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Key Factors of Success for GE

GE is an amazingly large company made up of 11 major divisions that operate in areas as diverse as home appliances, jet engines, security systems, wind turbines, and financial services. The company is so large (2003 revenues of $134 billion) that even if each of its 11 business units were ranked separately, all would be one of the 50 largest and would rank ahead of Finland, Israel, and Ireland.

GE became the acknowledged pioneer in business to business marketing in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, Gee's tagline was "live Better Electrically." As the company diversified its product lines, it created new campaigns, including "progress for People" and "we bring good things to life."

In 2003, the company faced a new challenge: how to promote its brand globally with a unified message. GE launched a major new campaign, "imagination at work," which earned it the 2003 B2B Best Award for a top integrated campaign. The purpose of the campaign was not simply to create warm feelings for the company, but to achieve real business results. The campaign promoted GE's B2B units such as GE Aircraft Engines, GE Medical Systems, and GE Plastics. The goal was to unify these divisions under the GE brand while giving them a voice. The new campaign highlights the breadth of GE's product offerings.

GE spends some $150 million on corporate advertising- a large sum, but a sum that gain an efficiencies by focusing on the core GE brand. The challenge with creating a unified message was that each GE business had to fit with that brand image. GE chose "Imagination at Work" because it portrayed the innovation inherent in all its wide-range products.

The new integrated campaign got results. "Research indicated GE is not being associated with attributes such as being high-tech, leading-edge, innovative, contemporary and creative," said Judy Hu, GE's general manager for global advertising and branding. JuSt as encouraging, market research found that respondents still associate GE with some of its traditional attributes, such as being trustworthy and reliable.

"We believe 'Imagination at Work' has proven to be a strong global message for us," said GE's chief marketing officer Beth Comstock. "Our goal is to be more present around the world and more consistent. To do it more broadly and faster. Going forward, you'll see medical and health care as the face of GE."

While the campaign unites all the GE business units, GE's success rests on its ability to understand the business market and the business buying process. GE puts itself in the shoes of its business customers. Consider, for example, its approach to pricing its aircraft engines. One would expect GE to charge a particular price for a particular engine type. But GE is aware that for the customer, purchasing an aircraft engine is multimillion-dollar expenditure ($21 million for each large engine). And the expenditure doesn't end with the purchase of the engine- customers (airlines) face substantial maintenance costs to meet FAA guidelines and ensure the reliability engines. So in 1999, GE pioneered new pricing options. The concept, called "Power by the Hour," gives its customers an opportunity to pay a fixed fee each time they run the engine. GE gives its customer a lower cost of ownership of the GE aircraft engine.

Business buyers value this option because it shifts risk away from them. In times of uncertain air travel, buying new jet engines for new airlines is a major financial risk. "Power by the Hour" lets the airlines pay only when they user the engine. Moreover, airlines do not have to worry about unexpected high maintenance costs. Buyers are assured a low, predictable cost of ownership through the present pricing.

This kind of B2B savvy has helped GE cement its top position in the Financial Times World's Most Respected Companies survey. Chief executives from 20 countries have given GE the top spot in the survey for 6 years.

GE understands of the business markets, its way of doing business, and its brand marketing has kept GE's brand equity growing. Indeed, its brand equity was valued at $53.6 billion by Core brand in the fourth quarter of 2003.

"The GE brand is what connects us all and makes us so much better than the parts," Chief Marketing Officer Comstock said.

1) What have been the key success factors for GE?

2) What recommendations would you make to GE's senior marketing executives going forward?

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1) What have been the key success factors for GE?

First of all GE could be able to gather its products under the same umbrella which is the brand equity and success. Its products are generally innovative and high-tech which demonstrates the capacity and power of the company. For this reason many customers associate GE products ...

Solution Summary

GE is studied.