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A marketing strategy is a company’s hope to achieve strong and profitable customer relationships by targeting certain customers, using a marketing mix, and implementation. In an ideal world, strategies at all levels of the organization should be well spoken and understood. Interpretations of the strategies then result in realistic, well-defined marketing plans and programs which can be created and acted upon. Organizations can have a greater chance of being successful if they develop deep understanding of markets and the customers within those markets. The marketing strategy is a dynamic document which focuses on bringing plans to life. It is a road map for carrying out marketing activities and implementing marketing plans. Every marketing strategy should be measured by its ability to directly impact and improve upon each factor that the strategy contains.
With “selling” as the vital goal, marketing strategies are influenced by two core factors: first, getting hold of of customers; second, maintenance of the obtained customers. So every other strategy that is laid out will focus on the above two. A Company has to work closely towards achieving these two to attain the desired cutting edge over its competitors. There are also a few other objectives like creating awareness (informational and educational) about the product, brand-building and accelerating sales.
Traditional Marketing: With the world changing at every second, marketing is also taking a rapid change. New methods of marketing like e-marketing and online marketing have been growing. Yet traditional marketing still holds influence with many corporate companies. One of the main implications of traditional marketing is the infamous model of the four P’s, formulated by Jerome McCarthy.
The ‘Four Ps’ or the ‘marketing mix’ is an essential with every marketer. The ‘Four Ps’ refers to the four factors that a marketer has to think about before introducing a product or offering a service. The marketing mix comprises of Product, Price, Promotion and Placement. In McCarthy’s opinion, the first and foremost comes the Product-its production and management; second, the process of determining and affordable price; third, the promotion of the product which involves advertising, branding etc and finally fourth, the placement or distribution of the product, its retailing and the process by which it reaches the consumer. All these four essentials have to be decided, determined and well planned before pursuing any product launch.
The company that will be looked at is Samsung Electronics. The debate whether the traditional method of developing marketing strategies are still used and maintained will be looked at. Firstly an overview on the Samsung mobile phone market and how it relates to marketing strategies will be looked at.
Ansoff Growth Matrix which suggests that there are four main ways in which growth can be achieved through a product strategy:(1) Market penetration – Increase sales of an existing product in an existing market(2) Product development – Improve present products and/or develop new products for the current market(3) Market development – Sell existing products into new markets (e.g. developing export sales)(4) Diversification – Develop new products for new marketsOne thing should be pointed out is how a product appears in relation to other products in the market, or how importance the brand of a product is. Brand is a mixture of tangible and intangible attributes symbolized in a trademark, which, if properly managed, permits a business to differentiate its products and services from those of its competitors, add extra value for consumers who value the brand and improve profitability.
As previously mentioned, the global handset market has experienced rapid growth over the past few years. Undeniably this is a tremendous growth, and this growth has created a fierce competition among handset manufacturers. The next parts of this analysis describe how Samsung’s marketing strategy drive the company’s actions in response to such competition to be recognized as one of the leading global player in the handset industry.
Samsung began sponsoring the Olympics with the 1998 winter games in Nagano. It has signed a contract with the International Olympic Committee to continue through the Beijing games in 2008, and will likely continue afterwards. The marketing strategy using this Olympic sponsorship plays a very vital role in raising our brand awareness throughout the world.
Samsung over the years had vastly increased the sales of their mobile phone handsets online. The World Wide Web is a rapidly growing industry and is an alternative way to traditional marketing strategy according to various people. Internet marketing has not completely taken over the concept of Marketing, but has incorporated it and expanded the opportunities available to marketers. Internet Marketing still uses the traditional concepts of the marketing mix (4 P’s), but the logic of them has changed.
Consider ‘Promotion’, with traditional marketing businesses used a one too many process, by using mass media to transmit their advertisement to their customers. This involved no interaction with the customer. Internet Marketing changes this by using a many to many communication process, enabling customers to interact with the medium, with each other and also provide content to the medium. Thus, marketers must reconstruct advertising models for the interactive, many to many medium underlying the web. This is perhaps one of the major changes from the traditional methods of marketing.
One of the most obvious advantages that Internet marketing provides is the removal of barriers in regards to location. Samsung can now reach a much wider audience; customers that were considered unreachable can now be targeted with new products (Diversification). Also Samsung do not need operate from a physical location (shop front) any more, they are able to provide all the information that a customer needs on their web site e.g. using catalogues, pictures, video clips etc. This has an effect on the ‘Price’ of their products and services as overheads may be reduced (such as rent). A disadvantage of this is that Samsung must be aware of what customers want, as the marketplace is now much wider. This is where effective marketing strategies have to be developed.
In the twentieth century we have gone from a situation of scarcity of product to today having an abundance of choice. With many choices available to buyers, having a competitive advantage is vital to the company that wants to thrive.
Knowing the competition is one part of understanding competitive advantage and this relies on information. Consider the corner grocery store; they need only to approximate what their customers really want because the convenience factor brings in their business. But when Samsung eliminate this advantage, as customers can use the WWW to go anywhere to get what they want, Samsung need to know exactly what they are looking for.
Samsung also need to ensure that your website has good design and is able to firstly attract customers to your site and also to encourage them to revisit. Samsung have many versions of their website in dozens of languages dedicated to customers from countries all over the world. The websites gives us product and service information on all their products and on some versions of the websites gives people the option to buy online directly through them.
Samsung says the lower fourth-quarter sales were part of a strategy to grab share in the first quarter, a ploy that’s worked the last two years. A spokesman for the company told The Wall Street Journal that Samsung believes holiday shoppers are extremely price-sensitive, and won’t be attracted to its pricey models. So it clears out existing inventory in the fourth quarter, and then boosts shipments in the first so as to maintain a high average selling price. Samsung says it can avoid having to slash first-quarter prices on unsold inventory this way — even though its margins were squeezed in the fourth quarter by price cuts to follow those enacted by Nokia.
However, there are still criticisms of the traditional tools and approaches used in marketing strategy by. A main criticism argued by Fodness “…marketing strategy is all-to-frequently stereotyped as the outcome of mechanical application of traditional analytic frameworks and techniques (SWOT, Ansoff Diagram, portfolio models, etc.). problems arise when data so easily generated by these formulaic efforts are misinterpreted as simple answers to complex questions.” Comment Fodness also suggests that “…the exploration of strategy from new directions is now coming together in the concept of what is being called strategic thinking. (Fodness 2005)
Strategic thinking is the way in which people in an organization think about, assess, view, and create the future for themselves and their associates. It is more than responding to day-to-day as well as long-term problems, opportunities, and new realities; it is creating tomorrow. It is not reactive, but proactive. Strategic thinking focuses on how to create a better future by being proactive and adding value to society. This is more than just looking at traditional techniques such as Swot and Ansoff etc in the sense that businesses need to be more proactive (they should start changes if necessary rather than react to events).
Strategic thinking focuses on finding and developing unique opportunities to create value by enabling a provocative and creative dialogue among people who can affect a company’s direction. It is the input to strategic planning-good strategic thinking uncovers potential opportunities for creating value and challenges assumptions about a company’s value proposition, so that when the plan is created, it targets these opportunities. Strategic thinking is a way of understanding the basic drivers of a business and thoroughly (and playfully) challenging predictable thinking about them, in conversation with others.
Strategic thinking must take into account:Competencies and Skills: Samsung’s main strength is innovation.
This can create a competitive advantage as they can offer next generation product. Samsung have a lesser reputation than Sony for reliability and quality, this can alter customer perception, however this perception can be change over time.
As important as the content of strategic thinking is the process by which it takesplace. Processes are needed to ensure that strategies are:
•Aligned: Samsungs strategies must fit with its mission, vision, competitive situation and operating strengths.
•Goal-oriented: Strategies are the means by which a company sets out to achieve its goals. Effective strategies, then, set clear expected outcomes and make explicit links between these outcomes and the company’s goals.
•Fact-based: The best strategies are based on and supported by real data. While strategic thinking by its very nature requires assumptions about the future, these assumptions must be educated guesses, based on facts-for example, actual performance data or results of some kind of pilot test or experiment.
•The logic behind the strategy must be clear. Effective strategies tell believable stories.
•Based on Broad Thinking: Companies that are strategically nimble are able to consider multiple alternatives at once and to consider a range of scenarios in making strategic choices.
•Focused: No company can do everything or be all things to all people. Strategy setting involves making choices about what a company will do and-as important-what it will not do. Strategies provide clear guidance about how a company’s activities will be prioritized, and how its limited resources will be deployed.
•Agreed upon: Especially in large, complex organizations, successful strategies must gain the support of multiple stakeholders. This often requires a process of developing strategies that is interactive in gathering multiple points of view and in sharing the thinking behind the strategy as it evolves.
•Engaging: Strategies that will need to mobilize broad resources must be easily articulated so that they can capture the attention of the people who will be asked to carry them out.
•Adaptable: Strategies need to be able to be adjusted to build on learning from experimentation, errors and new information. At the same time, there needs to be some thoughtfulness in these adjustments so that they are responsive without being overly reactive.
•Implementable: Because effective strategies draw on the particular strengths and skills of an organization, they include explicit considerations of how they will be implemented. Implementable strategies provide clear guidance for decision making in order to shape behaviour throughout the company.
Today’s electronics marketplace is changing at a rapid pace with new technologies, economy change, and increased competition. To face these challenges, companies rely on top management to plan and formulate methods to overcome these obstacles. The primary task of top management is implementing a strategic plan. Strategic planning is the process of identifying the business of the firm today and the business it wants for the future, and the course of action or strategy it will pursue. To be effective and successful, managers must possess skills in strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is a process in which a manager can make the business vision a reality. This is accomplished by developing abilities in teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking.
Strategic thinking should also be a tool to help confront change, plan for and make transitions, and envision new possibilities and opportunities. Strategic thinking should be implemented in marketing strategies adopted by corporate firms. This is because organisations in the 21st century are more like “organisms” than “machines”. Strategic thinking is not a straight forward technique like a SWOT analysis but a more in depth approach and more interactive with the workforce. It may positively affect the marketing plan they may adopt for future products. Before drawing up any marketing plan, certain things have to be clear:McDonald (1989) stated that there are ten barriers to Marketing planning these barriers were identified by McDonald, M. they are as follows:1.Confusion between marketing strategy and tactics.
2.Isolation of marketing function from business operations.
3.Confusion between marketing function and marketing concept.
4.Prevailing organisational structures along functional lines.
5.Lack of skills in in-depth analysis.
6.Confusion between process and output.
7.Lack of core marketing management knowledge and skills.
8.Lack of a disciplined, systematic approach to marketing planning.
9.Need to prioritise objectives.
10.Need for a more appropriate marketing culture.’With the right marketing team that involves key marketing analysts, Samsung should be able to overcome these barriers. However, it is easy to have some kind of conflict in their marketing plan e.g. parts in the plan which are deemed to be part of the strategy may not be a strategy but a tactic. These little hiccups can affect the marketing performance of Samsung. As the Samsung top management develops a strategic plan for their organization, there are five different factors that must be focused on. These five factors will help define the ideal outcome. In addition, it will help set up and develop the steps necessary to make the business vision a reality.
The first factor that top management must consider is Samsung Electronics itself. The organization of the business involves the delegates, the organizational structure of the business, and the resources necessary to make it all work. For Samsung to have top management they will have to establish what the organization will look like and decide what type of structure will support the business vision. Any top management must also combine people, resources, and structure together to achieve an ideal outcome.
Observation is the second factor. When looking down at the world from an airplane, a person can see much more than when on the ground. By increasing observation skills, top management will become more aware of what motivates people, solve problems more effectively, and be able to distinguish between alternatives.
The third factor is views. Views are simply different ways of thinking about something. Views can be used as tools to help think about outcomes, identify important elements, and amend actions to achieve the best position.
The fourth factor is driving forces. What are the driving forces for Samsung that will make the wanted outcome a reality? Driving forces usually place the foundation for what top management wants people to focus on in business. Examples of driving forces might include commitment, action, effectiveness, productivity, and value. Other driving forces might include: individual and organizational motivation, empowerment and promotion Factors such as a clear vision, values, and goals, productive factors like a mission or function, and quantitative factors such as results or experience may also be driving forces.
After working through the first four phases of the strategic thinking process, top management should be able to define their ideal position. The ideal position outline should include:The conditions that have been found to be necessary if Samsung is to be productiveThe niche in the marketplace that Samsung will fillAny opportunities that may exist either currently or in the future for SamsungThe core competencies or skills required in SamsungThe strategies and tactics that will be used to pull it all together.
By working through these five areas, the Samsung management team will get a clearer picture of exactly how the company vision can be accomplished. As the vision becomes more focused, ideas will appear stronger and more convincing. Not only will it be easier for management to convince others that the idea is a good one, but it will also be easier to maintain their certainty and motivation when reaching upon any drawbacks or obstacles in their path. Overall, anybody can apply strategic thinking skills to any area of his/her life. But by making a concentrated effort to apply them specifically to the business project, Samsung Electronics will have a much better chance of facing challenges in the marketplace if they adopted strategic thinking.
Michael Porter who came up with the Five Forces has proposed three common strategies that provide a good starting point for strategic thinking for Samsung and any other firm: overall cost leadership, differentiation, and focus.
Overall cost leadership – Samsung works hard to achieve the lowest production, administration and distribution costs so that it can price lower than its competitors and win a large market share.
Differentiation – Samsung may concentrate on achieving superior performance in an important customer benefit area valued by a large part of the market. The firm cultivates those strengths that will contribute to the intended differentiation. Therefore, the firm seeking quality leadership.
Focus – Samsung focuses on one or more market segments. The firm gets to know these segments intimately and pursues either cost leadership or differentiation within the target segment.
According to Porter (1986), “Competitive advantage is a function of either providing comparable buyer value more efficiently than competitors (low cost), or performing activities at comparable cost but in unique ways that create more buyer value than competitors and, hence, command a premium price.” These factors can be adopted by companies such as Samsung Electronics. They can use tactics and marketing measures to gain a competitive advantage and added-value over Sony and other major rivals.
It is a reality in business today that strategic thinking is one of the most difficult tasks for business leaders. Although it is easier to be tactical or task oriented, the business leader must be strategic or risk becoming very short-sighted. Therefore a clear understanding of the value and the benefits of strategic thinking are very important.
Here is a list of thoughts on the value of strategic thinking for Samsung:1. staying at the front or leading edge of change and innovation2. Optimizing the ability to shape and leverage change to the company’s advantage, electronics are changing everyday3. eliminating anxiety4. Creating a sense of cohesion and unity for the company staff5. Providing proactive leadership7. Thinking systemically with a whole systems approach8. Becoming a life-long learning organization9. Providing an effective system to solve major problems and setbacks10. Improving and understanding of the business environmentAnd now a list of my thoughts on the benefits of strategic thinking.
1. improved guidance on actions to achieve the company vision and mission2. an early detection system to warn of changes3. creation of a proactive leadership culture4. identification of competitors and opponents5. identification of business allies6. long term survival of the business7. elimination of reactive decision-making8. a competitive advantage9. agility and capacity to respond positivelyFrom looking at traditional marketing strategy techniques used by Samsung and other firms, we can see how certain tools can help the scope of a business strategy.
We have also learnt that new marketing strategies are shaping up firms more over the past years, though traditional marketing (e.g., 4 P’s and SWOT) are still at the forefront of every marketing strategy. We have learnt that there is more to marketing strategy than simply systematic tools and techniques. Strategic thinking, which has been discussed by theorists and professionals such as Michael Porter, plays a new vital role in marketing and strategy development. We have learnt that Strategic thinking looks at different areas of in detail that helps us develop new ways of achieving a competitive advantage. A certain amount of the analysis involved in strategic thinking may be qualitative, which also may be time consuming and expensive.
We can see that the point that Fodness made in 2005 about tools in marketing strategy being stereotyped as simple answers to complex questions as mechanical application. New directions of exploring strategy are coming together to form the concept of strategic thinking. We have learnt from Fodness and Porter that strategic thinking can boost and assist existing marketing strategy tools which can answer complex questions. We have learnt that not all methods and techniques in marketing strategy are straightforward and are simply mechanical applications.
There are several ways for Samsung to adopt new and existing marketing strategies and to implement them. The main point is that strategic thinking could benefit Samsung and help them improve their performance in mobile phone market. Strategic thinking could strip off the firm’s ideologies that falsely stereotypes marketing strategies. And seek new ways of gaining a competitive advantage, being innovative and always being in touch with consumer’s tastes, needs and changing trends.
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