Strategic marketing basically includes an extended evaluation of all components within a marketing mix strategy and how they will be integrated with each other (Jocumsen, 2004). The strategic marketing process addresses key questions such as the current position of the organization, the desired to-be position of the organization, availability of resources, how they should be allocated, implement the planning, contingency planning, etc. These and many such questions are addressed within the strategic marketing process so as to come up with a marketing mix that is made keeping in view the demands and requirements of the potential target markets (Kerin, et al., 2012). Considering the current situation of ACME, it is apparent that the organization is facing a severe challenge as the negotiation team has failed to convince suppliers on either of the two issues i.e. reducing the build cost by 20 percent and reducing the turn-around time of the supplier. Failure of the operational team to achieve both of these targets means that the ACME will have a high unit cost, which ultimately means low profit margin for the company.
The primary reason behind ACME being in a tough position is its poor planning process. Lack of chain of authority has been one of the major issues. Most of the decision making capacity lies with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the firm who is not only pre-occupied with concerns of other functional departments, but also has a tendency to ask for changes at the last moment. Since, engineers were completely unaware of any particular cost targets or timeline for the new equipment; therefore, they carried on with their own pace ignoring the market altogether. There was absolutely no sense of urgency created by the top management for the planning and implementation of the new devices and all employees within the firm continued with their traditional approach of no deadlines, no hurry. This meant that with the passage of every additional day, increasing the number of resources both time and material was employed for the design stage. Despite multiple enquiries made by the project manager regarding the cost of individual components and the final device, little interest was taken by the Chief Executive Officer, during those days.
Moreover, almost nine months into the project, the Chief Executive Officer decided to switch suppliers from the United States based board manufacturing company to a Taiwanese based company. The change in plan not only resulted in increased cost, but also a delay of two months. Though many of the components were reusable with the new supplier; therefore, engineers had a hope and the motivation level for meeting the deadline, but it was a major challenge for the entire team. Furthermore, during this entire period, there was absolutely no communication between the marketing and the design team. Marketing team based on the initial planning, which was overly ambitious, continued to spread the word regarding new devices in the market. Customers were becoming increasingly eager to get their hands on the new set of devices without knowing that most, if not all, of the promises made by the marketing team are unrealistic both in terms of cost as well as, deadline. So this suggests that absolutely no planning was carried out by the development and design teams of ACME to integrate their new product as per the demand and requirements of potential clients. The company failed to allocate the right number of resources for ensuring that the desired position is reached within the set deadline. Hence, an improper working and planning from the first stage of the design team became the reason of deep troubles of the company.
If you were to become the “Head of Marketing Research” (be careful – not the Head of Research and Development), what would your marketing research agenda look like. What would be the relevant questions to ask, which approaches and tools would you be using?
If I were the Head of Marketing Research, a marketing research agenda would be to gather information related to current equipment used by customers and what are they expecting for the future. The primary reason for gathering information regarding the current usage is to identify the challenges faced by customers at the moment, for instance, whether the process takes a longer time, are some functionalities missing, etc. In addition to this, it will also let the marketing research team know about how the customer uses the device so as to make the process easier for them, in the future. Similarly, the second part of the market research agenda was to gather information regarding expectations of customers. Customers are well aware that the industry is on the verge of introducing a new cutting – edge technology, which will not only make the process, easier, but smoother. This is evident from the fact that several customers have stopped their buying of new products and are anxiously waiting for new devices with Wi-Max features. So the marketing research team would be focused on gathering information such as what is the paying capacity i.e. affordability of customers, how soon are they expecting the product, how much delay they can bear before switching to another supplier, what additional features are they looking for, etc.
This agenda will assist the marketing team and in knowing almost everything about the potential target markets, which will assist the company in two folds. First the information derived from the marketing research can be floated to the design team so that they are aware of the demands and requirements of customers. Secondly, information about customers will also assist the marketing department in formulating the right product mix for customers i.e. ideal pricing strategy, features to focus on during marketing campaign, where to distribute the products from, how to reach customers, etc.
It is clear at the moment that what questions need to be asked and enquired during the marketing research; therefore, now the focus is on approaches and tool that the marketing research team will adopt for the purpose of gathering information from customers. Since, it is a complicated matter and it will be defining the success or the failure of the company’s new product line, in the future; therefore, the company will make use of both quantitative and qualitative strategies. In quantitative survey tool, a marketing research team will rely on face – to – face interviews, telephonic interviews, web based interviews, central location interviews, etc. Personal interviews will allow a suitable platform for the company to enquire from customers about the complicated nature of the product and their perspective behind it. Similarly, the marketing research team will also adopt qualitative tools such as focus groups, individual depth interviews, online communities, online forums, photo ethnography, etc. The qualitative approach will allow the marketing team in identifying the beliefs and attitude of potential customers towards the current and the new product line of the firm. In addition to this, it will also assist in generating ideas for product marketing and brand positioning. The combination of both quantitative and qualitative methods will ensure that every aspect related to customers’ mindset i.e. their beliefs, attitudes, expectations, market size, etc. can be known so that the decision making process can be made smoother. It will allow the company to have a clear stance towards it tactical as well as, strategic choices, which the company will have to make while formulating the marketing mix or while coordinating with the design team (Malhotra, 2010).
- Acme is a recognized as an innovative firm that introduces new cutting edge technological products within the market.
- The company has an opportunity of capturing the new evolving market of medical equipment by introducing Wi-Max enabled equipment before competitors.
- Lack of organization within the firm in terms of meeting deadlines and inadequate authority distribution have hampered the performance of the firm to a great extent.
- Current cost of manufacturing a product is considerably high, which leaves very limited profit margin for the company.
- Turnaround time is also slightly higher, which will affect the supply chain.
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