"Given such preferential consumer demand, most chocolate production is done within the country" (Hui-lin et al., 2001, p. 3).
Technological. Fuji Oil, Nestle and Mars are the only three companies among the top ten chocolate assignees with patents in all relevant patent classes as shown in Table 4 below.
Mars Incorporated Patent Classes: Top Chocolate Technologies and Subtechnologies.
Source: Hui-Lin et al., 2001, p. 8.
With 5 patents each in class A23G 1/18 (Apparatus for conditioning chocolate masses for molding,) Mars, and Carle & Montanari S.p.A. enjoy equal standing; this class is currently dominated by just four competitors, and covers apparatus for conditioning chocolate masses for molding. The other two companies are Meiji and Procter & Gamble with 3 and 2 patents respectively (Hui-lin et al., 2001). Among the top ten patent assignees, Mars and Meiji, having patents in nine of out the top ten technologies in chocolate manufacturing, are the best covered (Hui-lin et al., 2001). These authors maintain that the secret to successful technology planning for Mars and its competitor lies in patent mapping. "Patent Mapping assists in assessing the technological capability of an organization. It serves as a critical starting point for in-depth researches. It also serves as a novel analytical tool for SWOT, Porter's 5 Forces model and the likes. Each patent map reveals a unique aspect of any given technology" (Hui-Lin et al., 2001, p. 6).
When taken in combination, such maps provide policymakers with a powerful analytical tool that can help them better:
Understand the overall state of a technological field
Identify technological activities, pace and trends
Recognize licensing opportunities
Understand characteristics of potential collaborator or competitor
Visualize various paths for development (Hui-Lin et al., 2001).
Legal. None identified.
Environmental. The company is well-known for its proactive stance towards environmental issues, particularly those that may affect its own bottom line. For example, in response to recent cocoa crop failures, the company began working with the Smithsonian Institution to organize the First International Workshop on Sustainable Cocoa Farming (Mars: Cocoa sustainability, 2006). The workshop was held in Panama in 1998 and featured a select group of ornithologists, plant scientists, environmental advocates and chocolate industry scientists that advocated the ideal that cocoa grown within a biologically diverse and environmentally sustainable agricultural system is capable of providing long-term economic, social, and environmental benefits to the millions of smallholder farmers who are uniquely suited to cultivate cocoa (Mars: Cocoa sustainability, 2006). The consensus statement developed at the conference remain in effect to guide efforts by Mars, as well as other members of the chocolate industry, to overcome the challenges facing the cocoa farmers and to better realize the many benefits of the crop; to this end, the principles adopted at the Panama Conference stipulate that a sustainable, biologically diverse system of growing cocoa will:
Be based on cocoa grown under a diverse shade canopy in a manner that sustains as much biological diversity as is consistent with economically viable yields of cocoa and other products for farmers.
Use constructive partnerships that involve all stakeholders with special emphasis on small farmers.
Build effective policy frameworks to support these partnerships and address the particular needs of small farmers for generations to come.
Encourage future cocoa production that rehabilitates agricultural lands and forms part of a strategy to preserve remnant forests and develop habitat corridors.
Maximize the judicious use of biological control techniques for integrated management of pests, disease, and other low input management systems.
In sum, the company states that, "The principles developed at the conference continue to guide efforts by Mars and our industry partners. Mars continues to be a leader in cocoa sustainability research" (Mars: Cocoa sustainability, 2006, p. 3).
In contrast to the external factors that can affect a company's performance, the purpose of a SWOT analysis is to isolate key issues and to facilitate a strategic approach in terms of both internal and external factors. The SWOT analysis is used to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to the situation. For this purpose, strengths are positive aspects internal to the entity; weaknesses are negative aspects internal to the entity; opportunities are positive aspects external to the entity and possible threats are negative aspects external to the entity (Morrison, 2003) and these areas are applied to Mars below.
Strong brand name recognition among the new candy bar's targeted market.
Efficient domestic and international supply chain already in place.
Competent corporate leadership.
The two brothers (John Franklyn Mars and Forrest Edward Mars) and their sister (Jacqueline Badger Mars) are among the richest people in the world, but they are not getting any younger. According to a list maintained by Forbes Magazine, the siblings are tied for number 21 in the list of the world's richest for 2003 and each of them has a net worth of around $10 billion (Anderson, 2004). Overall, their family accumulated fortune places them in the same company as the likes of Bill Gates and approaches $30 billion. According to Anderson, "This figure exceeds the annual gross national product of many countries. This company is secretive. Because it is a privately held company and none of its shares are publicly traded on a stock exchange, it is not required to disclose information about its operations to the general public" (Anderson, 2004, p. 37).
For example, unlike its publicly held competitors, Mars Incorporated does not issue an expensively printed annual report containing its financial statements as well as "photos of happy and smiling shareholders, customers, and workers" (Anderson, 2004, p. 37). Undoubtedly, the company provides relevant financial information to the tax authorities as required by law in the various countries in which it operates and it may also provide financial information to its creditors such as banks so that they will loan the company money; however, this author notes that he does not have any of knowing whether it actually has borrowed any money in recent years because of the paucity of available data about the company (Anderson, 2004).
The company also clearly complies with relevant laws and regulations concerning the treatment of its workers, health and safety of its products, and protection of the environment; based on its current human resources record, the company must also pay competitive salaries and treat its workers well or else it would not be able to attract 30,000 capable and motivated workers and managers that make it a successful company (Anderson, 2004). Notwithstanding these clearly legitimate approaches to doing business, Anderson cautions that these types of companies are being increasingly viewed with suspicion abroad, and their success may backfire on them in some situations in the future:
The two brothers and their sister cannot expect to run such a large company without qualified help. Though this company is certainly unusual compared with other large international companies, is there anything wrong or bad about how the company chooses to organize itself and operate? This type of family-owned company is common in most poor countries. When one reads much of the criticism today about large companies, particularly international, closely held, and family-owned companies, this criticism seems to apply to Mars, Incorporated (Anderson, 2004, p. 38).
The increasingly vocal critics of such enterprises argue that Mars should focus on such objectives as fairness, transparency, accountability, and social responsibility besides - or even instead of - the company's traditional emphasis on maximizing profits. According to Anderson, "These critics might complain that the Mars company fails to achieve any of these objectives except maximizing profits. It is owned entirely by a powerful, rich family, which these critics would regard as unfair. Ordinary people are not allowed to own any shares in the company or influence its operations. If all companies had this type of ownership, stock markets would cease to exist because they exist primarily to allow small investors to trade their shares" (2004, p. 38).
Increased exposure through carefully administered positioning.
Rapidly aging "baby boomer" generation means there will be more of the older targeted population in coming years.
Many consumers are becoming more health conscious about the snackfoods they consume, and a healthy alternative to existing brands might be perceived as a viable option.
The company competes on a global basis and is therefore vulnerable to unforeseen disruptive events such as terrorist attacks on Western interests abroad.
III. Review of Advertising.
The importance of investigating the relationship between consumer and consumption is emphasized by Obelkevich (1991) who concludes that, "The Mars Bar, rightly understood, has more to teach us than Baudrillard," (p. 4). Although the company has a long history of aggressively advertising its products through a wide range of media, it does not maintain a public relations office to promote its public image by issuing press releases or holding press conferences emphasizing the wide range of environmental initiatives that it supports (Anderson, 2004).
IV. Review of Consumer (Segmentation - Targeting - Positioning).