisation.

Non-profit marketing falls into two main categories: charitable donations and cause-related marketing. Charities may simply be seeking donations to fund their work, or

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may be seeking to change public attitudes concerning an issue. For example, Oxfamfrequently runs TV advertising asking for donations so that it can build wells or providefood aid in emergencies, both of which are expensive things to do. The National Societyfor the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) runs campaigns encouraging peopleto report cases of child abuse, and the Samaritans runs advertising encouragingdepressed or suicidal people to call the Samaritans for help. Between 1999 and March 2003 the NSPCC’s Full Stop campaign raised £120.7 million in the biggest-evercampaign by a charity, breaking new ground in its sector (Pegram et al. 2003). Non-profit organisations are often more brand-oriented than are commercial, profit-makingorganisations (Napoli 2006).

In non-profit marketing, it may be difficult to define what the exchange is, in other wordswhat the contributors to charities gain from their donation. In the case of governmentadvertising (for example, encouraging people to give up smoking) it is hard to see whatpeople gain from responding (apart from a healthier life, but there can be few smokerswho are not aware of this already).

In the case of charities, the donors obtain a sense of having done the right thing by giving(see Figure 13.2). In the case of contributions from businesses, socially responsiblebehaviour on the part of corporations boosts sales. Also, charities supported by a corporation with a previous poor record of social responsibility often receive higherdonations from the public at large (Lichtenstein et al. 2004).

Figure 13.2 Contributors to charities

In one study of high-earning young professionals in the City of London, researchersfound that these people tended to support charities with well-established reputations,and also liked to be rewarded with ‘social’ events such as invitations to gala benefit dinners. ‘Planned giving’, where the donors receive tax breaks, were not highlyregarded by this group, which evidently enjoys the high-profile aspects of being seen tosupport the charity (Kottasz 2004).

In recent years, not-for-profit marketers have been prepared to take bigger risks withadvertising, making it more hard-hitting than in previous years. Their remit does not fitthe same paradigms as profit-based organisations, so they can afford to take greaterrisks (West and Sargeant 2004).

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The exchange is not always made in financial terms. Charities frequently use volunteers,whose needs must also be met – they give up their time in order to help the charity andneed to feel compensated in some way. Sometimes volunteers feel rewarded throughsocial contact, since many of them are either retired or unemployed and enjoy the company of other people in a work environment, while at the same time remaining incontrol of the hours they work and the degree of commitment they give. Women tendto volunteer much more often than do men (Rohrs 1986), although this trend may bereducing as more women have careers outside the home. Although some researchershave found that volunteers are motivated by the desire to help others, such self-reportsmay not be reliable; other authors suggest that all volunteers are actually motivated byself-interest. In fact, the truth is likely to lie somewhere in between – as might beexpected, different volunteers act for different reasons (Wymer 2003).

If people volunteer to help a charity only because there is something in it forthemselves, is this really volunteering at all? Shouldn’t we be helping out simplybecause it’s the right thing to do – not expecting a ticket of admission to theKingdom of Heaven for our efforts?

Or perhaps we should give people credit for being the kind of person whoderives pleasure from helping others – in contrast to some people who apparentlyderive pleasure from harming others!


Volunteers can therefore be grouped according to their individual motivation for volunteering, and treated accordingly (Kotler 1982). Charities tend to assume thatpeople volunteer because they support the aims of the charity, which may well not be the correct focus (Kotler 1982). In a survey of volunteers for a literacy programme,volunteers obtained one or more of the following benefits from volunteering (Wymer2003):

l Personal satisfaction from making a difference to someone’s life.

l Older retired people, especially teachers and librarians, derived a sense of feelinguseful and needed.

l Social benefits from interacting with the students and with each other.

l A few volunteers reported that volunteering was consistent with their Christian orother religious beliefs.

In terms of demography, this study found that volunteers tended to come from wealthierhouseholds with small families. Gender, age and income were all significant, but personality traits such as self-esteem and empathy do not appear to affect whethersomeone volunteers or not. Clearly, there is scope for much more research on this topic.Presumably it would be more realistic to consider how volunteers differ from eachother and to try to meet the needs of a group of volunteers who have similar needs(Yavas and Reicken 1985).

The other aspect of non-profit marketing is that of changing people’s attitudes andbehaviour. This is especially interesting for political parties. A view is emerging that

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political parties have concentrated too much on ‘spin’ (the manipulation of the newsmedia to create a favourable impression) and not enough on marketing (meeting theneeds of their constituents). In particular, information needs of voters are not beingmet (Mortimore 2003).

From a planning viewpoint, the large number of stakeholders involved in a non-profitscenario creates a series of conflicts in trying to balance the needs of many differentpeople, all with different agendas. This is especially difficult when the charity uses volunteer workers, who (since they are unpaid) feel that they can come and go as they please, and not necessarily put a great deal of effort into what they are doing.Charities therefore have little control over their internal environment, but may havemore control over at least some of their external environment since they are, essen-tially, giving away goods and services. They also have the moral high ground when it comes to dealing with outside organisations such as government officials and thenews media.

Internal marketing

Internal marketing is aimed at using marketing techniques to mould the corporate culture. Organisations are composed of people who will develop a corporate culturewithout any outside help – such cultures have their own language, customs, hierarchyand traditions. Within the organisation sub-groups and individuals will have their ownagendas and aspirations, alliances will form within groups, and pressure groups willform. The organisation will have its own rules and regulations, some of which will bethe unwritten rules by which organisation members live and work. These rules operatealongside official company rules.

From the viewpoint of marketing, the members of the organisation are participating inan exchange process. This goes beyond exchanging their time for the organisation’smoney: employees contribute a varying amount of commitment to the firm and theircolleagues. This is called emotional labour. People think about their work, talk about itat home, sometimes work extra hours without pay, and otherwise go beyond the strictletter of the contract. In general, people do it because they feel a degree of responsibilitytowards their colleagues and also feel the need to do a good job. Praise or approvalfrom management is part of the reward that staff can reasonably expect from anemployer in exchange for emotional labour.

Using the categories outlined in Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs, Table 13.1 showsexamples of work-related need fulfilment.

Since marketing focuses on meeting needs in exchange for value, it seems reasonableto suppose that any request for extra effort from staff should be accompanied by somestatement showing how such efforts will result in staff’s personal needs being met moreclosely. Sales managers tend to be adept at this (perhaps because of being marketing-oriented) and can often obtain remarkable effort from salespeople, simply by beingattuned to the individual needs of the employees they manage.

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Services marketing

Much marketing theory has been developed around the marketing of physical products,but in fact the majority of day-to-day marketing is concerned with services. Marketingacademics are divided on the issue of whether services marketing is actually a separateset of problems or whether the principles of marketing remain the same whether deal-ing with a service or a physical product. The key reason for this thinking is that, conceptually, every product provides a service outcome. Someone who buys a drill isactually buying a hole-boring service, for example.

Even under traditional thinking, virtually all products are a mixture of service elementsand physical product elements. In other words, products are on a continuum, with services at one end and physical products at the other. For example, a life insurancepolicy has virtually no physical existence, apart from the document, whereas a bag ofbuilder’s sand has a physical presence but almost no service aspects apart from delivery.At the extreme end of the spectrum, service products have the following characteristics:

1 Intangibility. The product cannot be touched, which means that it is difficult toevaluate in advance of purchase. It also has no second-hand value, so in a sense cannot be owned. For example, a haircut cannot be tried out before purchase, norcan it be sold to a friend, unlike a guitar or a car.

2 Inseparability of production and consumption. In most cases, the production of aservice and its consumption happen at the same time. A concert happens as it isbeing heard and although the effects may last for some time afterwards in the mem-ories of the audience, the main benefits are consumed at the time.

3 Variability. Because services are produced on an individual basis, they are oftenvariable in nature. In some respects this is a benefit for the customer – being able toask the chef to cook one’s steak rare rather than medium is useful, but the chef might

Table 13.1 Work-related need fulfilment


Physiological needs

Safety needs

Love needs

Esteem needs

Aesthetic needs

Self-actualisation needs


Fair salary, comfortable working environment, suitable working facilitiesand equipment.

Secure employment prospects, safe working environment, medicalinsurance, pension plan.

Respect of management, deserved praise, group membership andfeeling of belonging.

Achievement and recognition of achievement, opportunity to acquire agood reputation, feeling of working for a well-respected organisation.

Pleasant working environment, well-designed working spaces,opportunities to participate in creative activities.

Opportunity to go on training courses, opportunities for promotion,opportunities to participate in the running of the organisation throughparticipative decision making.

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be having a bad day and may overcook the vegetables. Things go wrong with servicesbecause they are difficult to standardise.

4 Perishability. Services cannot be stockpiled for later use. An airline seat is availableonly for a specific flight on a specific day – once the aircraft takes off, the seat cannotbe sold.

From a planning perspective, services marketing usually involves a large input fromemployees. In effect, a service company such as a restaurant or hairdressing business isbuying staff time wholesale and selling it retail. Since time is extremely perishable,planning needs to consider the loading element of demand, and demand will need tobe managed in some way. Low-cost airlines do this by having flexible pricing: the aimis for every aircraft to take off full, even if some passengers have paid only a low fare,because even a small amount of money is better than nothing at all. Other service busi-nesses have discounts for students or senior citizens during quiet times, or have ‘happyhour’ discounts, or promote in other ways to fill quiet periods.

Planning in SMEs

Small businesses have specific problems and advantages in terms of planning. In mostcases, small firms have few resources to devote to the level of research and planningtime that a full-blown marketing plan would require. Nevertheless, small firms areoften run by a single entrepreneur or a small team of partners who are able to respondrapidly to changes in the market.

For most small firms, a business plan is simply something that a bank manager requiresif the firm needs to borrow money. The plan is unlikely to be followed rigidly, since circ*mstances can change rapidly for small firms – a key employee leaving might wellbe a major setback, whereas a larger firm would have enough people on hand to takeup the slack.

Richard Whittington (2001) questions the ‘toolbox’ approach of most strategic management texts. Whittington examines four generic approaches to strategy, whichare outlined in Table 13.2.

Each approach offers a different set of answers for what strategy is. Classicists say thatstrategy is rational and consists of a set of deliberate calculations aimed at achieving amarket position and maintaining it in the face of opposition. It implies rationality, long-range focus, responses to environmental shifts in a calculated manner, and so forth.

Evolutionists believe that the environment is too unpredictable for long-range planningto have any reasonable chance of success. For the evolutionists, it is the market, not themanagers, that make the important choices, and firms are almost certainly unable toadapt quickly enough to make much difference to their survival chances (Hannan andFreeman 1988; Williamson 1991). Thus successful strategies emerge only as a result ofruthless natural selection, in which the firms with inappropriate strategies go brokeand the ones which happen to have hit on a strategy which meets the needs of the market go on to succeed.

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For processualists, the processes of organisations and markets are rarely perfect. Thismeans that the market is not as implacable as the evolutionists believe, nor is the firmable to plan as thoroughly as the classicists would like. People are unable to be so preciseand unvarying as to be able to carry through a detailed plan, particularly in the face ofthe difficulties and unforeseen circ*mstances which are bound to arise in an imperfectworld. Therefore, firms develop strategy (or have it forced upon them) via a series ofbodgings, ad-hoc decisions, compromises with reality, and learning by mistakes ratherthan by long-range planning and rationality (Mintzberg 1994). For the processualist,failure to carry out the perfect marketing strategy is unlikely to prove fatal (althoughthere may be some loss of ground).

Systemic theorists believe that people are capable of carrying out rational plans of actionand are also confident that it is possible to define strategies in the face of environmentalforces. However, their view is that the objectives and practices of strategy are embeddedin the social system to which they belong. This means, for example, that profit max-imisation is not necessarily a strong factor in strategic planning. This argument carriesconsiderable weight in a world in which the non-profit organisation and the ‘fair trade’corporation are in the ascendant.

The systemic perspective also finds support in the fact that firms within different socialsystems have differing strategic perspectives. German and Japanese businesses wererestructured after the Second World War to engender close cooperation between banksand enterprises, and to operate within a paternalistic state structure which encouragedworker participation and universal social security. The Anglo–American business struc-ture, meanwhile, operated in an environment of hostile takeovers, impatient lenders,adversarial labour relations and (frequently) governments committed to giving capit-alism free rein.

In fact, all the generic philosophies of strategy have some facets which are evidenced inthe real world. The business world is sufficiently complex to allow for a wide range ofexperiences and models. For example, some industries change very little over time:light-bulb manufacture has changed relatively little since the 19th century, as has

Table 13.2 Generic approaches to strategy







Relies on rational planning methods, using environmental analysis as thebasis for decision making and planning for the long term.

Assumes that only the fittest will survive: correct strategies will result fromadapting to the environment and ad-hoc solutions are used in response to environmental pressures. Evolutionary strategic thought is aboutaccommodating to the law of the jungle: long-term planning is thereforenot feasible.

Strategy accommodates to the fallible processes of both organisations and markets. Strategy is therefore a bottom-up process, coming from the exigencies of the situations the firm faces.

The ends and means of strategy are linked to the cultures and powers ofthe local social systems in which it takes place. Companies therefore followpolicies which are dictated by their local social constraints rather than bystrict business considerations.

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house building, even though the technology has shifted somewhat. This means that itis reasonable to develop long-term strategies for these industries, to take account offairly predictable economic or environmental shifts. In other industries, such as therestaurant trade, conditions can change rapidly and unpredictably, so an evolutionaryparadigm prevails. Processualists find support for their arguments in those industrieswhich are dominated by small firms, and in industries such as the computer softwareindustry where technological breakthroughs happen on an almost daily basis.

The differences between the generic strategies do matter, because they offer radicallydifferent recommendations for managers. For every manager, the strategy-formulationprocess always begins with a decision as to which theoretical picture of the world bestfits with his or her own experiences and attitudes. If the manager’s view is that theworld is orderly, with sufficient information and capacity to analyse, and sufficientavailability of organisational control, then the classical paradigm would be most likelyto be adopted. If, however, the manager believes that the environment is cut-throat andunpredictable, the evolutionist paradigm will prevail.

Some of the different contexts under which each strategic paradigm will succeed areshown in Figure 13.3.

Figure 13.3 Contexts for strategy

From this model, it is clear that small firms are likely to be profit-maximising and emergent,and therefore strategy will evolve rather than be planned. In the context of what smallfirms do, this is a crucial observation: such firms are not in a position to plan effectivelybecause they can be affected too easily by competition from larger firms and are in effectat the mercy of their external environment. This does not mean that they have no strategy– it simply means that it changes from day to day as circ*mstances dictate. Because suchfirms operate under an evolutionary paradigm, however, only the fittest will survive.

Source: From ‘What is Strategy – and Does it Matter?’, Richard Whittington, Copyright 2001, Thomson Learning(EMEA) Ltd. Reproduced by permission of Cengage Learning.

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Marketing planning does not happen in a vacuum. The planning process and outcomeswill be affected or even negated by the context in which they occur. This chapter hasexamined some of the contexts in which planning happens and has discussed some ofthe issues which arise for planners.

The key points from this chapter are as follows:

‘ Business-to-business markets have fewer customers, bigger order values,professional buyers, and are not end users for most of what they buy. This hasprofound effects on planning.

‘ Global firms can aim for niche markets or for mass markets, but the customerneeds must be universal if the market is to cross borders.

‘ Charities have a large number of stakeholders, most of which are not under the control of the organisation.

‘ The perishability of services means that loading is a key factor in planning.

‘ Small businesses usually operate in an evolutionary environment and thereforestrategy emerges from circ*mstances rather than from formal planning.

Setting up an internal marketing programme would need to go further than the planned ‘away day’. Hugh was handed the task ofplanning further activities to improve the corporate culture, a jobwhich appealed to his nature. At present, the company did not evenhave a staff newsletter, and the existing corporate culture had simplygrown up as a result of interactions between colleagues. The general

feeling among the team was that staff enjoyed working for Eden Garden Tools – the com-pany’s relatively low staff turnover evidenced this – but there was clearly room for developinga much greater commitment among staff.

As a small firm, there was some doubt expressed as to whether the kind of detailed planningthey were undertaking was really necessary. In fact, Eden Garden Tools’ senior managementteam knew that they would have no chance of obtaining the funding they needed for expan-sion if they did not have a plan, and in any case the idea was to move from being a small firm to being a large firm, in which case a plan would be essential if they were to be able tocoordinate the actions of a larger workforce, possibly located in several countries.

Their global marketing strategy would have to be based on capturing a niche, since the firmlacked the resources to go for a high-share strategy. They would also need to be very cautiousabout the markets they entered – each country would have to be entered separately, unlessthe prospective ‘piggy-back’ partner thought otherwise.

For the business-to-business aspect of marketing the pruning saw, Eden Garden Tools felt confident of being able to capture a strong share of the market. The saw would be a big timesaver, and in business time is money since staff are usually the biggest overhead.

Overall, the team now felt very confident that they were in a position to write the marketingplan – and in turn, to win the funding the company needed.




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Review questions

1 What are the differences in planning for business-to-business markets as opposed toconsumer markets?

2 What specific issues arise when planning for global markets?

3 How might a charity balance the needs of its stakeholders?

4 Why is it difficult for small businesses to plan effectively?

5 What problems might affect a small service business such as a hairdressing business?

Case study The Real Seed Catalogue

Throughout the UK there has been a revival in the idea of growing one’s own food. Everywherethere are waiting lists for allotments as people move away from buying supermarket veget-ables and processed food – the level of interest in home-grown, mainly organic crops is at itshighest since the Second World War.

Into this burgeoning market has come the Real Seed Catalogue. The founders of the catalogue,Ben and Kate, are certainly engaged in a labour of love rather than a commercial enterprise –passionate believers in saving the ecosystem, they grow their seeds on a smallholding in Wales.They are not certified organic, because in their own words ‘we’d rather be out growing veget-ables than filling in forms, to be honest’, and they are reluctant to pay the necessary fees forcertification. That said, their seeds almost certainly exceed the criteria for organic certification.They grow all their own food for personal consumption, and their house and office are solar-powered, heated from wood-burning stoves which burn renewable, coppiced wood, and theyrarely use a car and never fly anywhere.

The couple separate, sort and package the seeds themselves, and if they sell out of a particularvariety they simply flag up on their website that the seeds have been sold. They do not buy inseeds from commercial suppliers, although they have about 15 sympathetic friends throughoutthe country who will grow seeds for them, and they will occasionally source seeds from knownorganic seed companies in order to grow new varieties. As far as possible the Real SeedCatalogue contains heritage varieties – there are no hybrid seeds, so those who buy the seedscan grow their own for next year. Ben and Kate actively encourage their customers to do justthat – which may seem bizarre, since it would apparently hurt sales to do so, but in practice itsimply means that people come back again next year for more seeds for different varieties. TheReal Seed Catalogue is simply a company that people trust: Kate and Ben are so obviouslytransparently honest and passionate about helping people to grow their own.

Of course, the business has to make money, or it cannot stay in the game. The seeds are notunreasonably priced, but equally they are not usually the cheapest available. However, they tendto grow a lot better than commercially produced hybrids, which are treated with fungicide and are in any case intended for growing in controlled, fertilised, pesticide-treated conditions.Most of the Real Seed Catalogue’s seeds are heritage varieties, i.e. plants which used to bewidely cultivated but which (for one reason or another) are not suitable for large-scale indus-trial farming. The Real Seed Catalogue has an efficient website on which people can order theirseeds: payment by cheque, cash, credit card, euros, and US dollars are all acceptable. Seeds


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236 Part 4 Marketing planning in context

Garten, J.E. (2000): World View: Global Strategies for the New Economy (Harvard BusinessSchool Publishing) pp xiii–xiv.

Grosse, R. and Kujawa, D. (1992): International Business (Homewood, IL: Irwin).

Hannan, M.T. and Freeman, J. (1988): Organisational Ecology (Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press).

Jayawardene, C. (2004): Management of service quality in Internet banking: the develop-ment of an instrument. Journal of Marketing, 20 (1) pp 185–207.

Kotler, P. (1982): Marketing for Non-profit Organisations (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PrenticeHall).

Kottasz, R. (2004): How should charitable organisations motivate young professionals to givephilanthropically? International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 9 (1)pp 9–28.

Lichtenstein, D.R., Drumright, M.E. and Braig, B.M. (2004): The effects of corporate socialresponsibility on customer donations to corporate-supported non-profits. Journal ofMarketing, 68 (4) pp 16–32.

Mintzberg, H. (1994): The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning (New York: Free Press).

Mortimore, R. (2003): Why politics needs marketing. International Journal of Nonprofit andVoluntary Sector Marketing, 8 (2) pp 107–21.

Napoli, J. (2006): The impact of non-profit brand orientation on organisational performance.Journal of Marketing Management, 22 (7/8) pp 673–94.

Pegram, G., Booth, N. and McBurney, C. (2003): Full stop: an extraordinary appeal for anextraordinary aspiration – putting leadership theory into practice. International Journal ofNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 8 (3) pp 207–12.


are dispatched by post, and there is a replacement guarantee if the seeds disappoint for anyreason whatsoever (even incompetent growing). Seeds can also be ordered by post, using a form from the website or a simple letter. The company does not promote itself in any otherway, relying almost entirely on word of mouth to attract new customers.

The Real Seed Catalogue almost isn’t a business at all: rather, it is a crusade to bring real foodback into people’s lives. Ben and Kate make no secret of the fact that they are trying to convert people to the cause – but it is a worthy cause, and one which has a resonance with the mood of the age.


1 To what extent do Kate and Ben fit the model of the opportunistic entrepreneur?

2 Which of the four generic strategic approaches does the Real Seed Catalogue most closelyresemble?

3 To what extent would you expect the Real Seed Catalogue to engage in formal planning?

4 Who are the main stakeholders for the firm?

5 How does Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs relate to the Real Seed Catalogue?

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Rohrs, F.R. (1986): Social background, personality and attitudinal factors influencing thedecision to volunteer and level of involvement among adult 4-H leaders. Journal of VoluntaryAction Research, 15 (1) pp 87–99.

Whittington, R. (2001): What is Strategy – And Does It Matter? (London: Thomson).

Williamson, O.E. (1991): Strategising, economising and economic organisation. StrategicManagement Journal, 12 pp 75–94.

Wymer, W.W. (2003): Differentiating literacy volunteers: a segmentation analysis for targetmarketing. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 8 (3) pp 267–85.

Yavas, U. and Reicken, G. (1985): Can volunteers be targeted? Journal of the Academy ofMarketing Science, 13 (2) pp 218–28.

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Marketing plan for The Eden Garden ToolsCompany Ltd: 2010–2014

The outline marketing plan presented here is an illustrative examplebased upon a hypothetical company, The Eden Garden Tools CompanyLtd, which manufactures specialist gardening products and marketsthem to amateur gardeners both in the UK and in the EuropeanUnion.

The context of the plan is that of the recent recession and how asmall private limited company (essentially a family business) can face up to difficult market andcompetitive conditions through undertaking marketing planning and producing and imple-menting a marketing plan. The scenario for development involves sales growth from both newproducts and new customers as a basis for attracting external finance from venture capitalists.The plan has been produced for a five-year period, which provides an alternative step towardssetting out a successful future for the business without having to go the whole way and pro-vide a plan for a 5–7-year exit strategy as the new investors originally required. The main issueunderlying the plan is the lack of marketing understanding of the current management and theneed to adopt a more customer-focused basis for the company’s future success. The currentdeficiencies of planning and focus need to be remedied if the business is going to face up tothe challenge of emerging from the recession and going forward on a successful footing.

The sample outline plan constructed for Eden Garden Tools is in very broad terms based onthe structure presented in Chapter 1 of the text. However, it is important to understand thatthis is by no means the only framework that can be adopted and that balance of marketing plan structure and content (including appendices) should reflect the circ*mstances of theorganisation involved.


With a retail turnover of over £5 billion a year, the UK gardening industry is a buoyant and growing market. The market has enjoyed good growth over the last 10–15 years, not least as a result of changesin lifestyle and disposable incomes. Socio-economic conditions have worked in favour of the gardeningindustry with an increase in home ownership, higher disposable incomes and an ageing population.What’s more, consumers are becoming better informed gardeners and are more demanding, requiringbetter service and value. Gardening is even – dare we say it – becoming increasingly fashionable. Thepopularity of the grow-your-own movement is testament to the public’s increased interest in their environment, the garden as a refuge and a greater desire to connect with the earth.

Horticultural Trades Association, 2009

Eden Garden Tools is a small player in an industry which is becoming increasingly polarised,with large multinational manufacturers dominating mass-market, branded sales together witha proliferation of cheaper non-branded and retailer-branded low-cost alternatives manufacturedin the Far East. The firm requires a strategy to come out of the recession which will give it aplatform for growth and development. It produces specialised equipment that differentiates its




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offer from the mainstream, and regards itself as the most innovative player in the industry. It already has a good export presence, which will need to be extended, as will the range ofproducts that the company produces. It also needs to identify and enter alternative markets tothose that it currently serves at home.

Having recognised its marketing shortcomings in recent years Eden Garden Tools has appointeda marketing manager, Umar Sayeed, and tasked him with producing an outline marketing planto be presented to the venture capitalists. However, he has only a limited amount of resourcesand time to do this, so the shape and content of the plan will reflect this, as indicated below.Once the outline plan has been presented to the potential investors, Umar and the other seniormanagers will need to provide a much more detailed assessment of what marketing they have planned over the coming years so that they have a blueprint for the future of Eden GardenTools.


The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd is a small garden tools and equipment producer basedin the UK. It has been operating for 15 years and has developed steadily over this periodthrough the manufacture and supply of innovative products targeted at specific customergroups with particular requirements. This includes ergonomically designed tools for those whofind gardening difficult and the Slick Mower, which is designed to deal with uneven lawns.Although the company has been reasonably successful in UK and international markets as a result of the trend towards greater participation in gardening, growth has slowed in recenttimes due to the onset of the credit crunch and the economic recession.

The owners of the business have identified that they need to undertake business development.They have recruited some key personnel to do this and have put together an outline plan to bepresented to potential investors in three weeks’ time. The plan provides a background to thesituation, the business, the industry and its main drivers. The strengths and weaknesses of EdenGarden Tools are identified, together with market opportunities and threats.

A strategy for development is presented based upon the company differentiating its offer andbrand in terms of innovation and carefully targeted segmentation strategies, which provide a platform for significantly increasing its global presence. The business has integrated a newcommercial product into its planned portfolio in addition to launching a revitalised range ofhand tools and a separate sub-brand targeted at children.

A broad set of marketing-mix activities has been proposed over a five-year timescale to achievethe marketing objectives set out in the plan. Implementation factors associated with fundingthe plan and the necessary structures, responsibilities, and monitoring and control approachesare considered in the context of the planning process for Eden Garden Tools.


Eden Garden Tools’ mission is to deliver innovative gardening products to a range of customersand to create a love of gardening amongst its user base, whatever their age or personal cir-c*mstances. In so doing it will be a profitable business that will provide long-term value to itsshareholders and sustain this through growing its market share both at home and internationally.

The company will strategically differentiate its offer from its competitors by meeting the needsof specific target customer groups through providing them with benefit-based gardening

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Marketing plan for The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd: 2010–2014 241

solutions. It will achieve this through building the brand and its sub-brands and expand its focusfrom the UK and Europe into a wider international sphere.

The values of the company are to positively support gardening as a worthwhile pastime andform of exercise for all individuals and to support the horticultural and agricultural industry ingeneral as important contributors to local, regional, national and international economies.Eden Garden Tools therefore has a stance that is supportive of environmental sustainability andwill always endeavour to behave in an ethical way with regard to its customers, employees andthe wider community.

The company recognises that customers are key to its success and that satisfying their needswill be achieved only through harnessing the skills of its valued employees. On this basis thecompany has the following vision as the focus of its future development:

‘The Eden Garden Tools Company Ltd will be the leading company in horticultural innovationin the UK. This will be achieved by a policy of continuous innovation, coupled with sound engi-neering and a focus on customer need, whether for the amateur gardener or the professionalgrower.’

From its current position the company intends to achieve these general corporate objectives:

l Reduce its debt/equity ratio by 5 per cent per annum over the next five years.

l Increase total sales turnover by 40 per cent in two years.

l Achieve a break-even position on UK and European business by mid-2011 and a 20 per centprofit margin on sales in these markets by end 2012.

l Generate 10 per cent of sales from non-UK and European markets by end 2012 and increasethis to 20 per cent in five years.

l Over five years achieve 90 per cent brand awareness of Eden Garden Tools in its consumerhousehold segments in the UK and Europe, and 60 per cent in its business-to-business andprofessional markets.

l Actively promote through its brand position the sustainability and health advantages of gardening to the wider community and emphasise the inclusive nature of gardening as a pastime for anyone.

l Stress the importance of horticulture and agriculture industries to the economy and promoteEden Garden Tools as a supporter of their success through its innovative business solutions.


3.1 External analysis

The market for Eden Garden Tools’ products can be broadly defined in terms of garden toolsand equipment and includes lawnmowers, other powered tools, hand tools and watering products (hosepipes, etc.).

3.1.1 Market analysis

Domestic market

According to Key Note (2009), consumer spending on garden equipment and tools in the UKwas approximately £851 million in 2008, which had risen from around £753 million in 2004. All

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categories of the market grew over this period at a rate of 3.5 per cent per annum, althoughthere was a slowdown in 2008. The more expensive items including lawnmowers and powertools were worst affected as the market growth rate started to level off.

Of the total market sales in 2008, lawnmowers contributed £378 million (44 per cent), powertools £326 million (38 per cent), hand tools £86 million (10 per cent) and watering products £61 million (8 per cent).

The lawnmower market has three main product categories: hand-propelled mowers, petrol-drivenmowers, including ride-on mowers, and electrically powered mowers. Electric mowers are themost popular type, outselling petrol-driven models by around two to one; 90 per cent of salesin the electric category are made up by hover mowers. The sector is highly fragmented, withmore than 30 manufacturer brands, plus retailer own brands. Weather is a crucial influence onlawnmower sales, with good weather in the spring and early summer leading to greater demand.

Power tools follow a similar pattern of demand and can be broadly categorised into three maintypes: tidy-up machines including blowers and shredders, etc., cutting and edging products,such as strimmers, shears and saws, and lawn-care products such as electric lawn rakes and scarifiers. The market is again fragmented, with a large number of suppliers, but it is dominatedby major players Black & Decker and Bosch.

The hand tools sector is made up of low-technology items that have long life cycles. Marketpenetration is high – most households have at least one product such as a trowel or a fork –and the market is mature, with a large number of suppliers producing a range of items.Previously well-known brands have lost their share of the market to retailers’ branded and non-branded, low-cost imports. A recent development has been the introduction of ergonomicallydesigned products that can reduce strain on the back.

Water equipment includes hoses and related items. Hozelock is the market leader, but Asiannon-branded, low-cost manufacturers are increasing their share of the market. Growth of thismarket has been hampered by high rainfall in recent years and the UK climate precludes significant growth compared with other countries with warmer climates and lower rainfall (e.g.the US and southern Europe).

Customer analysis

The TGI (2008)1 report on ownership of gardens and allotments shows that 85 per cent ofadults in the UK have gardens and 2.5 per cent have allotments, so the potential market islarge. More older people have gardens, with 55–64 year olds being the main target group interms of size, although 88 per cent of all adults aged over 35 have gardens. Social grade is not an important consideration in garden ownership, with all groups having at least 75 per cent,yet ABs tend to be over 90 per cent. Allotment ownership is higher in the C2s and lower in the E social grade group. London-based consumers are the lowest in terms of garden ownership.

With regard to specific product ownership, around 60 per cent of adults own a lawnmower,with a greater number among older people. There is a relationship between the younger first-time buyer 25–34 age group and those buying a new lawnmower, although older customersclearly buy replacement mowers and these are more prevalent in the higher social grades.London has the lowest penetration of lawnmower ownership.

1 Target Group Index (TGI) (2008), survey on ownership of gardens and allotments (Ealing, London: BMRB International).

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Garden tools are owned by over 54 per cent of adults. Strimmers and hedge trimmers havemore than 25 per cent ownership penetration, but there is low penetration of other products,which suggests there is potential for market penetration and development in this area.

In terms of spending, most people spend less than £100 on a lawnmower and less than £50 onother garden equipment items, which indicates that there is potential to sell higher-priceditems particularly to better-off consumers and those seeking added value from the product interms of benefit.

Analysis of buying by children under 15 is not available, although it can be assumed that this isundertaken on their behalf by parents or relatives buying as gifts.

The HTA Gardening Continuum profiles the UK population by gardening interest and likeli-hood to buy or do some form of gardening. The Continuum identifies the following five broadtypes of gardener:

Category of gardener

Very keen gardeners

Quite keen gardeners

Marginal gardeners

Not keen gardeners

Definitely hostile


Source: The Horticultural Trades Association’s Garden Industry Monitor.


Those who positively enjoy gardening, are interested andknowledgeable and spend time pursuing what is really an established hobby.

Those who claim to be quite interested and who make a positiveclaim about enjoyment. Although they actively work in their owngardens, they do not express a desire to increase the amount ofgardening that they currently do.

Those who do some gardening, are not hostile to gardening andexpress a willingness to do more.

Those who do some gardening, but do not wish to do more,coupled with negative attitudinal responses indicating that thegardening undertaken is not because it interests them. Largelythose who see gardening as a chore.

Those with a place to grow outdoor plants who do very little or nogardening and who have totally negative attitudes to or interest andenjoyment in gardening, with low knowledge and absolutely no wishto do more.

This group do not lack interest in gardening nor do they lackknowledge. However, they do little or no gardening, possibly due toinsurmountable obstacles such as health or domestic responsibilities.

Proportion of the UK population

13 per cent

11 per cent

30 per cent

27 per cent

16 per cent

3 per cent

Overseas market

UK consumers spend more per head on gardening than consumers in other countries. In theEU, the French spent around £6 billion on garden products in 2008, while the Germans spentaround £9 billion. The total retail market for garden supplies in the EU is estimated to be wortharound £50 billion (Key Note 2009). However, the US is the largest single market in the world,with sales of garden products worth around £55 billion. Many of the trends seen in the UK arealso evident in other markets. These include the impact of recession, the influence of gardenreality programmes and increasing interest in growing fruit and vegetables.

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International trade statistics do not distinguish between products destined for retail sale toindividual gardeners and those that are acquired for commercial use, such as on golf courses orrecreation grounds, or for use in agriculture and horticulture. Yet the data identify a general trendand show that the penetration of imports is increasing, particularly from low-cost producingcountries which are not faced with technological barriers to trade in this market.

3.1.2 Market drivers

The main drivers of the market in the UK include the following:

l The media. TV and radio programmes, magazines and newspaper sections have for manyyears supported the growth in popularity of gardening and this has been boosted by garden makeover TV programmes over the past 20 years or so. The market for garden products has been spurred on by this increasing popularity.

l Grow-your-own activity. Growing fruit and vegetables has become more popular for variousreasons, including the onset of economic hardship leading to more demand for allotmentsand the growth in vegetable seeds. Growing food has also become popular as it is seen tobe sustainable, healthy and better for you. Gardening is also seen as a cheap and product-ive form of leisure activity.

l Effects of the weather. The weather is an important factor in driving the demand for gardenequipment. Recent poor weather in the spring and early summer has had a negative effecton garden equipment sales.

l Impacts of the economic and housing market downturn. Expensive gardening equipment issensitive to both the economic climate and the state of the housing market. Poor perform-ance on both these counts has led to a decline in the sales of gardening equipment. Peopleare not buying new equipment but are keeping their old machines and tools longer.However, they are investing in equipment to enhance the sale of their property or to main-tain their new gardens, particularly in the case of first-time buyers.

3.1.3 Competitors and intermediaries

The garden products industry is highly concentrated and dominated by a number of importantestablished brands with good consumer awareness, particularly at the top end of the market.There has also been recent significant growth in the provision of low-cost imports from the Far Eastand some of the major manufacturers have shifted their production to low-cost overseas bases.

Estimating the number of manufacturers of garden equipment is difficult as the market is highlypolarised and fragmented. The Garden Industry Manufacturers Association lists 7 suppliers ofgarden machinery, 19 suppliers of garden tools and gloves, 30 suppliers of garden equipmentand 12 suppliers of watering equipment. The Agricultural Engineers Association also lists 25 lawn and garden equipment manufacturers.

A further branch of the industry covers horticulture. The Commercial Horticultural Associationrepresents manufacturers and distributors of items to commercial horticultural growersthroughout the world. The Horticultural Trades Association represents 1,600 businesses and2,700 outlets whose members comprise retailers, growers, landscapers, service providers, manufacturers and distributors of garden materials. Retail membership includes specialist retailnurseries, the vast majority of independent garden centres, garden-centre chains and some DIYand high-street multiples.

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The main manufacturers of garden tools and equipment include:

l Black & Decker (manufacturer of powered gardening products)– lawnmowers, lawnrakers, shredders, blower-vacs, strimmers and hedge trimmers

l Bosch (manufacturer of powered gardening products)– hedgecutters, shredders, chainsaws, line trimmers, pressure washers (Bosch), lawnmowers

(Atco & Qualcast)

l Fiskars (manufacturer of garden-cutting tools)– shears, secateurs, hedge trimmers and lawn-care products (also Wilkinson Sword brand)

l Hayter (manufacturer of grass-cutting equipment)– lawnmowers and hedge trimmers; commercial-sector products

l Husqvarna (manufacturer of powered garden tools)– lawnmowers, hedge cutters, chainsaws

l Spear & Jackson (garden tools manufacturer)– hand tools and other equipment

l Wolf (manufacturer of garden tools)– hand tools, lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and scarifiers.

Distribution channels

Distribution of garden equipment is extremely concentrated through multiple retail DIY outletbusinesses (60 per cent). Garden-centre chains and smaller independent garden centres (20 per cent) also play an important role as distributors in local and regional markets. There isa good proportion of trade that goes through mail-order and catalogue distributors (12 per cent)and other outlets including hardware stores and garden-machinery specialists (8 per cent).

3.2 Internal analysis

The company’s internal situation is difficult to assess in detail in the short period of time avail-able so a basic structure was adopted.

3.2.1 Products

The current product portfolio comprises the Slick Mower and a range of tools produced for usein specialist markets. The Slick Mower is starting to see a levelling off of sales and is approach-ing the peak of its product life cycle, so is in need of a significant upgrade if it is to continue togenerate revenues for Eden Garden Tools to invest in other areas. The rest of the portfolio hasmany products starting to approach maturity, but no emerging products which are going togenerate good future cash flows. There is an urgent need to look at developing new products.The perceived innovativeness of the business is not upheld by the reality of the new productdevelopment that has been undertaken in recent years.

3.2.2 Human resources

Staff are skilled and loyal to the business and many of them have worked for the company sinceits inception in 1994. Yet they are somewhat conservative in their perspective of the businessand what it does and may find change difficult, especially if it involves some restructuring ofroles and responsibilities. The management’s expertise is in engineering and industry knowledge,and they had always seen themselves as an innovative company that was able to provide productsto meet market needs. However, there is a clear limitation in marketing knowledge, particularly

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in terms of customer and competitor understanding, and a distinct lack of market orientation.To counter this, a marketing manager with relevant experience in the garden tools sector hasbeen appointed, as has a sales manager with experience in markets that are related to futuregrowth areas. The lack of innovation is something that has been recognised by the staff, whichthey sum up in identifying Eden Garden Tools as ‘old fashioned’.

3.2.3 Finance

The finances of the business are not strong, although this is more of an issue of cash flow ratherthan the balance sheet. Indeed, the fixed asset position of the business is good and the orderbook is quite strong. However, there is increasing debt, which needs to be serviced, and nocash reserves, which have been run down in the recession. This makes financing a turnaroundthrough innovative new product development and targeting new markets difficult and hencethere was a need to seek external investment based on a plan for the future.

3.2.4 Marketing

The overall level of market orientation is low, with a particular weakness in broad market knowledge. Marketing information and research are poor, which makes planning difficult. The appointment of a marketing manager with good general market knowledge has been a positive move to resolve this and there is now some awareness of key market and businessdrivers: innovation, social responsibility, sustainability, globalisation and stakeholder relations.

Understanding of the customer base is weak and more detailed specification of target marketsis required, although some insights can be gleaned from the analysis of records and industrycustomer classification types. The brand positioning is unclear and needs strengthening andrefinement, particularly if new markets are to be considered beyond the existing range of customers. In the international arena there is only limited recognition of the potential threat of overseas competitors entering the UK market. In addition, the use of export houses in inter-national markets hinders strategic development, especially that linked to new products in newmarkets.

3.3 SWOT analysis summary and imperatives

Growth opportunities may exist for Eden Garden Tools from the overall increased demand ingardening and the consequent requirement for tools and equipment. This is being driven by a range of social, demographic, economic, technological and other factors, which has seen a long-term trend emerge for greater leisure activity throughout the developing world, especiallyin Eastern Europe and the Far East.

The company needs to raise its game from a marketing perspective generally if it is to takeadvantage of these opportunities in an ever more competitive environment. Competition isfierce in all areas of the market, so a clear strategy and plan of action are essential to securethe company’s success. This should be based on understanding the various needs of differentcomponents of the market in both consumer and business constituencies throughout theworld.

3.3.1 Strengths

l Innovative offer. Well established in UK and overseas markets with current range of differ-entiated products: technically and ergonomically.

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l Recognition as key player in certain market segments. Specific needs of women, elderly anddisabled customers are well addressed. Company franchise with consumers in these groupsin terms of meeting particular requirements, which can be extended into other niche markets,e.g. children. Also a reputation for producing equipment that caters well for difficult jobs,e.g. mowing uneven lawns.

l Established as a supplier with intermediaries. Has a presence with all the major UK retailersand wholesalers (DIY and garden centres). Knows how they trade and do business.

l Loyal skilled workforce. Capable of producing high-quality goods, although may need to bemore flexible in future.

3.3.2 Weaknesses

l Limited knowledge and understanding of customer base. Records are incomplete and marketresearch data are sparse, which makes planning relating to current products and markets difficult.

l Unclear market positioning. Uncertain what key platform for success should be based onbusiness and marketing strengths including the brand.

l Lack of competitor awareness. Limited recognition of the threat of overseas competition indomestic markets.

l Product portfolio unbalanced. No succession of new products flowing through to providefuture income streams. Other products reaching maturity and potentially the decline stageof the product life cycle.

l Marketing function underdeveloped. Despite new appointments there is a lack of marketorientation and supporting aspects of the marketing process, particularly planning.

l Cash flow problem. Limited funds for development and investment in marketing.

3.3.3 Opportunities

l Long-term growth in potential gardening market. Social and economic factors positivelyinfluencing market growth throughout the world but especially Eastern Europe and the Far East.

l More elderly consumers. Demographic trends in favour of niche expertise of Eden Garden Tools.

l Increasing popularity of gardening and vegetable growing. Possible new markets among the young driven by interest in nature, food and sustainability.

l Drive for greater efficiency and reduced business costs. Horticultural sector becoming morecompetitive and requiring greater efficiency savings through innovative production methods.

3.3.4 Threats

l Short-term demand deficiencies. Recession still influencing overall market demand, whichmakes tool replacement less important, hence hindering market growth.

l Domestic market entry from overseas competitors. Low-cost producers threaten hand toolsin particular.

l Pressure on price points. Range of forces driving down prices generally, including retailermargin requirements, competitors, greater value expectations of customers.

l Technological development by competitors. More advanced and sophisticated solutionsbeing developed by rivals taking away market from Eden Garden Tools.

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The main marketing objectives of Eden Garden Tools are as follows:

l To establish a clear, differentiated brand positioning based on innovation, reliability, practi-cality and inclusiveness by mid-2010.

l To successfully launch the new Slick Mower by end 2010, Garden Elves range by beginning2011 and tree trimmer by mid-2011.

l To achieve increase in sales revenue from existing products of 70 per cent by end 2013.

l To achieve 25 per cent of total sales revenue from new products in consumer markets byend 2012, and 50 per cent by end 2014.

l To grow market share to 2 per cent in UK, 0.15 per cent in Europe and 0.05 per cent in ROWby end 2014.

l To establish 20 per cent of sales online by end 2012, and 35 per cent by end 2014.

l To have 75 per cent presence in UK and European distribution channels and 30 per cent inROW by end 2014.

l To develop international business in excess of £20 million, representing 75 per cent of totalsales by end 2014.

l To build 90 per cent brand awareness in consumer markets and 60 per cent in commercialmarkets in UK and Europe by end 2014, and 25 per cent and 10 per cent in ROW marketsin same timescale.

Complementary financial and non-financial objectives are stated in the organisational strategicposition statement.


5.1 Target markets

5.1.1 Consumer markets

Sub-dividing the total consumer market for targeting purposes can be undertaken at a numberof levels for household consumers. The objectives of the company to grow business outside itsdomestic markets require targeting at three levels, UK, Europe and ROW, but within each ofthese the target customer groups will remain the same.

Existing products

The main targets for the existing hand-tool products and Slick Mower remain the ‘better off’customer that mainly reside in the very keen gardeners (VKGs) and quite keen gardeners(QKGs) categories, although marginal gardeners (MGs) will be specifically targeted in countrieswhere the market is well developed, such as the UK. In locations where the gardening marketis less well developed, the emphasis will be on VKGs and then QKGs. Within these broadparameters the emphasis is on women, the elderly and the disabled, who derive specific benefits from the Eden Garden Tools ergonomic design and particular innovative features ofthe product range, especially the Slick Mower (which will be relaunched by end 2010). Allotmentowners will be a secondary target.

The sales figures for this product group in the different geographical areas are outlined opposite.

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Existing product sales Sales units (000s) Sales revenue (£)

UK 2010 100,000 1,200,000

2011 110,000 1,500,000

2012 125,000 1,625,000

2013 140,000 2,100,000

2014 150,000 2,700,000

Europe 2010 50,000 750,000

2011 60,000 1,080,000

2012 70,000 1,400,000

2013 90,000 2,250,000

2014 100,000 2,750,000

ROW 2010 30,000 1,200,000

2011 45,000 1,840,000

2012 55,000 1,625,000

2013 65,000 2,370,000

2014 80,000 3,200,000

New products

The main new product drive in consumer markets will be in developing the Garden Elves rangefor children and the sales of the electric tree-pruning saw to households. The children’s line willbe targeted at children generally through appropriate channels but will focus on those relatedto VKGs and QKGs (typically grandparents or parents, who will be buying for the children touse or as gifts). The MGs will be a secondary target as these may include professional parentswho are time poor but are inclined towards greater gardening participation, and will wish tospend their leisure time with their children undertaking the same activities.

The other new product opportunity in the consumer sector will be the tree saw, which mayhave a limited sales potential in the VKG segment, or people with large gardens in need of the tool to care for their trees.

New product sales Sales units (£) Sales revenue (000s)

UK 2011 75,000 750,000

2012 100,000 1,100,000

2013 200,000 1,850,000

2014 250,000 2,300,000

Europe 2011 200,000 1,875,000

2012 250,000 2,225,000

2013 300,000 2,400,000

2014 350,000 2,850,000

ROW 2011 200,000 1,500,000

2012 250,000 1,750,000

2013 300,000 2,850,000

2014 350,000 3,500,000

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5.1.2 Commercial markets

The commercial sector will be targeted with the new product opportunity of the tree saw, andany secondary sales that may arise of existing tools and equipment that Eden Garden Tools willbe able to supply into its new B2B customer base, either directly or through distributors. Thetarget organisations are tree surgeons, professional gardening businesses, horticulturalists,smallholders and farms, commercial growers, plantation and orchard owners, and tool-hire centres. The target group would be prioritised according to the part of the world that wasbeing focused on.

New per cent existing Sales units (£) Sales revenue (000s)product sales

UK 2011 1,000 120,000

2012 1,500 187,500

2013 2,000 260,000

2014 2,500 340,000

Europe 2011 7,500 750,000

2012 10,000 1,100,000

2013 12,000 1,440,000

2014 15,000 1,950,000

ROW 2011 - -

2012 10,000 1,000,000

2013 15,000 1,800,000

2014 20,000 2,500,000

5.2 Competitive advantage and positioning

The advantage of Eden Garden Tools lies in its innovative, reliable, practical and inclusive offerings to particular user groups with specific requirements. The added value provided to itstarget customers enables the company to charge medium- to high-end prices and sets it apartfrom the low-cost alternatives available in the markets that it operates in. Additionally, EdenGarden Tools is seeking to expand its overseas operations significantly with both its existingand new products, and therefore needs to be viewed as an international player with a well-developed brand image that is recognised in its key markets throughout the world.

5.3 Strategy specification

The competitive nature of the markets for Eden Garden Tools’ current and future productsrequires that the brand and sub-brands of the company are clearly differentiated from all competitors in terms of their ability to deliver innovative and highly targeted solutions to gardeners and commercial users. In consumer markets the platform is further supported by thebenefits derived by users with particular needs, therefore extending the inclusivity principle ofgardening to those at the margins (i.e. those who find it more difficult to participate). For com-mercial users the solutions relate to adding value through increased efficiency and reducingcosts by providing specific tools for difficult jobs. The additional value offered distinguishesEden Garden Tools from its rivals and enables it to charge higher prices, which are perceived

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as competitive in the specified target markets throughout the world. The overall strategy isbased on sub-strategies of new product development, market development both at home andoverseas, and combined diversified strategies where new products are targeted at new B2Cand B2B user groups throughout the world. Product development will in particular be the platform for growth relating to the upgrading of the portfolio generally and specific initiativesthat involve innovative offers to existing and new customer groups.

5.4 Marketing mix programme

The marketing activities to support the strategies to achieve Eden Garden Tools’ objectives canbe broadly categorised into: product, price, communications, channels, services and internalmarketing. The mix of components utilised to achieve success requires planning and integrationat a number of levels within the organisation, and in conjunction with partners and stakeholders.

5.4.1 Product

The range of products could be defined in terms of tools and equipment. The tools essentiallycomprise a complete range of Eden Garden Tools-branded hand tools (trowels, hand forks,spades, hoes, rakes, shears, etc.), which are ergonomically designed to maximise the benefit interms of effectiveness and ease of use. This will be extended to the Garden Elves sub-brand,which has a full range of scaled-down tools dedicated for children’s use. There will be a generalpush to uplift the standard of all the tools produced as well as to fill any gaps in the portfolioso that a complete range is available under the Eden Garden Tools brand banner.

Equipment is centred on the Slick Mower, which is to be upgraded and relaunched to make itmore modern in its features and design and to fend off competition from potential rivals. Theunderlying technological advantage remains and this will be the key dimension of the drive totake the new model forward. At the same time opportunities for developing the motorisedequipment range will be identified, together with the specific tree-pruning saw development.

The Eden Garden Tools brand will be an integral aspect of the company’s product policy, withsome redesign of the logo to be undertaken in conjunction with the launch of the Garden Elvesrange. The products will all be branded and contain the strap line ‘Innovative garden solutionsfor everyone’.

Additionally, non-branded items will be produced to be sold and marketed under retailers’brand names where appropriate margins and volumes can be justified.

5.4.2 Price

The price points for all of the different products will be determined separately around an overallpremium pricing strategy to support the differentiation and innovative value-added solutionsthat Eden Garden Tools’ range offers. The mix of products within the range will be reflected inactual price points: hand tools relatively low and motorised equipment high. Nonetheless, eachof these groups will be appropriately priced to reflect the brand’s positioning against the com-petition. This will be affected by the expected value that buyers put on the purchase and thiswill vary between household (amateur) consumers and professional (business) buyers.

In addition, the pricing strategies for the new products will be based on a penetration policylooking to establish long-term growth and return through building the brand as the marketleader. This will be the case for both the Garden Elves range and the tree-pruning machinewithin the Eden Garden Tools range.

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Clearly, beyond the positioning element of the pricing decision there will be a need to considercompetitors’ products (if there are any) in the different geographical locations that the businessis intending to move into. Moreover, the pricing will need to take account of the influence ofthe distributors used in the different market locations. In the UK, then, margins may have to bereduced to take account of the buying power of large multiple retailers and garden centres,and policies that they may have on positioning garden tools and equipment in their range. Ininternational markets, the type of intermediaries to be used will be a key factor in determiningfinal price points and margins, as will a range of other macro influences on overall demand suchas income distribution, exchange rates and competition from local suppliers.

5.4.3 Distribution channels

The main channel strategies adopted with consumer products will be a combination of intensiveand selective distribution. For mass-market product range we will need to get maximum marketexposure through the main multiple retailers (including online distributors) both in the UK andin overseas markets. This will apply to the garden tools in particular, whereas there may be amore selective approach for the equipment around more specialist garden centres and gardentools suppliers. Although adding value even in the garden tools range is our key differentiator,consumers generally perceive these to be relatively low-cost items which will not invoke a majoramount of shopping around. It is critical therefore to have them listed in all the top retailers.For the higher-priced equipment we can be more selective in our stockists as these items maybe subject to a greater degree of decision-making time and comparison shopping, which mayfocus on specialist suppliers.

In overseas markets there will be a strategy put in place to support our international expansion.We plan to move away from the current use of export houses to the use of mainstream dis-tributors (retailers and wholesalers) in countries where we are intending to develop significantbusiness. A planned development of our distributor network will be put in place, which will bephased according to the potential of each market, starting with developed Western Europeancountries, followed by emerging East European states, North America and the Far East.Southern Asia and Africa will be secondary targets beyond the five-year timescale of this plan.A fully integrated channel-promotion strategy will be implemented to ensure maximum pushof the products through to intermediaries, which will fulfil our brand awareness targets.

Business channels will involve the use of selected distributors both at home and overseas,including agricultural and horticultural merchants. There will also be an element of direct sell-ing, either through our own sales staff or through agents.

We are planning the launch of a website sales interface by end of 2010 and this will be suitablyresourced to ensure that the targets for online sales are achieved.

5.4.4 Communications and promotion

Brand awareness is a key component of our overall marketing strategy and this will be achievedthrough an integrated communications plan for both the consumer and commercial target markets, which will also have a domestic UK and international dimension. The plan includesdetails of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ communications activities, which will revolve around communicationsdirectly to customers and trade intermediaries.

Consumer communications for the mainstream brand of Eden Garden Tools will be based on ahighly targeted magazine campaign combined with consumer exhibitions and shows launchingthe new Eden Garden Tools range of hand tools plus the Garden Elves speciality range for

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children. These will also encompass the relaunch of the Slick Mower. Some radio advertisingwill be incorporated to stimulate interest from the target audience. There will be competitionsto support the launch of the children’s range (organised with a popular children’s TV pro-gramme) and the relaunch of the Slick Mower (with a top-selling gardeners’ magazine).Targeted publicity for the new Slick Mower will be based on demonstrating its effectiveness inextreme cases of uneven lawns, and its use by celebrity opinion leader gardeners.

Trade-push communications will encompass a concerted salesforce campaign backed by in-store point-of-sale display materials. There will be a joint initiative with retailers to support thelaunch of the new range and products through a promotional discount coupon-based schemeover the initial launch period for each. Trade discount and over-rider incentives will also beused to stimulate sales in the early stages, as will retailer salesforce competitions.

In commercial markets there will be an initial in-house direct-selling campaign and anotherthrough channel intermediaries in more dispersed geographical markets. In addition we willlaunch the pruning saw through an exhibition and trade-show campaign in strategic locationsboth at home and overseas. A further trade-based campaign will use incentives to maximisedistribution exposure, which will be tied into the brand values of innovative practicality and thesavings that are possible in the commercial sector.

A key strategic project to be undertaken by the marketing team at Eden Garden Tools will bethe development and launch of a sales and information website by the end of 2010.

5.4.5 Service

The Eden Garden Tools policy on service to customers and intermediaries will be reformulatedto provide the highest levels of information and support. We will provide a one-year warrantyon tools and a two-year extended warranty on parts and labour on equipment. A network oflocal garden machinery suppliers will be registered as approved distributors and service agentsfor the motorised equipment. Training and support will be provided through our professionallyqualified technical salesforce and a phone-line support desk as well as a web-based technicalresource.

We will set up a dedicated internal sales team to support key retailer and distributor accounts,backed by an appropriate shared information database to facilitate ordering and through electronic data interchange. Further to this, our external sales team will work closely with customers in the field to plan promotional support initiatives and intelligence on new market-ing opportunities.

A no-quibble returns policy will be introduced which will ensure maximum satisfaction for customers if in the unlikely event they are dissatisfied with their purchase.


6.1 Timings, responsibilities and budgets

The scheduling of activities will be set out in a detailed Gantt chart in line with the achievementof the specified objectives set out above and the sales forecasts presented in Section 5. Thiswill provide details of the marketing programme and each element of the mix activitiessequenced in an integrated manner to maximise their impact on sales. The responsibilities willbe determined both within and outside the company in accordance with the priorities set outin the programme.

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The marketing manager will have overall responsibility for implementing the marketing planand the sales manager will be responsible for overall coordination of consumer- and trade-related sales activities. The structure of marketing within Eden Garden Tools will develop as thefirm progresses its development based on global expansion of the brand. The intention is towork towards a geographical structure within which there will be dedicated support for con-sumer and trade buyers.

The projected budget for non-staff marketing has been calculated in line with the forecastedsales revenues presented below.

Year Projected sales revenue (£m) Non-staff marketing budget (£m)

2010 3.2 0.16

2011 9.4 0.47

2012 12.0 0.60

2013 17.3 0.865

2014 22.1 1.105

6.2 Monitoring and control

Systems will be set up to monitor financial and non-financial performance against targets, anda regular reporting system will be introduced that will feed directly to the marketing manager,the sales manager and the relevant directors of Eden Garden Tools.

The introduction of new products and movement into new markets will be carefully monitoredagainst projected sales forecasts and mechanisms will be employed to control for marketuncertainties to ensure that variances can be remedied with appropriate action through themarketing mix. In particular plans and forecasts will be revised to take account of unplannedevents and these will be enacted via contingency planning procedures, with the overall planschedules revised accordingly.

6.3 Internal marketing

It will be necessary to ensure that all staff within the organisation are fully cognisant of the mis-sion and objectives of Eden Garden Tools, particularly its innovation platform. A programme ofinternal marketing communications events and other initiatives will be integrated into thedetailed marketing planning schedule. These will include staff meetings, email updates, inter-nal newsletters and magazines (also to be circulated to key external stakeholders), staff develop-ment in marketing, sales and marketing recognition and reward schemes.


Key assumptions relate to the internal and external influences upon market and companybehaviour in the future and include the following:

l Economic and political stability in targeted geographical markets.

l Sustained growth of the gardening industry through continued drive from demographic andsocial demand factors.

l Technological advantage stays with Eden Garden Tools through the intellectual propertyinvested through its owners and employees.

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l Competition remains at current levels in the plan based upon risk assessment of major market entry by low-cost overseas suppliers.

l Distribution structures remain predominantly consistent with anticipated relationship andpower dimensions.

These will be revised where possible and the plan modified as marketing research and intel-ligence are made available to further understand market dynamics.


Key Note Market Report, Garden Equipment (May 2009): Thirteenth Edition (Hampton,Middlesex: Key Note Ltd).

Horticultural Trades Association website – www.the-hta.org.uk/index.php

Target Group Index, London, BMRB International Ltd, 2008.

Exercise on further development of the plan

As indicated at the outset, this is an outline of a marketing plan which has been presented byEden Garden Tools to its potential investors within a short timescale.

1 What limitations do you think the plan has?

2 How would you go about revising the plan to ensure that these limitations are overcome?

3 What additional sources of information would you need to acquire to develop the plan?

4 Critically evaluate the outline plan in terms of its core strategy and tactics.

5 What changes would you make to this if you were responsible for setting out the futuredirection of the business?

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Ad-hoc data Information collected over a shortperiod for a specific purpose.

Balanced scorecard A means of benchmarkingcompany activities across a range of measures.

Barriers to entry Those factors (economic, technical, financial, legal and so forth) which limit access to a market.

Bottom-up planning An approach whereby futureactivities and direction are decided by reference topeople working at lower levels in the organisation,and especially people who have direct contact withcustomers.

Business level The tactical decision-making pointin the company.

Business organisation The structure of the business itself.

Business orientation The general business philosophy of the organisation.

Business scope The boundaries of the organisation’s activities.

Capabilities The combination of competencieswhich enables an organisation to achieve useful outcomes for itself and its stakeholders.

Competencies The combination of skills, resourcesand knowledge which distinguishes one organisationfrom another.

Competitive advantage The degree to which a firm can perform better than other firms in the same industry.

Consumerism The collective power exerted by consumer groups in influencing producers.

Continuous change An innovation which clearlybuilds on previous solutions.

Culture The set of shared beliefs and customs which distinguishes a given group of individuals.

Customer centrality The belief that the needs ofcustomers should be paramount in business decisionmaking.

Customer winback The act of reinstating customers who have defected to the competition.

Data mining Analysis of large databases to generateuseful marketing information.

Data warehouse An electronic storage facilitywhich holds very large amounts of informationabout customers, or information on a very largenumber of customers.

Decision support system A computer-based information-gathering system which provides instantdata on which to base decisions.

Demography The shape of a population in terms ofa*ge, gender, wealth, income, and so forth.

Discontinuous change An entirely new innovationwhich has little or no connection with previous solutions.

Ecology The interaction of forces within the naturalenvironment.

Economies of scale Those savings which accruefrom larger production volumes.

Empowerment The act of increasing the level ofautonomy stakeholders have in deciding the tacticsand strategy of the organisation.

Environmental scanning Continuous observationof factors which might impinge on the firm from outside in order to identify threats and opportunities.

Equity The difference between what the firm owesand what it owns.

Expansion by acquisition The act of buying outfirms in the same or similar industry in order toincrease market share.

Extranet Computer-based systems which allowfirms to share some information with outside individuals and organisations, while at the same time maintaining trade secrets.

Facilitators Individuals and organisations which are external to the company, but which enable thecompany to carry out its aims in a more effectiveway than would otherwise be the case.

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Flat database A computer system in which all the information about any given customer is stored,but with little or no capability for cross-analysis withother customers’ data.

Functional efficiency An assessment of the efficiencyof internal training systems, communications andmanagement systems.

Functional perspective The belief that marketingexists solely to develop the use of the 7 Ps in order to achieve tactical outcomes.

Globalisation The business approach which sourcesraw materials from the most effective suppliers, andwhich markets to the most beneficial segments, without regard for national borders.

Goals-down-plans-up planning A planningapproach in which the overall aims and objectives of the company are disseminated throughout the organisation, and suitable plans are drawn up at departmental level for their achievement.

Internal marketing The set of activities aimed atmeeting the needs of stakeholders such as employeesand suppliers.

Laid-back competitors Organisations in the samemarket which are slow to respond to marketchanges, or which do not respond at all.

Macro forces Those factors which affect every company in a given industry.

Management information system A set of procedures which creates a continuous flow of datawhich can be analysed in order to inform decisionmaking.

Market challenger An organisation which seeks to increase its share of the available business, usually through the use of aggressive marketingtechniques.

Market-driven A set of strategies and tactics whichresults from an understanding of the realities ofdealing with competitors, customers and other stakeholders.

Market-driving A set of strategy and tactics whichmoves customers, competitors and others in newdirections.

Market followers Organisations which take theirlead from market leaders.

Market innovation The process of developing newapproaches to customers.

Market nicher An organisation which seeks to meet the needs of very specific, small or specialisedsegments.

Market share The proportion of the potential customers which the company serves.

Marketing audit The comprehensive process ofassessing the firm’s overall approach to the market.

Marketing information system A set of techniquesfor collecting a continuous stream of data which canbe analysed to create an overview of changes in themarketplace in order to inform marketing decisions.

Matrix organisation An organisation structure inwhich leadership changes according to the tasks facing the company.

Micro-environment The factors which are relevantonly to the company, e.g. competitors, suppliers,employees.

Micromarketing Meeting the exact needs of smallgroups or individuals.

Mission The business the organisation sees itself in.

Mission statement A document which outlines the organisation’s overall direction and intentions.

Objective A quantifiable aim.

Organisational level The highest decision-makingpoint in the company.

Performance evaluation A measure of the company’s effectiveness in meeting its general aims.

Planning gap The difference between what planners expect will happen as a result of new initiatives and what they expect will happen if nothing is done.

Positioning The process of creating an appropriatebrand image in the customers’ minds, relative to the brand images of competing products.

Primary research Data gathering from an originalsource, specifically for the purpose of solving the problem at hand.

Product innovation The process of developing newsolutions to customer problems.

Public responsibility Consideration of the impactof the company’s activities on the rest of the community.

Publics Those groups of stakeholders which the company might seek to influence through its corporate communications programmes.

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258 Glossary

Reference projection An estimate of what will happen if no action is taken by the firm.

Relational database A computer system in whichdata about customers can be accessed against manydifferent criteria.

Relationship marketing A set of activities aimed atdeveloping repeat business with existing customersand consumers, as opposed to focusing on the singletransaction.

Resource-based marketing The process of creatinga close fit between the needs of customers and the ability of the firm to meet those needs.

Sales turnover The gross income of a company.

Secondary (desk) research Information gatheringfrom existing data which has been collected foranother purpose but which is still relevant to the problem at hand.

Segment An identifiable portion of an overall market.

Segmentation The process of dividing the overallmarket into groups of customers with similar needs.

Stakeholder An individual or organisation whichhas a material interest in the activities of a specificorganisation.

STEP analysis Social, technical, economic and political factors in the company’s environment.

Stochastic competitors Organisations in the samemarket which regard the market as unpredictable.

Strategic intent The overall aim of the company interms of its environment and competition.

Strategy The set of plans and decisions which is intended to ensure the organisation’s survival and ultimate prosperity in the marketplace.

Switching cost The drawbacks, financial or practical, which tend to prevent a customer fromchanging from the use of one product to the use of another.

SWOT analysis An assessment of the organisation’sstrengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats inrelation to a given market.

Tactical plan The set of decisions which outlineswhat needs to be done to achieve the corporate strategy.

Targeting The process of deciding which segmentsof a market should be approached with a given set of marketing tools.

Tiger competitors Organisations in the same market which respond rapidly and strongly to market changes.

Top-down planning An approach whereby futureactivities and direction are decided entirely by seniormanagers.

Value chain analysis An examination of the ways in which the organisation increases the worth ofproducts as they pass through the firm and its suppliers and distributors.

Value creation The act of combining resources todevelop increased worth.

Vision The founder’s view of what the company will become.

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Abell, Derek F. 139, 142, 183accounting systems 212‘achievers’ 164Acme Whistle Company 146acquisition of companies 27–8, 256adaptation

to changing circ*mstances 36to international markets 129of products 125, 226

administrative controls 215–16advertising 71–2, 129, 164–5, 227Advertising Standards Authority 83AeroMexico 133–4age segmentation 160–1, 170aims as distinct from objectives 33airline industry 82, 111, 133–4, 143, 145, 179, 224, 231alliances between firms 52, 126–7Amazon (company) 111Anglo-American business model 232Ansoff, H.I. 120Ashley, Mike 22assumptions underlying plans 45attacks by ‘market challengers’ 123–4audit processes, auditing of 112–13Avis car-hire 191

BAE Systems 95–6‘balanced scorecards’ 31, 212–13, 256Balfour Beatty 185–6banking crisis (2008) 85, 148, 162, 182bargaining power of suppliers and customers 81Barksdale, H.C. 148Bayliss, Trevor 146Big Issue magazine 30birth rates 86–7Black and Decker 52BMW 223Bodkin, C.D. 168Bonoma, T.V. 179Boo.com website 110–11Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix 147–8bottom-up planning 18, 256boundaries of markets 138–40Boutique Caravans 152–3

brand awareness 72, 109, 190–1brand switching 73, 84Branson, Richard 180British Midland International (BMI) 172British Petroleum (BP) 205–9budgeting 9, 17, 67, 72, 99, 209–10, 215Bulmer’s Cider 197bureaucratic structures 67business-to-business (B2B) markets 12–13, 29, 122,

143–5, 234planning in 222–3segmentation of 166–7

buyer readiness 159

Campbell, A. 31–2cannibalising of products 193–4Canon (company) 33capabilities 49–51, 54, 108, 112–13, 256

strategic, functional and operational 51capital requirements for market entry 82car-hire business 191car manufacturing 224, 226car market, second-hand 70career progression 208‘cash cows’ 147–8Chan, K.W. 169change

acceptance of 208continuous and discontinuous 37, 256drivers of 45–6, 54management of 36–7

charitable organisations 7, 10, 30, 226–9, 234China 225–6Clarke, A.H. 177clockwork radios 146cloning of products 125collaboration with competitor firms 126–7company directors, responsibilities of 7, 27–8competencies 49–54, 107–12, 256

individual, group and corporate-level 51competition 13–14, 34competitive advantage 7–8, 11, 15, 49–51, 81, 107,

129, 205, 226, 256roots of 50

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260 Index

competitorsanalysis of 65–7, 81–5, 91–4collaboration with 126–7laid-back, tiger and stochastic types 91, 257–8recognition of 178

complexity in decision-making 36computers, use of 104conflict and conflict-resolution methods 68consistency of strategies 100consonance between a firm and its environment 100consultants, use of 98, 113consumerism 86, 88, 94, 256continuing professional development 36control systems 69, 213–16

problems with 214–15types of 215–16underlying assumptions of 214

core competencies 52–4, 110, 120corporate attitude 108–9corporate citizenship 5corporate culture 15, 33, 101, 216, 223, 229corporate social responsibility (CSR) 47corporate strategy 31–3, 37–8, 138, 209cost leadership 121cost-plus pricing 7criminal law 91critical success factors 110Cruijsen Report (2002) 86–7culture 85–8, 216, 256; see also corporate culturecustomary pricing 149customer acceptance of new products 146–7customer centrality 4–5, 8, 70, 256customer conversion analysis 179customer function 139–40customer groups 139customer information systems (CISs) 105–6customer intimacy 122–3, 223customer satisfaction 26, 29–30

databases 105, 258Day, G.S. 189decision support systems 104, 256‘defensive’ product strategy 145demand pricing 149demographic forces 85–7, 160, 166, 256‘dependent’ product strategy 145differentiation of products 180, 194distribution channels 69–70, 82, 149divestment of businesses and brands 52‘dodo’ products 148‘dogs’ 148–9

Dunning, John H. 129‘dynamic capabilities’ framework 112

easyJet 111, 123ecological environment 88–90, 256economic environment 46, 83–5economies of scale 82, 142, 169, 226, 256Eden Garden Tools Company xix–xxi, 3, 21, 25, 38, 43,

55, 61, 75–6, 79, 94, 113–14, 117, 132, 137, 151,155, 170–1, 175, 184–5, 187, 196, 201–2, 217,221, 234, 239–55

Eden Project 30efficient use of resources 107; see also functional

efficiency; interface efficiencyelectronic point-of-sale (EPOS) systems 104e-mail 103emotional labour 229‘emulators’ 164entry barriers 70, 81–2, 129–31, 256environmental scanning 92–3, 256environmentalism 89–90, 94ethics and ethical investment 85, 89ethnicity 162ethnocentrism 169Euro Disney 93, 182evaluation of marketing performance 211–16‘evolutionary’ paradigm 231, 233exit costs 70exporting 130external environment of the firm 80–94

modelling of 80–2extranets 105, 256

feedback systems 211, 213Ferrari (company) 110finance-led businesses 29–30financial resources 109financial standing 48Financial Times 28, 93Finlay, P. 214‘fit’ between segmentation and company characteristics

144Five Forces Model 45, 81fixed assets, valuation of 108‘focus’ strategy 122Ford Motors 110, 127formal organisational structures 101–3Freytag, P.V. 177Frizzell Insurance 164–5‘front line’ staff 9, 73, 150functional efficiency 68, 103, 257

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Index 261

functional perspective on business 7, 257; see alsomarketing as a function

‘garbage in, garbage out’ (GIGO) principle 105Garten, J.E. 226GE market choice matrix 224–5gender segmentation 161–2geographic segmentation 159–60global marketing 130global segmentation 167–70globalisation 13, 46–7, 129, 223–6, 257‘goals-down-plans-up’ planning 18, 257Google 27government organisations 223, 226growth of companies 26–8, 121

Hamel, G. 51–2, 126Hard Rock Cafe 193Harris, C.E. 148Harris, G. 129Heinz 71Hennart, J.F. 126hierarchical organisations 101–4, 113, 205, 208Hollensen, S. 14Honda 67, 120–1, 218–19Hong Kong 169Hult, G.T.M. 169human resources 109

ICI Nobel Explosives 167–8IKEA 129–30imitative product strategy 125, 145implementation of plans 16–17, 20, 202–9income segmentation 162informal organisational structures 100–1information systems 49, 68–9, 92, 94, 104–6, 257innovation 35, 145, 206, 257‘institutional’ organisations 223‘integrated’ individuals 164interface efficiency 68internal audit 98–9, 113internal environment of the organisation 98–113internal marketing 10, 13, 229–30, 257internationalisation 129–30Internet resources 72, 82, 86, 88, 93, 110interpretive communities 165investment payback 28–9Iveco 114–15, 180

JJB Sports 21–2joint ventures 226

Jones, David 22judicial decision-making 81, 90

Kaplan, R.S. 212Keillor, B.C. 169Keller, K.L. 74Kotler, P. 74

legal environment 81, 90–1leveraging of competencies 53lifelong learning 36lifestyle segmentation 163, 170Loaded magazine 183

McDonald’s 93, 143, 150, 193McKay, E.S. 35macro environment 45–6, 64–5, 80, 83–91, 257management by objectives 99managerial skills 48‘market challenger’ and ‘market follower’ strategies

123–5, 257market coverage 142, 183market-driven and market-driving approaches to

strategy 53–4, 257market innovation 35, 257market leaders, attacks on 123–5market orientation 6, 10, 212market penetration 120market potential 121, 143–4, 151, 225market research 211market share 35, 257marketing

as a business philosophy 4–8, 10as a function 6–10, 20, 31–4, 37as management of the exchange process 11

marketing audit 15, 17, 20, 62–75, 257drawbacks of 74–5practicalities of 74

marketing concept 4–5, 29, 37–8, 54marketing cost analysis 211–12marketing departments, need for 10marketing environment 44, 92–3marketing-led businesses 29–30marketing mix 69, 192–3marketing orientation 11, 31marketing planning 4, 10, 13–20

definition of 14marketing strategies 118–20, 127–8, 131, 138,

145–51Maslow, A. 229mass marketing 141

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262 Index

matrix organisations 48–9, 257‘me-too’ products 145micro environment 45–6, 81–2, 257Microbiological Systems Ltd 224micromarketing 141–2, 257microwave ovens 139mission 38, 67, 209, 257

definition of 31–3mission statements 17, 99, 257money supply 85monitoring of marketing performance 211–16multinational companies 129

Nader, Ralph 88NATID (national identity) approach to segmentation

169–70National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to

Children (NSPCC) 227nationality 162needs, hierarchy of 229–30new entrants to a market 81–2new markets 120new products 69, 120, 129, 145–7niche markets 123, 125–6, 141, 224, 226, 257Nigeria 225–6nightclubs 140non-profit organisations 7, 10–11, 26, 226–9Norton, D.P. 212Novo Nordisk 122

objectives 33–4, 54, 118, 257corporate 26–31, 37–8of marketing 35–6, 38, 145–51

‘offensive’ product strategy 145oligopoly 81Oliver, Jamie 30operational excellence 122–3Opodo travel agency 180‘opportunistic’ product strategy 146organisational structure 48, 67, 100–6, 204–6organismic structure 102–3, 113, 205Owen, A.A. 207Oxfam 227

package holiday business 76–7perceptual maps 189performance indicators 216personality characteristics 164–5PEST model see STEPPESTEL model 45, 64–5, 80–1Phou, I. 169

Piercy, N. 203Pizzaland 73‘planning gap’ concept 118–26, 131, 257political environment 46, 83, 228–9population structure, changes in 86–7Porsche, Ferdinand 32Porter, M.E. 45, 81, 121portfolio management strategy 147–8positioning 188–95, 257post-it notes 53–4Prahalad, C.K. 51–2pressure groups 83, 88–9pricing strategies 148–9, 192‘primary’ activities 111‘problem child’ products 147–8processualism 232–3Procter & Gamble 81product differentiation 82, 84, 122product innovation 35, 257product leadership 123product strategy 71, 145productivity of marketing 106–7profitability 26–7, 35, 69–70, 92, 106–7, 144, 177psychographic segmentation 163–4public opinion 90publics and public relations (PR) 66, 72–3, 257purchase occasions and purchase behaviours 158, 166

quad bikes 157quantitative and qualitative research 93

racial differences 163Real Seed Catalogue 235–6recessions, market strategies in 127–8, 131reference projections 118–19, 258relational databases 105, 258relational resources 108–9relationship marketing 11–13, 106, 223, 258reliability of brands 190religious differences 163repositioning 194–5research

primary and secondary 92–3, 257–8quantitative and qualitative 93

reseller organisations 222resource audit 109resource-based view of the organisation 10, 47–54,

112, 258retention of customers 29‘retro’ products 146reward systems 6, 27–8

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Index 263

Richer Sounds 39–40Ries, A. 191Rio Tinto 224risk assessment 178, 184risk spreading 226

sales analysis 211sales promotions 73, 149–50, 192, 195salespeople 9, 73, 193, 203, 213, 229The Samaritans 227Sampson, P. 158Samsung 139‘savvy’ consumers 165Schuster, C.P. 168scientific management 101‘scoring’ of customers 182Seat (company) 127segmentation of markets 17, 70, 106–7, 120, 122, 125,

135–95, 258alternative bases for 156–70a priori and a posteriori 157, 166–7, 170for B2B transactions 166–7evaluation of 141–5levels of 141modelling of segment selection 177strategic issues in 140–2viability of 176–7, 183

selective use of information 191self-control exercised by individuals 215self-selection of products by customers 182‘served market’ concept 139–40, 151services, marketing of 230–17Ps model 71, 151, 181, 192, 204sexual orientation 162Shapiro, B.P. 179shareholder value 26, 28–9Shone, Dick 152short-termism 27‘skimming’ of prices 148small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) 231–4social control 215–16social enterprises 30–1socio-cultural influences on change 46social interactions 67–8, 101social responsibility 85, 227; see also corporate social

responsibilitysocietal consciousness 164socio-cultural environment 85–6Sony Corporation 145specialisation

in market coverage 142

in niche roles 126in particular technologies 140

spending power 144‘SPOTS’ phenomenon 203standardised products 169standards of behaviour 32‘star’ products 147–8STEP model 45–6, 80, 258strategic intent 33, 258strategic planning 17, 35strategic position of the organisation 99–100strategic pricing 149, 151strategy 258

contexts for 233–4generic approaches to 231–2market-driven approach to 53–4and organisational structure 204–5translation into tactics 203–4see also marketing strategies

strategy group types 91substitute products and services 81supply chain audit 66supply and demand, economic theory of 84–5support activities 111surveys, use of 93sustainability of market segments 144Sweden 225–6switching costs 82, 258; see also brand switchingSWOT analysis 17, 130–1, 258systemic theory 232

tactics 17, 35, 203–4, 258tangible and intangible resources 107–10, 230target markets 120, 143, 156, 176–84, 224, 226, 258

with marginal segments 182–4with multiple segments 179–80, 184

task environment 65taxation 28team working 51technical resources of the organisation 48technological environment 46, 88, 139–40technophobia 105Tesco 73Thomson Holidays 76–73Cs framework 45, 823M (company) 53, 145threshold competencies 110top-down planning 18, 215, 258top-of-the-range products 190Toyoda, Kiichiro 55–7Toyota 52, 55–6, 88

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264 Index

traditional designs 146transaction marketing 11–12Treacy, M. 122–3‘triple bottom line’ 30Trout, J. 191Tynan, C. 12

‘umbrella’ brands 193Unilever 81unique resources 110usage of products 158

VALS segmentation model 163–4valuation of assets 108–9value chain analysis 110, 258value creation 11, 258‘value disciplines’ 122–3, 131value for money 190values 32variances in performance 213–14Virgin Group 123, 180, 191

vision 32, 38, 145, 258Vision Express 142Volkswagen 32, 110, 127, 146, 190volunteer workers 228–9

‘warhorse’ products 148washing machines 159watchmaking industry 178wealth, concentration of 87websites 110–11Westinghouse 143Whelan, David 21‘whistleblowers’ 89Whittington, Richard 231Wiersema, F. 122–3winback of customers 29, 256world views 188–90, 233

Xerox 33

Yip, G.S. 168

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