Sunday, July 8, 2012

Building a brand in order to sustain its life cycle

Preparing to make a strategic change

Before committing resources to creating the family of All-Bran brands, Kellogg needed to conduct research to discover whether a change was worth making and the nature of these changes.

This involved carrying out a SWOT analysis to identify:

Strengths of the All-Bran brand


Opportunities existing in the market

Threats - e.g. from competitors.

All-Bran's product life cycle

Kellogg created All-Bran as a product and the fibre sector of the cereal market in the 1930s. From then onwards the product experienced steady growth with the company injecting regular promotional spends to support product development.

The most spectacular growth was in the 1980s with widespread publicity for the 'F' Plan Diet from nutritionists and health experts. This diet had an impact similar to that of the Atkins Diet in recent years. Following this, the Kellogg 'bran' range has been moving into a more mature stage.

Because the product is mature, Kellogg has looked to re-brand a range of fibre cereals in order to inject renewed growth and interest. The company has run a £3 million campaign that urges consumers to re-appraise these products. Large investment was needed to support the strategy and to evaluate the consumer response.

Identifying the benefits

Kellogg needed to identify the benefits that would result from any changes it made. An important advantage related to managing the product range. Kellogg identified which of its existing fibre based products offered the best present and future prospects and decided to concentrate on those.

This simplification made it easier to manage the product portfolio. Managers could concentrate on the common elements of the chosen range and focus marketing activity on them. This action produced management and marketing economies of scale, rather than production economies - the complexity of manufacturing individual products has not been reduced. The smaller brands were pulled together into the All-Bran range.

Kellogg's market research showed that, in choosing a cereal product, consumers place high priority on taste. Although they want a healthier cereal, it still must taste good. So Kellogg decided to develop new 'tastier' products under the single All-Bran umbrella, such as Bran Flakes Yoghurty.

Pulling a range of fibre products together under a single brand also made it easier to communicate with the target audiences through a shared communication plan.

Research and promotion


Before proceeding with the change, Kellogg carried out some detailed market research with consumers to discover their thoughts and feelings. There are two main approaches to market research:

  • qualitative
  • quantitative.

Qualitative research involves working in detail with a relatively small number of consumers e.g. observing and listening to them talking in small groups in which they discuss the brand, products, packaging, advertising ideas, etc.

This qualitative research helped to assess consumers' perceptions e.g. by giving them pictures of possible new packaging and letting them give their views on the benefits of the product and reasons why they use fibre based cereals. The qualitative research also helped Kellogg to develop the concept of a family of fibre brands. The advertising and promotional materials with which the consumer groups worked were very similar to the end promotions that Kellogg wished to communicate.

Once the qualitative market research was complete it was possible to test the concept through quantitative research. This involved using questionnaire and survey approaches with a much larger sample of targeted consumersto estimate the impact on sales if these changes were put into market.


The market research revealed several matters that Ke

llogg needed to address when alerting the public to changes in the brand family:

1.Some consumers might find the act of placing a range of separate products under the All-Bran brand confusing. The solution was to ensure that packs clearly display both the power brand name (All-Bran) and also the product name (e.g. Bran Flakes).

To maintain continuity, it was vital to use consistent type fonts and colours from the old packaging, as well as introducing the flash 'new name, same great taste'. To support consumer understanding of the new range, the back of each pack featured a range sell detailing the different attributes of each of the products in the range. This allowed consumers to make purchase decisions on the basis of taste and the amount of fibre they require in their diet.

2.Research showed that consumers see cereals as a 'natural product'. This is a strong selling

point. It makes it vital to feature the ingredients on the packaging. This is because the All-Bran range can be seen as part of a daily healthy diet. For example, the latest addition to the All-Bran range, the delicious Bran Flakes Yoghurty, claims to promote users' inner health by providing 17% of daily fibre needs.

3.To give the campaign maximum impact, Kellogg carefully co-ordinated television and radio advertising, PR and in-store promotions. These encouraged consumers to try out and reappraise the revamped products. For example, in September 2004, Kellogg introduced the All-Bran 'Feel Great in a Fortnight' Challenge.

This campaign was designed to make the brands benefit more relevant to consumers. Adopting the 'feel great' message moved the brand away from the outdated 'keeps you regular' message and into the feel good territory of better inner health. This promotion featured on 8 million packs and on the All-Bran website. It used William Shatner, best remembered from Star Trek's Starship Enterprise!

The challenge invited consumers to eat one bowl of any of the cereals in the All-Bran range for two weeks and see if they could feel the benefit. It focused on the fact that high-fibre diets may help people to feel lighter and more energetic as well as aiding the digestive system.


If a business wants to make a product's total sales grow, it must carefully consider how best to extend its life cycle.

By creating the powerbrand 'All-Bran' and providing the right sort of well researched promotional support, Kellogg has been able to inject renewed vigour into a family of related products. Through appropriate promotional activities and more relevant messages, Kellogg has re-awakened consumers' interest in products that can play an important part in developing a healthy diet in a health-conscious world.

Regular campaigns of promotional activity are helpful in enabling all organisations to sustain their own life cycle and those of their brands and products. It is early days in evaluating the success of the marketing activity supporting All-Bran but the signs are good.

Read more:

Creating a new and exciting brand - Cafe Cadbury A Cadbury Schweppes case study


Everyone knows about Cadbury and what it represents. The Cadbury Masterbrand is the flagship for a variety of well known distinctive products including Flake, Dairy Milk, Crunchie and Roses. Each of these products has its own place in the public imagination because we have grown up with them and they have associations for us with events in our personal histories.

Since 1990, Cadbury has developed and implemented an expanding programme of presence marketing as an effective way to promote the Cadbury Masterbrand in the UK. The strategy has been to select high profile sites in theme parks, shopping malls and airports to communicate Cadbury values and increase the availability of products.

This case study examines the creation of a new and exciting brand - Café Cadbury - which shows how detailed thought has been applied to making this a successful venture which extends the Cadbury reputation by providing a high profile presence and by giving consumers even more reasons to choose Cadbury.

The pilot Café Cadbury was opened on 8th October 2000 in an attractive three-storey 18th century Georgian building in the centre of Bath, a busy tourist destination and World Heritage City. The location was carefully chosen to position the new brand as a premium experience for the discerning customer. Café Cadbury is an exciting all day premium café and gift experience also offering a take-out service on the ground floor.

Brand positioning

Brand positioning involves creating a position in the market place for a product. Café Cadbury involves providing consumers with a 3D experience of the brand in which they enjoy a premium offer. Consumers are able to experience the brand in a real physical environment. Café Cadbury provides a warm, contemporary, friendly environment where customers can indulge themselves with Cadbury's chocolate.

To secure this premium position, Cadbury set out to differentiate the experience from coffee shops and chocolate retailers on the high streets or in shopping centres/malls. The total Café Cadbury experience exposes the customer to chocolate indulgence. The emphasis is on chocolate, offering the customer a range of products and experiences they cannot find elsewhere.

The illustration across highlights that the heart of the offer is the chocolate experience delivered within the theatre of a premium café location. Supporting this is a retail offer including chocolates and gifts as well as takeaway products

Brand values

Brand values are those things that a particular brand stands for - eg reliability, quality, etc. In selecting values for Café Cadbury, a prime consideration was to select values which reinforce the message to customers 'choose Cadbury'.

The key values are:

  • Premium - A premium catering and shopping experience for indulgent chocolate and non-chocolate products in a quality environment.
  • High quality - The best coffee, unique cakes and fresh baguettes.
  • Friendly service - Café Cadbury staff are trained to treat customers as guests and to welcome them from the first minute they enter the Café
  • Novelty - The emphasis in product development at the Café is on innovation eg. spiced chocolate or a full size chocolate football.
  • Celebrating Cadbury Chocolate - A variety of dark chocolate is used, but all of the milk chocolate delivers the real taste of Cadbury's chocolate.
  • Adult appeal - The emphasis is on catering for adult taste, but because children love Cadbury's chocolate they are also provided for with a children's meal packed in a Yowie gift box.
  • Relaxing - The Café provides a relaxing atmosphere as a result of the friendly service, the interior decoration and general ambience.
  • Contemporary - The design and atmosphere of the Café is modern, innovative and dynamic.
  • Delivering business objectives

    In carrying out any business strategy it is first necessary to create a set of objectives to provide a clear direction and to monitor success over time.

    Four objectives were established in setting up Café Cadbury. These were:

    1. to communicate Cadbury's Master-brand values, projecting a modern and relevant image
    2. to change public perceptions by associating Cadbury with premium 'special' chocolate as well as everyday products
    3. to reduce Cadbury's dependence on traditional retail channels by developing alternative routes to market
    4. to generate incremental income.

    A number of measures were chosen to track performance in meeting these objectives:

    • the number of customers who walk through the door
    • the number of diners
    • the media value of the site
    • quantified attitude measurements for Café Cadbury customers and the local population to assess perceptions of the Cadbury's Masterbrand.

    Cadbury Schweppes | Creating a new and exciting brand - Cafe Cadbury

    The target market

    It is essential to have a clear picture of the type of people that make up your core target market. Armed with this information you can then select how to best reach and appeal to this market.

    Following Cadbury's research into the Gifting market, the company analysed market research into the coffee bar and cafémarkets. Cadbury's then carried out its own research which confirmed that the café concept would particularly attract ABC1 women aged 25-45. This research has been confirmed by experience.

    Currently, 75 per cent of customers are female and 74 per cent of customers are ABC1.

    Cadbury Schweppes | Creating a new and exciting brand - Cafe Cadbury

    Choosing the right location

    Knowing the target market, Cadbury was then able to research the right locations to attract 25-45 year old females with high disposable incomes who were regular café users.

    In addition, it was necessary to take into account a number of business and practical criteria the location must have:

    • a prime site location in the main shopping area of a city with 100,000 people and an upmarket populative mix
    • a double shop frontage for maximum visibility
    • a high number of shoppers all year round - average weekly footfall of 50,000, peaking 5,000 per hour during the week and 10,000 per hour on Saturdays
    • a size between 2,000 and 2,500 square feet
    • planning permission for catering and retailing.

    The building required a prestigious location and character to support the luxury and indulgence of the experience.

    Getting this right was vital because retailing and catering support each other, for example:

    • the customer's experience of high quality, indulgent catering reinforces the premium image of the retail products they buy
    • restaurant-quality cakes and chocolates can be sold at higher prices in this atmosphere
    • when customers try products in the café's seating area or Cadbury Lounge, they may wish to buy them as gifts and take home purchases.

    Cadbury's aim is for customers to aspire to eat and shop in Café Cadbury, so the view of the shop frontage is important. A double frontage is ideal so that people can see, at a glance from the street, the range of products and services by looking in. Outside seating also draws attention to the food and drink offer.

    Design guidelines

    Design is always important. The design of Café Cadbury seeks to make sure that customers enjoy a unique, shopping and catering experience as they make their journey around it from entrance to departure. Efficient links between back of house facilities, support and the front of house are needed to service the needs of customers.

    Once the customer enters the retail area, the counter and its displays are clearly visible serving both the retail and takeaway products. The counter is designed to appeal to adults and is sophisticated and modern, made of warm cherry timber and trimmed in clean stainless steel. As the customer walks over the timber floor, their footsteps add to the hard-edged, busy sound in this part of the Café Cadbury. The customer moves on to browse the retail display fixtures. These show premium chocolate and non-chocolate offers.

    From the retail area, clear signage encourages a visit to the café area upstairs. A recording of café noise is played at the foot of the stairs to reassure customers that there is activity on the first floor. A range of music plays in the café including jazz and soul to reflect the tastes of the target market.

    At the counter the customers choose from a tempting range of cakes, savoury food, ice- cream and drinks, served by friendly employees. Most customers stay in the café area for 15-20 minutes.

    When the customer wants an even more indulgent experience, signal points are to the lounge area. The furniture is the strongest demonstration of the lounge's distinctive identity. A combination of the soft chairs and low tables creates a special, related feeling of being in someone's lounge at home.

    When the customer leaves Café Cadbury, their purchases are packed

    Corporate identity

    As a flagship for the Cadbury Masterbrand the interior and exterior of the Cafés are designed to communicate the brand's distinctiveness, that it is part of the Cadbury family.

    The Café Cadbury corporate identityis made up of three related design elements:

    • Cadbury's Masterbrand
    • Café Cadbury logo, colour palette, typographic style and image palette
    • Café Cadbury icons which help to illustrate and signpost the total offer.

    These design elements are used carefully within the café environment to provide a strong and consistent image.

    Positioning the brand

    Everything about the café needs to reflect the requirements of the target market. For example, the menus are carefully tailored to the requirements of the target audience at different times of the day. The savoury menu contains freshly baked baguettes with innovative fillings and hot panini. The cake menu includes a range of fresh cakes and there is a wide choice of ice-creams all served with Cadbury's chocolate.

    There are all sorts of categories of retail products including:

    • Traditional/familiar eg Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Roses and Milk Tray
    • Chocolate experience eg liquid chocolate fondue and truffles
    • Indulgence/gifting eg champagne hearts
    • Self-eat eg fudge ranges and ice-creams
    • Novelty/kids eg full size chocolate footballs.

    Prices charged in Café Cadbury are slightly higher than in coffee shops like Starbucks to reflect the premium positioning of the brand.

    Operating Café Cadbury

    Café Cadbury is not run by Cadbury. Instead Cadbury pays a fee to an independent operator to run and staff Café Cadbury.

    This means that Cadbury are able to control the quality of the café without being drawn into the day-to-day operation. An Operator's Agreement was drawn up which includes the performance criteria which guarantees that the café will meet with the objectives established by Cadbury.


    Cadbury is one of the best known brands in the world today. It is a brand which is associated with high levels of quality and customer satisfaction.

    The ongoing growth of Café Cadbury provides a flagship that further helps to enhance the reputation of the Cadbury Masterbrand. At the same time, it provides customers with the opportunity to indulge themselves in the enjoyment of high quality products in a welcoming environment.

    Read more:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Internal Factor Evaluation (IFE) Matrix

Internal Factor Evaluation (IFE) matrix is a strategic management tool for auditing or evaluating major strengths and weaknesses in functional areas of a business.

IFE matrix also provides a basis for identifying and evaluating relationships among those areas. The Internal Factor Evaluation matrix or short IFE matrix is used in strategy formulation.

The IFE Matrix together with the EFE matrix is a strategy-formulation tool that can be utilized to evaluate how a company is performing in regards to identified internal strengths and weaknesses of a company. The IFE matrix method conceptually relates to the Balanced Scorecard method in some aspects.

How can I create the IFE matrix?

The IFE matrix can be created using the following five steps:

Key internal factors...

  1. Conduct internal audit and identify both strengths and weaknesses in all your business areas.
  2. It is suggested you identify 10 to 20 internal factors, but the more you can provide for the IFE matrix, the better.
  3. The number of factors has no effect on the range of total weighted scores (discussed below) because the weights always sum to 1.0, but it helps to diminish estimate errors resulting from subjective ratings.
  4. First, list strengths and then weaknesses. It is wise to be as specific and objective as possible. You can for example use percentages, ratios, and comparative numbers.


  1. Having identified strengths and weaknesses, the core of the IFE matrix, assign a weight that ranges from 0.00 to 1.00 to each factor.
  2. The weight assigned to a given factor indicates the relative importance of the factor.
  3. Zero means not important. One indicates very important.
  4. If you work with more than 10 factors in your IFE matrix, it can be easier to assign weights using the 0 to 100 scale instead of 0.00 to 1.00.
  5. Regardless of whether a key factor is an internal strength or weakness, factors with the greatest importance in your organizational performance should be assigned the highest weights.
  6. After you assign weight to individual factors, make sure the sum of all weights equals 1.00 (or 100 if using the 0 to 100 scale weights).
  7. The weight assigned to a given factor indicates the relative importance of the factor to being successful in the firm's industry.
  8. Weights are industry based.


  1. Assign a 1 to X rating to each factor.
  2. Your rating scale can be per your preference. Practitioners usually use rating on the scale from 1 to 4.
  3. Rating captures whether the factor represents a major weakness (rating = 1), a minor weakness (rating = 2), a minor strength (rating = 3), or a major strength (rating = 4). If you use the rating scale 1 to 4, then strengths must receive a 4 or 3 rating and weaknesses must receive a 1 or 2 rating.
  4. Ratings are company based.


  1. Now we can get to the IFE matrix math. Multiply each factor's weight by its rating. This will give you a weighted score for each factor.


  1. The last step in constructing the IFE matrix is to sum the weighted scores for each factor. This provides the total weighted score for your business.

Example of IFE matrix

The following table provides an example of an IFE matrix.



What values does the IFE matrix take?

Regardless of how many factors are included in an IFE Matrix, the total weighted score can range from a low of 1.0 to a high of 4.0 (assuming you used the 1 to 4 rating scale). The average score you can possibly get is 2.5.


Why is the average 2.5 and not 2.0?

  1. You have 4 factors, each has weight 0.25. Factors have the following rating: 1, 4, 1, 4.
  2. This will result in individual weighted scores 0.25, 1, 0.25, and 1 for factors 1 through 4.
  3. If you add them up, you will get total IFE matrix weighted score 2.5 which is also the average in this case.

Total weighted scores well below 2.5 point to internally weak business. Scores significantly above 2.5 indicate a strong internal position.

What if a key internal factor is both a strength and a weakness in IFE matrix?

When a key internal factor is both a strength and a weakness, then include the factor twice in the IFE Matrix. The same factor is treated as two independent factors in this case. Assign weight and also rating to both factors.

What are the benefits of the IFE matrix?

  1. To explain the benefits, we have to start with talking about one disadvantage.
  2. IFE matrix or method is very much subjective; after all other methods such as the TOWS or SWOT matrix are subjective as well. IFE is trying to ease some of the subjectivity by introducing numbers into the concept.
  3. Intuitive judgments are required in populating the IFE matrix with factors. But, having to assign weights and ratings to individual factors brings a bit of empirical nature into the model.

How does the IFE matrix differ from the SWOT matrix method?

One difference is already obvious. It is the weights and ratings.

This difference leads to another one. While it is suggested that the SWOT matrix is populated with only a handful of factors, the opposite is the case with the IFE matrix.

Populating each quadrant of the SWOT matrix with a large number of factors can lead to the point where we are over-analyzing the object of our analysis. This does not happen with IFE matrix. Including many factors into the IFE matrix leads to each factor having only a small weight. Therefore, if we are subjective and assign unrealistic rating to some factor, it will not matter very much because that particular factor has only a small weight (=small importance) in the whole matrix.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Marketing Research Process

"Marketing research does not make decisions and it does not guarantee success". Marketing managers may seek advice from marketing research specialists, and indeed it is important that research reports should specify alternative courses of action and the probability of success, where possible, of these alternatives. However, it is marketing managers who make the final marketing decision and not the researcher

The purpose of the research

It is not at all unusual for marketing managers to neglect to tell the researcher the precise purpose of the research. They often do not appreciate the need to do so. Instead, they simply state what they think they need to know. This is not quite the same thing. To appreciate the difference consider the case of the marketing research agency which was contacted by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) and asked to carry out a survey of young people in the age group 15-24. They wanted information on the coffee drinking habits of these young people: how much coffee they drank, at what times of day, with meals or between meals, instant or ground coffee, which other beverages they preferred and so on. In response, the research organization developed a set of wide-ranging proposals which included taking a large random sample of young people.

In fact much of the information was interesting rather than important. Important information is that information which directly assists in making decisions and the ICO had not told the research company the purpose of the research. The initial reason for the study had been a suspicion, on the part of the ICO, that an increasing percentage of young people were consuming beverages other than coffee, particularly soft drinks, and simply never developed the coffee drinking habit. Had this been explained to the research company then it is likely that their proposals would have been radically different. To begin with, the sample would have been composed of 15-24 year old non-coffee drinkers rather than a random sample of all 15-24 year olds. Second, the focus would have been non-coffee drinking habits rather than coffee drinking habits.
Unless the purpose of the research is stated in unambiguous terms it is difficult for the marketing researcher to translate the decision-maker's problem into a research problem and study design.

Suppose that the marketing manager states that he needs to know the potential market for a new product his/her organisation has been developing. At first glance this might appear to meet all of the requirements of being clear, concise, attainable, measurable and quantifiable. In practice it would possibly meet only one of these criteria, i.e. it is concise!

Here is another case to be considered. A small engineering firm had purchased a prototype tree-lifter from a private research company. This machine was suitable for lifting semi-mature trees, complete with root-ball intact, and transplanting such trees in another location. It was thought to have potential in certain types of tree nurseries and plantations.

The problem with the objective is that the marketing manager needs to know the potential market for the new tree-lifter is that it is not attainable. One could find out how many tree-lifters were currently being sold but this is not the same as the objective set by the marketing manager. The market potential for any new brand is a function of at least 4 things, as shown in Figure 1.1.
Figure 1.1 The components of market potential

Step 1: Problem definition

The point has already been made that the decision-maker should clearly communicate the purpose of the research to the marketing researcher but it is often the case that the objectives are not fully explained to the individual carrying out the study. Decision-makers seldom work out their objectives fully or, if they have, they are not willing to fully disclose them. In theory, responsibility for ensuring that the research proceeds along clearly defined lines rests with the decision-maker. In many instances the researcher has to take the initiative.
In situations, in which the researcher senses that the decision-maker is either unwilling or unable to fully articulate the objectives then he/she will have to pursue an indirect line of questioning. One approach is to take the problem statement supplied by the decision-maker and to break this down into key components and/or terms and to explore these with the decision-maker. For example, the decision-maker could be asked what he has in mind when he uses the term market potential. This is a legitimate question since the researcher is charged with the responsibility to develop a research design which will provide the right kind of information. Another approach is to focus the discussions with the person commissioning the research on the decisions which would be made given alternative findings which the study might come up with. This process frequently proves of great value to the decision-maker in that it helps him think through the objectives and perhaps select the most important of the objectives.

Research forms a cycle. It starts with a problem and ends with a solution to the problem. The problem statement is therefore the axis which the whole research revolves around, beacause it explains in short the aim of the research.

A research problem is the situation that causes the researcher to feel apprehensive, confused and ill at ease. It is the demarcation of a problem area within a certain context involving the WHO or WHAT, the WHERE, the WHEN and the WHY of the problem situation.

There are many problem situations that may give rise to reseach. Three sources usually contribute to problem identification. Own experience or the experience of others may be a source of problem supply. A second source could be scientific literature. You may read about certain findings and notice that a certain field was not covered. This could lead to a research problem. Theories could be a third source. Shortcomings in theories could be researched.
Research can thus be aimed at clarifying or substantiating an existing theory, at clarifying contradictory findings, at correcting a faulty methodology, at correcting the inadequate or unsuitable use of statistical techniques, at reconciling conflicting opinions, or at solving existing practical problems.

The prospective researcher should think on what caused the need to do the research (problem identification). The question that he/she should ask is: Are there questions about this problem to which answers have not been found up to the present?

Research originates from a need that arises. A clear distinction between the PROBLEM and the PURPOSE should be made. The problem is the aspect the researcher worries about, think about, wants to find a solution for. The purpose is to solve the problem, ie find answers to the question(s). If there is no clear problem formulation, the purpose and methods are meaningless.
Keep the following in mind:
  • Outline the general context of the problem area.
  • Highlight key theories, concepts and ideas current in this area.
  • What appear to be some of the underlying assumptions of this area?
  • Why are these issues identified important?
  • What needs to be solved?
  • Read round the area (subject) to get to know the background and to identify unanswered questions or controversies, and/or to identify the the most significant issues for further exploration.
The research problem should be stated in such a way that it would lead to analytical thinking on the part of the researcher with the aim of possible concluding solutions to the stated problem. Research problems can be stated in the form of either questions or statements.
  • The research problem should always be formulated grammatically correct and as completely as possible. You should bear in mind the wording (expressions) you use. Avoid meaningless words. There should be no doubt in the mind of the reader what your intentions are.
  • Demarcating the research field into manageable parts by dividing the main problem into subproblems is of the utmost importance.

The statement of the problem involves the demarcation and formulation of the problem, ie the WHO/WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY. It usually includes the statement of the hypothesis.

Step.I: Problem Definition
the decision maker holds the initial responsibility of deciding that
there might be a need for the services of a researcher in addressing a recognized decision
problem or opportunity. Once brought into the situation, the researcher begins the problem
definition process by asking the decision maker to express his or her reasons for thinking
that there is a need to undertake research. Using this type of initial questioning procedure,
researchers can begin to develop insights as to what the decision maker believes to be the
problem. Having some basic idea of why research is needed focuses attention on the circumstances
surrounding the problem. The researcher can then present a line of questions
that can lead to establishing clarity between symptoms and actual causal factors. One
method that might be employed here is for researchers to familiarize the decision maker
with the iceberg principle
Iceberg principle
Principle that states that
only 10 % of most problems are visible to
decision makers, while the remaining 90 %
must be discovered through research.
Once the researcher understands the overall problem situation, he or she must work with
the decision maker to separate the root problems from the observable and measurable
symptoms that may have been initially perceived as being the decision problem. For example,
many times managers view declining sales or reduction in market share as problems.
After fully examining these issues, the researcher may see that they are the result of more
concise issues such as poor advertising execution, lack of sales force motivation, or even
poorly designed distribution networks. The challenge facing the researcher is one of clarifying
the real decision problem by separating out possible causes from symptoms. Is a
decline in sales truly the problem or merely a symptom of bad advertising practices, poor
retail choice, or ineffective sales management?
Once the decision problem at hand is understood and specific information requirements are
identified, the researcher must redefine the decision problem in more scientific terms.
A hypothesis is basically an unproven statement of a research question in a testable
Step.II: Set research objectives
Definition of Research Objectives
Marketing Research Objectives: the specific bits of knowledge that need to be gathered to close the information gaps highlighted in the research problem.
Stated in action terms
Serve as a standard to evaluate the quality and value of the research
Objectives should be specific and unambiguous
To measure the number of college freshmen at UAH
To assess viewer recall of our ad campaign
To describe the segments of the marketplace

Putting It All Together

Management Problem Expressed in Terms of Research Questions and Hypotheses
Situation: A small retail specialty store featuring men’s casual wear in Southern California was concerned
about its trends in low traffic and sales figures. Management was unclear about what the store’s retail
image was among consumers.
Should any of my current store/product/service/operation strategies be evaluated and possibly modified
to increase growth in the store’s revenue and market share indicators? Do merchandise quality, prices, and
service quality have an impact on customer satisfaction, in-store traffic patterns, and store loyalty images?
What are the shopping habits and purchasing patterns among people who buy men’s casual wear? That is,
Where do these people normally shop for quality men’s casual wear?
When (how often) do they go shopping for quality men’s casual wear?
What types of casual wear items do they like to shop for (purchase)?
Whom do they normally purchase men’s casual wear for?
How much (on average) do they spend on men’s casual wear?
What store/operation features do people deem important in selecting a retail store in which to shop for
men’s casual wear?
How do known customers evaluate the store’s performance on given store/operation features compared to
selected direct competitors’ features?
There is a positive relationship between quality of merchandise offered and store loyalty among customers.
Competitive prices have greater influence on generating in-store traffic patterns than do service quality features.
Unknowledgeable sales staff will negatively influence the satisfaction levels associated with customers’ instore
shopping experiences.
To collect specific attitudinal and behavioral data for identifying consumers’ shopping behavior,
preferences, and purchasing habits toward men’s casual wear.
To collect specified store/product/service/operation performance data for identifying the retailer’s
strengths and weaknesses which could serve as indicators for evaluating current marketing and
operational strategies.
To collect attitudinal data for assessing the retailer’s current overall image and reputation as a retail men’s
casual wear specialty store.

Management Problem
Placement office has noticed, while major companies make annual recruiting visits to campus for engineers, not many national or local companies are formally recruiting business majors through the placement office
Why? How do we address this?
Marketing Research Problems
Why are companies not taking advantage of the resources that the placement service offers? Are companies going around the service?
Are companies aware of the UAH placement service?
Are companies aware of the reputation of the UAH Business School?
What kind of things might generate more recruiting activity?
Marketing Research Objectives
To determine to what extent companies are aware of the UAH placement service
Determine whether companies, especially locals, are aware of the strong reputation of the UAH Business School
To determine whether a quarterly newsletter highlighting UAH business programs and students might generate more recruiting activity.

Another Example
Management Problem
What price should we charge for our new product?
Research Problem
What are our costs of production and marketing (COGS)?
What are our pricing objectives and position in the market?
What price does similar types of products sell for?
What is the perceived value of our product in the marketplace?
Are there any norms or conventional practices in the marketplace (e.g., customary prices, continual discounting)
Research Objectives
To assess the costs involved in producing and selling our product
To determine corporate objectives and their implications for pricing
To examine current prices for direct and indirect competition
To determine potential customer reaction to various prices and their perception of the benefits of owning the product

For the following management problems, identify the underlying research problems and a couple of research objectives.
  • “Should our retail chain offer online shopping?”
  • “What advertising media should we use to reach our market?”
  • “How do we get more people to attend our outdoor festival/event?”
  • “Should we build a new warehouse to store our excess inventory?”
  • How can we increase customer retention?”
  • “Should the amount of in-store promotion for an existing product line be increased?”
  • “Should the compensation package be changed to better motivate the sales force?”


The term Marketing research mix (or the "MR Mix") was created in 2004 and published in 2007 (Bradley - see references). It was designed as a framework to assist researchers to design or evaluate marketing research studies. The name was deliberately chosen to be similar to the Marketing Mix - it also has four Ps. Unlike the marketing mix these elements are sequential and they match the main phases that need to be followed. These four Ps are: Purpose; Population; Procedure and Publication.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Financial Side of Product Management

Product managers need to establish a framework of financial plans,
budgets and controls related to their products, services, and customers to be able to make sound decisions. The starting point is a foundation of financial and managerial accounting to better understand the profit contribution of their offerings so that decisions on product rationalization,
pricing, and product-line management can be made. From a broader
financial perspective, product managers should understand key ratios and concepts drawn from an understanding of financial statements.

General Cost Classifications

In manufactured product environments, there are two major cost classifications, manufacturing and nonmanufacturing, each of which has sub classifications.

Manufacturing costs include all those related to the transformation of raw materials into final products, including direct materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overhead.

  • Direct materials, such as wood in tables and steel in cars,
    become an integral part of the finished product and can
    be considered direct costs. Other materials, such as glue,
    may be more difficult to link to individual units of
    production and may be classified as indirect materials to
    be included in overhead.
  • Direct labor includes the labor directly traceable to the
    creation of products. Research and development, support staff
    time, and other labor not directly related to manufacturing
    are included in indirect labor.
  • Manufacturing overhead includes all costs of manufacturing,
    excluding the direct material and direct labor costs
    described above. Included in this category are items such
    as indirect material, indirect labor, heat, light, and depreciation.

Nonmanufacturing costs include the marketing, sales, administrative, and support costs unrelated to the production of products. These are typically included on the SG & A (selling, general, and administrative) expenses line of an income statement.

Historically, the nonmanufacturing costs have been less significant than the manufacturing costs for most products. However, the growth of services and the emergence of various technologies have reversed the relative weight of these costs in many companies.

  • Marketing and selling costs include advertising, shipping,
    sales commission, and salaries.
  • Administrative expenses include executive, organizational,
    and clerical salaries.

Both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing costs result from the
normal operation of a business. In addition, there may be other expenses, such as the purchase of an asset, that are charged to the income statement for the period, even though they are not operating expenses. These costs are presented in the simplified income statement on the next page. The cost of goods sold includes the direct material and labor as well as manufacturing overhead.

The data are frequently derived from standard costs and are a combination of fixed and variable expenses. (Standard costs are
predetermined cost amounts that represent what cost should be under the most efficient methods of operation; in other words, they are benchmarks for measuring performance.) Similarly, the overhead expenses (comprised of the nonmanufacturing or SG & A expenses) may be a combination of fixed and variable costs.
The income statement resulting from the above process of listing
costs provides a historical review of the results of operations. It does

not necessarily provide the information for planning and improving
the decision-making process of product management. To provide this type of information, it is necessary to distinguish between the variable and incremental costs associated with products to better understand their contributions to overhead and profit.

Concepts of Segmented Reporting Variable costs are those that vary in direct relation to the activity level.

If activity level doubles, variable costs double in total. This is true
because the cost per unit stays approximately constant over a relevant range of activity. Direct materials and direct labor are variable production costs, and sales commissions represent a variable sales expense.

In addition, there may be step-variable (similar to incremental or semi fixed ) costs. Setup time, seasonal labor, and similar activities related to the amount of business can be considered variable to that piece of business.

Fixed costs, on the other hand, do not change regardless of
changes in the level of activity. Since fixed costs remain constant in
total, the amount of cost per unit goes down as the number of units
increases. It is sometimes said that variable costs are the costs of doing business, whereas fixed costs are the costs of being in business.

Once costs have been separated into fixed and variable elements,
it is easier for product managers to determine the contribution of different products or customer segments. It is also easier for companies to evaluate the performance of several product managers. A comparison of a traditional income statement (using historical cost information) and a contribution income statement (separating fixed and variable costs) is shown in Figure 11.2.

Note that in Figure 11.2 the top line (sales revenue) and the bottom
line (net income) are the same using both approaches. However,
using the contribution margin approach it becomes clear that these
particular sales contribute $9,300 to fixed costs (prior to break-even) and profit (after break-even is achieved). (See Chapter 12 for a discussion of break-even analysis as it is applied to pricing decisions.) This concept of contribution reporting can be applied to business units, departments, product managers, product lines, customers, or similar units of analysis. When applied to these segments, direct costs and common costs must be understood.

Direct costs are those that can be identified directly with a particular
unit of analysis (i.e., product manager, product, customer, etc.) and that arise either because of the unit or because of the activity within it. Common costs are those that cannot be identified directly with any particular unit, but rather are identified in common with all units. The common costs (most likely fixed costs) cannot be allocated except through arbitrary means.

example, company revenues are $900,000, of which $500,000 come from Product Manager 1 and $400,000 come from Product Manager 2. They contribute $80,000 and $170,000, respectively, with $160,000 in overhead not allocated to either. The $400,000 revenue of Product Manager 2 comes from a standard model ($150,000) and a custom model ($250,000) contributing $70,000 and $140,000, respectively.

Product Manager 2 has $40,000 of fixed expenses not related
directly to either product. The custom product receives $180,000 from contractors and $70,000 from residential customers to generate its $250,000 in revenue. The segment contributions are shown without an arbitrary allocation of the $10,000 of fixed costs for the custom model which aren’t directly related to either customer group.

Cost Drivers

Before a product manager can price a product or evaluate a product
line, he or she must understand what the cost drivers are for the various products and customers. Some customers require additional expediting charges, others require special shipping and handling, while others expect free services. Each of these costs should be allocated to the particular product or customer to determine the true financial contribution.

Financial Statement Analysis

As suggested earlier, financial statements are historical documents indicating what happened during a particular period of time. This perspective helps a product manager judge past performance through the use of ratios. In addition, by comparing changes in the statements over time, it is possible to identify performance trends and use the information for subsequent decisions.

Investment Decisions

Directly or indirectly, product mangers may be involved in capital budgeting decisions in the preparation of investment proposals for new products, new markets, or new business ventures. The most common methods of evaluating different proposals are average rate of return, payback period, present value, and internal rate of return.
The average rate of return is the ratio of the average annual profits
to the investment in the project. Using this method, the product
manager prepares a forecast of the improvement in profit over a number of years from a given investment. The total profit is divided by the number of years to give an average annual profit, and this is then expressed either as a percentage of the original investment or as a percentage of the average investment per year. Assume the following stream of profits from, for example, a new product:

Year 1: $100,000
Year 2: $200,000
Year 3: $300,000 Average: $240,000
Year 4: $250,000
Year 5: $350,000
Total: $1,200,000


If the initial investment was $1 million, the average annual profit
would be the $240,000 as a percent of $1 million, or 24 percent. Alternatively, the $240,000 could be expressed as a percentage of the average investment for each of the five years. In either case, the rate would be compared to hurdles used by the company or to industry norms. The payback period is calculated by determining the length of time (number of years) it takes to recover an initial investment.

In the above example, the investment of $1 million is paid back during the fifth year. After four years, the cumulative profits are $850,000, with the remaining $150,000 being earned sometime during the final year. Here again, the payback as an absolute value is less important than looking at the relative values of different projects.

The present value (or net present value) refers to the value of future
cash inflows compared to the current outflow of the initial investment.


The internal rate of return is the interest rate that makes the present
value of all projected future cash flows equal to the initial outlay
for the investment. In other words, it is the rate that makes the net
present value (NPV) equal zero. The calculation is somewhat complex mathematically, and since it is a value that would be provided by your financial group, the definition should be sufficient for our purposes.


The next step of the new-product-development process, launch, results in the introduction of the product into the market. Decisions need to be made about timing (when to launch the product), geographic strategy, target market prospects, sales and customer service support, and final marketing strategy.


Timing can be a critical component of new-product success. If competitors might be (or are) entering the market, the product manager must decide whether to get there first, concurrently, or after the competition.

First entry usually provides an advantage, but if rushing results
in a flawed product, the result can be more damaging than good. Timing

an entry with competition can neutralize the competitor’s potential
first-mover advantage as well as possibly increase the potential market faster. Delaying an entry until after competition is in the market might make it possible to capitalize on competitive flaws as well as benefit from any competitive advertising that educates the market. Timing is also important if there are seasonal or cyclical aspects to a product, or if the introduction impacts the sales of existing products.


It is also necessary to make decisions on a geographic strategy. On
some occasions, a national launch is appropriate, but most new products start with a roll-out strategy. Prioritize the markets (e.g., regions, industries, or countries) and decide on an entry sequence.

For example, it might be desirable to first enter the most attractive markets in terms of size and dollar potential. Or it might be more desirable to enter markets where competition is weak, providing an ability to gain experience, exposure, and market position. In other situations, the selection of roll-out markets is based on different product applications, pipeline inventory in the markets, ability to gain distributor or retailer support, company reputation in the market, or a host of other factors.


Although the roll-out might appear similar to test marketing, it differs in a couple of important ways. First, in a test market the product manager targets regions that are representative of the final launch. This is not the case with a roll-out. The markets are selected based on their ability to provide an early cash flow or to gain commitment from an influential market needed for the continued roll-out. Second, the test market is a final test before the commercialization decision is made. The roll-out is the first step in commercialization after the decision is made.

As part of this geographic strategy, identify specific target market
prospects. This is particularly important in the business-to-business
market where clients/prospects can be listed by name. The more detail that can be provided here for the sales force, the greater the chances of encouraging them to sell the new product.

That leads right into sales support. Work closely with the sales force to provide them with information that will help them sell. Prepare “how to sell it” booklets that discuss customers (not target markets), applications (not features), and useful questions to ask on a sales call. Make sure that customer service stays in the loop with sufficient communication through internal newsletters, informal and formal meetings, and various announcements.

The last part is fine-tuning of the introductory marketing strategy.
This action plan details introductory pricing, base price, and option
pricing; press releases and product announcements; direct mail to select customers; shipping policies and procedures; channel and end-user communications; and training for the sales force and/or customers.

The sales training in particular should help salespeople sell the product rather than simply pitch the product.

The sales training that is part of the product launch should educate
and motivate the salespeople to sell your product. In other words, why should the salespeople believe the product will perform as claimed?

What motivation is there for them to sell it? For an existing product,
the best proof is past sales success. For new products, a bit more persuasion is necessary. Results from test marketing or beta testing, statements from sales managers or other salespeople indicating their success in a roll-out region, sales that you (as product manager) have personally made, or trade shows and lead generation programs in place can convince salespeople that the product is worth their time and effort to pursue. In addition, financial and nonfinancial motivators should be considered. Higher commissions, better bonuses, and desirable contests can work under the right circumstances.

Nonfinancial motivators could include customer input suggesting that less sales effort is necessary to be successful, the ability to sell the product along with another product with a minimal increase in selling time, or unquestionable proof of competitive superiority.
A portion of the training might also include a motivational explanation of the need for and use of market intelligence by product managers, and how providing this information can help the salespeople. A standard intelligence report form can be built into a call report, designed into the menu system on a computer, or included as part of the expense form. Because this information typically comes into sales management or sales administration, a process would need to be established to send a copy of relevant product-related data to the appropriate product manager.

  • The type of information useful for submission might include the following:
    • New-product announcements by competitors
    • Effective and ineffective approaches to selling a product
    • Changes in competitive strategies
    • Unusual product applications by customers, especially if
    they indicate a trend
    • Perspectives on market trends that might affect company


Project Evaluation

After (or during) the launch stage, some type of project appraisal should be completed. The main objectives of this stage are to improve future product development efforts and to move the product from a new product status to being an ongoing product requiring long-term maintenance.

There may also be a need on occasion to relaunch a product
that is not meeting expectations. The relaunch should be considered as early as possible, and hopefully will have been uncovered by the early indicators as discussed in the prelaunch section of this chapter. If the product is still an acceptable product, changes to the marketing strategy may need to be made to make it a success.


The prelaunch is the period prior to commercialization when the product manager verifies that all preparations have been made for the actual product introduction. During this stage, the product manager must identify all stakeholders and determine their information requirements.

Customer service needs to be prepared to handle inquiries and fulfill
orders. Technical support personnel may require specialized training.

The distribution channel may require advance warning of any unique
requirements of the product or service.

Also at this time, there may be a need to consider a market test or
a simulated market test to determine whether the strategy (not just the product) is ready for introduction. Various use tests already should have determined the viability of the product, but the tests might not have addressed the best way to go to market.

Test marketing helps assess whether the right price is being charged, whether the appropriate message is being communicated through advertising, and whether the proper distribution strategy is being employed. Of course, test marketing is expensive in terms of both money and time. Therefore, it should be undertaken only when the risk of not doing it is great.


For a typical test market, the product manager selects a geographic
area that is as representative of the product’s target market as possible and markets the product on a limited basis in that region. The key decisions to be made include how many test markets, which ones, and how long the tests should run. Most companies select two or three test markets that provide good representation of their target customers.

Good representation refers to assuring that critical demographic variables are dispersed in the target area in about the same proportion as exists in the total market area. The length of the test market will vary depending on the type of product. Some will require six to nine months, and others will need two years. The factor to consider is the length of the buying cycle, with the test market being at least as long as two buying cycles.5

Based on this information, a launch plan can be developed. The
launch documentation should contain three specific components: (1) a milestone activities chart, (2) the marketing strategy to support the
launch, and (3) an early indicator chart. (See Figure 10.7.) All of these guide the launch and early commercialization.

The milestone activities chart lists the desired dates of completion for significant activities such as purchasing equipment for the launch, finalizing package design, obtaining legal clearance, subcontracting specialized labor, and preparing the owner’s manual. Each of these may require several steps and may vary in importance depending on the project. Their potential impact on product success must be considered in assessing priority.

For example, electronic or high-tech consumer products require
clarity in technical documentation to be successful. Customers are increasingly seeking simplicity in a complicated world. However, as a recent Business Week article stated, “Plain English is a language
unknown in most of the manuals that are supposed to help us use electronic products.”6 The format of the milestone activities chart can vary from a simple list of activities and dates to more formal project schedule and control techniques like Gantt and PERT charts. (Refer to operations management or project management books for more details.)

The marketing strategy component of the launch materials details
the tactical components of the launch. Branding, packaging, pricing,
advertising, and all aspects of marketing are studied. As with the
annual product plan, the new-product marketing plan should start with an objective such as “Convert 25 percent of current customers to the product upgrade and obtain trial by an additional 25 percent.” The marketing tactics would then be put into place to accomplish this objective. A sample outline for this new-product marketing strategy is shown as Figure 10.8. Some companies include all or most of the listed components; others will need to be more selective.


Figure 10.8 The Supporting New-Product Marketing Plan

Line extensions might require only an abbreviated outline, whereas breakthrough products will need extensive marketing strategy plans.
As mentioned earlier in the chapter, a decision will need to be made
whether to price a product high initially to recover the development
costs or to price it low to gain market share faster.

Now you have more information than was available early in the process and you are able to fine-tune the pricing.

A number of factors affect this decision:

  • First, how likely is it that competitors will enter the market soon? The ability of competitors to enter the market will be based on the investment required to enter, the ease of entering, and their own strategies. The faster that competition is likely to enter, the more appropriate a penetration (low) price strategy.
  • Second, is there a large enough segment of customers willing to pay a high price for the product initially? Third, is the company, product, or service positioned appropriately for the
    price strategy being considered?
  • Finally, what are the payback period, “hurdle rates,” and return required by the company?

The final component of the launch documentation (after completing the milestone activities chart and the various event calendars and schedules from the marketing plan) is a calendar of early indicators of potential launch success. Early indicators refer to outcomes, such as the number of inquiries, that can help predict or provide early indicators of the level of launch success.

For example, history might indicate that thirty inquiries typically convert to one sale. In that case, tracking the number of inquiries could provide an early indicator of future sales. Other early indicators might include the number of sales calls made on the new product, the percentage of distributors willing to carry it, the awareness level of the market, the number of facings retailers give to the product, and so on.

After identifying the early indicators, the next step is to set time-based (e.g., weekly, monthly) goals to achieve for each. The early indicator chart, then, lists the outcomes expected by the end of designated time periods (e.g., each month), enabling the product manager to compare actual against expected performance without waiting for final sales data.


With launch documentation prepared, the product is ready to move
to the launch phase. It’s worth noting that sales training may sometimes be required during the prelaunch phase (perhaps six to nine months prior to the official launch). The information on sales training is presented in the next section covering the launch stage.