My main aim in the coursework is to help Poppets to a better marketing strategy that their current one. This is because we can see that Poppets have been struggling financially and this is obvious from the fact that Poppets have not been very evident in many shops. There to help them with their financial situation, there is one method which is to improve their marketing strategy. Therefore to do make any recommendations about the marketing strategy, we have to find out how the marketing of Poppets is going on at the moment, and then ultimately make recommendations in light of any fault in their current strategy.

Marketing

Marketing is a function that connects the firm with what the customer wants and needs in order to make the right product, giving it the right people, placing it at the right place, and giving it at the right time. Marketing is the thing that helps a firm fulfils the above better than the competitor. By marketing, the firm expects, identifies and meets the customer’s requirements. The marketing strategy is the approach a business takes to securing and developing profitable customer relationships.

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Types of Firms

Firms can be divided into two types of firms: Product-led firm or Market-led firms. Product-led firms are firms which actually create the product first and then find the market in which it can sell the product in. This is usual for firms that try to revolutionise with new technology or completely new ideas. An example of this would be Furby’s which created a new market altogether. Another such product would be ebay.com which was a completely new idea.

However majority of the firms will not be like this. They are market-led companies or market orientated. This means they are flexible and adaptable to the demands of the customer. They will change their product from time to time to meet the needs and wants of the customer. In Market orientation, businesses focus on the customers’ needs and wants as the main influence or organizational performance.

We need to realize that Poppets is market orientated. This is because in the past it has changed its product such as the packaging to suit the customer. For example, it has a re-sealable package because it realised that its customers would need to close the package after opening it once and that the customer cannot it all the Poppets at once and some Poppets will spill into the pockets and mess up the clothes will molten chocolate. Poppets may have taken other measures to improve its product to the customer, and to know that it still exists is good enough of evidence that it must have adapted to the new technology. Maybe Darwin was strong when he claimed his theory of evolution was true for Man but “survival of the fittest” is a true statement for businesses.

Market Segmentation

Marketing segmentation is used to identify groups of individuals or organisations with common distinctiveness. Market segments directly effect the development of marketing strategies. A few ways to divide the market into segments are as follows. For example one can divide the market by the age structure of the customer or by where the person lives. Another way people can be segmented is according to how the product is used or how the product helps the customer or according to the customer’s social class or income.

We can draw a graph and place Poppets and all chocolate or non-chocolate confectioneries on this graph with relative to the amount of benefit the customer gets from buying the product, with high proportion to the quality of the product or chocolate against the social income that has been achieved by the same product.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is the balance of marketing techniques. It includes Price, Product, Place and Promotion.

Price

Price is mainly about pricing strategies. There are many types of pricing strategies that might attract the customer to the product. It must be understood that not all strategies will be appropriate for Poppets and only some can be used and only a few of the few can actually be put into practice. The following are Pricing strategies.

1. Skimming or Premium Pricing

A high price is used when there is something unique about the product. This is used when there is a significant advantage against the opportunity cost. Such high prices are only charged for luxuries and advance increase in technologies or advantage such as game consoles or ferry trips. This type of pricing can only last a short time and must be reduced once competition enters or when the customer finds the price too expensive. The difference between Premium and Skimming is that in Premium Pricing it lasts longer than Skimming.

2. Penetration Pricing

The price is set extremely low and people will buy it because the price risk is decreased. The price is used for small firm to enter the market and is a loss leader. Once the firm has been established in the market, it increases its price.

3. Competitor Pricing

This is when the price of the product is based upon the price of the competitors, but not all firms will receive the same profit because some benefit from economies of scale. This is more common in an oligopoly.

4. Cost-based Pricing

This is to guarantee profit by always pricing the product a bit higher than the cost of the product.

5. Psychological Pricing

This is to make the customers respond to prices on an emotional rather than logical basis, such as using prices with 9p or .99p at the end to make it look much cheaper.

6. Promotional Pricing

This is to make the customers want to buy the product because of a special offer such as Boy one and get one free or 25% extra Poppets or free ‘Finding Nemo’ miniature.

7. Geographical Pricing

This is to make customers from all different parts of the market buy the product. Maybe it would be cheaper if it was sold in Manchester (the City side) rather than if it was sold in a different part of Manchester, for example Old Trafford.

8. Niche Pricing

This is when firms like Poppets produce different types of Poppets such as Toffee Poppets, Raisin Poppets and so on and price them differently according to their more specific markets.

Place

Place is how the product ends up with the consumer from the production to the consumption including everything it goes through. For example Poppets can sell directly to the customer or sell it indirectly through a wholesaler. Also Poppets can choose between distributing to one wholesaler only and distributing to many wholesalers. Their choice will affect their business outcome directly. When distributing, Poppets will also have to consider the total length that the product will go through before reaching the customer. This is important because if it goes through many retailers, wholesalers, agents and so on, each would be adding profit onto their sale of the product and the final product will reach the customer at a much higher price that it was sold from the main company. It also matters what type of intermediary is there at each level and how many of them at each level. The following are intermediaries.

1. Wholesalers

Wholesalers break down the smaller package for resale by the retailer. They buy the goods from producers and sell them on to retailers. They have storage facilities. Wholesalers offer the reduction of physical contact between the consumer and the producer. Wholesalers will also take responsibility of some of the marketing responsibilities.

2. Retailers

Retailers have a much stronger relationship with the customer, and will hold other brands and products. A customer will want to see these other products especially with some products. Retailers might offer credit to certain customers and the retailers might want to sell of their stock and therefore promote the product. The retailer will set the final selling price and some retailers have very strong brand names.

3. Agents

Agents are mainly used in international markets. An agent will secure an order for the producer and will take a commission but not own the good unless they are a special type of agent known as the ‘stockist’ agents. Agents are expensive to train, difficult to keep control of, and difficult to motivate.

4. Direct Sales

I have included all direct sales except direct sales on the internet as it is basically a different topic. Direct sales include door to door salesmen and mail jobs or buying off the main producer. This ‘misses out the middle man’ and therefore only a bit profit is gained from it. However this might be more difficult and time consuming.

5. Internet

The Internet has a geographically wide market. The products tend to reach a wider audience. There are few barriers to entry, and the only requirement is that everything be legal and copyrights be followed. Set up costs are also cheap. E-commerce technology has increased so credit cards can be used to pay and transact online.

Product

Products tend to follow a set graph which is known as the Product Life Cycle.

The Product Life Cycle generally follows that pattern. For example it spends some time developing and then once the research and development had finished its work for the time being, it would go into intro or launch the product. It then starts to grow until it reaches maturity. It then goes into saturation and then finally into decline. I have elaborated on parts of product life cycle below.

1. Development

This is when the Research and Development team is researching the market or maybe the product, if it is a product led company, but market if it is a market orientated company. It will try and find out as much information as it can about what its market wants and evaluate that and decide what it means for the company. Money pours for the research.

2. Introduction or Launch

This is when the product is first released. The produces are making a massive loss and the pressure for immediate profit is not that great. The product is promoted and made aware to the public. This can be done by penetration or if there are few or no competitors, skimming can be used. Only few products are available and only in certain places.

3. Growth

This is when people get more confident with the product and many people start buying the product. The sales increase at a highly accelerating rate but not profits, although the products become more profitable. This is because more money is spent on risks, which might fail such as promotion and such.

4. Maturity

This is usually where the products tend to be for the longest period of time. Sales do not accelerate as much and decelerate but never actually decrease. The prices stabilise after some time. Producers attempt to differentiate brands and products.

5. Saturation

During saturation, many competitors start competing on price, and lose lots of profit. There is intense competition, and producers begin to leave the market due to poor profit margins. Promotion is greatly used and through a greater variety of media.

6. Decline

At this point there is a downturn with the product. This is probably because better firms have established themselves better or consumer’s tastes have changed. Price-cutting is normal and products are withdrawn from the market. Profits are usually improved by reducing marketing spend and cost cutting. Most firms shut down at this point.

There are many problems with the product life cycle. For example, reality might cause products to take a very different route. The length of each stage varies between different companies enormously. The decision of the producers can change which state the product is in and sometimes some stages are skipped.

Also sometimes instead of shutting down the companies, firms use extension strategies. These usually attempt at delaying the decline stage of the product life cycle. The best time for a company to extend is at the maturity stage where a lot of profit is coming in. The longer the life cycle can be extended the better. Some extension strategies include new flavour or lower costs.

Another important thing to with Product is the product portfolio which is how the firm manages its variety of products. This is to make sure profit does not fall beneath a certain level. For example, some time before a product goes into decline, if another product is released, the other product can be shut down as soon as it results in loss and the new one can take over its place and extend longer how long the firm is active.

Promotion

Promotion is when you help the customer be aware of what the product offers. This is important as there is no point having a great product and not being able to tell the consumer about it. There are many ways to promote a product and in fact there is a mix about the promotion just as there is a marketing mix. I have included the promotion mix below.

1. Personal Selling

This is a way to manage personal customer relationships. The sales person acts on behalf of the organisation. They are trained in approach and techniques for personal selling. They are very expensive and only sold where the costs and price has a huge difference.

2. Sales Promotion

Sales promotion is the same as promotional pricing where offers such as buy one and get one free, money off promotions, free accessories, competitions and introductory offers. The best type of promotion should be thought of carefully.

3. Public Relations

Public Relations is defined as the deliberate and planned effort to sustain and create positive relations with its publics. It is relatively cheap but not that cheap. For example very successful strategies would be need in plan of any event, especially one that might disturb the public, happening.

4. Direct Mail

Direct mail is focussed on targeting customers within a database. Creative agencies work together to designed focussed information with a mail. Also responses to the direct mail promotion are closely monitored and only sent out to potential customers.

5. Trade Fairs and Exhibitions

These types of promotion help to make new contracts and renew old ones. Nothing much will be sold during these fairs but awareness and trial will be increased. Such events allow meeting of the company between the trade and the consumer.

6. Advertising

Advertising is communication to the public that is paid for. It is used to develop an attitude that the company wants for the public to have towards the product, create knowledge of the product, and transmit other information regarding the product. Mostly, this is done through the media, such as the different types of newspapers, magazines, journals, all types of television channels, cinema and outdoor advertising, such as billboards and bust stops.

7. Sponsorship

This is when a company pays to be associated with a certain event, cause or image. Companies will sponsor sports events such as the Olympics or football teams, such as Manchester United. The sponsored event is then related with the organisation and people might respect that company more.

The promotion mix must be kept in balance and only the right choices must be made. The message from the marketer always follows a certain path. The sender, the firm, encodes or creates a certain promotion that he wants his market to see, sends it to the media or message. This is then sent to the receiver who might be a potential customer, and is decoded by him or her. He then gives his response as feedback and the cycle repeats again.

Methodology

I have investigated Poppets in a number of ways. For example, I have carried out a survey which allowed me to understand who thought what about Poppets. I have also analysed it. I also have done taste trials. Another thing I have done is to see how the product is placed in shops and where it is sold. I also plan to find out which wholesaler it goes through and how many intermediaries it goes through before reaching a certain retailer. I have also observed the promotion I have seen of Poppets or its competitors. I also have investigated its price and compared it with the price of its competitors.

Survey or Questionnaire

The survey or questionnaire was conducted in more of an interview style than a typical questionnaire. However depth question were not asked, and only what the survey sheet asked me to ask. The advantage of this over questionnaires is that I can explain the meaning of questions that the interviewee does not understand. However this is less advantageous than normal interviews where questions can be modified to meet my needs or where I can ask for in depth detail of what people think. Also these interviews are time consuming, and might cost a lot of money. People may also lie and have interview bias where the interviewee gives the answer that he thinks the interviewer wants. However postal questionnaires and telephone interviews are cheap and can contact people over the country.

However very few people reply to postal questionnaires and depth answers cannot be found while with telephone interviews, while depth answers can be found and is fairly quick, people tend to dislike to talk to strangers or to be disturbed in their leisure or work time, and only limited amount of information can be obtained. During the survey I asked individual people about the questions I had on my survey which had limited responses.

Observation

While a true case of observation would mean to cam record or use staff to assess people’s reactions when they see certain products on shelves just to see how people generally react to things, I have not used this method. While the former method is good to see actual customer behaviour, and easy to arrange, it cannot tell you why the customer wants to buy the product or about people who do not buy the product. Only limited amount of information can be collected. However I have used observation in order to find out about how the price, promotion and place are being relevant now. This is because these three are part of the marketing mix. Also it is important to understand how promotion, place and price are at the moment before we can improve it.

I have also observed these three of the competitors so that Poppets can improve to be better than their competitors in the marketing region. During observation, I took notice of all the places where Poppets was sold and tried to find out about the intermediaries. Also I did a planogram of Poppets in a corner shop and discussed other places where Poppets were sold, where not and where placed, with concern to its competitors. For promotion, I looked for all sorts of promotion I have seen for Poppets including on the internet and for its competitors.

For price, I looked at the price of Poppets and the price of its competitors. I also observed the market segmentation, where I placed Poppets in a graph of the social class that comes with it against the quality of the chocolate for chocolate confectioneries. This will allow me to compare Poppets against who I think are the competitors. I did all the above because I needed to know about how it manages its marketing strategies now before enhancing it.

Consumer Panels

In Consumer Panels people are usually paid for their comments and their comments are usually very valuable. They also usually spend a lot of time. Since I took it the cheap way and did not pay anyone for their comments, they spent very little time and gave feedback that is passable. This is good for collecting in depth views and the in depth views varies with inverse proportion to the cost it takes. It can also be very time consuming. It also does not represent everyone’s opinions. I also merged the consumer panel with a bit of test marketing. This was done with taste trials. While test marketing is actually launching the product on a small scale, what is done here, is that people are given a few Poppets with different flavours and are asked to evaluate the product and give their views about. This is because we can now know what is wrong with the product by the consumers themselves who are having a first hand experience with the product.

Secondary Information (Not done)

This type of secondary information is not what I have done but as I go through the coursework, what I plan to do. For example, I wish to find out about company records which hold sale figures and complaints and so on. However these are usually expensive to get hold of unless the company is a small one like Poppets. Still there is cost involved unless we use information which should be available to the public by law. These can give the actual picture of what happened and can give the trend over time. However this only deals with customers and also what customers do without any information about why customers do it.

Another way of getting secondary information is to gather television and newspaper reports. This is cheap and may be written by experts. Also there will a large amount of material available. This is also good for collecting other people’s opinions or results of surveys. However the information might be bad due to bias by showing only one point of view. Also the information might be out of date or not relevant.

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