MGT301 - Principles of Marketing - Lecture Handout 18

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Lesson overview and learning objectives:

In last Lesson we studied the segmentation to day we will continue the same topic and market targeting, and market positioning

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MARKET SEGMENTATION (CONTINUED)

A. Segmenting Business Markets

Consumer and business marketers use many of the same variables to segment their markets. Business buyers can be segmented geographically or by benefits sought, user status, usage rate, or loyalty status. Additional variables unique to this market would be business customer demographics (industry, company size), operating characteristics, purchasing approaches, situational factors, and personal characteristics. By going after segments instead of the whole market, companies have a much better chance to deliver value to consumers and to receive maximum rewards for close attention to customer needs. Within a chosen industry, a company can further segment by customer size or geographic location. Many marketers believe that buying behavior and benefits provide the best basis for segmenting business markets.

Segmenting International Markets Companies can segment international markets using one or more of a combination of variables. The chief factors that can be used are: Geographic location. Economic factors. Political and legal factors. Cultural factors. Many companies use an approach called intermarket segmentation. In this approach, companies form segments of consumers who have similar needs and buying behavior even though they are located in different countries. For example, the world’s teens have a lot in common.

B. Requirements for Effective Segmentation

There are many ways to segment, but not all segmentations are effective. To be useful, market segments must have certain characteristics. Among the most significant of these are:

  1. Measurability is the degree to which the size, purchasing power, and profiles of a market segment can be measured.
  2. Accessibility refers to the degree to which a market segment can be reached and served.
  3. Substantiality refers to the degree to which a market segment is sufficiently large or profitable.
  4. Differentiation refers to the degree to which a market segment can conceptually be distinguished and has the ability to respond differently to different marketing mix elements and programs.
  5. Action ability is the degree to which effective programs can be designed for attracting and serving a given market segment.

C. Market Targeting

Market segmentation reveals the firm's market segment opportunities. The firm now has to evaluate the various segments and decide how many and which ones to target. We now look at how companies evaluate and select target segments.

a) Evaluating Market Segments

In evaluating different market segments, a firm must look at three factors: segment size and growth, segment structural attractiveness, and company objectives and resources. The company must first collect and analyze data on current segment sales, growth rates, and expected profitability for various segments. It will be interested in segments that have the right size and growth characteristics. But "right size and growth" is a relative matter. The largest, fastest-growing
segments are not always the most attractive ones for every company. Smaller companies may lack the skills and resources needed to serve the larger segments or may find these segments too competitive. Such companies may select segments that are smaller and less attractive, in an absolute sense, but that are potentially more profitable for them. The company also needs to examine major structural factors that affect long-run segment attractiveness. For example, a segment is less attractive if it already contains many strong and aggressive competitors. The existence of many actual or potential substitute products may limit prices and the profits that can be earned in a segment. The relative power of buyers also affects segment attractiveness. Buyers with strong bargaining power relative to sellers will try to force prices down, demand more services, and set competitors against one another—all at the expense of seller profitability. Finally, a segment may be less attractive if it contains powerful suppliers who can control prices or reduce the quality or quantity of ordered goods and services. Even if a segment has the right size and growth and is structurally attractive, the company must consider its own objectives and resources in relation to that segment. Some attractive segments could be dismissed quickly because they do not mesh with the company's long-run objectives.
Even if a segment fits the company's objectives, the company must consider whether it possesses the skills and resources it needs to succeed in that segment. If the company lacks the strengths needed to compete successfully in a segment and cannot readily obtain them, it should not enter the segment. Even if the company possesses the required strengths, it needs to employ skills and resources superior to those of the competition in order to really win in a market segment. The company should enter only segments in which it can offer superior value and gain advantages over competitors

a) Undifferentiated Marketing

Using an undifferentiated marketing (or mass-marketing) strategy, a firm might decide to ignore market segment differences and go to the whole market with one offer. This mass-marketing strategy focuses on what is common in the needs of consumers rather than on what is different. The company designs a product and a marketing program that will appeal to the largest number of buyers. It relies on mass distribution and mass advertising, and it aims to give the product a superior image in people's minds. As noted earlier in the chapter, most modern marketers have strong doubts about this strategy. Difficulties arise in developing a product or brand that will satisfy all consumers. Moreover, mass marketers often have trouble competing with more focused firms that do a better job of satisfying the needs of specific segments and niches.

b) Differentiated Marketing

Using a differentiated marketing strategy, a firm decides to target several market segments or niches and designs separate offers for each. General Motors tries to produce a car for every "purse, purpose, and personality." Nike offers athletic shoes for a dozen or more different sports, from running, fencing, and aerobics to bicycling and baseball. By offering product and marketing variations, these companies hope for higher sales and a stronger position within each market segment. Developing a stronger position within several segments creates more total sales than undifferentiated marketing across all segments. Procter & Gamble gets more total market share with eight brands of laundry detergent than it could with only one. But differentiated marketing also increases the costs of doing business. A firm usually finds it more expensive to develop and produce, say, 10 units of 10 different products than 100 units of one product. Developing separate marketing plans for the separate segments requires extra marketing research, forecasting, sales analysis, promotion planning, and channel management. Trying to reach different market segments
with different advertising increases promotion costs. Thus, the company must weigh increased sales against increased costs when deciding on a differentiated marketing strategy.

c) Concentrated Marketing

A third market-coverage strategy, concentrated marketing, is especially appealing when company resources are limited. Instead of going after a small share of a large market, the firm goes after a

large share of one or a few segments or niches. Today, the low cost of setting up shop on the Internet makes it even more profitable to serve seemingly minuscule niches. Concentrated marketing provides an excellent way for small new businesses to get a foothold against larger, more resourceful competitors. Through concentrated marketing, firms achieve strong market positions in the segments or niches they serve because of their greater knowledge of the segments' needs and the special reputations they acquire. They also enjoy many operating economies because of specialization in production, distribution, and promotion. If the segment is well chosen, firms can earn a high rate of return on their investments.
At the same time, concentrated marketing involves higher-than-normal risks. The particular market segment can turn sour. Or larger competitors may decide to enter the same segment.

d) Choosing a Market-Coverage Strategy

Many factors need to be considered when choosing a market-coverage strategy. Which strategy is best depends on company resources. When the firm's resources are limited, concentrated marketing makes the most sense. The best strategy also depends on the degree of product variability. Undifferentiated marketing is more suited for uniform products such as grapefruit or steel. Products that can vary in design, such as cameras and automobiles, are more suited to differentiation or concentration. The product's life-cycle stage also must be considered. When a firm introduces a new product, it is practical to launch only one version and undifferentiated marketing or concentrated marketing makes the most sense. In the mature stage of the product life cycle, however, differentiated marketing begins to make more sense. Another factor is market variability. If most buyers have the same tastes, buy the same amounts, and react the same way to marketing efforts, undifferentiated marketing is appropriate. Finally, competitors'
marketing strategies are important. When competitors use differentiated or concentrated marketing, undifferentiated marketing can be suicidal. Conversely, when competitors use undifferentiated marketing, a firm can gain an advantage by using differentiated or concentrated marketing.

e) Socially Responsible Target Marketing

Smart targeting helps companies to be more efficient and effective by focusing on the segments that they can satisfy best and most profitably. Targeting also benefits consumers—companies reach specific groups of consumers with offers carefully tailored to satisfy their needs. However, target marketing sometimes generates controversy and concern. Issues usually involve the targeting of vulnerable or disadvantaged consumers with controversial or potentially harmful products. In market targeting, the issue is not really who is targeted but rather how and for what. Controversies arise when marketers attempt to profit at the expense of targeted segments—when they unfairly target vulnerable segments or target them with questionable products or tactics. Socially responsible marketing calls for segmentation and targeting that serve not just the interests of the company but also the interests of those targeted.

f) Positioning for Competitive Advantage

Once a company has decided which segments of the market it will enter, it must decide what positions it wants to occupy in those segments. A product's position is the way the product is defined by consumers on important attributes—the place the product occupies in consumers' minds relative to competing products. Positioning involves implanting the brand's unique benefits and differentiation in customers' minds. Thus, Tide is positioned as a powerful, all-purpose family detergent; In the automobile market, Toyota and Subaru are positioned on economy, Mercedes
and Cadillac on luxury Consumers are overloaded with information about products and services. They cannot re evaluate products every time they make a buying decision. To simplify the buying process, consumers organize products into categories—they "position" products, services, and companies in their minds. A product's position is the complex set of perceptions, impressions, and feelings that consumers have for the product compared with competing products. Consumers position products with or without the help of marketers. But marketers do not want to leave their products' positions to chance. They must plan positions that will give their products the greatest advantage in selected target markets, and they must design marketing mixes to create these planned positions.

b) Choosing a Positioning Strategy

Some firms find it easy to choose their positioning strategy. For example, a firm well known for quality in certain segments will go for this position in a new segment if there are enough buyers seeking quality. But in many cases, two or more firms will go after the same position. Then, each will have to find other ways to set itself apart. Each firm must differentiate its offer by building a unique bundle of benefits those appeals to a substantial group within the segment.
The positioning task consists of three steps: identifying a set of possible competitive advantages upon which to build a position, choosing the right competitive advantages, and selecting an overall positioning strategy. The company must then effectively communicate and deliver the chosen position to the market.

c) Identifying Possible Competitive Advantages

The key to winning and keeping customers is to understand their needs and buying processes better than competitors do and to deliver more value. To the extent that a company can position itself as providing superior value to selected target markets it gains competitive advantage. But solid positions cannot be built on empty promises. If a company positions its product as offering the best quality and service, it must then deliver the promised quality and service. Thus, positioning begins with actually differentiating the company's marketing offer so that it will give consumers more
value than competitors' offers do.
To find points of differentiation, marketers must think through the customer's entire experience with the company's product or service. An alert company can find ways to differentiate itself at every point where it comes in contact with customers. In what specific ways can a company differentiate its offer from those of competitors? A company or market offer can be differentiated along the lines of product, services, channels, people, or image.
Companies can gain a strong competitive advantage through people differentiation—hiring and training better people than their competitors do. Thus, Disney people are known to be friendly and upbeat. Singapore Airlines enjoys an excellent reputation largely because of the grace of its flight attendants.

d) Choosing the Right Competitive Advantages

Suppose a company is fortunate enough to discover several potential competitive advantages. It now must choose the ones on which it will build its positioning strategy. It must decide how many differences to promote and which ones.

I. How Many Differences to Promote?

Many marketers think that companies should aggressively promote only one benefit to the target market. Each brand should pick an attribute and tout itself as "number one" on that attribute. Thus, Crest toothpaste consistently promotes its anti cavity protection. A company that hammers away at one of these positions and consistently delivers on it probably will become best known and remembered for it.
Other marketers think that companies should position themselves on more than one differentiating factor. This may be necessary if two or more firms are claiming to be the best on the same attribute. Today, in a time when the mass market is fragmenting into many small segments, companies are trying to broaden their positioning strategies to appeal to more segments. In general, a company needs to avoid three major positioning errors. The first is under positioning— failing to ever really position the company at all. Some companies discover that buyers have only a
vague idea of the company or that they do not really know anything special about it. The second error is over positioning—giving buyers too narrow a picture of the company.

II. Which Differences to Promote?

Not all brand differences are meaningful or worthwhile; not every difference makes a good differentiator. Each difference has the potential to create company costs as well as customer benefits. Therefore, the company must carefully select the ways in which it will distinguish itself from competitors. A difference is worth establishing to the extent that it satisfies the following criteria:

  • Important: The difference delivers a highly valued benefit to target buyers.
  • Distinctive: Competitors do not offer the difference, or the company can offer it in a more distinctive way.
  • Superior: The difference is superior to other ways that customers might obtain the same benefit.
  • Communicable: The difference is communicable and visible to buyers.
  • Preemptive: Competitors cannot easily copy the difference.
  • Affordable: Buyers can afford to pay for the difference.
  • Profitable: The company can introduce the difference profitably.

Many companies have introduced differentiations that failed one or more of these tests.

e) Selecting an Overall Positioning Strategy

Consumers typically choose products and services that give them the greatest value. Thus, marketers want to position their brands on the key benefits that they offer relative to competing brands. The full positioning of a brand is called the brand's value proposition—the full mix of benefits upon which the brand is positioned. It is the answer to the customer's question "Why should I buy your brand?" Volvo's value proposition hinges on safety but also includes reliability, roominess, and styling, all for a price that is higher than average but seems fair for this mix of benefits.

f) Communicating and Delivering the Chosen Position

Once it has chosen a position, the company must take strong steps to deliver and communicate the desired position to target consumers. All the company's marketing mix efforts must support the positioning strategy. Positioning the company calls for concrete action, not just talk. If the company decides to build a position on better quality and service, it must first deliver that position. Designing the marketing mix—product, price, place, and promotion—essentially involves working out the tactical details of the positioning strategy. Thus, a firm that seizes on a "for more" position knows that it must produce high-quality products, charge a high price, distribute through highquality
dealers, and advertise in high-quality media. It must hire and train more service people, find retailers who have a good reputation for service, and develop sales and advertising messages that broadcast its superior service. This is the only way to build a consistent and believable "more for more" position. Companies often find it easier to come up with a good positioning strategy than to implement it. Establishing a position or changing one usually takes a long time. In contrast, positions that have taken years to build can quickly be lost. Once a company has built the desired position, it must take care to maintain the position through consistent performance and communication. It must closely monitor and adapt the position over time to match changes in consumer needs and competitors' strategies. However, the company should avoid abrupt changes that might confuse consumers. Instead, a product's position should evolve gradually as it adapts to the ever-changing marketing environment.

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