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Business situational analysis

Discuss about the Global Marketing and Advertising : Understanding Cultural Paradoxes.

Walmart is a global retail corporation founded by Sam Walton in the United States in 1962. The company is a retailing behemoth having over 10,000 stores of different sizes spread all across the globe. It operates under different names like ASDA in UK and Best price in India. It sells goods manufactured by major companies as well as its own flagship products and brands. It sells everything from daily needs items like grocery, soaps, toiletries , clothes , footwear and also a whole range of electronic goods like TV, washing machines etc. In this report we are going to discuss its marketing plan for one of its newly launched furniture product, the LYNK double bunk beds for kids (Freng et al.2011). It is a novel product that is expected to be received well by the customers due to its appeal and utilities like saving space and serving as a source of entertainment for the kids. The product is going to be sold both in brick and mortar retail stores as well as online.

The external market environment for this product would be analysed with the help of the PESTEL tool as follows

Political

  • The proposed bunk bed would be made of moulded plastic and the government of UK is giving incentives to those furniture makers who use alternatives other than wood (Kumarand Rajan 2012.).
  • The UK government is giving incentives to the retail industry as the consumer sentiments are high after a period of successive recessions in the last 6-7 years. It hopes that activities of the retail industry would be the first to revive the economy as disposable incomes of families have started to rise and it also generates employment
  • Also the government of UK is sponsoring a skilling and development program and hence talented designers and carpenters would be available for expansion of the market (Morgan et al.2012).

Economic

  • After the Brexit referendum consumer sentiments are up and the UK economy is looking up once again.
  • The Bank of England has announced a rate cut and hence the people of the country would have more disposable income to spend on furniture and home decor products
  • The retailing industry is booming once again in the UK and the nation has added over 100000 new jobs in the past one or two years giving the people additional income to spend on niche products (Ashley et al.2011)

Social

  • As housing prices have soared people are buying smaller homes which mean less space for their kids and family members. Hence the prospect of a compact bunked bed for kids is a good and innovative idea in the furniture retail segment
  • People having two or more kids can purchase this product as they would serve as a source of entertainment and play for preschool kids.

Technology

  • The product would be made of moulded plastic and hence completely safe for kids. There are no sharp edges and bed as a strong ladder and railings on the side to prevent kids from falling down.
  • New innovation in plastics industry has made it possible for manufacturing this product at much less price than its wooden counterpart. Hence this product would be affordable by many households (Hollensen 2015).
  • There is enough facility in the UK for the manufacture of this product and the company has set up a new furniture division to compete with other brands like IKEA.

Environmental

  • Though this product is made of moulded plastic and is non bio degradable it saves wood of trees and hence considered environment friendly.
  • The government of UK is giving incentives to the furniture companies who adopt green technology and building materials.

Legal

  • Different health and safety concerns of the plastics raw material and processing has been adopted by the company to ensure that its complies with rules and regulations of UK
  • The product has been tested for its strength and achieved the quality and safety standards of UK (Huang and Sarigöllü 2014)

The micro environment would be now studied with the help of Porters five forces.

  • The company is planning to source the plastic material from local suppliers and since there are many such suppliers their bargaining power would be low
  • The moulded plastic proposed for the product is readily available in the UK market and hence there would be no pressure from the supply side (Gordon 2012).

Bargaining power of buyers

  • The product is a new one as far as the material and technology is concerned. Most furniture makers who have similar products use wood which increases the cost and makes it heavy to move about. Hence in this regard the product has its own distinct advantages
  • As the product is not made of wood, its price would be low and hence easily affordable by many customers.
  • Thus the bargaining power of the customers is low

Threat of substitutes

  • Till now the product has no substitute in the market as most of the bunked beds of other furniture makers are made of wood and are more costly (Raj et al.2013).
  • The design of the product has been patented by Walmart and hence existing companies cannot manufacture the same kind of product with the same material.
  • As far as the quality and make of the product is concerned it has no other alternatives.

Threat of new entrants

  • The design and material of the product is such that new entrants couldn’t easily replicate its technology and design.
  • It’s a two storey bunked bed for kids along with an attached study table.
  • Great source of entertainment and comfort for kids.
  • Saves a lot of space as it can be dismantled by just unlocking the plastic screws with a key (Leonidou et al.2013).
  • The product would be sold both in online and offline mode for ease and convenience of shoppers.
  • As the product is new it would be available for display and sale in the retail outlets of Walmart so that the customers can have a close look at the product before they decide to purchase it.
  • Since the product is not made of wood its price is going to be much lower and hence easily affordable by the common middle class households.
  • The product is also be priced such that customers would not think twice before making the decision to buy (Brei et al.2011)
  • The company is planning to introduce the product in the year ending festive season of 2017 and would also give mattresses and bed linen free for a limited period of time
  • The product would be up for display in the kids section of all major Walmart stores in UK.

Branding: The product would sell under the generic brand name of LYNK home furniture product. The concept of the brand would derive from the fairy tale style bunked beds found in children’s story books. The brand would also convey the message “Save Trees” as it is made of moulded plastic which can be moved about easily from one place to another in the house. The value of the brand lies in its easy portability due to its light weight and also it can be dismantled easily by unlocking the plastic screws at the joints (Rawls and Turnquist 2011).

Product description: The product is a two storey bunked bed made of plastic along with an attached metal ladder and a study table. The idea of the study table is to make the children take an interest in school work while playing and sleeping in the Bunked bed. The product is easily collapsible by unlocking the plastic screws and bolts at the joints. The product would be packaged with attractive covers using themes from fairy tales “The little Red Riding Hood” (De Mooij 2013). The product would be painted in bright colours to be attractive to young children. Also contrary to wooden products which need maintenance like polishing and are also heavy this would be a new and novel idea in the furniture market.


Positioning strategy: The product would be positioned on the lines of the fairy tale theme where children would sleep in cosy bunked beds giving them the idea as if they are living in a caravan. The advertisements would highlight the salient features like safety and portability as the key selling points of this product (Rosenbloom 2012). The bed linen that would be given free with the product would have comic characters like Mickey mouse as their print.

Product decisions

Targeting market:  The product would be targeted at pre school kids and would be designed and coloured appropriately to appeal to the senses of young children. The price would be such that it is affordable by the average middle class household of UK. Thus it can be seen that there is enough justification for marketing this product as it would be a instant hit among customers who have known and seen only wooden bunked beds. The product would use modern plastic technology to make it light and easy to assemble and dissemble. Its feature of portability would be additionally highlighted (Menegaki 2012).

The company would adopt a “fair price” pricing strategy since the product is targeted at middle class customers who usually have 2 or more kids in their household. The product would have to compete with already existing wooden bunked beds which cost higher. As a part of its promotion the company would be giving free mattresses and linen to attract customers and hence its price in the beginning would be higher (De Mooij 2013). The company is hoping to gain in the volume of sales achieved rather than sales value of individual units. However if the other competitors come up with a similar product then it has to alter the pricing strategy according to the needs and demands of the situation. Then the company might change into price skimming strategy to counter the effects of competitors pricing model. Since the product is new and no else has a similar product the company is hoping to get the maximum market share initially. The wooden bunk beds sellers might also try to bring down the price by using cheaper materials like plywood and hence the company has change its pricing strategy accordingly. Since the product is much cheaper than similar wooden products its demand would be more or less inelastic in this particular segment (Keller et al.2011). Hence if the company increases the price slightly due to high costs then there would not be much fall in demand. The prices would have to be adapted for variations in how the market receives the product. Also there could not be single price for different geographies. For example in countries where wooden products are freely available it has to lower the price even further and on the other hand where wood is expensive it can price it higher in its own segment as people would not mind paying a little higher for a good substitute product.

Since the product is envisioned and developed by Walmart right from the scratch it would adopt the zero level channel that is manufacturer to consumer. This is easy since the company itself is a retailer. There is no need for middle men and hence there is no need for other channels. The cost of this channel is least and hence the cost benefit could be passed on to customers in the form of competitive prices (Gertner 2011). Also there is no need for a delivery channel as the product is portable and light and could be easily taken away by the customers. The product would be sold in online channels of its own and also others like Amazon due to their popularity. This distribution strategy is suited as per the features and demand of the product as mentioned before.

Product price

The marketing communication mix would ideally be placed for customers to take notice of the unique selling points of the products. For this advertisements should be placed in children’s books and also lifestyle and home decor magazines so that both the children and their parents could be aware of the existence of the product. The product should also be placed in the toy section of all major Walmart stores to catch the attention of the public. First the parents could be made aware of the product by first giving free samples to play schools and office crèches. In this way the parents would come to know about the utility of the product(Menegaki 2012). They could be made aware of the fact that the product is safe for kids and is also very light and portable unlike the wooden product that has long existed in the furniture market and stores. The product could also be marketed on the lines of electronic word of mouth publicity by giving advertisements on social media pages. Attractive graphic pictures of the product could be advertised in billboards outside nursery and kindergarten schools. Personal selling could also be used for handing down brochures and leaflets outside the gates of nursery schools and day care centres around the city. Personal selling could be used to give free demonstrations in homes of people living in the country. The message strategy used to convey the practicality of the product is to highlight its unique advantages over existing wooden bunk beds. Also to appeal to children the beds should be coloured brightly in multi colour patterns (Solomon 2014.). Also the company should choose women sales representatives for the purpose since they are better at communicating the children’s needs and requirements to their parents. The communication channel needs to be more personal than impersonal since it is a children’s product and the parents need to be convinced gradually about the benefits of the product over its wooden counterpart. Thus word of mouth and social channels should be used as it would give a personal touch to the entire marketing communication process.

Conclusion

Thus this report has highlighted various aspects of marketing the Walmart’s LYNK range of plastic moulded bunk beds. The ideas and proposals given for the marketing planning are cost effective and suited to the unique features of the product. To have a good product is a distinct advantage to the company as it stands out among a flood of mediocre and dull products in the market (Barrett and Weinstein 2015). Hence what remains is to market the product in an effective manner so that the goals of the company of turning it into a best selling product could be achieved and thus it could be used to place the company as a market leader in this segment. The products of the company sell automatically if it is marketed well and this has been proven to be true with many products of successful companies.

References

Freng Svendsen, M., Haugland, S.A., Grønhaug, K. and Hammervoll, T., 2011. Marketing strategy and customer involvement in product development. European Journal of Marketing, 45(4), pp.513-530.

Kumar, V. and Rajan, B., 2012. Social coupons as a marketing strategy: a multifaceted perspective. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 40(1), pp.120-136.

Morgan, N.A., Katsikeas, C.S. and Vorhies, D.W., 2012. Export marketing strategy implementation, export marketing capabilities, and export venture performance. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 40(2), pp.271-289.

Shankar, V., Carpenter, G.S. and Farley, J. eds., 2012. Handbook of marketing strategy. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Ashley, C., Noble, S.M., Donthu, N. and Lemon, K.N., 2011. Why customers won't relate: Obstacles to relationship marketing engagement. Journal of Business Research, 64(7), pp.749-756.

Hollensen, S., 2015. Marketing management: A relationship approach. Pearson Education.

Huang, R. and Sarigöllü, E., 2014. How brand awareness relates to market outcome, brand equity, and the marketing mix. In Fashion Branding and Consumer Behaviors (pp. 113-132). Springer New York.

Gordon, R., 2012. Re-thinking and re-tooling the social marketing mix. Australasian Marketing Journal (AMJ), 20(2), pp.122-126.

Leonidou, C.N., Katsikeas, C.S. and Morgan, N.A., 2013. “Greening” the marketing mix: do firms do it and does it pay off?. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 41(2), pp.151-170.

Armelini, G. and Villanueva, J., 2011. Adding social media to the marketing mix. IESE insight, 9, pp.29-36.

Raj, M.P.M., Sasikumar, J. and Sriram, S., 2013. A Study On Customers Brand Preference in Suvs and Muvs: Effect of Marketing Mix Variables. Researchers World, 4(1), p.48.

Singh, M., 2012. Marketing mix of 4P’s for competitive advantage. Journal of Business and Management, 3(6), pp.40-45.

Menegaki, A.N., 2012. A social marketing mix for renewable energy in Europe based on consumer stated preference surveys. Renewable Energy, 39(1), pp.30-39.

Rosenbloom, B., 2012. Marketing channels. Cengage Learning.

Armelini, G. and Villanueva, J., 2011. Adding social media to the marketing mix. IESE insight, 9, pp.29-36.

Brei, V.A., d'Avila, L., Camargo, L.F. and Engels, J., 2011. The influence of adaptation and standardization of the marketing mix on performance: A meta-analysis. BAR-Brazilian Administration Review, 8(3), pp.266-287.

Barrett, H. and Weinstein, A., 2015. Corporate entrepreneurship, the marketing mix, and business performance. In Proceedings of the 1997 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference (pp. 144-150). Springer International Publishing.

Solomon, M.R., 2014. Consumer behavior: Buying, having, and being (Vol. 10). Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Rawls, C.G. and Turnquist, M.A., 2011. Pre-positioning planning for emergency response with service quality constraints. OR spectrum, 33(3), pp.481-498.

Gertner, D., 2011. Unfolding and configuring two decades of research and publications on place marketing and place branding. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 7(2), pp.91-106.

Keller, K.L., Parameswaran, M.G. and Jacob, I., 2011. Strategic brand management: Building, measuring, and managing brand equity. Pearson Education India.

De Mooij, M., 2013. Global marketing and advertising: Understanding cultural paradoxes. Sage Publications.

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