INTRODUCTION TO MARKETING Lars Perner, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing Department of Marketing
Marshall School of Business University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 90089-0443, USA (213) 740-7127 NEW! Dr. Perners new book Delightful Reflections:Quips, Conjectues, and Pontifications is now avilable on Amazon.com! Lars Perner, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing Department of Marketing Marshall School of Business University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 90089-0443, USA (213) 740-7127 INTRODUCTION TO MARKETING
BackgroundMarketing. Several definitions have been proposed for the term marketing. Each tends toemphasize different issues. Memorizing a definition is unlikely to be useful; ultimately, itmakes more sense to thinking of ways to benefit from creating customer value in the mosteffective way, subject to ethical and other constraints that one may have. The 2006 and2007 definitions offered by the American Marketing Association are relatively similar, withthe 2007 appearing a bit more concise. Note that the definitions make several points: A main objective of marketing is to create customer value. Marketing usually involves an exchange between buyers and sellers or between other parties. Marketing has an impact on the firm, its suppliers, its customers, and others affected by the firm’s choices. Marketing frequently involves enduring relationships between buyers, sellers, and other parties. Processes involved include ―creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings.”Delivering customer value. The central idea behind marketing is the idea that a firm orother entity will create something of value to one or more customers who, in turn, arewilling to pay enough (or contribute other forms of value) to make the venture worthwhileconsidering opportunity costs. Value can be created in a number of different ways. Somefirms manufacture basic products (e.g., bricks) but provide relatively little value abovethat. Other firms make products whose tangible value is supplemented by services (e.g., acomputer manufacturer provides a computer loaded with software and provides awarranty, technical support, and software updates). It is not necessary for a firm tophysically handle a product to add value—e.g., online airline reservation systems add valueby (1) compiling information about available flight connections and fares, (2) allowing thecustomer to buy a ticket, (3) forwarding billing information to the airline, and (4)forwarding reservation information to the customer.It should be noted that value must be examined from the point of view of the customer.Some customer segments value certain product attributes more than others. A veryexpensive product—relative to others in the category—may, in fact, represent great valueto a particular customer segment because the benefits received are seen as even greaterthan the sacrifice made (usually in terms of money). Some segments have very unique andspecific desires, and may value what—to some individuals—may seem a ―lower quality‖item—very highly.Some forms of customer value. The marketing process involves ways that value can becreated for the customer. Form utility involves the idea that the product is made
available to the consumer in some form that is more useful than any commodities that areused to create it. A customer buys a chair, for example, rather than the wood and othercomponents used to create the chair. Thus, the customer benefits from the specializationthat allows the manufacturer to more efficiently create a chair than the customer coulddo himself or herself. Place utility refers to the idea that a product made available to thecustomer at a preferred location is worth more than one at the place of manufacture. It ismuch more convenient for the customer to be able to buy food items in a supermarket inhis or her neighborhood than it is to pick up these from the farmer. Time utility involvesthe idea of having the product made available when needed by the customer. Thecustomer may buy a turkey a few days before Thanksgiving without having to plan to haveit available. Intermediaries take care of the logistics to have the turkeys—which are easilyperishable and bulky to store in a freezer—available when customers demand them.Possession utility involves the idea that the consumer can go to one store and obtain alarge assortment of goods from different manufacturers during one shopping occasion.Supermarkets combine food and other household items from a number of differentsuppliers in one place. Certain ―superstores‖ such as the European hypermarkets and theWal-Mart ―super centers‖ combine even more items into one setting.The marketing vs. the selling concept. Two approaches to marketing exist. Thetraditional selling concept emphasizes selling existing products. The philosophy here isthat if a product is not selling, more aggressive measures must be taken to sell it—e.g.,cutting price, advertising more, or hiring more aggressive (and obnoxious) sales-people.When the railroads started to lose business due to the advent of more effective trucks thatcould deliver goods right to the customer’s door, the railroads cut prices instead ofrecognizing that the customers ultimately wanted transportation of goods, not necessarilyrailroad transportation. Smith Corona, a manufacturer of typewriters, was too slow torealize that consumers wanted the ability to process documents and not typewriters perse. The marketing concept, in contrast, focuses on getting consumers what they seek,regardless of whether this entails coming up with entirely new products.The 4 Ps—product, place (distribution), promotion, and price—represent the variables thatare within the control of the firm (at least in the medium to long run). In contrast, thefirm is faced with uncertainty from the environment.The Marketing EnvironmentElements of the environment. The marketing environment involves factors that, for themost part, are beyond the control of the company. Thus, the company must adapt to thesefactors. It is important to observe how the environment changes so that a firm can adaptits strategies appropriately. Consider these environmental forces: Competition: Competitors often ―creep‖ in and threaten to take away markets from firms. For example, Japanese auto manufacturers became a serious threat to
American car makers in the late 1970s andearly 1980s. Similarly, the LotusCorporation, maker of one of the firstcommercially successful spreadsheets, soonfaced competition from other softwarefirms. Note that while competition may befrustrating for the firm, it is good forconsumers. (In fact, we will come back tothis point when we consider the legalenvironment).Note that competition todayis increasingly global in scope. It isimportant to recognize that competition canhappen at different ―levels.‖ At the brandlevel, two firms compete in providing a verysimilar product or service. Coca Cola andPepsi, for example, compete for the coladrink market, and United and AmericanAirlines compete for the passenger airtransportation market. Firms also face lessdirect—but frequently very serious—competition at the product level. Forexample, cola drinks compete againstbottled water. Products or services canserve as substitutes for each other eventhough they are very different in form.Teleconferencing facilities, for example,are very different from airline passengertransportation, but both can ―bringtogether‖ people for a ―meeting.‖ At thebudget level, different products or servicesprovide very different benefits, but buyershave to make choices as to what they willbuy when they cannot afford—or areunwilling to spend on—both. For example, afamily may decide between buying a newcar or a high definition television set. Thefamily may also have to choose betweengoing on a foreign vacation or remodelingits kitchen. Firms, too, may have to makechoices. The firm has the cash flow eitherto remodel its offices or install a moreenergy efficient climate control system; orthe firm can choose either to invest in newproduct development or in a promotionalcampaign to increase awareness of its brandamong consumers.
Economics. Two economic forces stronglyaffect firms and their customers: o Economic Cycles. Some firms in particular are extremely vulnerable to changes in the economy. Consumers tend to put off buying a new car, going out to eat, or building new homes in bad times. In contrast, in good times, firms serving those needs may have difficulty keeping up with demand. One important point to realize is that different industries are affected to different degrees by changes in the economy. Although families can cut down on the quality of the food they buy—going with lower priced brands, for example— there are limits to the savings that can be made without greatly affecting the living standard of the family. On the other hand, it is often much easier to put off the purchase of a new car for a year or hold off on remodeling the family home. If need be, firms can keep the current computers—even though they are getting a bit slow—when sales are down. The economy goes through cycles. In the late 1990s, the U.S. economy was quite strong, and many luxury goods were sold. Currently, the economy fluctuates between increasing strength, stagnation, or slight decline. Many firms face consequences of economic downturns. Car makers, for example, have seen declining profit margins (and even losses) as they have had to cut prices and offer low interest rates on financing. Generally, in good economic times, there is a great deal of demand, but this introduces a fear of possible inflation. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve will then try to prevent the economy from ―overheating.‖ This is usually done by raising interest rates. This makes
businesses less willing to invest, and as a result, people tend to make less money. During a recession, unemployment tends to rise, causing consumers to spend less. This may result in a ―bad circle,‖ with more people losing their jobs due to lowered demands. Some businesses, however, may take this opportunity to invest in growth now that things can be bought more cheaply.o Inflation. Over time, most economies experience some level of inflation. Therefore, it is useful to explicitly state whether a reference to money over time involves the actual dollar (or other currency) amount exchanged at any point (e.g., one dollar spent in 1960 and one dollar in 2007) or an ―inflation adjusted‖ figure that ―anchors‖ a given amount of money to the value of that money at some point in time. Suppose, for example, that cumulative inflation between 1960 and 2007 has been 1,000%--that is, on the average, it costs ten times as much to buy the same thing in 2007 as it did 47 years earlier. If the cumulative inflation between 1960 and 1984 had been 500%, we could talk about one 1984 dollar being worth fifty 1960 cents or two 2007 dollars. It is important to note that inflation is uneven. Some goods and services—such as health care and college tuition—are currently increasing in cost much higher than the average rate of inflation. Prices of computers, actually decline both in absolute numbers (e.g., an average computer cost $1,000 one year and then goes for $800 two years later) and in terms of the value for money paid once an adjustment has been made for the improvement in quality. That is, two years later, the computer has not
only declined in price by 20%, but it may also be 30% better (based on an index of speed and other performance factors). In that case, then, there has actually been, over the period, a net deflation of 38.5% for the category.Some articles of possible interest:Coffee, Lipsticks, and the EconomyThe 2008 Tax Rebate and Consumer BehaviorGasoline Prices and ConsumerBehavior Political. Businesses are very vulnerable to changes in the political situation. For example, because consumer groups lobbied Congress, more stringent rules were made on the terms of car leases. The tobacco industry is currently the target of much negative attention from government and public interest groups. Currently, the desire to avoid aiding the enemy may result in laws that make it more difficult for American firms to export goods to other countries. Many industries have a strong economic interest in policies that benefit the industry may have a negative impact on the nation as a whole but enhance profits for the industry. For example, regulations that limit the amount of sugar that can be imported into the United States is estimated to cost each American approximately $10.00 a year. The total increase in profits to the sugar industry is difficult to estimate because many of the large producers of refined sugar are privately held corporations, but it is likely that the net gain to the industry is as much as the roughly $3 billion lost by Americans a whole. However, the interests of the industry are much more concentrated. The industry can rally its stockholders, unions and employees, and suppliers (e.g., fertilizer manufacturers and manufacturers of sugar cane processing equipment) together to lobby for their special interests.
In turn, the industry can join forces withother agricultural interests which eachsupport each other’s programs.Legal. Firms are very vulnerable to changinglaws and changing interpretations by thecourts. Firms in the U.S. are very vulnerableto lawsuits. McDonald’s, for example, iscurrently being sued by people who claimthat eating the chain’s hamburgers causedthem to get fat. Firms are significantlylimited in what they can do by variouslaws—some laws, for example, require thatdisclosures be made to consumers on theeffective interest rates they pay onproducts bought on installment. Aparticularly interesting group of laws relateto antitrust. These laws basically exist topromote fair competition among firms. Wewill consider such laws when we coverpricing later in the term.Technological. Changes in technology maysignificantly influence the demand for aproduct. For example, the advent of the faxmachine was bad news for Federal Express.The Internet is a major threat to travelagents. Many record stores have been wipedout of business by the trend towarddownloading songs (or illegally ―ripping‖songs from friends’ CDs—an act to whicheven the President of the United States hasconfessed). Although technological changeeliminates or at least greatly diminishessome markets, it creates opportunities forothers. For example, although FederalExpress has lost a considerable amount ofbusiness from documents that can now befaxed or sent by the Internet rather thanhaving to be physically shipped, there hasbeen a large increase in demand forpackages to be delivered overnight or―second day air.‖ Just-in-timemanufacturing techniques, in addition toonline sales, have dramatically increasedthe market for such shipments. Online sitessuch as eBay now makes it possible to sellspecialty products that, in the old days,would have been difficult to distribute.
Although it has been possible for more than a hundred years to sell merchandise by catalog, buyers of these specialty products often had no easy access to the catalogs. Social: Changes in customs or demographics greatly influence firms. Fewer babies today are being born, resulting in a decreased demand for baby foods. More women work outside the home today, so there is a greater demand for prepared foods. There are more unmarried singles today. This provides opportunities for some firms (e.g., fast food restaurants) but creates problems for others (e.g., manufacturers of high quality furniture that many people put off buying until marriage). Today, there are more ―blended‖ families that result as parents remarry after divorce. These families are often strapped for money but may require ―duplicate‖ items for children at each parent’s residence.Strategic PlanningPlans and planning. Plans are needed to clarify what kinds of strategic objectives anorganization would like to achieve and how this is to be done. Such plans must considerthe amount of resources available. One critical resource is capital. Microsoft keeps a greatdeal of cash on hand to be able to ―jump‖ on opportunities that come about. Small startupsoftware firms, on the other hand, may have limited cash on hand. This means that theymay have to forego what would have been a good investment because they do not havethe cash to invest and cannot find a way to raise the capital. Other resources that affectwhat a firm may be able to achieve include factors such as: Trademarks/brand names: It would be very difficult to compete against Coke and Pepsi in the cola market. Patents: It would be difficult to compete against Intel and AMD in the microprocessor market since both these firms have a number of patents that it is difficult to get around. People: Even with all of Microsoft’s money available, it could not immediately hire the people needed to manufacture computer chips.
Distribution: Stores have space for only a fraction of the products they are offered, so they must turn many away. A firm that does not have an established relationship with stores will be at a disadvantage in trying to introduce a new product.Plans are subject to the choices and policies that the organization has made. Some firmshave goals of social responsibility, for example. Some firms are willing to take a greaterrisk, which may result in a very large payoff but also involve the risk of a large loss, thanothers.Strategic marketing is best seen as an ongoing and never-ending process. Typically: The organization will identify the objectives it wishes to achieve. This could involve profitability directly, but often profitability is a long term goal that may require some intermediate steps. The firm may seek to increase market share, achieve distribution in more outlets, have sales grow by a certain percentage, or have consumers evaluate the product more favorably. Some organizations have objectives that are not focused on monetary profit—e.g., promoting literacy or preventing breast cancer. An analysis is made, taking into consideration issues such as organizational resources, competitors, the competitors’ strengths, different types of customers, changes in the market, or the impact of new technology. Based on this analysis, a plan is made based on tradeoffs between the advantages and disadvantages of different options available. This strategy is then carried out. The firm may design new products, revamp its advertising strategy, invest in getting more stores to carry the product, or decide to focus on a new customer segment. After implementation, the results or outcome are evaluated. If results are not as desired, a change may have to be made to the strategy. Even if results are satisfactory, the firm still needs to monitor the environment for changes.
Levels of planning and strategies. Plans for a firm can be made at several differentlevels. At the corporate level, the management considers the objectives of the firm as awhole. For example, Microsoft may want seek to grow by providing high quality software,hardware, and services to consumers. To achieve this goal, the firm may be willing toinvest aggressively.Plans can also be made at the business unit level. For example, although Microsoft is bestknown for its operating systems and applications software, the firm also provides Internetaccess and makes video games. Different managers will have responsibilities for differentareas, and goals may best be made by those closest to the business area being considered.It is also more practical to hold managers accountable for performance if the plan is beingmade at a more specific level. Boeing has both commercial aircraft and defense divisions.Each is run by different managers, although there is some overlap in technology betweenthe two. Therefore, plans are needed both at the corporate and at the business levels.Occasionally, plans will be made at the functional level, to allow managers to specializeand to increase managerial accountability. Marketing, for example, may be charged withincreasing awareness of Microsoft game consoles to 55% of the U.S. population or toincrease the number of units of Microsoft Office sold. Finance may be charged with raisinga given amount of capital at a given cost. Manufacturing may be charged with decreasingproduction costs by 5%.The firm needs to identify the business it is in. Here, a balance must be made so that thefirm’s scope is not defined too narrowly or too broadly. A firm may define its goal verynarrowly and then miss opportunities in the market place. For example, if Dell were todefine itself only as a computer company, it might miss an opportunity to branch into PDAsor Internet service. Thus, they might instead define themselves as a provider of―information solutions.‖ A company should not define itself too broadly, however, sincethis may result in loss of focus. For example, a manufacturer of baking soda shouldprobably not see itself as a manufacturer of all types of chemicals. Sometimes, companiescan define themselves in terms of a customer need. For example, 3M sees itself as being inthe business of making products whose surfaces are bonded together. This accounts forboth Post-It notes and computer disks.A firm’s mission should generally include a discussion of the customers served (e.g., Wal-Mart and Nordstrom’s serve different groups), the kind of technology involved, and themarkets served.Several issues are involved in selecting target customers. We will consider these in moredetail within the context of segmentation, but for now, the firm needs to consider issuessuch as: The size of various market segments; How well these segments are being served by existing firms; Changes in the market—e.g., growth of segments or change in technology;
How the firm should be positioned, or seen by customers. For example, Wal-Mart positions itself as providing value in retailing, while Nordstrom’s defines itself more in terms of high levels of customer service.The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix provides a firm an opportunity to assess howwell its business units work together. Each business unit is evaluated in terms of twofactors: market share and the growth prospects in the market. Generally, the larger afirm’s share, the stronger its position, and the greater the growth in a market, the betterfuture possibilities. Four combinations emerge: A star represents a business unit that has a high share in a growing market. For example, Motorola has a large share in the rapidly growing market for cellular phones. A question mark results when a unit has a small share in a rapidly growing market. The firm’s position, then, is not as strong as it would have been had its market share been greater, but there is an opportunity to grow. For example, Hewlett-Packard has a small share of the digital camera market, but this is a very rapidly growing market. A cash cow results when a firm has a large share in a market that is not growing, and may even be shrinking. Brother has a large share of the typewriter market. A dog results when a business unit has a small share in a market that is not growing. This is generally a somewhat unattractive situation, although dogs can still be profitable in the short run. For example, Smith Corona how has a small share of the typewriter market.Firms are usually best of with a portfolio that has a balance of firms in each category. Thecash cows tend to generate cash but require little future investment. On the other hand,stars generate some cash, but even more cash is needed to invest in the future—forresearch and development, marketing campaigns, and building new manufacturingfacilities. Therefore, a firm may take excess cash from the cash cow and divert it to thestar. For example, Brother could ―harvest‖ its profits from typewriters and invest this inthe unit making color laser printers, which will need the cash to grow. If a firm has cashcows that generate a lot of cash, this may be used to try to improve the market share of aquestion mark. A firm that has a number of promising stars in its portfolio may be inserious trouble if it does not have any cash cows to support it. If it is about to run out of
cash—regardless of how profitable it is— is becomes vulnerable as a takeover target from afirm that has the cash to continue running it.A SWOT (“Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Threats”) analysis is used to helpthe firm identify effective strategies. Successful firms such as Microsoft have certainstrengths. Microsoft, for example, has a great deal of technology, a huge staff of verytalented engineers, a great deal of experience in designing software, a very large marketshare, a well respected brand name, and a great deal of cash. Microsoft also has someweaknesses, however: The game console and MSN units are currently running at a loss, andMSN has been unable to achieve desired levels of growth. Firms may face opportunities inthe current market. Microsoft, for example, may have the opportunity to take advantageof its brand name to enter into the hardware market. Microsoft may also become a trustedsource of consumer services. Microsoft currently faces several threats, including the weakeconomy. Because fewer new computers are bough during a recession, fewer operatingsystems and software packages.Rather than merely listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, a SWOTanalysis should suggest how the firm may use its strengths and opportunities toovercome weaknesses and threats. Decisions should also be made as to how resourcesshould be allocated. For example, Microsoft could either decide to put more resources intoMSN or to abandon this unit entirely. Microsoft has a great deal of cash ready to spend, sothe option to put resources toward MSN is available. Microsoft will also need to see howthreats can be addressed. The firm can earn political good will by engaging in charitableacts, which it has money available to fund. For example, Microsoft has donated softwareand computers to schools. It can forego temporary profits by reducing prices temporarilyto increase demand, or can ―hold out‖ by maintaining current prices while not selling asmany units.Criteria for effective marketing plans. Marketing plans should meet several criteria: The plan must be specific enough so that it can be implemented and communicated to people in the firm. ―Improving profitability‖ is usually too vague, but increasing net profits by 5%, increasing market share by 10%, gaining distribution in 2,000 more stores, and reducing manufacturing costs by 2% are all specific. The plan must be measurable so that one can see if it has been achieved. The above plans involve specific numbers. The goal must be achievable or realistic. Plans that are unrealistic may result in poor use of resources or lowered morale within the firm. The goals must be consistent. For example, a firm cannot ordinarily simultaneously plan
improve product features, increase profits, and reduce prices.Social Responsibility in MarketingEthical responsibilities and constraints. Businesses and people face some constraints onwhat can ethically be done to make money or to pursue other goals. Fraud and deceptionare not only morally wrong but also inhibit the efficient functioning of the economy. Thereare also behaviors that, even if they are not strictly illegal in a given jurisdiction, cannotbe undertaken with a good conscience. There are a number of areas where an individualmust consider his or her conscience to decide if a venture is acceptable. Some ―paycheckadvance‖ loan operators charge very high interest rates on small loans made inanticipation of a consumer’s next paycheck. Depending on state laws, effective interestrates (interest rates plus other fees involved) may exceed 20% per month. In some cases,borrowers put up their automobiles as security, with many losing their only source oftransportation through default. Although some consider this practice unconscionable,others assert that such loans may be the only way that a family can obtain cash to fill animmediate need. Because of costs of administration are high, these costs, when spreadover a small amount, will amount to a large percentage. Further, because the customergroups in question tend to have poor credit ratings with high anticipated rates of default,rates must be high enough to cover this.Sustainability. Sustainability is a notion that proposes that socially responsible firms willsomehow financially outperform other less responsible firms in the long run. This mightresult from customer loyalty, better employee morale, or public policy favoring ethicalconduct. Empirical results testing this hypothesis are mixed, neither suggesting that moreresponsible firms, on the average, have a clear financial advantage nor a large burden.Thus, a useful approach may be to determine (1) specific circumstances under which afirm may actually find the more responsible approach to be more profitable, (2) underwhich circumstances responsible behavior can be pursued without an overall significantdownside, and (3) the ethical responsibilities that a firm faces when a more responsibleapproach may be more costly.The individual, the firm, and society. Different individuals vary in their ethicalconvictions. Some are willing to work for the tobacco industry, for example, while othersare not. Some are willing to mislead potential customers while others will normally not dothis. There are, however, also broader societal and companywide values that mayinfluence the individual business decision maker. Some religions, including Islam, disfavorthe charging of interest. Although different groups differ somewhat in their interpretationsof this issue, the Koran at the very least prohibits usury—charging excessive interest rates.There is some disagreement as to whether more modest, fair interest rates areacceptable. In cultures where the stricter interpretation applies, a firm may be unwillingto set up an interest-based financing plan for customers who cannot pay cash. The firmmight, instead, charge a higher price, with no additional charge for interest. Some firmsalso have their own ethical stands, either implicitly or explicitly. For example, Google has
the motto ―Do no evil.‖ Other firms, on the other hand, may actively encourage lies,deception, and other reprehensible behavior. Some firms elect to sell in less developedcountries products that have been banned as unsafe in their own countries.Making it profitable for the tobacco industry to “harvest.” Many see the tobaccoindustry as the ―enemy‖ and may not want to do anything that can benefit the industry.However, in principle, it may actually be possible to make it profitable for the tobaccoindustry to ―harvest‖—to spend less money on brand building and gradually reduce thequantities sold. The tobacco industry is heavily concentrated, with three firms controllingmost of the market. Some other industries are exempt from many antitrust law provisions.If the tobacco companies were allowed to collude and set prices, the equilibrium marketprice would probably go up, and the quantity of tobacco demanded would then go down. Itis been found that among teenagers, smoking rates are especially likely to decrease whenprices increase. The tobacco companies could also be given some immediate tax breaks inreturn for giving up their trademarks some thirty years in the future. This would reducethe incentive to advertise, again leading to decreased demand in the future. The taxbenefits needed might have to be very high, thus making the idea infeasible unless thenation is willing to trade off better health for such large revenue losses.“Win-win” marketing. In some cases, it may actually be profitable for companies to dogood deeds. This may be the case, for example, when a firm receives a large amount offavorable publicity for its contributions, resulting in customer goodwill and an enhancedbrand value. A pharmacy chain, for example, might pay for charitable good to developinformation about treating diabetes. The chain could then make this information on itsweb site, paying for bandwidth and other hosting expenses that may be considerably lessthan the value of the positive publicity received.“Sponsored Fundraising.” Non-profit groups often spend a large proportion of the moneythey take in on fundraising. This is problematic both because of the inefficiency of theprocess and the loss of potential proceeds that result and because potential donors wholearn about or suspect high fundraising expenses may be less likely to donor. This is anespecially critical issue now that information on fundraising overhead for differentorganizations is readily available on the Internet.An alternative approach to fundraising that does not currently appear to be much in use isthe idea of ―sponsored‖ fundraising. The idea here is that some firm might volunteer tosend out fundraising appeals on behalf of the organization. For example, Microsoft mightvolunteer to send out letters asking people to donate to the American Red Cross. This maybe a very cost effective method of promotion for the firm since the sponsor would benefitfrom both the positive publicity for its involvement and from the greater attention thatwould likely be given a fundraising appeal for a group of special interest than would begiven to an ordinary advertisement or direct mail piece advertising the sponsor in atraditional way.One issue that comes up is the potential match between the sponsor and sponseeorganization. This may or may not be a critical issue since respondents are selected for thesolicitation based on their predicted interest in the organization. Microsoft—directly or
indirectly through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—has been credited with a largenumber of charitable ventures and has the Congressional Black Caucus as one of itsgreatest supporters. In many cases, firms might volunteer for this fundraising effort inlarge part because of the spear heading efforts of high level executives whose families areaffected by autism.Commercial Comedy. Another win-win deal potential between industry and non-profitgroups involves the idea of commercial comedy. Many non-profit groups are interested infinding low cost, high quality entertainment for fundraising events. After all, money spenton buying entertainment reduces the net proceeds available for the organization’sprogram. Firms, on the other hand, have difficulty getting current and potential customersto give attention to advertising in traditional media. If firms were able to create some highquality entertainment involving their mascotss—e.g., the Energizer Bunny, the PillsburyDoughboy, and the AFLAC Duck—the audience at a fundraising event would give attentionfor an extended period of time. Good will would also be generated, and it is likely that theact would receive considerable media coverage.Segmentation, Targeting, and PositioningSegmentation, targeting, and positioning together comprise a three stage process. We first(1) determine which kinds of customers exist, then (2) select which ones we are best offtrying to serve and, finally, (3) implement our segmentation by optimizing ourproducts/services for that segment and communicating that we have made the choice todistinguish ourselves that way.Segmentation involves finding out what kinds of consumers with different needs exist. Inthe auto market, for example, some consumers demand speed and performance, whileothers are much more concerned about roominess and safety. In general, it holds true that―You can’t be all things to all people,‖ and experience has demonstrated that firms that
specialize in meeting the needs of one group of consumers over another tend to be moreprofitable.Generically, there are three approaches to marketing. In the undifferentiated strategy, allconsumers are treated as the same, with firms not making any specific efforts to satisfyparticular groups. This may work when the product is a standard one where onecompetitor really can’t offer much that another one can’t. Usually, this is the case onlyfor commodities. In the concentrated strategy, one firm chooses to focus on one of severalsegments that exist while leaving other segments to competitors. For example, SouthwestAirlines focuses on price sensitive consumers who will forego meals and assigned seatingfor low prices. In contrast, most airlines follow the differentiated strategy: They offerhigh priced tickets to those who are inflexible in that they cannot tell in advance whenthey need to fly and find it impractical to stay over a Saturday. These travelers—usuallybusiness travelers—pay high fares but can only fill the planes up partially. The sameairlines then sell some of the remaining seats to more price sensitive customers who canbuy two weeks in advance and stay over.Note that segmentation calls for some tough choices. There may be a large number ofvariables that can be used to differentiate consumers of a given product category; yet, inpractice, it becomes impossibly cumbersome to work with more than a few at a time.Thus, we need to determine which variables will be most useful in distinguishing differentgroups of consumers. We might thus decide, for example, that the variables that are mostrelevant in separating different kinds of soft drink consumers are (1) preference for tastevs. low calories, (2) preference for Cola vs. non-cola taste, (3) price sensitivity—willingness to pay for brand names; and (4) heavy vs. light consumers. We now put thesevariables together to arrive at various combinations.Several different kinds of variables can be used for segmentation. Demographic variables essentially refer to personal statistics such as income, gender, education, location (rural vs. urban, East vs. West), ethnicity, and family size. Campbell’s soup, for instance, has found that Western U.S. consumers on the average prefer spicier soups—thus, you get a different product in the same cans at the East and West coasts. Facing flat sales of guns in the traditional male dominated market, a manufacturer came out with the Lady Remmington, a more compact, handier gun more attractive to women. Taking this a step farther, it is also possible to segment on lifestyle and values.‖ Some consumers want to be seen as similar to others, while a different segment wants to stand apart from the crowd.
Another basis for segmentation is behavior. Some consumers are ―brand loyal‖—i.e., they tend to stick with their preferred brands even when a competing one is on sale. Some consumers are ―heavy‖ users while others are ―light‖ users. For example, research conducted by the wine industry shows that some 80% of the product is consumed by 20% of the consumers— presumably a rather intoxicated group. One can also segment on benefits sought, essentially bypassing demographic explanatory variables. Some consumers, for example, like scented soap (a segment likely to be attracted to brands such as Irish Spring), while others prefer the ―clean‖ feeling of unscented soap (the ―Ivory‖ segment). Some consumers use toothpaste primarily to promote oral health, while another segment is more interested in breath freshening.In the next step, we decide to target one or more segments. Our choice should generallydepend on several factors. First, how well are existing segments served by othermanufacturers? It will be more difficult to appeal to a segment that is already well servedthan to one whose needs are not currently being served well. Secondly, how large is thesegment, and how can we expect it to grow? (Note that a downside to a large, rapidlygrowing segment is that it tends to attract competition). Thirdly, do we have strengths asa company that will help us appeal particularly to one group of consumers? Firms mayalready have an established reputation. While McDonald’s has a great reputation for fast,consistent quality, family friendly food, it would be difficult to convince consumers thatMcDonald’s now offers gourmet food. Thus, McD’s would probably be better off targetingfamilies in search of consistent quality food in nice, clean restaurants.Positioning involves implementing our targeting. For example, Apple Computer has chosento position itself as a maker of user-friendly computers. Thus, Apple has done a lotthrough its advertising to promote itself, through its unintimidating icons, as a computerfor ―non-geeks.‖ The Visual C software programming language, in contrast, is aimed a―techies.‖
Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema suggested in their 1993 book The Discipline of MarketLeaders that most successful firms fall into one of three categories: Operationally excellent firms, which maintain a strong competitive advantage by maintaining exceptional efficiency, thus enabling the firm to provide reliable service to the customer at a significantly lower cost than those of less well organized and well run competitors. The emphasis here is mostly on low cost, subject to reliable performance, and less value is put on customizing the offering for the specific customer. Wal-Mart is an example of this discipline. Elaborate logistical designs allow goods to be moved at the lowest cost, with extensive systems predicting when specific quantities of supplies will be needed. Customer intimate firms, which excel in serving the specific needs of the individual customer well. There is less emphasis on efficiency, which is sacrificed for providing more precisely what is wanted by the customer. Reliability is also stressed. Nordstrom’s and IBM are examples of this discipline. Technologically excellent firms, which produce the most advanced products currently available with the latest technology, constantly maintaining leadership in innovation. These firms,
because they work with costly technology that need constant refinement, cannot be as efficient as the operationally excellent firms and often cannot adapt their products as well to the needs of the individual customer. Intel is an example of this discipline.Treacy and Wiersema suggest that in addition to excelling on one of the three valuedimensions, firms must meet acceptable levels on the other two. Wal-Mart, for example,does maintain some level of customer service. Nordstrom’s and Intel both must meet somestandards of cost effectiveness. The emphasis, beyond meeting the minimum requiredlevel in the two other dimensions, is on the dimension of strength.Repositioning involves an attempt to change consumer perceptions of a brand, usuallybecause the existing position that the brand holds has become less attractive. Sears, forexample, attempted to reposition itself from a place that offered great sales butunattractive prices the rest of the time to a store that consistently offered ―everyday lowprices.‖ Repositioning in practice is very difficult to accomplish. A great deal of money isoften needed for advertising and other promotional efforts, and in many cases, therepositioning fails.To effectively attempt repositioning, it is important to understand how one’s brand andthose of competitors are perceived. One approach to identifying consumer productperceptions is multidimensional scaling. Here, we identify how products are perceived ontwo or more ―dimensions,‖ allowing us to plot brands against each other. It may then bepossible to attempt to ―move‖ one’s brand in a more desirable direction by selectivelypromoting certain points. There are two main approaches to multi-dimensional scaling. Inthe a priori approach, market researchers identify dimensions of interest and then askconsumers about their perceptions on each dimension for each brand. This is useful when(1) the market researcher knows which dimensions are of interest and (2) the customer’sperception on each dimension is relatively clear (as opposed to being ―made up‖ on thespot to be able to give the researcher a desired answer). In the similarity rating approach,respondents are not asked about their perceptions of brands on any specific dimensions.Instead, subjects are asked to rate the extent of similarity of different pairs of products(e.g., How similar, on a scale of 1-7, is Snicker’s to Kitkat, and how similar is Toblerone toThree Musketeers?) Using a computer algorithms, the computer then identifies positions ofeach brand on a map of a given number of dimensions. The computer does not reveal whateach dimension means—that must be left to human interpretation based on what thevariations in each dimension appears to reveal. This second method is more useful whenno specific product dimensions have been identified as being of particular interest or whenit is not clear what the variables of difference are for the product category.Consumer Behavior
Note: The issues discussed below are covered in more detail atconsumer behavior section of this site.Consumer behavior involves the psychological processes that consumers go through inrecognizing needs, finding ways to solve these needs, making purchase decisions (e.g.,whether or not to purchase a product and, if so, which brand and where), interpretinformation, make plans, and implement these plans (e.g., by engaging in comparisonshopping or actually purchasing a product).Sources of influence on the consumer. The consumer faces numerous sources ofinfluence.Often, we take cultural influences for granted, but they are significant. An American willusually not bargain with a store owner. This, however, is a common practice in much ofthe World. Physical factors also influence our behavior. We are more likely to buy a softdrink when we are thirsty, for example, and food manufacturers have found that it is moreeffective to advertise their products on the radio in the late afternoon when people aregetting hungry. A person’s self-image will also tend to influence what he or she will buy—an upwardly mobile manager may buy a flashy car to project an image of success. Socialfactors also influence what the consumers buy—often, consumers seek to imitate otherswhom they admire, and may buy the same brands. The social environment can includeboth the mainstream culture (e.g., Americans are more likely to have corn flakes or hamand eggs for breakfast than to have rice, which is preferred in many Asian countries) and asubculture (e.g., rap music often appeals to a segment within the population that seeks todistinguish itself from the mainstream population). Thus, sneaker manufacturers are eagerto have their products worn by admired athletes. Finally, consumer behavior is influencedby learning—you try a hamburger and learn that it satisfies your hunger and tastes good,and the next time you are hungry, you may consider another hamburger.
Consumer Choice and Decision Making: Problem Recognition. One model of consumerdecision making involves several steps. The first one is problem recognition—you realizethat something is not as it should be. Perhaps, for example, your car is getting moredifficult to start and is not accelerating well. The second step is information search—whatare some alternative ways of solving the problem? You might buy a new car, buy a usedcar, take your car in for repair, ride the bus, ride a taxi, or ride a skateboard to work. Thethird step involves evaluation of alternatives. A skateboard is inexpensive, but may be ill-suited for long distances and for rainy days. Finally, we have the purchase stage, andsometimes a post-purchase stage (e.g., you return a product to the store because you didnot find it satisfactory). In reality, people may go back and forth between the stages. Forexample, a person may resume alternative identification during while evaluating alreadyknown alternatives.Consumer involvement will tend to vary dramatically depending on the type of product. Ingeneral, consumer involvement will be higher for products that are very expensive (e.g., ahome, a car) or are highly significant in the consumer’s life in some other way (e.g., aword processing program or acne medication).It is important to consider the consumer’s motivation for buying products. To achieve thisgoal, we can use the Means-End chain, wherein we consider a logical progression ofconsequences of product use that eventually lead to desired end benefit. Thus, forexample, a consumer may see that a car has a large engine, leading to fast acceleration,leading to a feeling of performance, leading to a feeling of power, which ultimatelyimproves the consumer’s self-esteem. A handgun may aim bullets with precision, whichenables the user to kill an intruder, which means that the intruder will not be able toharm the consumer’s family, which achieves the desired end-state of security. Inadvertising, it is important to portray the desired end-states. Focusing on the large motorwill do less good than portraying a successful person driving the car.Information search and decision making. Consumers engage in both internal and externalinformation search. Internal search involves the consumer identifying alternatives from hisor her memory. For certain low involvement products, it is very important that marketingprograms achieve ―top of mind‖ awareness. For example, few people will search the
Yellow Pages for fast food restaurants; thus, the consumer must be able to retrieve one’srestaurant from memory before it will be considered. For high involvement products,consumers are more likely to use an external search. Before buying a car, for example,the consumer may ask friends’ opinions, read reviews in Consumer Reports, consultseveral web sites, and visit several dealerships. Thus, firms that make products that areselected predominantly through external search must invest in having informationavailable to the consumer in need—e.g., through brochures, web sites, or news coverage.A compensatory decision involves the consumer ―trading off‖ good and bad attributes of aproduct. For example, a car may have a low price and good gas mileage but slowacceleration. If the price is sufficiently inexpensive and gas efficient, the consumer maythen select it over a car with better acceleration that costs more and uses more gas.Occasionally, a decision will involve a non-compensatory strategy. For example, a parentmay reject all soft drinks that contain artificial sweeteners. Here, other good featuressuch as taste and low calories cannot overcome this one ―non-negotiable‖ attribute.The amount of effort a consumer puts into searching depends on a number of factors suchas the market (how many competitors are there, and how great are differences betweenbrands expected to be?), product characteristics (how important is this product? Howcomplex is the product? How obvious are indications of quality?), consumer characteristics(how interested is a consumer, generally, in analyzing product characteristics and makingthe best possible deal?), and situational characteristics (as previously discussed).Two interesting issues in decisions are: Variety seeking (where consumers seek to try new brands not because these brands are expected to be ―better‖ in any way, but rather because the consumer wants a ―change of pace,‖ and
“Impulse” purchases—unplanned buys. This represents a somewhat ―fuzzy‖ group. For example, a shopper may plan to buy vegetables but only decide in the store to actually buy broccoli and corn. Alternatively, a person may buy an item which is currently on sale, or one that he or she remembers that is needed only once inside the store.A number of factors involve consumer choices. In some cases, consumers will be moremotivated. For example, one may be more careful choosing a gift for an in-law than whenbuying the same thing for one self. Some consumers are also more motivated tocomparison shop for the best prices, while others are more convenience oriented.Personality impacts decisions. Some like variety more than others, and some are morereceptive to stimulation and excitement in trying new stores. Perception influencesdecisions. Some people, for example, can taste the difference between generic and namebrand foods while many cannot. Selective perception occurs when a person is payingattention only to information of interest. For example, when looking for a new car, theconsumer may pay more attention to car ads than when this is not in the horizon. Someconsumers are put off by perceived risk. Thus, many marketers offer a money backguarantee. Consumers will tend to change their behavior through learning—e.g., they willavoid restaurants they have found to be crowded and will settle on brands that best meettheir tastes. Consumers differ in the values they hold (e.g., some people are morecommitted to recycling than others who will not want to go through the hassle). We willconsider the issue of lifestyle under segmentation.The Family Life Cycle. Individuals and families tend to go through a "life cycle:" Thesimple life cycle goes fromFor purposes of this discussion, a "couple" may either be married or merely involve livingtogether. The breakup of a non-marital relationship involving cohabitation is similarlyconsidered equivalent to a divorce.In real life, this situation is, of course, a bit more complicated. For example, manycouples undergo divorce. Then we have one of the scenarios:
Single parenthood can result either from divorce or from the death of one parent. Divorceusually entails a significant change in the relative wealth of spouses. In some cases, thenon-custodial parent (usually the father) will not pay the required child support, and evenif he or she does, that still may not leave the custodial parent and children as well off asthey were during the marriage. On the other hand, in some cases, some non-custodialparents will be called on to pay a large part of their income in child support. This isparticularly a problem when the non-custodial parent remarries and has additionalchildren in the second (or subsequent marriages). In any event, divorce often results in alarge demand for: Low cost furniture and household items Time-saving goods and servicesDivorced parents frequently remarry, or become involved in other non-maritalrelationships; thus, we may seeAnother variation involvesHere, the single parent who assumes responsibility for one or more children may not forma relationship with the other parent of the child.Integrating all the possibilities discussed, we get the following depiction of the Family LifeCycle:
Generally, there are two main themes in the Family Life Cycle, subject to significantexceptions: As a person gets older, he or she tends to advance in his or her career and tends to get greater income (exceptions: maternity leave, divorce, retirement). Unfortunately, obligations also tend to increase with time (at least until one’s mortgage has been paid off). Children and paying for one’s house are two of the greatest expenses.Note that although a single person may have a lower income than a married couple, thesingle may be able to buy more discretionary items.Note that although a single person may have a lower income than a married couple, thesingle may be able to buy more discretionary items.Family Decision Making: Individual members of families often serve different roles indecisions that ultimately draw on shared family resources. Some individuals areinformation gatherers/holders, who seek out information about products of relevance.These individuals often have a great deal of power because they may selectively pass oninformation that favors their chosen alternatives. Influencers do not ultimately have thepower decide between alternatives, but they may make their wishes known by asking forspecific products or causing embarrassing situations if their demands are not met. Thedecision maker(s) have the power to determine issues such as: Whether to buy; Which product to buy (pick-up or passenger car?); Which brand to buy; Where to buy it; and When to buy.
Note, however, that the role of the decision maker is separate from that of the purchaser.From the point of view of the marketer, this introduces some problems since the purchasercan be targeted by point-of-purchase (POP) marketing efforts that cannot be aimed at thedecision maker. Also note that the distinction between the purchaser and decision makermay be somewhat blurred: The decision maker may specify what kind of product to buy, but not which brand; The purchaser may have to make a substitution if the desired brand is not in stock; The purchaser may disregard instructions (by error or deliberately).It should be noted that family decisions are often subject to a great deal of conflict. Thereality is that few families are wealthy enough to avoid a strong tension between demandson the family’s resources. Conflicting pressures are especially likely in families withchildren and/or when only one spouse works outside the home. Note that many decisionsinherently come down to values, and that there is frequently no "objective" way toarbitrate differences. One spouse may believe that it is important to save for thechildren’s future; the other may value spending now (on private schools and computerequipment) to help prepare the children for the future. Who is right? There is no clearanswer here. The situation becomes even more complex when more parties—such aschildren or other relatives—are involved.Some family members may resort to various strategies to get their way. One isbargaining—one member will give up something in return for someone else. For example,the wife says that her husband can take an expensive course in gourmet cooking if she canbuy a new pickup truck. Alternatively, a child may promise to walk it every day if he orshe can have a hippopotamus. Another strategy is reasoning—trying to get the otherperson(s) to accept one’s view through logical argumentation. Note that even when this isdone with a sincere intent, its potential is limited by legitimate differences in valuesillustrated above. Also note that individuals may simply try to "wear down" the other partyby endless talking in the guise of reasoning (this is a case of negative reinforcement as wewill see subsequently). Various manipulative strategies may also be used. One isimpression management, where one tries to make one’s side look good (e.g., argue that anew TV will help the children see educational TV when it is really mostly wanted to seesports programming, or argue that all "decent families make a contribution to thechurch"). Authority involves asserting one’s "right" to make a decision (as the "man of thehouse," the mother of the children, or the one who makes the most money). Emotioninvolves making an emotional display to get one’s way (e.g., a man cries if his wife willnot let him buy a new rap album).The Means-End Chain. Consumers often buy products not because of their attributes perse but rather because of the ultimate benefits that these attributes provide, in turnleading to the satisfaction of ultimate values. For example, a consumer may not beparticularly interested in the chemistry of plastic roses, but might reason as follows:
The important thing in a means-end chain is to start with an attribute, a concretecharacteristic of the product, and then logically progress to a series of consequences(which tend to become progressively more abstract) that end with a value being satisfied.Thus, each chain must start with an attribute and end with a value. An importantimplication of means-end chains is that it is usually most effective in advertising to focuson higher level items. For example, in the flower example above, an individual giving theflowers to the significant other might better be portrayed than the flowers alone.Attitudes. Consumer attitudes are a composite of a consumer’s (1) beliefs about, (2)feelings about, (3) and behavioral intentions toward some ―object‖—within the context ofmarketing, usually a brand, product category, or retail store. These components areviewed together since they are highly interdependent and together represent forces thatinfluence how the consumer will react to the object.Beliefs. The first component is beliefs. A consumer may hold both positive beliefs towardan object (e.g., coffee tastes good) as well as negative beliefs (e.g., coffee is easilyspilled and stains papers). In addition, some beliefs may be neutral (coffee is black), andsome may be differ in valance depending on the person or the situation (e.g., coffee is hotand stimulates--good on a cold morning, but not good on a hot summer evening when onewants to sleep). Note also that the beliefs that consumers hold need not be accurate (e.g.,that pork contains little fat), and some beliefs may, upon closer examination, becontradictory.Affect. Consumers also hold certain feelings toward brands or other objects. Sometimesthese feelings are based on the beliefs (e.g., a person feels nauseated when thinkingabout a hamburger because of the tremendous amount of fat it contains), but there mayalso be feelings which are relatively independent of beliefs. For example, an extremeenvironmentalist may believe that cutting down trees is morally wrong, but may havepositive affect toward Christmas trees because he or she unconsciously associates thesetrees with the experience that he or she had at Christmas as a child.
Behavioral intention. The behavioral intention is what the consumer plans to do withrespect to the object (e.g., buy or not buy the brand). As with affect, this is sometimes alogical consequence of beliefs (or affect), but may sometimes reflect other circumstances--e.g., although a consumer does not really like a restaurant, he or she will go therebecause it is a hangout for his or her friends.Changing attitudes is generally very difficult, particularly when consumers suspect thatthe marketer has a self-serving ―agenda‖ in bringing about this change (e.g., to get theconsumer to buy more or to switch brands). Here are some possible methods: Changing affect. One approach is to try to change affect, which may or may not involve getting consumers to change their beliefs. One strategy uses the approach of classical conditioning try to ―pair‖ the product with a liked stimulus. For example, we ―pair‖ a car with a beautiful woman. Alternatively, we can try to get people to like the advertisement and hope that this liking will ―spill over‖ into the purchase of a product. For example, the Pillsbury Doughboy does not really emphasize the conveyance of much information to the consumer; instead, it attempts to create a warm, ―fuzzy‖ image. Although Energizer Bunny ads try to get people to believe that their batteries last longer, the main emphasis is on the likeable bunny. Finally, products which are better known, through the mere exposure effect, tend to be better liked—that is, the more a product is advertised and seen in stores, the more it will generally be liked, even if consumers to do not develop any specific beliefs about the product. Changing behavior. People like to believe that their behavior is rational; thus, once they use our products, chances are that they will continue unless someone is able to get them to switch. One way to get people to switch to our brand is to use temporary price discounts and coupons; however, when consumers buy a product on deal, they may justify the purchase based on that deal (i.e., the low price) and may then switch to other brands on deal later. A better way to get people to switch to our
brand is to at least temporarily obtainbetter shelf space so that the product ismore convenient. Consumers are less likelyto use this availability as a rationale fortheir purchase and may continue to buy theproduct even when the product is lessconveniently located.Changing beliefs. Although attempting tochange beliefs is the obvious way toattempt attitude change, particularly whenconsumers hold unfavorable or inaccurateones, this is often difficult to achievebecause consumers tend to resist. Severalapproaches to belief change exist:Change currently held beliefs. It isgenerally very difficult to attempt tochange beliefs that people hold, particularlythose that are strongly held, even if theyare inaccurate. For example, the petroleumindustry advertised for a long time that itsprofits were lower than were commonlybelieved, and provided extensive factualevidence in its advertising to support thisreality. Consumers were suspicious andrejected this information, however.Change the importance of beliefs. Althoughthe sugar manufacturers would undoubtedlylike to decrease the importance of healthyteeth, it is usually not feasible to makebeliefs less important--consumers are likelyto reason, why, then, would you botherbringing them up in the first place?However, it may be possible to strengthenbeliefs that favor us--e.g., a vitaminsupplement manufacturer may advertisethat it is extremely important for women toreplace iron lost through menstruation. Mostconsumers already agree with this, but thebelief can be made stronger.Add beliefs. Consumers are less likely toresist the addition of beliefs so long as theydo not conflict with existing beliefs. Thus,the beef industry has added beliefs thatbeef (1) is convenient and (2) can be usedto make a number of creative dishes.Vitamin manufacturers attempt to add thebelief that stress causes vitamin depletion,
which sounds quite plausible to most people. Change ideal. It usually difficult, and very risky, to attempt to change ideals, and only few firms succeed. For example, Hard Candy may have attempted to change the ideal away from traditional beauty toward more unique self expression.One-sided vs. two-sided appeals. Attitude research has shown that consumers often tendto react more favorably to advertisements which either (1) admit something negativeabout the sponsoring brand (e.g., the Volvo is a clumsy car, but very safe) or (2) admitssomething positive about a competing brand (e.g., a competing supermarket has slightlylower prices, but offers less service and selection). Two-sided appeals must, containoverriding arguments why the sponsoring brand is ultimately superior—that is, in the aboveexamples, the ―but‖ part must be emphasized.Perception. Our perception is an approximation of reality. Our brain attempts to makesense out of the stimuli to which we are exposed. This works well, for example, when we―see‖ a friend three hundred feet away at his or her correct height; however, ourperception is sometimes ―off‖—for example, certain shapes of ice cream containers looklike they contain more than rectangular ones with the same volume.Subliminal stimuli. Back in the 1960s, it was reported that on selected evenings, moviegoers in a theater had been exposed to isolated frames with the words ―Drink Coca Cola‖and ―Eat Popcorn‖ imbedded into the movie. These frames went by so fast that people didnot consciously notice them, but it was reported that on nights with frames present, Cokeand popcorn sales were significantly higher than on days they were left off. This ledCongress to ban the use of subliminal advertising. First of all, there is a question as towhether this experiment ever took place or whether this information was simply made up.Secondly, no one has been able to replicate these findings. There is research to show thatpeople will start to giggle with embarrassment when they are briefly exposed to ―dirty‖words in an experimental machine. Here, again, the exposure is so brief that the subjectsare not aware of the actual words they saw, but it is evident that something has beenrecognized by the embarrassment displayed.Organizational buyers. A large portion of the market for goods and services is attributableto organizational, as opposed to individual, buyers. In general, organizational buyers, whomake buying decisions for their companies for a living, tend to be somewhat moresophisticated than ordinary consumers. However, these organizational buyers are alsooften more risk averse. There is a risk in going with a new, possibly better (lower price orhigher quality) supplier whose product is unproven and may turn out to be problematic.Often the fear of running this risk is greater than the potential rewards for getting a betterdeal. In the old days, it used to be said that ―You can’t get fired for buying IBM.‖ Thisattitude is beginning to soften a bit today as firms face increasing pressures to cut costs.
Organizational buyers come in several forms. Resellers involve either wholesalers orretailers that buy from one organization and resell to some other entity. For example,large grocery chains sometimes buy products directly from the manufacturer and resellthem to end-consumers. Wholesalers may sell to retailers who in turn sell to consumers.Producers also buy products from sub-manufacturers to create a finished product. Forexample, rather than manufacturing the parts themselves, computer manufacturers oftenbuy hard drives, motherboards, cases, monitors, keyboards, and other components frommanufacturers and put them together to create a finished product. Governments buy agreat deal of things. For example, the military needs an incredible amount of supplies tofeed and equip troops. Finally, large institutions buy products in huge quantities. Forexample, UCR probably buys thousands of reams of paper every month.Organizational buying usually involves more people than individual buying. Often, manypeople are involved in making decisions as to (a) whether to buy, (b) what to buy, (c) atwhat quantity, and (d) from whom. An engineer may make a specification as to what isneeded, which may be approved by a manager, with the final purchase being made by apurchase specialist who spends all his or her time finding the best deal on the goods thatthe organization needs. Often, such long purchase processes can cause long delays. In thegovernment, rules are often especially stringent—e.g., vendors of fruit cake have to meetfourteen pages of specifications put out by the General Services Administration. In manycases, government buyers are also heavily bound to go with the lowest price. Even if it isobvious that a higher priced vendor will offer a superior product, it may be difficult toaccept that bid.Consumer Research MethodsMarket research is often needed to ensure that we produce what customers really wantand not what we think they want.Primary vs. secondary research methods. There are two main approaches to marketing.Secondary research involves using information that others have already put together. Forexample, if you are thinking about starting a business making clothes for tall people, youdon’t need to question people about how tall they are to find out how many tall peopleexist—that information has already been published by the U.S. Government. Primaryresearch, in contrast, is research that you design and conduct yourself. For example, youmay need to find out whether consumers would prefer that your soft drinks be sweater ortarter.Research will often help us reduce risks associated with a new product, but it cannot takethe risk away entirely. It is also important to ascertain whether the research has beencomplete. For example, Coca Cola did a great deal of research prior to releasing the NewCoke, and consumers seemed to prefer the taste. However, consumers were not preparedto have this drink replace traditional Coke.
Secondary Methods. For more information about secondary market research tools andissues, please see http://buad307.com/PDF/Secondary.pdf .Primary Methods. Several tools are available to the market researcher—e.g., mailquestionnaires, phone surveys, observation, and focus groups. Please seehttp://buad307.com/PDF/ResearchMethods.pdf for advantages and disadvantages of each.Surveys are useful for getting a great deal of specific information. Surveys can containopen-ended questions (e.g., ―In which city and state were you born? ____________‖) orclosed-ended, where the respondent is asked to select answers from a brief list (e.g.,―__Male ___ Female.‖ Open ended questions have the advantage that the respondent isnot limited to the options listed, and that the respondent is not being influenced by seeinga list of responses. However, open-ended questions are often skipped by respondents, andcoding them can be quite a challenge. In general, for surveys to yield meaningfulresponses, sample sizes of over 100 are usually required because precision is essential. Forexample, if a market share of twenty percent would result in a loss while thirty percentwould be profitable, a confidence interval of 20-35% is too wide to be useful.Surveys come in several different forms. Mail surveys are relatively inexpensive, butresponse rates are typically quite low—typically from 5-20%. Phone-surveys get somewhathigher response rates, but not many questions can be asked because many answer optionshave to be repeated and few people are willing to stay on the phone for more than fiveminutes. Mall intercepts are a convenient way to reach consumers, but respondents maybe reluctant to discuss anything sensitive face-to-face with an interviewer.Surveys, as any kind of research, are vulnerable to bias. The wording of a question caninfluence the outcome a great deal. For example, more people answered no to thequestion ―Should speeches against democracy be allowed?‖ than answered yes to ―Shouldspeeches against democracy be forbidden?‖ For face-to-face interviews, interviewer bias isa danger, too. Interviewer bias occurs when the interviewer influences the way therespondent answers. For example, unconsciously an interviewer that works for the firmmanufacturing the product in question may smile a little when something good is beingsaid about the product and frown a little when something negative is being said. Therespondent may catch on and say something more positive than his or her real opinion.Finally, a response bias may occur—if only part of the sample responds to a survey, therespondents’ answers may not be representative of the population.Focus groups are useful when the marketer wants to launch a new product or modify anexisting one. A focus group usually involves having some 8-12 people come together in aroom to discuss their consumption preferences and experiences. The group is usually ledby a moderator, who will start out talking broadly about topics related broadly to theproduct without mentioning the product itself. For example, a focus group aimed at sugar-free cookies might first address consumers’ snacking preferences, only gradually movingtoward the specific product of sugar-free cookies. By not mentioning the product up front,we avoid biasing the participants into thinking only in terms of the specific productbrought out. Thus, instead of having consumers think primarily in terms of what might begood or bad about the product, we can ask them to discuss more broadly the ultimate
benefits they really seek. For example, instead of having consumers merely discuss whatthey think about some sugar-free cookies that we are considering releasing to the market,we can have consumers speak about their motivations for using snacks and what generalkinds of benefits they seek. Such a discussion might reveal a concern about healthfulnessand a desire for wholesome foods. Probing on the meaning of wholesomeness, consumersmight indicate a desire to avoid artificial ingredients. This would be an important concernin the marketing of sugar-free cookies, but might not have come up if consumers wereasked to comment directly on the product where the use of artificial ingredients is, byvirtue of the nature of the product, necessary.Focus groups are well suited for some purposes, but poorly suited for others. In general,focus groups are very good for getting breadth—i.e., finding out what kinds of issues areimportant for consumers in a given product category. Here, it is helpful that focus groupsare completely ―open-ended:‖ The consumer mentions his or her preferences andopinions, and the focus group moderator can ask the consumer to elaborate. In aquestionnaire, if one did not think to ask about something, chances are that fewconsumers would take the time to write out an elaborate answer. Focus groups also havesome drawbacks, for example: They represent small sample sizes. Because of the cost of running focus groups, only a few groups can be run. Suppose you run four focus groups with ten members each. This will result in an n of 4(10)=40, which is too small to generalize from. Therefore, focus groups cannot give us a good idea of: What proportion of the population is likely to buy the product. What price consumers are willing to pay. The groups are inherently social. This means that: Consumers will often say things that may make them look good (i.e., they watch public television rather than soap operas or cook fresh meals for their families daily) even if that is not true. Consumers may be reluctant to speak about embarrassing issues (e.g., weight control, birth control).Personal interviews involve in-depth questioning of an individual about his or her interestin or experiences with a product. The benefit here is that we can get really into depth(when the respondent says something interesting, we can ask him or her to elaborate), butthis method of research is costly and can be extremely vulnerable to interviewer bias.To get a person to elaborate, it may help to try a common tool of psychologists andpsychiatrists—simply repeating what the person said. He or she will often become
uncomfortable with the silence that follows and will then tend to elaborate. This approachhas the benefit that it minimizes the interference with the respondent’s own ideas andthoughts. He or she is not influenced by a new question but will, instead, go more in depthon what he or she was saying.Personal interviews are highly susceptible to inadvertent ―signaling‖ to the respondent.Although an interviewer is looking to get at the truth, he or she may have a significantinterest in a positive consumer response. Unconsciously, then, he or she may inadvertentlysmile a little when something positive is said and frown a little when something negative issaid. Consciously, this will often not be noticeable, and the respondent often will notconsciously be aware that he or she is being ―reinforced‖ and ―punished‖ for sayingpositive or negative things, but at an unconscious level, the cumulative effect of severalfacial expressions are likely to be felt. Although this type of conditioning will not get acompletely negative respondent to say all positive things, it may ―swing‖ the balance a bitso that respondents are more likely to say positive thoughts and withhold, or limit theduration of, negative thoughts.Projective techniques are used when a consumer may feel embarrassed to admit to certainopinions, feelings, or preferences. For example, many older executives may not becomfortable admitting to being intimidated by computers. It has been found that in suchcases, people will tend to respond more openly about ―someone else.‖ Thus, we may askthem to explain reasons why a friend has not yet bought a computer, or to tell a storyabout a person in a picture who is or is not using a product. The main problem with thismethod is that it is difficult to analyze responses.Projective techniques are inherently inefficient to use. The elaborate context that has tobe put into place takes time and energy away from the main question. There may also bereal differences between the respondent and the third party. Saying or thinking aboutsomething that ―hits too close to home‖ may also influence the respondent, who may ormay not be able to see through the ruse.Observation of consumers is often a powerful tool. Looking at how consumers selectproducts may yield insights into how they make decisions and what they look for. Forexample, some American manufacturers were concerned about low sales of their productsin Japan. Observing Japanese consumers, it was found that many of these Japaneseconsumers scrutinized packages looking for a name of a major manufacturer—the productspecific-brands that are common in the U.S. (e.g., Tide) were not impressive to theJapanese, who wanted a name of a major firm like Mitsubishi or Proctor & Gamble.Observation may help us determine how much time consumers spend comparing prices, orwhether nutritional labels are being consulted.A question arises as to whether this type of ―spying‖ inappropriately invades the privacy ofconsumers. Although there may be cause for some concern in that the particularindividuals have not consented to be part of this research, it should be noted that there isno particular interest in what the individual customer being watched does. The question iswhat consumers—either as an entire group or as segments—do. Consumers benefit, forexample, from stores that are designed effectively to promote efficient shopping. If it is
found that women are more uncomfortable than men about others standing too close, theareas of the store heavily trafficked by women can be designed accordingly. What is beingreported here, then, are averages and tendencies in response. The intent is not to find―juicy‖ observations specific to one customer.The video clip with Paco Underhill that we saw in class demonstrated the application ofobservation research to the retail setting. By understanding the phenomena such as thetendency toward a right turn, the location of merchandise can be observed. It is alsopossible to identify problem areas where customers may be overly vulnerable to the ―butbrush,‖ or overly close encounter with others. This method can be used to identifyproblems that the customer experiences, such as difficulty finding a product, a mirror, achanging room, or a store employee for help.Online research methods. The Internet now reaches the great majority of households inthe U.S., and thus, online research provides new opportunity and has increased in use.One potential benefit of online surveys is the use of ―conditional branching.‖ Inconventional paper and pencil surveys, one question might ask if the respondent hasshopped for a new car during the last eight months. If the respondent answers ―no,‖ he orshe will be asked to skip ahead several questions—e.g., going straight to question 17instead of proceeding to number 9. If the respondent answered ―yes,‖ he or she would beinstructed to go to the next question which, along with the next several ones, wouldaddress issues related to this shopping experience. Conditional branching allows thecomputer to skip directly to the appropriate question. If a respondent is asked whichbrands he or she considered, it is also possible to customize brand comparison questions tothose listed. Suppose, for example, that the respondent considered Ford, Toyota, andHyundai, it would be possible to ask the subject questions about his or her view of therelative quality of each respective pair—in this case, Ford vs. Toyota, Ford vs. Hyundai,and Toyota vs. Hyundai.There are certain drawbacks to online surveys. Some consumers may be more comfortablewith online activities than others—and not all households will have access. Today,however, this type of response bias is probably not significantly greater than thatassociated with other types of research methods. A more serious problem is that it hasconsistently been found in online research that it is very difficult—if not impossible—to getrespondents to carefully read instructions and other information online—there is atendency to move quickly. This makes it difficult to perform research that depends on therespondent’s reading of a situation or product description.Online search data and page visit logs provides valuable ground for analysis. It is possibleto see how frequently various terms are used by those who use a firm’s web site searchfeature or to see the route taken by most consumers to get to the page with theinformation they ultimately want. If consumers use a certain term frequently that is notused by the firm in its product descriptions, the need to include this term in onlinecontent can be seen in search logs. If consumers take a long, ―torturous‖ route toinformation frequently accessed, it may be appropriate to redesign the menu structureand/or insert hyperlinks in ―intermediate‖ pages that are found in many users’ routes.
Scanner data. Many consumers are members of supermarket ―clubs.‖ In return for signingp for a card and presenting this when making purchases, consumers are often eligible forconsiderable discounts on selected products.Researchers use a more elaborate version of this type of program in some communities.Here, a number of consumers receive small payments and/or other incentives to sign up tobe part of a research panel. They then receive a card that they are asked to present anytime they go shopping. Nearly all retailers in the area usually cooperate. It is now possibleto track what the consumer bought in all stores and to have a historical record.The consumer’s shopping record is usually combined with demographic information (e.g.,income, educational level of adults in the household, occupations of adults, ages ofchildren, and whether the family owns and rents) and the family’s television watchinghabits. (Electronic equipment run by firms such as A. C. Nielsen will actually recognize theface of each family member when he or she sits down to watch).It is now possible to assess the relative impact of a number of factors on the consumer’schoice—e.g., What brand in a given product category was bought during the last, or a series of past, purchase occasions; Whether, and if so, how many times a consumer has seen an ad for the brand in question or a competing one; Whether the target brand (and/or a competing one) is on sale during the store visit;
Whether any brand had preferential display space; The impact of income and/or family size on purchase patterns; and Whether a coupon was used for the purchase and, if so, its value.A ―split cable‖ technology allows the researchers to randomly select half the panelmembers in a given community to receive one advertising treatment and the other halfanother. The selection is truly random since each household, as opposed to neighborhood,is selected to get one treatment or the other. Thus, observed differences should, allowingfor sampling error, the be result of advertising exposure since there are no othersystematic differences between groups.Interestingly, it has been found that consumers tend to be more influenced bycommercials that they ―zap‖ through while channel surfing even if they only see part ofthe commercial. This most likely results from the reality that one must pay greaterattention while channel surfing than when watching a commercial in order to determinewhich program is worth watching.Scanner data is, at the present time, only available for certain grocery item productcategories—e.g., food items, beverages, cleaning items, laundry detergent, paper towels,and toilet paper. It is not available for most non-grocery product items. Scanner dataanalysis is most useful for frequently purchased items (e.g., drinks, food items, snacks,and toilet paper) since a series of purchases in the same product category yield moreinformation with greater precision than would a record of one purchase at one point intime. Even if scanner data were available for electronic products such as printers,computers, and MP3 players, for example, these products would be purchased quiteinfrequently. A single purchase, then, would not be as effective in effectivelydistinguishing the effects of different factors—e.g., advertising, shelf space, pricing of theproduct and competitors, and availability of a coupon—since we have at most onepurchase instance during a long period of time during which several of these factors wouldapply at the same time. In the case of items that are purchased frequently, the consumerhas the opportunity to buy a product, buy a competing product, or buy nothing at alldepending on the status of the brand of interest and competing brands. In the case of thepurchase of an MP3 player, in contrast, there may be promotions associated with severalbrands going on at the same time, and each may advertise. It may also be that thepurchase was motivated by the breakdown of an existing product or dissatisfaction or adesire to add more capabilities.Physiological measures are occasionally used to examine consumer response. For example,advertisers may want to measure a consumer’s level of arousal during various parts of anadvertisement. This can be used to assess possible discomfort on the negative side andlevel of attention on the positive side.By attaching a tiny camera to plain eye glasses worn by the subject while watching anadvertisement, it is possible to determine where on screen or other ad display the subject
focuses at any one time. If the focus remains fixed throughout an ad sequence where theinteresting and active part area changes, we can track whether the respondent isfollowing the sequence intended. If he or she is not, he or she is likely either not to bepaying as much attention as desired or to be confused by an overly complex sequence. Insituations where the subject’s eyes do move, we can assess whether this movement isgoing in the intended direction.Mind-reading would clearly not be ethical and is, at the present time, not possible in anyevent. However, it is possible to measure brain waves by attaching electrodes. Thesereadings will not reveal what the subject actually thinks, but it is possible to distinguishbetween beta waves—indicating active thought and analysis—and alpha waves, indicatinglower levels of attention.An important feature of physiological measures is that we can often track performanceover time. A subject may, for example, be demonstrating good characteristics—such asappropriate level of arousal and eye movement—during some of the ad sequence and notduring other parts. This, then, gives some guidance as to which parts of the ad areeffective and which ones need to be reworked.In a variation of direct physiological measures, a subject may be asked, at various pointsduring an advertisement, to indicate his or her level of interest, liking, comfort, andapproval by moving a lever or some instrument (much like one would adjust the volume ona radio or MP3 player). Republican strategist used this technique during the impeachmentand trial of Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. By watching approval during various phases of aspeech by the former President, it was found that viewers tended to respond negativelywhen he referred to ―speaking truthfully‖ but favorably when the President referred tothe issues in controversy as part of his ―private life.‖ The Republican researchers wereable to separate average results from Democrats, Independents, and Republicans,effectively looking at different segments to make sure that differences between each didnot cancel out effects of the different segments. (For example, if at one point Democratsreacted positively and Republicans responded negatively with the same intensity, theaverage result of apparent indifference would have been very misleading).Research sequence. In general, if more than one type of research is to be used, the moreflexible and less precise method—such as focus groups and/or individual interviews—shouldgenerally be used before the less flexible but more precise methods (e.g., surveys andscanner data) are used. Focus groups and interviews are flexible and allow the researcherto follow up on interesting issues raised by participants who can be probed. However,because the sample sizes are small and because participants in a focus group areinfluenced by each other, few data points are collected. If we run five focus groups witheight people each, for example, we would have a total of forty responses. Even if weassume that these are independent, a sample size of forty would give very impreciseresults. We might conclude, for example, that somewhere between 5% and 40% of thetarget market would be interested in the product we have to offer. This is usually no moreprecise than what we already reasonably new. Questionnaires, in contrast, are highlyinflexible. It is not possible to ask follow-up questions. Therefore, we can use our insightsfrom focus groups and interviews to develop questionnaires that contain specific questions
that can be asked to a larger number of people. There will still be some sampling error,but with a sample size of 1,000+ responses, we may be able to narrow the 95% confidenceinterval for the percentage of the target market that is seriously interested in our productto, say, 17-21%, a range that is much more meaningful.Cautions. Some cautions should be heeded in marketing research. First, in general,research should only be commissioned when it is worth the cost. Thus, research shouldnormally be useful in making specific decisions (what size should the product be? Shouldthe product be launched? Should we charge $1.75 or $2.25?)Secondly, marketing research can be, and often is, abused. Managers frequently have theirown ―agendas‖ (e.g., they either would like a product to be launched or would prefer thatit not be launched so that the firm will have more resources left over to tackle theirfavorite products). Often, a way to get your way is to demonstrate through ―objective‖research that your opinions make economic sense. One example of misleading research,which was reported nationwide in the media, involved the case of ―The Pentagon DeclaresWar on Rush Limbaugh.‖ The Pentagon, within a year of the election of Democrat BillClinton, reported that only 4.2% of soldiers listening to the Armed Forces Network wantedto hear Rush Limbaugh. However, although this finding was reported without question inthe media, it was later found that the conclusion was based on the question ―What singlething can we do to improve programming?‖ If you did not write in something like ―CarryRush Limbaugh,‖ you were counted as not wanting to hear him.International MarketingNote: The issues covered below are discussed in more detail in the International Marketingsection of this site.Scope. A number of issues are involved in marketing internationally and cross-culturally:
Protectionism. Although trade generally benefits a country as a whole, powerful interestswithin countries frequently put obstacles—i.e., they seek to inhibit free trade. There areseveral ways this can be done: Tariff barriers: A duty, or tax or fee, is put on products imported. This is usually a percentage of the cost of the good. Quotas: A country can export only a certain number of goods to the importing country. For example, Mexico can export only a certain quantity of tomatoes to the United States, and Asian countries can send only a certain quota of textiles here. “Voluntary” export restraints: These are not official quotas, but involve agreements made by countries to limit the amount of goods they export to an importing country. Such restraints are typically motivated by the desire to avoid more stringent restrictions if the exporters do not agree to limit themselves. For example, Japanese car manufacturers have agreed to limit the number of automobiles they export to the United States. Subsidies to domestic products: If the government supports domestic producers of a product, these may end up with a cost advantage relative to foreign producers who do not get this subsidy. U.S. honey manufacturers receive such subsidies. Non-tariff barriers, such as differential standards in testing foreign and domestic products for safety, disclosure of less information to foreign manufacturers needed to get products approved, slow processing of imports at ports of entry, or arbitrary laws which favor domestic manufacturers.Cultural lessons. We considered several cultural lessons in class; the important thing hereis the big picture. For example, within the Muslim tradition, the dog is considered a―dirty‖ animal, so portraying it as ―man’s best friend‖ in an advertisement is counter-productive. Packaging, seen as a reflection of the quality of the ―real‖ product, isconsiderably more important in Asia than in the U.S., where there is a tendency to focuson the contents which ―really count.‖ Many cultures observe significantly greater levels offormality than that typical in the U.S., and Japanese negotiator tend to observe long silentpauses as a speaker’s point is considered.
Product Need Satisfaction. We often take for granted the ―obvious‖ need that productsseem to fill in our own culture; however, functions served may be very different inothers—for example, while cars have a large transportation role in the U.S., they areimpractical to drive in Japan, and thus cars there serve more of a role of being a statussymbol or providing for individual indulgence. In the U.S., fast food and instant drinks suchas Tang are intended for convenience; elsewhere, they may represent more of a treat.Thus, it is important to examine through marketing research consumers’ true motives,desires, and expectations in buying a product.Approaches to Product Introduction. Firms face a choice of alternatives in marketingtheir products across markets. An extreme strategy involves customization, whereby thefirm introduces a unique product in each country, usually with the belief tastes differ somuch between countries that it is necessary more or less to start from ―scratch‖ increating a product for each market. On the other extreme, standardization involvesmaking one global product in the belief the same product can be sold across marketswithout significant modification—e.g., Intel microprocessors are the same regardless ofthe country in which they are sold. Finally, in most cases firms will resort to some kind ofadaptation, whereby a common product is modified to some extent when moved betweensome markets—e.g., in the United States, where fuel is relatively less expensive, manycars have larger engines than their comparable models in Europe and Asia; however, muchof the design is similar or identical, so some economies are achieved. Similarly, whileKentucky Fried Chicken serves much the same chicken with the eleven herbs and spices inJapan, a lesser amount of sugar is used in the potato salad, and fries are substituted formashed potatoes.There are certain benefits to standardization. Firms that produce a global product canobtain economies of scale in manufacturing, and higher quantities produced also lead to afaster advancement along the experience curve. Further, it is more feasible to establish aglobal brand as less confusion will occur when consumers travel across countries and seethe same product. On the down side, there may be significant differences in desiresbetween cultures and physical environments—e.g., software sold in the U.S. and Europewill often utter a ―beep‖ to alert the user when a mistake has been made; however, inAsia, where office workers are often seated closely together, this could causeembarrassment.Adaptations come in several forms. Mandatory adaptations involve changes that have to bemade before the product can be used—e.g., appliances made for the U.S. and Europe mustrun on different voltages, and a major problem was experienced in the European Unionwhen hoses for restaurant frying machines could not simultaneously meet the legalrequirements of different countries. “Discretionary‖ changes are changes that do not haveto be made before a product can be introduced (e.g., there is nothing to prevent anAmerican firm from introducing an overly sweet soft drink into the Japanese market),although products may face poor sales if such changes are not made. Discretionarychanges may also involve cultural adaptations—e.g., in Sesame Street, the Big Bird becamethe Big Camel in Saudi Arabia.
Another distinction involves physical product vs. communication adaptations. In order forgasoline to be effective in high altitude regions, its octane must be higher, but it can bepromoted much the same way. On the other hand, while the same bicycle might be sold inChina and the U.S., it might be positioned as a serious means of transportation in theformer and as a recreational tool in the latter. In some cases, products may not need to beadapted in either way (e.g., industrial equipment), while in other cases, it might have tobe adapted in both (e.g., greeting cards, where the both occasions, language, andmotivations for sending differ). Finally, a market may exist abroad for a product which hasno analogue at home—e.g., hand-powered washing machines.Country of origin effects. Traditionally, a product’s country of origin has had aconsiderable impact on how the product is perceived by consumers. Some countries werethought to be good at making certain things (e.g., the French being famous for wine andcheese with the Germans and Japanese being known for manufacturing excellence). Onecountry could have a good reputation for one type of product but not for another. Forexample, the British might be perceived as a high quality maker of sports automobiles buta poor quality maker of food. A beer brewer in France and a wine maker in Germany—bothbeing near the border to the other country—deliberately obscured the origin of theproducts to avoid being judged negatively. Some firms may engage in the dubiously ethicalpractice of giving a product an appearance of being associated with—if not being outrightmanufactured in—a country with a favorable origin impact on the product. For example, amanufacturer of perfume might print the instructions on the container in French even ifthere is no intention of exporting the product to—let alone making the product in—France.Today, the world of manufacturing is more complicated. Consumers are increasingly awarethat products are often not made in the country associated with the brand. Many Sonyproducts, for example, are produced in countries other than Japan. Many ―Japanese‖ carsmade for the U.S. market are now manufactured in North America. It is now alsorecognized that high quality products can be designed and made in countries such as SouthKorea and even China. Few people know in which country a particular model of the AppleiPod® has been made. The country-of-origin effect today, then, is considerably less than ithas been in the past.Measuring country wealth. There are two ways to measure the wealth of a country. Thenominal per capita gross national income (GNI) refers to the value of goods and servicesproduced per person in a country if this value in local currency were to be exchanged intodollars. Suppose, for example, that the per capita GDP of Japan is 3,500,000 yen and thedollar exchanges for 100 yen, so that the per capita GDP is (3,500,000/100)=$35,000.However, that $35,000 will not buy as much in Japan—food and housing are much moreexpensive there. Therefore, we introduce the idea of purchase parity adjusted per capitaGNI, which reflects what this money can buy in the country. This is typically based on therelative costs of a weighted ―basket‖ of goods in a country. The actual formula is verylengthy and complicated, but as a simple illustration, one might example a weightingbased on 35% of the cost of housing, 40% the cost of food, 10% the cost of clothing, and15% cost of other items. If it turns out that this measure of cost of living is 30% higher inJapan, the purchase parity adjusted GPD in Japan would then be ($35,000/(130%) =$26,923.
In general, the nominal per capita GNI is more useful for determining local consumers’ability to buy imported goods, the cost of which are determined in large measure by thecosts in the home market, while the purchase parity adjusted measure is more usefulwhen products are produced, at local costs, in the country of purchase. For example, theability of Argentineans to purchase micro computer chips, which are produced mostly inthe U.S. and Japan, is better predicted by nominal income, while the ability to purchasetoothpaste made by a U.S. firm in a factory in Argentina is better predicted by purchaseparity adjusted income.It should be noted that, in some countries, income is quite unevenly distributed so thatthese average measures may not be very meaningful. In Brazil, for example, there is avery large ―underclass‖ making significantly less than the national average, and thus, thenational figure is not a good indicator of the purchase power of the mass market.Similarly, great regional differences exist within some countries—income is much higher innorthern Germany than it is in the former East Germany, and income in southern Italy ismuch lower than in northern Italy. The relevant figures, then, should generally be basedon the segments of interest within the respective country. For example, if it is estimatedthat only homes in the upper 30% of income in a given country would be able to afford theproduct in question, this is the group that should be used for comparison.U.S. laws of particular interest to firms doing business abroad. Anti-trust. U.S. antitrust laws are generally enforced in U.S. courts even if the alleged transgression occurred outside U.S. jurisdiction. For example, if two Japanese firms collude to limit the World supply of VCRs, they may be sued by the U.S. government (or injured third parties) in U.S. courts, and may have their U.S. assets seized. The Foreign Corrupt Influences Act came about as Congress was upset with U.S. firms’ bribery of foreign officials. Although most if not all countries ban the payment of bribes, such laws are widely flaunted in many countries, and it is often useful to pay a bribe to get foreign government officials to act favorably. Firms engaging in this behavior, even if it takes place entirely outside the U.S., can be prosecuted in U.S. courts, and many executives have served long prison sentences for giving in to temptation. In contrast, in the past some European firms could actually deduct the cost of foreign bribes from their taxes! There are some gray areas here—it may be
legal to pay certain ―tips‖ –known as ―facilitating payments‖—to low level government workers in some countries who rely on such payments as part of their salary so long as these payments are intended only to speed up actions that would be taken anyway. For example, it may be acceptable to give a reasonable (not large) facilitating payment to get customs workers to process a shipment faster, but it would not be legal to pay these individuals to change the classification of a product into one that carries a lower tariff. Anti-boycott laws. Many Arab countries maintain a boycott of Israel, and foreigners that want to do business with them may be asked to join in this boycott by stopping any deals they do with Israel and certifying that they do not trade with that country. It is illegal for U.S. firms to make this certification even if they have not dropped any actual deals with Israel to get a deal with boycotters. Trading With the Enemy. It is illegal for U.S. firms to trade with certain countries that are viewed to be hostile to the U.S.—e.g., Libya and Iraq.The Marketing Mix: Product
Products come in several forms. Consumer products can be categorized as conveniencegoods, for which consumers are willing to invest very limited shopping efforts. Thus, it isessential to have these products readily available and have the brand name well known.Shopping goods, in contrast, are goods in which the consumer is willing to invest a greatdeal of time and effort. For example, consumers will spend a great deal of time lookingfor a new car or a medical procedure. Specialty goods are those that are of interest onlyto a narrow segment of the population—e.g., drilling machines. Industrial goods can alsobe broken down into subgroups, depending on their uses. It should also be noted that,within the context of marketing decisions, the term product refers to more than tangiblegoods—a service can be a product, too.A firm’s product line or lines refers to the assortment of similar things that the firm holds.Brother, for example, has both a line of laser printers and one of typewriters. In contrast,the firm’s product mix describes the combination of different product lines that the firmholds. Boeing, for example, has both a commercial aircraft and a defense line of productsthat each take advantage of some of the same core competencies and technologies of thefirm. Some firms have one very focused or narrow product line (e.g., KFC does onlychicken right) while others maintain numerous lines that hopefully all have some commontheme. This represents a wide product mix 3M, for example, makes a large assortment ofgoods that are thought to be related in the sense that they use the firm’s ability to bondsurfaces together. Depth refers to the variety that is offered within each product line.Maybelline offers a great deal of depth in lipsticks with subtle differences in shades whileMorton Salt offers few varieties of its product.Products may be differentiated in several ways. Some may be represented as being ofsuperior quality (e.g., Maytag), or they may differ in more arbitrary ways in terms ofstyles—some people like one style better than another, while there is no real consensus onwhich one is the superior one. Finally, products can be differentiated in terms of offeringdifferent levels of service—for example, Volvo offers a guarantee of free, reliable towinganywhere should the vehicle break down. American Express offers services not offered bymany other charge cards.
NEW PRODUCT DEVELOLOPMENTNew product development tends to happen in stages. Although firms often go back andforth between these idealized stages, the following sequence is illustrative of thedevelopment of a new product: New product strategy development. Different firms will have different strategies on how to approach new products. Some firms have stockholders who want to minimize risk and avoid investing in too many new innovations. Some firms can only survive if they innovate frequently and have stockholders who are willing to take this risk. For example, Hewlett-Packard has to constantly invent new products since competitors learn to work around its patents and will be able to manufacture the products at a lower cost. Idea generation. Firms solicit ideas as to new products it can make. Ideas might come from customers, employees, consultants, or engineers. Many firms receive a large number of ideas each year and can only invest in some of them. Screening and evaluation: Some products that after some analysis are clearly not feasible or are not consistent with the core competencies of the firm are eliminated. Business analysis. Ideas are now exposed to more rigorous analysis. Profit projections, risks, market size, and competitive response are considered. If promising, market research may be done. Development: The product is designed and manufacturing facilities are planned. Market testing: Frequently, firms will try to ―test‖ a product in one region to see if it will sell in reality before it is released nationally and internationally. There is a lesser risk if the firm only commits money to advertising and other marketing efforts in one region. Retailers will also be more receptive in other parts of the country and world if it has been demonstrated that the product sold well in one region. The firm
may also experiment with different prices for the product. Commercialization: Facilities to manufacture the product on a larger scale are now put into operation and the firm starts a national marketing campaign and distribution effort.THE PRODUCT LIFE CYCLEProducts often go through a life cycle. Initially, a product is introduced.Since the product is not well known and is usually expensive (e.g., as microwave ovenswere in the late 1970s), sales are usually limited. Eventually, however, many productsreach a growth phase—sales increase dramatically. More firms enter with their models ofthe product. Frequently, unfortunately, the product will reach a maturity stage wherelittle growth will be seen. For example, in the United States, almost every household hasat least one color TV set. Some products may also reach a decline stage, usually becausethe product category is being replaced by something better. For example, typewritersexperienced declining sales as more consumers switched to computers or other wordprocessing equipment. The product life cycle is tied to the phenomenon of diffusion ofinnovation. When a new product comes out, it is likely to first be adopted by consumerswho are more innovative than others—they are willing to pay a premium price for the newproduct and take a risk on unproven technology. It is important to be on the good side ofinnovators since many other later adopters will tend to rely for advice on the innovatorswho are thought to be more knowledgeable about new products for advice.At later phases of the PLC, the firm may need to modify its market strategy. For example,facing a saturated market for baking soda in its traditional use, Arm & Hammer launched amajor campaign to get consumers to use the product to deodorize refrigerators.Deodorizing powders to be used before vacuuming were also created.It is sometimes useful to think of products as being either new or existing.Many firms today rely increasingly on new products for a large part of their sales. Newproducts can be new in several ways. They can be new to the market—noone else evermade a product like this before. For example, Chrysler invented the minivan. Products can
also be new to the firm—another firm invented the product, but the firm is now making itsown version. For example, IBM did not invent the personal computer, but entered afterother firms showed the market to have a high potential. Products can be new to thesegment—e.g., cellular phones and pagers were first aimed at physicians and other price-insensitive segments. Later, firms decided to target the more price-sensitive mass market.A product can be new for legal purposes. Because consumers tend to be attracted to ―newand improved‖ products, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) only allows firms to put thatlabel on reformulated products for six months after a significant change has been made.DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONThe diffusion of innovation refers to the tendency of new products, practices, or ideas tospread among people.Usually, when new products or ideas come about, they are initially only adopted by a smallgroup of people. Later, many innovations spread to other people. The bell shaped curvefrequently illustrates the rate of adoption of a new product. Cumulative adoptions arereflected by the S-shaped curve.
The saturation point is the maximum proportion of consumers likely to adopt a product. Inthe case of refrigerators in the U.S., the saturation level is nearly one hundred percent ofhouseholds. The figure will almost certainly be well below that for video games that, evenwhen spread out to a large part of the population, will be of interest to far from everyone.Several specific product categories have case histories that illustrate important issues inadoption. Until some time in the 1800s, few physicians bothered to scrub prior to surgery,even though new scientific theories predicted that small microbes not visible to the nakedeye could cause infection. Younger and more progressive physicians began scrubbing earlyon, but they lacked the stature to make their older colleagues follow. ATM cards spread relatively quickly. Since the cards were used in public, others who did not yet hold the cards could see how convenient they were. Although some people were concerned about security, the convenience factors seemed to be a decisive factor in the ―tug-of-war‖ for and against adoption. The case of credit cards was a bit more complicated and involved a ―chickenand- egg‖ paradox. Accepting credit cards was not a particularly attractive option for retailers until they were carried by a large enough number of consumers. Consumers, in contrast, were not particularly interested in cards that were not accepted by a large number of retailers. Thus, it was necessary to ―jump start‖ the process, signing up large corporate accounts, under favorable terms, early in the cycle, after which the cards became worthwhile for retailers to accept. Rap music initially spread quickly among urban youths in large part because of the
low costs of recording. Later, rap music became popular among a very different segment, suburban youths, because of its apparently authentic depiction of an exotic urban lifestyle. Hybrid corn was adopted only slowly among many farmers. Although hybrid corn provided yields of about 20% more than traditional corn, many farmers had difficulty believing that this smaller seed could provide a superior harvest. They were usually reluctant to try it because a failed harvest could have serious economic consequences, including a possible loss of the farm. Agricultural extension agents then sought out the most progressive farmers to try hybrid corn, also aiming for farmers who were most respected and most likely to be imitated by others. Few farmers switched to hybrid corn outright from year to year. Instead, many started out with a fraction of their land, and gradually switched to 100% hybrid corn when this innovation had proven itself useful.Several forces often work against innovation. One is risk, which can be either social orfinancial. For example, early buyers of the CD player risked that few CDs would berecorded before the CD player went the way of the 8 track player. Another risk is beingperceived by others as being weird for trying a ―fringe‖ product or idea. For example,Barbara Mandrel sings the song ―I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.‖ Other sourcesof resistance include the initial effort needed to learn to use new products (e.g., it takestime to learn to meditate or to learn how to use a computer) and concerns aboutcompatibility with the existing culture or technology. For example, birth control isincompatible with religious beliefs that predominate in some areas, and a computerdatabase is incompatible with a large, established card file.Innovations come in different degrees. A continuous innovation includes slightimprovements over time. Very little usually changes from year to year in automobiles, andeven automobiles of the 1990s are driven much the same way that automobiles of the 1950were driven. A dynamically continuous innovation involves some change in technology,although the product is used much the same way that its predecessors were used—e.g., jetvs. propeller aircraft. A discontinuous innovation involves a product that fundamentallychanges the way that things are done—e.g., the fax and photocopiers. In general,discontinuous innovations are more difficult to market since greater changes are requiredin the way things are done, but the rewards are also often significant.
Several factors influence the speed with which an innovation spreads. One issue is relativeadvantage (i.e., the ratio of risk or cost to benefits). Some products, such as cellularphones, fax machines, and ATM cards, have a strong relative advantage. Other products,such as automobile satellite navigation systems, entail some advantages, but the cost ratiois high. Lower priced products often spread more quickly, and the extent to which theproduct is trialable (farmers did not have to plant all their land with hybrid corn at once,while one usually has to buy a cellular phone to try it out) influence the speed ofdiffusion. Finally, the extent of switching difficulties influences speed—many offices wereslow to adopt computers because users had to learn how to use them.Some cultures tend to adopt new products more quickly than others, based on severalfactors: Modernity: The extent to which the culture is receptive to new things. In some countries, such as Britain and Saudi Arabia, tradition is greatly valued—thus, new products often don’t fare too well. The United States, in contrast, tends to value progress. Homophily: The more similar to each other that members of a culture are, the more likely an innovation is to spread—people are more likely to imitate similar than different models. The two most rapidly adopting countries in the World are the U.S. and Japan. While the U.S. interestingly scores very low, Japan scores high. Physical distance: The greater the distance between people, the less likely innovation is to spread. Opinion leadership: The more opinion leaders are valued and respected, the more likely an innovation is to spread. The style of opinion leadersmoderates this influence, however. In less innovative countries, opinion leaders tend to be more conservative, i.e., to reflect the local norms of resistance.It should be noted that innovation is not always an unqualifiedly good thing. Someinnovations, such as infant formula adopted in developing countries, may do more harmthan good. Individuals may also become dependent on the innovations. For example,travel agents who get used to booking online may be unable to process manualreservations.
Sometimes innovations are disadopted. For example, many individuals disadopt cellularphones if they find out that they don’t end up using them much.BRANDS AND BRANDINGAn essential issue in product management is branding. Different firms have differentpolicies on the branding on their products. While 3M puts its brand name on a greatdiversity of products, Proctor & Gamble, on the opposite extreme, maintains a separatebrand name for each product. In general, the use of brand extensions should be evaluatedon the basis of the compatibility of various products—can the same brand name representdifferent products without conflict or confusion? Coca Cola for many years resisted puttingits coveted brand name on a diet soft drink. In the old days, available sweeteners such assaccharin added an undesirable aftertaste, implying a clear sacrifice in taste for thereduction in calories. Thus, to avoid damaging the brand name Coca Cola, Coke insteadnamed its diet cola Tab. Only after NutraSweet was introduced was the brand extensionallowed. Research shows that consumers are more receptive to brand extensions when (1)the company appears to have the expertise to make the product [McDonald’s was notthought as credible as a photo-finishing service], (2) the products are congruent(compatible), and (3) the brand extension is not seen as being exploitative of a highquality brand name [e.g., one should not use a premium brand name like Heineken tomake a trivially easy product like popcorn].In many markets, brands of different strength compete against each other. At the toplevel are national or international brands. A large investment has usually been put intoextensive brand building—including advertising, distribution and, if needed, infrastructuresupport. Although some national brands are better regarded than others—e.g., Dell has abetter reputation than e-Machines—the national brands usually sell at higher prices than toregional and store brands. Regional brands, as the name suggests, are typically sold only inone area. In some cases, regional distribution is all that firms can initially accomplish withthe investment capital and other resources that they have. This means that advertising isusually done at the regional level. This limits the advertising opportunities and thus theeffect of advertising. In some cases, regional brands may eventually grow into nationalones. For example, Snapple® was a regional beverage. While a regional beverage, itbecame so successful that it was able to attract investments to allow a national launch. Ina similar manner, some brands often start in a narrow niche—either nationally orregionally—and may eventually work their way up to a more inclusive national brand. Forexample, Mars was originally a small brand that focused on liquor filled chocolate candy.Eventually, the firm was able to expand. Store, or private label brands are, as the namesuggests, brands that are owned by retail store chains or consortia thereof. (For example,Vons and Safeway have the same corporate parent and both carry the ―Select‖ brand).Typically, store brands sell at lower prices than do national brands. However, because thechains do not have the external brand building costs, the margins on the store brands areoften higher. Retailers have a great deal of power because they control the placement ofproducts within the store. Many place the store brand right next to the national brand andplace a sign highlighting the cost savings on the store brand.Co-branding involves firms using two or more brands together to maximize appeal toconsumers. Some ice cream makers, for example, use their own brand name in addition to
naming the brands of ingredients contained. Sometimes, this strategy may help one brandat the expense of the other. It is widely believed, for example, that the ―Intel inside‖messages, which Intel paid computer makers to put on their products and packaging,reduced the value of the computer makers’ brand names because the emphasis was nowput on the Intel component.Certain ―peripheral‖ characteristics of products may ―signal‖ quality or other value toconsumers. For some products, packaging accounts for a large part of the total productmanufacturing cost. Long warranties often signal to consumers that the product is of goodquality since the manufacturer is willing to take responsibility for its functioning.THE PRODUCT-SERVICE CONTINUUMThere is no clear distinction between a ―pure‖ tangible product and a service. Mostproducts contain some of both. A computer, for example, is a tangible product, but itoften comes with a warranty and software updates.Promotion: Integrated Marketing CommunicationIntegrated Marketing Communication (IMC) involves the idea that a firm’s promotionalefforts should be coordinated to achieve the best combined effects of the firm’s efforts.Resources are allocated to achieve those outcomes that the firm values the most.Promotion involves a number of tools we can use to increase demand for our The mostwell known component of promotion is advertising, but we can also use tools such as thefollowing: Public relations (the firm’s staff provides information to the media in the hopes of getting coverage). This strategy has benefits (it is often less expensive and media coverage is usually more credible than advertising) but it also entails a risk in that we can’t control what the media will say. Note that this is particularly a useful tool for small and growing businesses—especially those that make a product which is inherently interesting to the audience. Trade promotion. Here, the firm offers retailers and wholesalers temporary discounts, which may or may not be passed on to the consumer, to stimulate sales. Sales promotion. Consumers are given either price discounts, coupons, or rebates. Personal selling. Sales people either make ―cold‖ calls on potential customers and/or respond to inquiries.
In-store displays. Firms often pay a great deal of money to have their goods displayed prominently in the store. More desirable display spaces include: end of an aisle, free- standing displays, and near the check-out counter. Occasionally, a representative may display the product. Samples Premiums PROMOTIONAL OBJECTIVES AND EFFECTIVENESSGenerally, a sequence of events is needed before a consumer will buy a product. This isknown as a ―hierarchy of effects.‖ The consumer must first be aware that the productexists. He or she must then be motivated to give some attention to the product and whatit may provide. In the next stage, the need is for the consumer to evaluate the merits ofthe product, hopefully giving the product a try. A good experience may lead to continueduse. Note that the consumer must go through the earlier phases before the later ones canbe accomplished.Promotional objectives that are appropriate differ across the Product Life Cycle (PLC).Early in the PLC—during the introduction stage—the most important objective is creatingawareness among consumers. For example, many consumers currently do not know theGarmin is making auto navigation devices based on the global position satellite (GPS)system and what this system can do for them. A second step is to induce trial—to getconsumers to buy the product for the first time. During the growth stage, important needsare persuading the consumer to buy the product and prefer the brand over competingones. Here, it is also important to persuade retailers to carry the brand, and thus, a largeproportion of promotional resources may need to be devoted to retailer incentives. Duringthe maturity stage, the firm may need to focus on maintaining shelf space, distributionchannels, and sales.Different promotional approaches will be appropriate depending on the stage of theconsumer’s decision process that the marketer wishes to influence. Prior to the purchase,the marketer will want to establish a decision to purchase the product and the specificbrand. Here, samples might be used to induce trial. During the purchase stage, when theconsumer is in the retail store, efforts may be made to ensure that the consumer willchoose one’s specific brands. Paying retailers for preferred shelf space as well as point ofpurchase (POP) displays and coupons may be appropriate. After the purchase, anappropriate objective may be to induce a repurchase or to influence the consumer tochoose the same brand again. Thus, the package may contain a coupon for futurepurchase.There are two main approaches to promoting products. The ―push‖ strategy is closelyrelated to the ―selling concept‖ and involves ―hard‖ sell and aggressive price promotionsto sell at this specific purchase occasion. In contrast, the ―pull‖ strategy emphasizescreating demand for the brand so that consumers will come to the store with the intention
of buying the product. Hallmark, for example, has invested a great deal in creating apreference for its greeting cards among consumers.There are several types of advertising. In terms of product advertising, the ―pioneering‖ad seeks to create awareness of a product and brand and to instill an appreciation amongconsumers for its possibilities. The competitive or persuasive ad attempts to convince theconsumer either of the performance of the product and/or how it is superior in some wayto that of others. Comparative advertisements are a prime example of this. For instance,note the ads that show that some trash bags are more durable than others. Reminderadvertising seeks to keep the consumer believing what other ads have already established.For example, Coca Cola ads tend not to provide new information but keep reinforcing whata great drink it is. DEVELOPING AN ADVERTISING PROGRAMDeveloping an advertising program entails several steps: Identifying the target audience. Market reports can be bought that investigate the media habits of consumers of different products and/or the segments that the firm has chosen to target. Determining appropriate advertising objectives. As discussed, these objectives might include awareness, trial, repurchase, inducing consumers to switch from another brand, or developing a preference for the brand. Settling on an advertising budget. Designing the advertisements. Numerous media are available for the advertiser to choose from. A list of some of the more common ones may be found on PowerPoint slide #11. Each medium tends to have advantages and disadvantages.It is essential to pretest advertisements to see how effective they actually are ininfluencing consumers. An ad may have to be redesigned if it is found not be to be aseffective as targeted. Note that selecting advertisements is often a ―numbers game‖where a lot of advertisements are created and the ones that ―test‖ best are selected. ADVERTISING STRATEGIESDepending of the promotional objectives sought by a particular firm, different advertisingstrategies and approaches may be taken. The following are some content strategiescommonly used.
Information dissemination/persuasion.Comparative ads attempt to get consumersto believe that the sponsoring product isbetter. Although these are frequentlydisliked by Americans, they tend to beamong the most effective ads in the U.S.Comparative advertising is illegal in somecountries and is considered veryinappropriate culturally in some societies,especially in Asia.Fear appeals try to motivate consumers bytelling them the consequences of not usinga product. Mouthwash ads, for example,talk about the how gingivitis and tooth losscan result from poor oral hygiene. It isimportant, however, that a specific way toavoid the feared stimulus be suggesteddirectly in the ad. Thus, simply by using themouthwash advertised, these terrible thingscan be avoided.Attitude change through the addition of abelief. This topic was covered underconsumer behavior. As a reminder, it isusually easier to get the consumer to accepta new belief which is not inconsistent withwhat he or she already believes than it is tochange currently held beliefs.Classical conditioning. A more favorablebrand image can often be created amongthe consumer when an association to a likedobject or idea is created. For example, anautomobile can be paired with a beautifulwoman or a product can be shown in a veryupscale setting.Humor appeal. The use of humor inadvertisements is quite common. Thismethod tends not to be particularly usefulin persuading the consumer. However, moreand more advertisers find themselves usinghumor in order to compete for theconsumer’s attention. Often, the humoractually draws attention away from theproduct—people will remember what wasfunny in the ad but not the product thatwas advertised. Thus, for ads to beeffective, the product advertised should bean integral part of what is funny.
Repetition. Whatever specific objective is sought, repetition is critical. This is especially the case when the objective is to communicate specific information to the customer. Advertising messages—even simple ones—are often understood by consumers who have little motive to give much attention to advertisements to which they are exposed. Therefore, very little processing of messages is likely to be done at any one time of exposure. Cumulatively, however, a greater effect may result. Celebrity endorsements. Celebrities are likely to increase the amount of attention given to an advertisement. However, these celebrities may not be consistently persuasive. The Elaboration Likelihood Model discussed below identifies conditions when celebrity endorsements are more likely to be effective. ADVERTISING AND ATTITUDE CHANGEA significant objective of advertising is attitude change. A consumer’s attitude toward aproduct refers to his or her beliefs about, feeling toward, and purchase intentions for theproduct. Beliefs can be both positive (e.g., for McDonald’s food: tastes good, isconvenient) and negative (is high in fat). In general, it is usually very difficult to changedeeply held beliefs. Thus, in most cases, the advertiser may better off trying to add abelief (e.g., beef is convenient) rather than trying to change one (beef is really not veryfatty).Consumer receptivity to messages aimed at altering their beliefs will tend to vary a greatdeal depending on the nature of the product. For unimportant products such as softdrinks, research suggests that consumers are often persuaded by having a large number ofarguments with little merit presented (e.g., the soda comes in a neat bottle, the bottlecontains five percent more soda than competing ones). In contrast, for high involvement,more important products, consumers tend to scrutinize arguments more closely, and willtend to be persuaded more by high quality arguments.Celebrity endorsements are believed to follow a similar pattern of effectiveness. TheElaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) suggests that or trivial products, a popular endorser islikely to be at least somewhat effective regardless of his or her qualifications to endorse(e.g., Bill Cosby endorses Coca Cola and Jell-O without having particular credentials to doso). On the other hand, for more important products, consumers will often scrutinize theendorser’s credentials.
For example, a basket ball player may be perceived as knowledgeable about athleticshoes, but not particularly so about life insurance. In practice, many celebrities do notappear to have a strong connection to the products they endorse. Tiger Woods might bequite knowledgeable about golf carts, it is not clear why he has any particularqualifications to endorse Cadillac automobiles. ADVERTISING EFFECTIVENESS AND EVALUATIONThe effectiveness of advertising is a highly controversial topic. Research suggests that inmany cases advertising leads to a relatively modest increase in sales. One study suggests,for example, that when a firm increases its advertising spending by 1%, sales go up by0.05%. (The same research found that, in contrast, if prices are lowered by 1%, sales tendto increase by 2%). In general, it appears that advertising is more effective in sellingdurable goods (e.g., stereo systems, cars, refrigerators, and furniture) than for non-durable goods (e.g., restaurant meals, candy bars, toilet paper, and bottled water). Also,advertising appears to be more effective for new products. This suggests that advertisingis probably most effective for providing information (rather than persuading people). Notethat many advertising agencies make a large part of their money on commissions onadvertising sold. Thus, they have a vested interest in selling as much advertising aspossible, and may strongly advise clients to spend excessive amounts on advertising.Research suggests that advertising effectiveness follows a sort of ―S-― shaped curve:
Very small amounts of advertising are too small to truly register with consumers. At themedium level, advertising may be effective. However, above a certain level (labeled―saturation point‖ on the chart), additional adverting appears to have a limited effect.(This is comparable to the notion of ―diminishing returns to scale‖ encountered ineconomics).There are several potential ways to measure advertising effectiveness. Two maincategories include: “Field” based studies. These studies look at what happens with real consumers in real life. Thus, for example, we can examine what happens to sales of a company’s products when the firm increases advertising. Unfortunately, this is often a misleading way to measure advertising impact because we live in a ―messy‖ world where other factors influence sales as well. For example, a soft drink firm could conclude that there is very little correlation between advertising and sales because another, much more powerful factor is at work: temperature. That is, the firm may find that although a great deal of advertising is done in the winter, sales are greater in summer months because people drink more soft drinks in hot weather. Note that the choice of brand of soft drink purchased in the summer may very well be influenced by advertising heard at other times. Laboratory studies. To get around the confounds imposed by nature, advertising researchers often use artificial situations to evaluate advertising. This sacrifices the use
of real consumers in real settings, but allows the marketer to control sources of influence. An advertising firm may hire people to come in and participate in research. The consumers may come in and be asked to view some television and respond to a questionnaire about the programming later. Half of the subjects can then see a version which includes an ad to be tested (the other half is known as the ―control‖ group, which will serve as a basis for comparison). We can now compare the two groups on factors such as attitude toward the brand, purchase intention, and preference. PUBLIC RELATIONSConsumers will often perceive what they perceive to be ―independent‖ media news storiesas more credible than paid advertising. Therefore, getting favorable media coverage canbe quite valuable. One downside, of course, is that the marketer does not get to controlwhat the media will say. This type of coverage is not necessarily less expensive thantraditional advertising, either, since a lot of labor is often needed to generate mediainterest.News releases should generally be brief. Ordinarily, these should not exceed two doublespaced pages in length although additional information can be made available. The mediawill generally react negatively to ―advertising‖ or sensational language such as―revolutionary‖ or ―breakthrough.‖ There is generally a preference for precise, factualinformation although a human interest story may also be of interest. It is important toquote actual people—whether customers, neutral experts, or employees of the firm. Thismay mean ―drafting‖ a quote and asking the appropriate person for permission to quotehim or her saying this.PricingBackground. Pricing decisions are extremely important for the firm. Some of the reasons: Pricing is the only part of the marketing mix which brings in revenue. Once a price has been set, consumers will often show a great deal of resistance to any attempts to change it. Pricing frequently has important implications for the positioning of a product.
Price is the marketing mix variable for which a competitive response can be most quickly implemented.Conceptualizing price. A logical examination suggests that price should be defined asThat is, we need to consider the quantity you receive as well as the amount of money youhave to fork out. To say that gasoline costs $1.29 is meaningless outside the context thatthis cost is per gallon. WAYS TO CHANGE PRICEThe above conceptualization suggests that the marketer has several ways available tochange price: Increasing or decreasing the "sticker price" of a product. Increasing or decreasing the quantity of material received. As prices of chocolate increased in the 1970s, firms found it difficult to raise candy bar prices. Instead, they simply made them smaller. Changing the quality of a product. Firms may cut back on services or dilute products more, possibly reducing or cutting out expensive ingredients. Change the terms of a sale. Firms may begin charging for previously free delivery. In recent years, many software manufacturers have stopped providing free telephone support for their programs. PRICING STRATEGIESPricing strategies can be categorized based on several different variables. One variable ofinterest relates to the consistency of the prices. Some retailers today attempt to follow astrategy of "everyday low pricing." Although few firms tend to practice this method withperfect consistency, certain retailers like Wal-Mart tend to focus on providing constant lowprices without any real sales. Other retailers instead feature prices which, when notdiscounted, are somewhat higher. To compensate, periodic sales feature price reductions.Sales can be implemented either with a predictable pattern (e.g., a product is put on sale
every fourth week) or in a random manner (e.g., in any given week, there is a 25% chancethat the product will offered on sale). (See chart on overheads).Note that "high-low" and "everyday low price" strategies are intended to take advantage ofdifferent price elasticities across people. Some consumers are price sensitive and will tendto buy only during sales; other people, in contrast, will buy all the time. Thus, people whoare not willing to switch brands will have to pay full price for your products when they arenot on sale; while they are on sale, a large number of "switchers" are attracted and salesvolumes are increased.Another dimension of interest in pricing the price introductory strategy. The "skimming"strategy entails offering a product first at a relatively high price.Consider, for example, what we can do when there is a large degree of price elasticity—i.e., when some consumers are willing to pay more than others. In the chart above, we seethat some consumers are willing to pay a lot of money to get a new product quickly, whileothers are not willing to pay as much. This often happens, for example, with newcomputer chips. It may be possible, then, to charge the first segment more money, andthen lower the price enough so that the next segment will buy it. The process continuesuntil all segments that can be profitably served have bought. In the chart below, weintroduce the product at price P1. This means that we will only sell a limited quantity--Q1.Later, we reduce the price to P2, enabling us to sell a quantity of Q2. Eventually, welower to P3, selling Q3.
Since consumers differ in how much they are willing to pay for a product, it is possible tomake large margins on the price inelastic segment. For example, Intel tends to charge highprices for its most recent chips, gradually lowering prices as a new generation isintroduced.Alternatively, firms may choose to use the "penetration" pricing strategy. This strategyalso takes advantage of price elasticity and attempts to dramatically boost the number ofunits sold by offering the product at a low price.Since costs of production tend to go down as cumulative production increases, thisstrategy may be effective. Penetration pricing is also useful when a firm wishes toestablish a large market share early on, and it may be useful to develop a market foraccessories to products. For example, a manufacturer of a new computer system may wantto increase sales volumes in order to encourage the development of compatible softwareso that the computer brand will become more competitively attractive.Note that "skimming" and penetration pricing involve tradeoffs. A clearly preferredstrategy may not be obvious, and managers may need to engage in some seriousconsideration to arrive at a desired strategy. Both strategies involve some level of risk.
The main risk to "skimming" is the attraction of aggressive competitors who see anopportunity to make large profits by entering. Penetration pricing, in contrast, gambles onthe possibility that sales volumes will in fact increase with lower prices.Two other concepts are worth noting. A "cost-plus" pricing strategy entails marking up theestimated cost of producing a product by a certain, fixed percentage. We will discussdeficiencies of this approach later. In contrast, pricing based on consumer perceived valuekeeps the firm in closer proximity to the market.Several objectives can be pursued in pricing. One is product line pricing. In some cases, itmay be useful to settle for small margins on some members of the product line in order toassure the success of others. For example, Avery, the maker of adhesive labels, sellsrelatively inexpensive software for printing on the labels in order to stimulate demand forthe higher margin labels. Two-tier pricing involves an attempt to entice the consumer intobuying a product at a low price with the expectation that he or she will buy accessorieslater. For example, makers of razor blades tend to sell the razors at low prices so that theconsumer has an incentive to go with the same brand of blades later on. Tying, which isoften illegal in the U.S. when it is based on unreasonable exercise of monopoly power by adominant firm in a market, involves requiring the consumer to buy a less desirable productin order to be able to buy a more desired one. Back when Xerox was the dominantmanufacturer of copy machines, for example, a court case forced the company to abandonits policy of including service of the copiers with machine purchase; consumers were nowfree to seek out any cheaper third party service available. For a more contemporaryexample, lets imagine that rap singer Joyoys J has two albums on the market: A Rated X-Mas and X-Mas Gift rappin. If market research suggests that X-Mas Gift rapping will bereceived as a mediocre album while A Rated X-mas is likely to reach Platinum status,Joyoys J might refuse to sell A Rated X-Mas without a simultaneous purchase of the lessdesirable product. The legal issues here are complex, in part because there are oftenserious questions about the extent to which it is reasonable for the customer to be able tobuy only one product when most customers would want to buy the combination. It isprobably not reasonable, for example, to insist on being allowed to buy only pink M&Ms®since most customers appear to prefer a mix of colors.Product price bundling, generally legal, presents an alternative to outright tying. Here,the consumer can buy each product separately, but a discount is offered for buying two ormore items simultaneously. In Joyoys J’s case, a possible pricing schedule might be:A Rated X-mas $20.00X-Mas Gift rapping $10.00Both for $25.00 (>$20.00+$10.00=$30.00)In general, simple "cost-plus" pricing is inappropriate because: Your costs, in a market which is not perfectly competitive, may not be reflective of the costs of your competitors. If theirs are lower than yours, you may be
over pricing your products; if it is higher than yours, you may be able to charge higher prices than cost-plus would suggest. Your costs are not reflective of the value of the product to consumers. The prices of some products are more salient than those of others; thus, you may want to use some products as "loss leaders."Cost should, however, play some role in pricing decisions: Whether you can produce products at a cost low enough to compete effectively against market existing market prices should help determine whether to enter (or exit) a given market. Understanding the relationship between price and quantity demanded as well as the cost of producing this quantity will help make decisions on pricing and quantity produced. In this context, note the effects of experience previously discussed in the text. That is, it may be profitable to sacrifice margin immediately to move along the experience curve and enjoy a cost advantage relative to competitors later. CONSUMER PRICE AWARENESSResearch suggests a large segment of consumers does not give much attention to theprices of individual products. Consumers were found on the average to spend only about12 seconds between arriving at the site within a store where a frequently purchasedproduct was located and departing; on the average, consumers inspected only 1.2products. Only 55.6%, seconds after having selected a product, could specify its pricewithin 5% of accuracy. Note that this study does not indicate a total lack of consumerprice sensitivity since consumers are undoubtedly making some inferences about theoverall price levels of a store. Thus, the store has some incentive to maintain reasonableoverall prices. COMPETITION AND ANTITRUST ISSUES IN PRICINGThe United States maintains relatively stringent (by international standards) antitrustlaws. Much of the rest of the World is catching up with us, but traditionally, anti-competitive laws in many European and Asian countries were either non-existent, intendedto actively encourage collusion, or not enforced. In fact, a professor at INSEAD, thepremier French business school, reported that his students—who came from countries
throughout Europe—actually expected him to teach them how to collude with each other.Antitrust issues relevant to prices can be categorized into the following main categories: Minimum prices: It is generally, with a few relatively complicated exceptions, illegal to sell products below your cost of production. (For firms holding a large market share, these costs, in accounting terms, must be "fully absorbed"—that is, overhead and development costs must be apportioned among products sold). In selling to entities that compete against each other, price discrimination or volume discounts are generally only legal to the extent that a manufacturer can prove actual cost savings associated with serving a large account. In the U.S. criminal justice system, we are used to think of a person being "innocent until proven guilty," but this standard does not apply in this kind of civil case. The law provides that the manufacturer has the burden of proof to establish that cost savings exist. The overheads indicate the pricing structure of Morton Salt employed in the 1940s. Although the volume discounts are modest and seem reasonable, the U.S. Supreme Court held against Morton because the firm failed to prove cost savings. (Federal Trade Commission v. Morton Salt Company, 334 U.S. 37 ). The prohibition on price discrimination generally applies only to entities competing against each other. This means that differences in prices charged by a firm to competing restaurants must be justified by demonstrable cost savings, but it may be legal to charge supermarkets different prices than those charged to grocery stores to the extent that restaurants and grocery stores do not significantly compete in the affected product category. Restaurants, for example, tend to use hot sauce as an ingredient in food served while grocery stores tend to resell the hot sauce. Anti-competitive pricing: In general, collusion, or firms getting together to fix
prices, is outright illegal in the U.S. (but notin all countries—it is sometimes legal, forexample, in Switzerland). In the late 1980sand early 1990s, certain airlines wereaccused of fixing prices by communicationthrough their computerized reservationsystems. Most airlines settled the suit,agreeing to certain injunctions limiting thispractice.Price maintenance refers to the practice ofencouraging a certain minimum resale priceof products. In 2007, the U.S. SupremeCourt reversed its previous holding andruled in the case Leegin Creative LeatherProducts, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc. that it is notautomatically (―per se”) illegal formanufacturers to require as a condition ofsale that retailers of its products agree tocharge a price no lower than a ―floor‖ priceestablished by contract. Courts may stilldecide, depending on the facts andconditions of a particular case, that certainminimum price agreements betweenmanufacturers and retailers result in a―restraint of trade‖ in violation of theSherman Act. This conclusion is, however,no longer automatic and has to beestablished through the ―rule of reason.‖ Atheory asserted is that, under somecircumstances, retail price maintenancemay actually increase inter-brandcompetition, or competition among brandssince retailers will now have a greaterincentive to provide services and makeinvestments in brand building knowing thatthey will not be undersold by retailers notoffering these services. Intra-brandcompetition—or competition among theretailers selling the same brand—is likely tobe reduced, but it is argued that the non-price benefits of increased service may bemore valuable to customers in somecircumstances than facing the lowestpossible prices. In the U.S., manufacturersgenerally cannot prevent retailers fromselling their inventory at a lower pricedthan what has been contractually specified,
but the manufacturer can stop selling to such discounting retailers without being in automatic violation. As a matter of pragmatics, very few manufacturers would actually want to enforce price maintenance today. Discounters have now become a major force in the economy and the source of a large number of sales. Refusing to sell to discounters, or pressuring them to charge higher prices, is almost certainly not a viable strategy for most firms today. Tying: it is generally illegal to require a customer to buy a less desired product in order to buy a more desired one. In practice, it is difficult to decide where to draw the line. For example, most consumers would probably prefer to buy a fishing rod and reel together; so it is not unreasonable, for the sake of expediency, to sell the two only together. On the other hand, Ford in the 1950s refused to drill holes in auto dashboards if the consumer did not purchase a radio with the vehicle. This made buying third party radios quite unattractive, and Ford was forced by litigation to abandon this practice. CONSUMER REFERENCE PRICESConsumers typically maintain reference prices for products. These are typically based onprices they have seen or paid in the past or perceived fairness of prices.There are two kinds of reference prices: Internal reference prices are price expectations based on the consumers experience. These are: o Typically lower than actual retail prices; thus, consumers frequently experience "sticker shock" when shopping for certain products. o Frequently updated, but somewhat difficult to change dramatically. o Confined to a narrower range for some products than others. External reference prices are prices supplied by a marketer as a means of
influencing a consumers price expectations—e.g., "Regularly $3.99; Now $2.99." Although one might think that an implausible (unbelievable) external reference price would suggest to the consumer that the retailer is lying, research has shown that clearly implausibly high external reference prices actually increase internal reference prices.Research shows that both experience (prices previously paid) and the sale context (pricesof competing brands) influence a consumers internal reference price.Consumers tend to experience two sources of value for a product. Acquisition utilityrefers to the utility of obtaining a product, while transaction utility refers to thedifference between a subjects reference price and the featured price.Traditionally, managers have believed that you need to approach a certain threshold ofsome 15-20% discount before consumers will respond significantly to sales. More recentresearch, however, shows that a large segment of the population will apparently respondto "negligible" discounts. For example, if a product is reduced in price from $3.98 to $3.96(a "whopping" one half of one percent price cut!), a large number of consumers will "bite."A store manager similarly found that just placing a sign saying "EVERYDAY LOW PRICE"randomly among store products increased sales of the affected products by some 20%.There is some question as to whether "odd" product prices (those ending in "9," "95," or"99) actually increase sales. Some effect has been found in the U.S., but no effect wasfound in Germany. Note, however, that "odd" prices may communicate the idea that youare receiving a bargain, which may nor may not be consistent with the desired positioningof the product.As some firms have painfully learned, changing the price of a product can be difficult.Some experimenters tried to introduce a laundry detergent both at a "high" and "low" pricein stores. After eight weeks, the price of the laundry detergent under the "low" intro pricecondition was changed to match that of the "high" introductory condition.
Although sales were higher in the low introductory price condition while the price waslow, sales dropped dramatically after the price had been raised—in fact, after sixteenweeks, cumulative sales were higher in those stores where the price had been high allalong. This suggests that consumers started thinking about the product as a "low price" oneand had difficulty adjusting when the price was later changed.There are other cases where changing product prices has proven difficult. In the 1970s,consumers were reluctant to pay above an effective $2.00 "ceiling" for cereal. The CocaCola Company also found it difficult to raise its price above its highly salient 5 cent level.The "framing" of products tends to dramatically influence consumer response. TheAutomobile Club of Southern California, for example, indicates that upgrading to "AAAPlus" service costs "only pennies a day" rather than emphasizing the yearly cost. Note thatthis framing effect may also have implications for the practice of sales—when the sale isretracted, consumers may see this as a loss rather than the termination of a gain. MANUFACTURER VS. RETAILER PRICING INTERESTSRetailers and manufacturers often have conflicting interests since: Retailers seek to maximize category profits. For many product categories, consumers simply switch brands (but do not buy more) when one brand goes on sale. Thus, the retailer might as well "pocket"
much of the price difference. In fact, U.S.C. marketing professors Gerard Tellis and Fred Zufryden have developed an econometric model (based on observations of consumer response to price changes across brands) indicating to retailers the optimal proportion of price cuts passed on to pass on to consumers. This is one reason why it may pay to for manufacturers to use coupons or mail-in rebates, which circumvent retailer efforts to pocket discounts. Manufacturers may resent having their products used as loss-leaders (possibly damaging their brand image). ADVERTISING: DOES IT INCREASE OR DECREASE PRICE ELASTICITY?Economists such as John Kenneth Galbraith have traditionally held that advertising servesto create artificial differentiation among products where few real differences exist andthus allows the firm to charge higher prices. This effect can be observed on whole-saleprices, where heavily advertised products tend to sell for higher prices.Research shows, however, that advertising may have the opposite effect on prices at theretail level. Retailers will often use highly advertised products as loss leaders, and thusadvertising may depress retail prices of products. It has also been found that prices of eye-glasses are lower in those states that allow advertising (containing price information), andafter deregulation, air fares were negatively correlated with advertising on the route inquestion (again making prices more readily comparable).Distribution: Channels and LogisticsDistribution (also known as the place variable in the marketing mix, or the 4 Ps) involvesgetting the product from the manufacturer to the ultimate consumer. Distribution is oftena much underestimated factor in marketing. Many marketers fall for the trap that if youmake a better product, consumers will buy it. The problem is that retailers may not bewilling to devote shelf-space to new products. Retailers would often rather use that shelf-space for existing products have that proven records of selling.
Although many firms advertise that they save the consumer money by selling "direct" and―eliminating the middleman,‖ this is a dubious claim in most instances. The truth is thatintermediaries, such as retailers and wholesalers, tend to add efficiency because they cando specialized tasks better than the consumer or the manufacturer. Because wholesalersand retailers exist, the consumer can buy one pen at a time in a store locatedconveniently rather than having to order it from a distant factory. Thus, distributors addefficiency by: Breaking bulk—the consumer can buy small quantities at a time. Small and modest scale retailers (e.g., the USC bookstore) can buy modest quantities. This service reduces quantity discrepancy in the supply-demand relationship between manufacturers and end customers. Consolidation and Distribution. It would be highly inconvenient for customers to have to buy each product at a different store. Most American consumers today also have limited patience with specialty stores in most categories. Rather than having to go to one store to buy produce, one store to buy meat, and other stores for other household products, there is considerable value in having everything available in a supermarket. The consumers can buy at a neighborhood store, which in turn can buy from a regional warehouse. It would also be very inconvenient for supermarkets and most other retailers to have to receive deliveries individually from each manufacturer. Wholesalers consolidate products from different manufacturers so
that a large number of different products can be received in one shipment. This reduces costs by increasing the efficiency with which products can be (1) delivered and (2) received. Consolidation and distribution services offered by wholesalers reduce the assortment discrepancy between manufacturers on the one hand and local retailers and consumers on the other. NOTE: Some very large retail chains such as Wal- Mart may be able to handle distribution more effectively than outside wholesalers. Wal-Mart often insists on sales directly to the chain from the manufacturer rather than sales through wholesalers. This is the exception to the rule since Wal-Mart is large enough to be able to handle distribution itself rather than going through retailers. It should be noted that Wal-Mart has made very large investments to make this possible, and these capabilities have taken a long time to develop. Wal-Mart had a very difficult time breaking into the grocery business—especially for perishable items— and took several years to perfect this capability. Carrying inventory. This service reduces the temporal discrepancy between o Manufacturers who may need to schedule production at relatively constant levels and consumers who need certain products only at certain times (e.g., turkeys needed mostly at Thanksgiving and Christmas) Financing. Certain small manufacturers may have difficulty waiting for payment until goods are sold to the end-customer. Wholesalers and retailers may negotiate lower prices from the manufacturer in return for quick payment.Many of the cost savings associated with having an efficient system of intermediariesresult from specialization. Manufacturers specialize in what they do well—manufacturingproducts—while others specialize in handling various phases of the distribution path. Somespecialize in retailing—usually selling a large assortment of goods in small quantities to alarge number of end customers. Wholesalers, in turn, specialize in moving and goods fromnumerous manufacturers to a large number of retailers.
Channel structures vary somewhat by the nature of the product.Jet aircraft are custom made and shipped directly to the airline. Automobiles, becausethey are difficult to move, are shipped directly to a dealer. Other products are shippedthrough a wholesaler who can more efficiently handle, and combine, products from manydifferent suppliers. Several layers of wholesalers may exist, depending on the product.Occasionally, agents may also be involved. Agents usually do not handle products, butinstead take care of the business aspect of negotiating with distributors, whichmanufacturers may feel uncomfortable or ill prepared for doing themselves."Wheel of Retailing.‖ An interesting phenomenon that has been consistently observed inthe retail world is the tendency of stores to progressively add to their services. Manystores have started out as discount facilities but have gradually added services thatcustomers have desired. For example, the main purpose of shopping at establishments likeCostco and Sam’s Club is to get low prices. These stores have, however, added atremendous number of services—e.g., eye examinations, eye glass prescription services,tire installation, insurance services, upscale coffee, and vaccinations.
MANUFACTURER DISTRIBUTION PREFERENCESMost manufacturers would prefer to have their products distributed widely—that is, for theproducts to be available in as many stores as possible. This is especially the case forconvenience products where the customer has little motivation to go to a less convenientretail outlet to get his or her preferred brand. Soft drinks would be an extreme examplehere. The vast majority of people would settle for their less preferred brand in a vendingmachine rather than going elsewhere to get their top choice. This is one reason why beinga small share brand in certain categories can become a vicious cycle that perpetuatesitself.For most manufacturers, wide distribution is not realistically obtainable. In food productcategories, for example, the larger supermarkets can carry a large number of brands.Smaller convenience stores and warehouse stores, however, are likely to carefully pick afew brands. After all, if convenience stores were to carry as many products assupermarkets, the purpose of having a neighborhood store with easy entry and exit wouldbe defeated.In a very small number of cases, some manufacturers prefer to have their productsselectively, or even exclusively, distributed. This is usually the case for high prestigebrands (e.g., Estee Lauder) or premium quality image brands (e.g., high end electronicproducts) that require considerable before and after sales service.DISTRIBUTION INTERESTS: RETAILERS VS. MANUFACTURERSManufacturers of different kinds of products have different interests with respect to theavailability of their products. For convenience products such as soft drinks, it is essentialthat your product be available widely. Chances are that if a store does not have aconsumer’s preferred brand of soft drinks, the consumer will settle for another brandrather than taking the trouble to go to another store. Occasionally, however,manufacturers will prefer selective distribution since they prefer to have their productsavailable only in upscale stores.Parallel distribution structures refer to the fact that products may reach consumers indifferent ways. Most products flow through the traditional manufacturer - -> retailer -->
consumer channel. Certain large chains may, however, demand to buy directly from themanufacturer since they believe they can provide the distribution services at a lower costthemselves. In turn, of course, they want lower prices, which may anger the traditionalretailers who feel that this represents unfair competition. Firms may also choose to utilizefactory outlet stores. To allay concerns held by conventional stores, however, thesefactory outlet stores are usually located in areas where they are not easily accessible.We must consider what is realistically available to each firm. A small manufacturer ofpotato chips would like to be available in grocery stores nationally, but this may not berealistic. We need to consider, then, both who will be willing to carry our products andwhom we would actually like to carry them. In general, for convenience products, intensedistribution is desirable, but only brands that have a certain amount of power—e.g., anestablished brand name—can hope to gain national intense distribution. Note that forconvenience goods, intense distribution is less likely to harm the brand image—it is not aproblem, for example, for Haagen Dazs to be available in a convenience store along withbargain brands—it is expected that people will not travel much for these products, so theyshould be available anywhere the consumer demands them. However, in the category ofshopping goods, having Rolex watches sold in discount stores would be undesirable—here,consumers do travel, and goods are evaluated by customers to some extent based on thesurrounding merchandise.In general, a brand can expect lesser distribution in its early stages—fewer retailers aremotivated to carry it. Similarly, when a product category is new, it will be available infewer stores—e.g., in the early days, computer disks were available only in specialtystores, but now they can be found in supermarkets and convenience stores as well. Certainproducts that are not well established may have to get their start on "infomercials," onlyslowly getting entry into other types out outlets. (Please see PowerPoint chart).Different parties involved in the marketing of products tend to have different, and oftenconflicting, interests:
Full service retailers tend dislike intensive distribution. Low service channel members can "free ride" on full service sellers. Manufacturers may be tempted toward intensive distribution—appropriate only for some; may be profitable in the short run. Market balance suggests a need for diversity in product categories where intensive distribution is appropriate. Service requirements differ by product category.Diversion occurs when merchandise intended for one market is bought up by a distributorthat then ships it to a different market. Sometimes, a manufacturer will run a promotionin one region but not in another, and speculators will then buy extra quantity in thepromoted area and ship it another area. The speculator will then sell it to local retailersor distributors for a price slightly lower than what is being charged through the regularchannel but at a price that still allows a nice profit. Certain products sell for differentprices in different countries. As we discussed in the unit of international marketing, a graymarket occurs when a product is bought in one country and exported to another where theprice is generally higher. Both Louis Vuitton suitcases and golf clubs were imported toJapan, depressing prices there.Recent retail trends. Over the past decade, there has been considerable growth in bothextremes of the continuum from low price, low service to high price, high serviceretailers. There has been considerably growth both in the Wal-Mart and Nordstrom-typeretailers than there has been in between.For some time, during difficult economic times in the mid 2000s, discount stores like Wal-Mart actually tended to increase sales as consumers seemed to switch their purchases ofthe same products from higher priced to lower priced stores rather than reducing thequantity and quality bought in the product categories. It appears that consumers havedone most of the switching that can be reasonably done this way already. More recently,Wal-Mart has felt more of an effect of weak economic times. Observations have beenmade that more and more customers seem to be running out of money at the end of themonth.During the last two decades, there has been strong growth in the ―category killer‖ chainswhich specialize in a moderate assortment of goods. Chains like CompUSA, Best Buy,Staples, Circuit City, Office Depot, and Home Depot—which were rare before the 1990s—have expanded rapidly and have captured a very large share of the market in theirrespective areas of emphasis. These chains operate from two sources of strength: o Although their total purchase volumes are usually smaller than those of the giants such as Wal-Mart and Target, these purchases are focused in more limited areas. Thus,
the purchases of each ―giant‖ account for a large proportion of the sales of many firms. Best Buy, for example, accounts for a large percentage of the sales of firms that make DVD players, TV sets, video games, and, to a lesser extent, computers and printers. o The mega store chains will often negotiate very large contracts early in the purchasing cycle. Manufacturers are often willing to offer especially low prices to a buyer who will commit to taking large quantities well ahead of the time that these products are actually needed. This guarantees the manufacturers a certain volume— albeit at small margins—freeing the firm to commit to production and produce large quantities without having to worry about selling a large portion the production. Such deals often account for the very low sale prices that can be offered on select models in various product categories.Internet Marketing (ElectronicCommerce)Online marketing can serve severalpurposes: o Actual sales of products—e.g., Amazon.com. o Promotion/advertising: Customers can be quite effectively targeted in many situations because of the context that they, themselves, have sought out. For example, when a consumer searches for a specific term in a search engine, a ―banner‖ or link to a firm selling products in that area can be displayed. Print and television advertisements can also feature the firm’s web address, thus
inexpensively drawing in those who would like additional information. o Customer service: The site may contain information for those who no longer have their manuals handy and, for electronic products, provide updated drivers and software patches. o Market research: Data can be collected relatively inexpensively on the Net. However, the response rates are likely to be very unrepresentative and recent research shows that it is very difficult to get consumers to read instructions. This is one of the reasons why the quality of data collected online is often suspect. CHALLENGES IN RUNNING WEB SITESThere are a number of problems in runningand developing web sites. First of all, thedesired domain name may not be available—e.g., American Airlines could not get―American.com‖ and had to settle for―AmericanAir.com.‖ There is also a questionhaving your site identified to potentialusers. Research has found that most searchengines have a great deal of ―false hits‖(sites irrelevant that are identified in asearch—e.g., information about computerlanguages when the user searches forforeign language instruction) and ―misses‖(sites that would have been relevant but arenot identified). It is crucial for a firm tohave its site indexed favorably in majorsearch engines such as Yahoo, AOLFind, andGoogle. However, there is often a constantstruggle between web site operators andthe search engines to outguess each other,with the web promoters trying to ―spam‖the search engines with repeated usage ofterms and ―meta tags.‖ The fact that manycomputer users employ different webbrowsers raises questions aboutcompatibility. A major problem is that manyof the more recent, fancier web sites rely
on ―java script‖ to provide animation andvarious other impressive features. Theseanimations have proven very unreliable.Sites may ―crash‖ on the user or proveunreliable, and many consumers have foundthemselves unable to complete theirtransactions. ECONOMICS OF ELECTRONIC COMMERCE: SELLING ONLINE IS USUALLY MORE EXPENSIVESome people have suggested that theInternet may be a less expensive way todistribute products than traditional ―brick-and-mortar‖ stores. However, in mostcases, selling online will probably be morecostly than selling in traditional stores dueto the high costs of processing orders anddirect shipping to the customer. Someproducts may, however, be economicallymarketed online. Some factors that arerelevant in assessing the potential for e-commerce to be an effective way to sell aspecific products are: “Value-to-bulk” ratio. Products that have a lot of value squeezed into a small volume (e.g., high end jewelry and certain electronic products) are often more cost-effective to ship to end-customers than are bulkier products with less value (e.g., low end furniture). Absolute margins. Some products may have a rather high percentage margin—e.g., a scarf bought at wholesale at $10 and marked up 100% to be sold at $20. However, the absolute margin is only $20-$10=$10. In contrast, a laptop computer may be bought at $1,000 and be marked up by only 15%, or $150, for a total price of $1,150. Here, however, the absolute margin will be larger--$150. This allows the merchant to spend money on processing, packaging, and
shipping the order. Ten dollars, incontrast, can only cover a smallamount of employee time and verylimited packaging and shipping. Someonline merchants do charge forshipping, but doing so will ultimatelymake the online merchant lesscompetitive.Extent of customization needed.Some products need to becustomized—e.g., checks have to bepersonalized and airline tickets haveto be issued for a specific departuresite, destination time, and traveltime. Here, online processing may beuseful because the customer can domuch of the work.Willingness of customers to pay forconvenience. Some consumers maybe willing to pay for the convenienceof having products delivered to theirdoor. For example, delivering highbulk, generally low value groceries isgenerally not efficient. However, forsome customers, it may beworthwhile to pay to avoid aninconvenient trip to the grocerystore.Geographic dispersal of customers.Electronic commerce, when value-to-bulk ratios and absolute margins arenot favorable, is often not viablewhen customers are locatedconveniently close to a retail outlet.However, for some products—e.g.,bee keeping equipment—customersare widely geographically dispersedand thus, a centralized distributioncenter may be more economicallyviable. Specialty books—e.g., forcollectors of vintage automobiles—may not be worthwhile for bookstoresto stock, and these may thus beeconomically sold online.Vulnerability of inventory to loss ofvalue. Some products—especially hightech products—have a very high
effective carrying costs. It has been estimated that because of the rapid technological progress made in the computer field, computer parts may lose as much as 1.5% of their value per week. If shipping directly to the customer can reduce the channel time by five weeks, this potentially ―rescues‖ as much as 7.5% of the product value. In such a situation, then, trying to reach the customer directly may make sense, even if the direct costs of distribution are higher, because of the inventory value issue.There are a number of economic realities ofonline competition: As discussed, costs of handling online orders is often higher than that of distributing through traditional stores. Even if online selling is more cost effective in some situations, a firm selling online will, in the long run, be competing with other online merchants—not just against traditional ―brick-and-mortar‖ stores. By the forces of supply and demand, online prices will then be driven down so that the profit from selling online will be no greater than that from traditional retailing. Any reduced costs would then be expected to go to customers. Competition will be greater for products that have large markets than for those where markets are smaller and more specialized. Amazon.com, for example, has found it necessary to discount best selling books deeply. Higher prices—closer to the list price—can be charged for specialty books, but for a large part of the market, competition will be intense.
A new online merchant will face competition from established traditional merchants. These will often have the cash reserves to stay in business for a long time even with temporary competition. The online merchant, if it has no cash reserves other than stockholders’ investment, may run out of cash before it can become profitable. ISSUES IN WEB SITE DESIGNWeb site design: The web designer mustmake various issues into consideration: Speed vs. aesthetics: As we saw, some of the fancier sites have serious problems functioning practically. Consumers may be impressed by a fancy site, or may lack confidence in a firm that offers a simple one. Yet, fancier sites with extensive graphics take time to download—particularly for users dialing in with a modem as opposed to being ―hard‖ wired—and may result in site crashes. Keeping users on the site: A large number of ―baskets‖ are abandoned online as consumers fail to complete the ―check-out‖ process for the products they have selected. One problem here is that many consumers are drawn away from a site and then are unlikely to come back. A large number of links may be desirable to consumers, but they tend to draw people away. Taking banner advertisers on your site from other sites may be profitable, but it may result in customers lost. Information collection: An increasing number of consumers resist collection of information about them, and a number of consumers have set up their browsers to disallow ―cookies,‖
files that contain information about their computers and shopping habits.Cyber-consumer behavior: In principle, itis fairly easy to search and compare online,and it was feared that this might wipe outall margins online. More recent researchsuggests that consumers in fact do not tendto search very intently and that large pricedifferences between sites persist. We sawabove the problem of keeping consumersfrom prematurely departing from one’s site.Site content. The content of a site shouldgenerally be based on the purposes ofoperating a site. For most sites, however,having a clear purpose be evident isessential. The site should generally providesome evidence for this position. Forexample, if the site claims a large selection,the vast choices offered should be evident.Sites that claim convenience should makethis evident. A main purpose of the Internetis to make information readily available,and the site should be designed so thatfinding the needed information among allthe content of the site is as easy aspossible. Since it is easy for consumers tomove to other sites, the site should bemade interesting. To provide theinformation and options desired bycustomers, two-way interaction capabilitiesare essential. WEB SITE TRAFFIC GENERATIONThe web is now so large that getting trafficto any one site can be difficult. One methodis search engine optimization, a topic thatwill be covered below. Other methodsinclude ―viral‖ campaigns wherein currentusers are used to spread the word about asite, firm, or service. For example, Hotmailattaches a message to every e-mail sentfrom its service alerting the recipient that afree e-mail account can be had there.
Google offers a free e-mail account with afull gigabyte of storage. This is availableonly by invitation from others who havesuch e-mail accounts. Amazon.com at onepoint invited people, when they hadcompleted a purchase, to automatically e-mail friends whose e-mail addresses theyprovided with a message about what theyhad just bought. If the friend bought any ofthe same items, both the original customerand the friend would get a discount.Another method of gaining traffic is throughonline advertising. Sites like Yahoo! aremainly sponsored by advertisers, as aremany sites for newspapers and magazines.Individuals who see an ad on these sites canusually click to go to the sponsor’s web site.Occasionally, a firm may advertise theirsites in traditional media. Geico, DellComputer, and Progressive Insurance dothis. Overstock.com has also advertised alot on traditional TV programs. Conventionaladvertising may also contain a web siteaddress as part of a larger advertisingmessage.Viral marketing is more suitable for someproducts than for others. To get othersinvolved in spreading the word, the productusually must be interesting and unique. Itmust also be simple enough so that it can beexplained briefly. It is most useful whenswitching or trial costs are low. It is moredifficult, for example, getting people tosign up for a satellite system or cellularphone service where equipment has to bebought up front and/or a long term contractis required makes viral marketing moredifficult. Viral marketing does raise someproblems about control of the campaign.For example, if a service is aimed at higherincome countries and residents there spreadthe word to consumers in lower incomecountries, people attracted may beunprofitable. For Google’s one gigabyte e-mail account, for example, there are large
costs that may be covered by advertisingrevenues from ads aimed at people who canafford to buy products and services.Advertisers, however, may not be willing topay for targets who cannot afford theirproducts. It is also difficult to control ―wordof mouth‖ (or ―word of keyboard‖).Measuring the effectiveness of a campaignmay be difficult. When a viral campaignrelies on e-mail, messages received may beconsidered spam by some recipients,leading to potential brand damage and lossof goodwill.Online promotions. One way to generatetraffic is promotions. Many sites often offernew customers discounts or free gifts. Thiscan be expensive, but sometimes, the giftscan be ones that have a low marginal cost.For example, once the firms pays for thedevelopment of a game, the cost of lettingnew users download it is modest. The U.S.army uses this approach in making a gameavailable. To be allowed to use some of the―cooler‖ features, the user has to gothrough various stages of ―basic training.‖ SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATIONMany Internet users find desired informationand sites through search engines such asGoogle. Research shows that a largeproportion of the traffic goes to the firstthree sites listed, and few people go so sitesthat appear beyond the first ―page‖ orscreen. On Google, the default screen sizeis ten sites, so being in the top ten isessential.Because of the importance of searchengines, getting a good ranking or comingup early on the list for important keywordsis vitally important. Many consultants offer,for large fees, to help improve a site’sranking.
There are several types of sites that aresimilar to search engines. Directoriesinvolve sites that index information basedon human analysis. Yahoo! started out thatway, but now most of the information isaccessed through search engine features.The Open Directory Project athttp://www.dmoz.org indexes sites byvolunteer human analysts. Some sitescontain link collections as part of theirsites—e.g., business magazines may havelinks to business information sites.Several issues in search engines anddirectories are important. Some searchengines, such as Google, base rankingsstrictly on merit (although sites are allowedto get preferred paid listings on the rightside of the screen). Other search enginesallow sites to ―bid‖ to get listed first. Somesites may end up paying as much as a dollarfor each surfer who clicks through. If apotential customer is valuable enough, itmay be worth paying for enhanced listings.Often, however, it is better to be listed asnumber two or three since only moreserious searchers are likely to go beyond thefirst site. The first listed site may attract anumber of people who click through withoutmuch serious inspection of the site.Some search engines are more specific thanothers. The goal of Google, Yahoo! and MSNis to contain as many sites as possible.Others may specialize in sites of a specifictype to reduce the amount of irrelevantinformation that may come up.Search engines often have different types ofstrategies. Google is very much technologyoriented while Yahoo! appears to be moremarket oriented. Another major goal ofGoogle is speed. Some sites may containmore content of one type than another. Forexample, AltaVista appears to have moreimages, as opposed to text pages, indexed.
Search engine rankings. The order in whichdifferent sites are listed for a given term isdetermined by a secret algorithmdeveloped by the search engine. Analgorithm is a collection of rules puttogether to identify the most relevant sites.The specific algorithms are highly guardedtrade secrets, but most tend to heavilyweigh the number of links from other sitesto a site and the keywords involved. Morecredit is given for a link from a highly ratedsite—thus, having a link from CNN.comwould count much more than one from thesite of the Imperial Valley Press. On anygiven page, the weight given from a link willdepend on the total number of links on thatpage. Having one of one hundred links willcount less than being the only one. Onesource reports that the weight appears tobe proportional so that one out of onehundred links would carry one percent ofthe weight of being the sole link, but thatmay change and/or vary among searchengines.For Google, some of the main rankingfactors appear to be: Number and quality of links to the site, as discussed above. Relevant keywords. Note that the ranking algorithm tests for ―spam.‖ Reckless repeating keywords may actually count against the rating of the site. The ―click-through‖ share of the site. Since late 2006 or early 2007, Google reportedly fine-tunes rankings by observing the percentage of the time that a particular site is chosen for a given set of search terms. Sites that are selected more frequently may improve in rank and those less frequently selected—despite their merits presumed from the other factors—may move down.
Types of search engines. Some engines,such as Google, are general purpose searchengines. Some are specialized. Some arehybrids, containing some directory structurein addition to search engine capabilities.Some ―reward‖ sites such as iwon.comattract people by allowing them to enter alottery when doing a search. Some sites areaggregator sites—they do not have their owndatabases but instead combine the resultsfrom simultaneous searches on other searchengines.Text optimization. It is important to repeatimportant words as much as possible subjectto credibility. Search engines today areincreasingly sophisticated in identifying―spamming‖ through frivolous repetition ofthe same words or early use of words thatare not relevant to the main content of thesite. Words that appear early in the textand on the index page will tend to beweighted more heavily. For some searchengines, it may be useful to includecommon misspellings of a word so that thesite will come up when that spelling is used.Some web site owners have attempted toinclude hidden text so that a search enginewould find the desired words while thevisitor would see something else. Some webdesigners, for example, would hide textbehind a graphic, make the text in a verysmall font, and/or make the font color thesame, or nearly the same, as thebackground. Other web site designers havemade a ―legitimate‖ site, only to have acommand to move the visitor to another sitewhen they go to the searched site. Searchengines today are increasingly able todetect this type of abuse, and sites may bepenalized as a result.Early search engines relied heavily on ―metatags‖ where the web site creator specifiedwhat he or she believed to be appropriatekeywords, content descriptions, and titles.Because these tags are subject to a lot of
abuse, these no longer appear to besignificant.Link optimization. Many web sites engagein ―link exchanges‖—that is, complementarysites will agree to feature links to eachother. It may be useful for a webmaster toask firms whose content does not competefor a link. Sites should register with theOpen Directory Project athttp://www.dmoz.org since, if a site isclassified favorably, this may help rankings.The bottom line on Google. Today, themost significant factor in search enginerankings appears to be the ―value‖ of thelinks that reach a site. Links from ―lowvalue‖ sites (those that are not ratedhighly, and especially those considered tothe ―spam‖) count for very little. Links fromhighly rated sites on the relevant keywordscount for literally thousands—sometimestens and hundreds of thousands—times asmuch as less important site. In the past, thepresence of important key terms on a sitewas the main driver of rankings, subject tosome rudimentary safeguards againstobvious ―spamming‖ sites which used thewords as a way to gain rankings withoutproviding relevant information. Now, theeffect of keywords is secondary except forsearches that involve a very unique keyterm. Search engines cannot usuallymeasure the amount of traffic that goes toa site. Traditionally, then, the traffic ofa site was not directly incorporated into theranking system. Today, however, Google isreported to weigh the percentage that asite is chosen for click-through when thesite comes up in a search. That is, if a site isinitially highly ranked, if a small proportionof searchers actually choose to go to thatsite, this site is likely to have its rankreduced.Google now offers a set of ―Analytics‖ tools,including a set of web traffic statistics.
Webmasters can sign up voluntarily to participate in this by placing certain ―meta tag‖ code in their web pages. (This code is invisible to people viewing the respective web page in its regular display mode). Therefore, for such sites, Google does, in principle, have access to traffic information from all sources, including other search engines or links from other sites. It is not clear whether Google actually uses this information, however.Copyright (c) Lars Perner 1999-2008.