As a result, the market itself is very fickle and although this target market has a very strong participation rate, it is a very volatile and price sensitive market. There are several problems with this target market that Autosafe will be challenged by in promoting their product. The most important is in the product specific nature of this consumer base. Consumers within the target market are extremely aware of the "luxury" nature of this safety product, and therefore are extremely sensitive to design as well as price. This implies that Autosafe must be both the winner within the design and price category in order to become a competitive force within this niche market. Target consumers are looking for a design that is ideally suited for their children, but that is also low maintenance in installation and use. There are several products already on the market that features such a design such as the Buckle Buddy discussed in the last section; however Autosafe enjoys a unique technology advantage in its product as it guarantees the perfect fit of their product.
Although its price is relatively expensive compared to certain other products, it is medium ranged compared with high end products within the market. It is inevitable that within this target market, a price war will ensue and therefore Autosafe must be prepared to lower its price to become more competitive.
One of the primary concerns within this target market is that market positions are constantly weakening due to increased competition. This is especially true within the past year due to the influx of Chinese manufactured products that has flooded the worldwide market. Since Chinese and other Asian manufacturers are able to produce such products with significantly lower cost, they will always out compete on cost. They are currently flooding the market with products that are at least half if not more discounted than mainstream brands. This dramatically impacts the positioning of Autosafe within the target market. While before it could have positioned itself as a low cost provider of children's seatbelt adjusters, its product now must be positioned as a technologically superior and brand superior product to Chinese imitators. Since it can no longer compete on price effectively as long as Asian manufacturers develop a strong presence within the market, it can still retain a strong market share if they adapt their position to a quality-based position. There are several challenges to this, the most important concern being that such a position could very well backfire on Autosafe since its technology is not significantly superior in quality to many other products on the market. Despite these challenges, Autosafe's primary advantage is that it has entered the market at a time when demand is high due to safety concerns and government regulations; as a result it must create an immediate brand for itself as a quality leader. Since safety products are products that centers upon the concept of perfect usage, consumers will be much more attracted to products that guarantees product usage than superior price.
The competitive landscape within this target market is increasing because of social and political factors. However, the expansion of the competitive landscape has been overshadowed by an increase in demand for such products on the market. The key for Autosafe is to position itself as a recognized brand leader because the slew of foreign and domestic competition can begin a price war rather than quality war.
Marketing communications becomes one of the central concerns for Autosafe and other industry players in an attempt to gain a dominance of the market share. The marketing strategy of current players within the target market is decentralized and at times highly ineffective. Since this is a niche product, marketing ploys are traditionally grassroots rather than full marketing initiatives. However, with a product market where differentiation is not substantial, it is imperative that market communications be performed at an optimal level with limited resources.
The preferred method of most competitors within the market is to use retail marketing rather than direct marketing. One such example is the LooPo Seatbelt Adjuster. This product has been on the market for three years and it's primarily-based within the United States, although it now has a European office attempting to gain greater market share. The product depends on agreements with retail giants such as Wal-Mart and Price-Cut to stock and promote their products. This strategy is effective in the sense that LooPo increases its exposure to a wider selection of consumers because they are credited with the legitimacy of large retailers. At the same time however, it leaves itself with a low selling point since it must compete with other retailed products that are similar in design and features. As such, LooPoo is forced to brand itself as a convenient and cheap consumer product that competes with similar products on price (in this case 7.95 for two units).
Branding becomes particularly important for competitors within this space because the competitive landscape is geared towards similar products. Seat Belt Adjuster ™ for instance is a product that relies on strong branding in order to create product differentiation. It uses a unique packaging as well as product design to lure users to their specific product. Since its name is so extremely well trademarked they attempt to defend their market niche by branding themselves as the product leader within their industry. This is a strategy that Autosafe must also adopt if it wishes to affectively hold firm to their market share.
Another strong market communications technique is the use of the internet. Since such products are highly specific niche products, the use of the internet as a medium for advertisement is ideal. This is a low cost option that will allow such companies to maintain a relatively professional branding without the necessary requirements of on-site store fronts. It also allows them to take advantage of modern search technology to affectively isolate consumers who are looking for similar products. Some competitors such as Seat Belt Adjust ™ has chosen to leverage existing online consumer hotbeds such as Amazon.com to market their product. Using the internet medium is an important vehicle towards the success of such a product because it allows users to see the full array of a product without having to spend heavily on marketing.
Market communications becomes one of the most crucial elements towards competing successfully and gaining market share. Autosafe is competing within a market where product differentiation is relatively difficult because products accomplish a similar purpose. The most effective and meaningful way for them to differentiate themselves is to create an extremely strong branding campaign that will allow them to be viewed as the quality leader within the industry. If they accomplish this goal they have an increased probability of increasing their foothold within an ever expanding market.
New Seat Belt and Child Restraints Rules Announced." AutoIndustry. 29 Jan. 2007