Principles of Marketing

Please write two essays (500words each) for an exam. There are two questions.

Explain the principles and uses of market segmentation, targeting, differentiation and positioning, using examples to illustrate your points. Critically discuss the importance of balancing customer and competitor orientations.

Examine the main concepts and models used in building strong brands critically examine how positioning affects branding strategies use examples to illustrate your points.

Market segmentation refers to the division of a particular market based on the consumer groups and specific group needs. By using market segmentation, identification of a target group is achieved, hence tailoring market campaigns towards satisfying the identified group. Similar needs of a group distinguish them from the general population, making them a target (Burnett, 2012). For example, in an automobile market, some people are attracted to the speed and performance of vehicles, while others consider the safety capabilities and roominess of the particular vehicle to be of greater importance.  Market segmentation goes hand in hand with market differentiation, which is a strategy that works to target a particular market segment with products that suit them (Kotler & Armstrong, 2016). The plan exists either as differentiated or undifferentiated. In the undifferentiated market, customers are treated equally, with businesses only focusing on satisfying particular market groups and leaving the other segments to be taken care of by the competitors (Kotler & Armstrong, 2016). The aspect can only be achieved through the production of unique products demanded by the customers, that cannot be afforded by the competitors. An example of a firm adopting undifferentiated strategy is the Southwest Airlines that targets the price sensitive clients, who forego luxuries by being assigned low cost seats and also capable of foregoing meals (Ghodeswar, 2013). In most cases, other airlines prefer the differentiated approach characterized by high-cost tickets with fixed provisions for all. The target group in this case is the business class, who are price insensitive.

Before segmentation is achieved, tough decisions have to be made considering that various variables define a given market segment. Demographic variables are the commonly used data in determining a market segment. Males, for example, have been noted to prefer facing flat guns, while females prefer handier and small guns. After segmenting the market, the next step is to determine the target group, which is dependent on various factors that include; the level of service the competitors have managed to serve the existing segments, the size of the portion and projected growth rate of the segment (Hutt & Speh, 2010). Example, a company like McDonald’s is well known for consistently high-quality fast foods that are family friendly. However, it will be difficult to convince the market segment that the company is now offering gourmet food. It is thereby better for McDonald’s to target families searching for quality food in smart restaurants (Burnett, 2012). After determining the target market, business positions itself in the market, which is implementing the target plan by influencing the perception of the brands by the consumer relative to the competing brands. Apple company has positioned itself as a producer of user-friendly computers based on its unintimidating icons and the visual C software.

Customer and competitor orientations are two critical aspects of marketing.  However, there should exist a balance between the two aspects, considering that an over-focus on one undermines the other which could lead to devastating effects. Customer oriented businesses focus on customer developments in its marketing strategies, hence delivering value to its target group. On the other hand, the competitor focused enterprise focuses on monitoring competitor moves and market segments, all with the aim of countering them (Kotler & Armstrong, 2016). For effective market dominance, it is necessary that a business keeps up with the competitors, while at the same time developing better relationships with the customers by delivering better brands than the competitors. By over-focusing on customer orientation, a business may be blinded by their focus, thus failing to notice changes adopted by competitors. Over focus on competitors result in the launching of biased products aimed at fighting competition (Ghodeswar, 2013). To ensure effectiveness in a competitive market, a balance of the two orientations is vital.

Concepts and Models Used in Building Strong Brands

The goal of every business enterprise is building a strong brand that is capable of satisfying customer needs, and surviving in a competitive market. Stronger brands are characterized by customer loyalty and lower vulnerability to marketing crises and aggressive marketing techniques. STP models play a significant role in the development of more powerful brands. By segmenting the market based on needs, type and size, it is easier to determine product deficiencies within a particular segment (Hutt & Speh, 2010). Also, a given segment may be served by competitors, but their brands may not be satisfactory. The knowledge of the market segments and their needs, thereby informs the development of a strong brand based on the chosen target group. A target group presents an opportunity in the long term, and are considered most profitable. By basing the product on market deficiencies and developing brands that satisfy the needs in the long run, the product will be perceived as a strong brand (Woodside & Walser, 2007).

The STP model works hand in hand with the customer-based brand equity model, which based on market survey achieved through the STP model ensures that the brand is identified by the customers and associated with their particular needs. The model then establishes the entirety of the brand meaning as perceived by the consumers, after which it elicits customer response towards the identity and meaning of the brand. Next it converts the customer response on the brand towards creating a strong brand capable of satisfying the customers, hence building a long-term loyalty (Kotler & Armstrong, 2016). It is notable that consumers develop the preference for a high-quality brand in the market as long as it meets their expectation in relation to cost, quality and as long as it does not fall short of the expected standards. By businesses positioning themselves and their brands in the market as unique and customer need oriented, they manage to develop strong brands that are capable of meeting the customer expectations as presented by market positioning (Osborn, 2009). Brand positioning thereby plays an essential role in the development of strong brands. An example is the case of Apple, which has positioned itself as a quality and customer needs oriented manufacturer, leaving the customers longing for the release of new products (Kotler & Armstrong, 2016). Brand positioning also plays a significant role in attaining competitiveness in a flooded market. Apple’s products are designed based on customer needs, and despite the existence of similar products in the market, people are willing to purchase Apple products at higher prices. The aspect of the class provided by Apple products attracts and satisfies the middle and high-income groups, who would always want to associate themselves with the best brands in the market. By positioning its products as classy, Apple manages to attract and retain its target market group.

The customer-based brand equity model plays a significant role in marketing communication. According to the model, brand knowledge is not only on the brand facts, but on all the thoughts, perceptions, feelings, experiences and images linked to the brand as viewed by the consumer. A brand is thereby determined as strong through the perceptions of the user, an implication that can be achieved through effective marketing communication that creates brand awareness and image (Osborn, 2009). The communication can be attained through advertisements, promotions, and public relations among other marketing techniques. For effective marketing communication, the focus should be on customer needs and expectations (Osborn, 2009). Marriott hotel, which is a successful organization in the hospitality industry, markets its brands by focusing on its customer base, considering its diversity. It is unrealistic for the hotel to adopt the same techniques in a branch located in Europe and another one in Asia. The two regions have different customer needs and composition, hence demanding customer based communication towards positioning its products as strong brands.

References

Burnett, J. (2012, November 30). Core Concepts of Marketing. Retrieved from https://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Core-Concepts-of-Marketing.pdf

Ghodeswar, B. M. (2013). Building brand identity in competitive markets: A conceptual model. Journal of product and brand mangement , 4-12.

Hutt, M. D., & Speh, T. W. (2010.). Business marketing management : B2B. Mason, OH : South-Western Cengage Learning.

Kotler, P., & Armstrong, G. (2016). Principles of marketing. Boston: Pearson.

Osborn, E. (2009). Building strong brands in a modern marketing communications environment. Journal of Marketing Communications Vol. 15, Nos. 2 – 3 , 139-155.

Woodside, A. G., & Walser, M. G. (2007). Building strong brands in retailing. Journal of Business Research 60 , 1-10.

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