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Marketing Strategies for Competitive advantage

Question 1: Discuss the positioning strategy. In your answer, discuss the forces that help a firm to develop and deploy a positioning strategy.(200 words)

Question 2: Research the below two major research firms:
- Gfk AG Nuremburg, Germany, gfk.com
- West Inc. Rockville, Md, westat.com
Discuss your findings in terms of their research services and special study capabilities. Also, discuss the ways in which such services can impact on marketing decisions. (200 words)

Question 3: Explain what goes into determining positioning effectiveness. (200 words)

Question 4: Compare and contrast the dynamics that influence the emerging, growth, and mature markets. How do they help a firm to craft a market target strategy in each? (200 words)

Question 5: Discuss the impact that IBM's collaborative innovation strategy can have on its partners, as well as on Microsoft. How can IBM's strategy affect the market? (200 words)

Question 6: Identify three problems or risks companies may encounter in collaborative relationships with suppliers. In your estimation, how can these risks be minimized? (200 words)

Question 7: Visit the website www.alliancestrategy.com and review the various presentations available through the site. Summarize what factors should be considered in making alliances between organization effective. (200 words)

Question 8: Discuss how it can be possible for Costco wholesale to perform well against competitors when it carries a burden of higher labor costs? Are there issues in this case which may be worth considering in other situations where a company faces strong low-cost, low-price competitors? (200 words)

Question 9: Discuss the emerging issue of the digital distribution channel occurring in markets in which the product can be converted to digital format. (200 words)

Question 10: Examine the Fortune Brands website (www.fortunebrands.com). Analyze and evaluate the strategic initiatives used by Fortune Brands in their strategic brand management. (200 words)

Question 11: Discuss the useful insights about brand strategy management from observing brands that have been successful over a long period of time. (200 words)

Question 12: In the late 1990s, Radio Shack initiated co-branding strategies with Compaq Computer and SPRINT. Discuss the logic of such a strategy. In your answer include the strengths and shortcomings of such a strategy. (200 words)

Question 13: Discuss the pricing implications for developed countries when competing against Chinese brands. In your answer, discuss the actions that you would recommend for China's competitors. (200 words)

Question 14: Discuss predatory pricing as a pricing strategy. What are the circumstances when you would recommend that a company adopt predatory pricing? Does predatory pricing come into play when considering ethical issues like the cost of prescription drugs and the low pricing of cigarettes in the developing world? (200 words)

Solution Preview

Question 1: Discuss the positioning strategy. In your answer, discuss the forces that help a firm to develop and deploy a positioning strategy.(200 words)

Lovelock describes positioning as the process of establishing and maintaining a distinctive place in the market for an organization and/or its individual product offerings (Lovelock,1991). Positioning is the mental image customers have of a specific product in a specific market. In positioning the marketers create a product 'personality'. With this unique product personality, consumers will know the import attributes of the product and where it stands, versus other brands. As market conditions change, positioning may also need to change. Positioning is achieved by designing marketing mixes that communicate the desired image to the customer. The elements of the marketing mix, product, price, distribution and promotion therefore have to work in tandem to achieve the positioning goal of the firm (Thompson, 2001). Position requires a frame of reference, which is provided by competitive destinations (Crompton 1992). Positioning occurs after segmentation. When positioning, the three important issues to consider are the segmentation, the image and the selection of features to emphasize (Aaker and Shansby 1982).Aaker and Shansby recommend market segmentation, followed by matching the product to the needs of those segments. Woodside (1982) seconds this opinion and suggests that effective positioning is matching the benefits provided with benefits sought by a target market. So when one looks at the forces that help a firm to develop and deploy a positioning strategy they would be:
1. Competitive forces
2. Market (consumer ) forces
3. Company's internal forces and marketing mix
The key to successful positioning is matching the benefits provided to the benefits sought by a target market. Product branding is allied to positioning. Kotler sees branding as having six levels that is attributes, benefits, values, culture, personality and user (Kotler, 1994). So these are important parameters that the marketer should work on while positioning the product or service.

Question 2: Research the below two major research firms:
- Gfk AG Nuremburg, Germany, gfk.com
- West Inc. Rockville, Md, westat.com
Discuss your findings in terms of their research services and special study capabilities. Also, discuss the ways in which such services can impact on marketing decisions. (200 words)
GFK is a source of market and consumer information. It provides local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. Using data technologies, GFK produces smart data for its clients. GFK provides market research information for industries as varied as automotive, consumer goods, Fashion and lifestyle, financial services, health, media and entertainment, retail, travel and tourism. Some of the marketing solutions offered by the company are advertising and communication optimization, brand value optimization, channel and category optimization, customer loyalty management, growth opportunities, product design optimization and price optimization.
Westat offers expertise in research design and analysis, market evaluation, data collection, strategic communication and information systems. These services are offered in the areas of health , education, work force, transportation, military, energy, social policy and so on.
The positive impact of such services on marketing decision is many:
1. The Advertising insights help ensure that the firm is reaching the right audience with the right message and via the right channels.
2. Helps identify right consumer segments where the growth opportunities lie.
3. Retail demand projections help to implement distribution effectively.
4. Inputs on marketing channels helps determine which ones are profitable and which are not.
5. Effectiveness of advertising helps look at ROI and react to competitor activities quickly.
6. Tracking of major trends in markets, consumer segments, technology and products, helps firm's to determine influential factors that will impact marketing decisions.
7. Competitive analysis helps companies to benchmark their performance against competitors and also to understand the factors that are influencing such changes.
8. Strategic plans provided which account for the big picture help firm's to define their optimum go-to-market mix.
9. Geo marketing helps unveil areas of unexploited potential and factors that affect performance in different locations.
10. Inputs on product positioning and design aid the successful launch of new products.
11. Media trends and sales tracking help to identify emerging and effective media for a product.

Question 3: Explain what goes into determining positioning effectiveness. (200 words)
There are two main groups of positioning measurements, namely company based and customer based (Zwart, 2012). In company based methods, the Marketing Executives who established the Positioning strategy are surveyed and the information is linked to the financial performances, which are sales, profits and market share of the brand. In the customer based tools, the information is obtained from customer surveys. The intended position is compared with the perceived position. If there is high consistency between what companies claim and the perception of the customer, then the position is effective. Perceptual maps can be used to display the consumer's perceptions with regard to important product attributes (Zwart, 2012).
A study on evaluating the positioning success of brands, in terms of consumer's perceptions of brand favorability, differentiation and credibility shows that benefit based positioning outperformed feature based positioning along the three dimensions. The findings also reveal that no single positioning strategy outperforms all the others on all dimensions (Fuchs et al, 2010).
Another perspective on positioning effectiveness suggests that positioning is a function of the competitive frame in which the brand is competing (hrcp).The competitive frame consists of those products that consumers use as direct substitutes. These substitutes may be from diverse categories. A broadly defined frame and defining the competitors in that broad frame are important for successful positioning. This can be done by combining usage and purchase data to identify the broadest frame possible (hrcp).
Question 4: Compare and contrast the dynamics that influence the emerging, growth, and mature markets. How do they help a firm to craft a market target strategy in each? (200 words)
Emerging markets are places individuals are less protected economically and politically. Based on the consumer focus in such markets, marketing strategies should lead on the following (Doctoroff, 2014):
1. Launch mega brands, as consumers like the reassurance of big brands
2. Maximise value justification of product
3. Use values like 'protection' and 'pragmatism' which are 'do good' rather than 'feel good'popular in emerging markets.
4. Look at trends based on the stage of economic development
5. Compete across categories which will ensure a large enough market
6. Use needs like status and tradition to market as these are valued.

In high growth markets, the marketing strategy should be one that is quick to capture the opportunity. Chasing high growth markets and having products for these markets could mean that the firm takes the acquisition route, especially if it has the resources, there are gaps in the product portfolio that would meet the needs of the growth market and if expanding into the growth market is critical for strategic success ( Bhupta, 2014). High growth markets offer great potential for new opportunities but the innovations have to be scaled to the needs of the market (Narsalay et al, 2012). The future middle class of high growth markets of Asia, Africa, Central and South America are eager for products and services that were beyond their reach the marketing strategy should be long term as the initial costs of marketing will be high. Marketing initiatives should be inclusive in these markets with social needs also being a priority. Strategies should address both social and business goals in these high growth markets (Narsalay et al, 2012).
Every growth market eventually matures, and firms should be able to navigate through the transition to maturity with new strategies. Here are some strategies for mature markets (Stark et al, 2012):
1. Capture a profitable niche or sub market.
2. Establish clear differentiation from key competitors
3. Innovate and look at new technologies to bring to the market.
Question 5: Discuss the impact that IBM's collaborative innovation strategy can have on its partners, as well as on Microsoft. How can IBM's strategy affect the market? (200 words)

IBM's strategy enables partners to better leverage mobile enabled technology to help clients and prospects (Impact, 2014). The Partners build skills by meeting with IBM experts. They are part of new IBM programs and initiatives that help them acquire new expertise. It helps the partners accelerate their success in attractive areas like mobile, cloud, social business, ...

Solution Summary

The paper is vast and covers a plethora of marketing concepts and strategies , from positioning and pricing to distribution, branding, supplier collaborations and retail strategies

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