Marketing Analysis Strategies and Techniques Keeping Products Essay

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Marketing Analysis Strategies and Techniques

Keeping products and services relevant to the rapidly changing needs of prospects and customers is a daunting task. The need for keeping products accurately positioned as customers' needs change, continually evaluating and fine-tuning competitive position, monitoring and evaluating customer perceptions are all critical for creating a cohesive strategic marketing plan (Silverblatt, Korgaonkar, 1987). Distribution channels also must be continually evaluated and analyzed as to their effectiveness in serving customers and delivering profitable operations to a company as well. The intent of this analysis is to identify the different types of analysis used by marketers to determine product positioning, competitive position, customer perceptions, and distribution channel analysis.

Product Positioning

The essence of effective product positioning strategies take into account the value delivered by a company with its products and services, how they differ from direct competitors and substitutes, while taking into account the motivations and unmet needs of customers (Zhang, Jiao, 2005). Of the many types of analysis used for completing product positioning, the most common is the use of unmet needs analysis of prospects and customers (Zhang, Jiao, 2005). Unmet needs analysis can tell a company quickly how relevant they are or not to their prospects and customers, which direct competitors they are considering, and which substitutes exist as well.

The advantages of unmet needs analysis through primary research include getting an immediate and very clear idea of what prospects' and customers' needs are, being able to capture the prioritization of features that most contribute to product positioning, and insight into how prospects and customers make trade-offs of one product to another (Zhang, Jiao, 2005). The disadvantages of this technique for determining product positioning include the cost of primary research, the elapsed time required to complete the study, complexity of sampling and the execution of surveys themselves, and the potential for lost competitive advantage in the event competing companies discover the study in progress (Zhang, Jiao, 2005). Despite these limitations however, unmet needs analysis is one of the most prevalently used approaches to creating a product positioning strategy. There are many other approaches that are predicated on secondary research including the definition of market maps and other conceptual diagrams. Studies indicate that empirically-based data are superior in predicting product positioning more effectively however.

Competitive Positioning

Like product positioning, there are a myriad of approaches and methodologies for completing competitive positioning. The standardized matrix or comparison table of features and benefits that is based on analysis of secondary research sources including websites, published competitive data and interviews with resellers and retailers are commonly found in strategic marketing plans (Silverblatt, Korgaonkar, 1987). The use of these competitive matrices are pervasive throughout many marketing plans, strategic planning documents and are also used intensively in sales trainings across a very wide breadth of companies as well (Frambach, 1997).

While secondary research is very common in the competitive positioning practices of literally millions of companies globally, a by far more effective approach is to seek out the perceptions and values of prospects and customers first (Boote, 1981). The best approach to gain valuable insights about competitive insights is to complete primary research where a given product is evaluated or a taste test is completed for consumer products for example. An example of this could also be the "drive days" that auto manufacturers like to do with their models before they are launched in key markets. From the taste tests to the drive days in the auto industry, the concept is the same: getting prospects and customers to actually experience the product or service and rank order its value relative to competitors. This approach to attitudinal research also takes into account the psychographic or group-based identity consumers often assign to themselves (Thompson, Kaminski, 1993).

The strengths of attitudinal studies are the precision of how competitors are rank-ordered in terms of their value, the ability to see where competitors have significant "gaps" in their performance in areas important to prospects, and which areas of a given product strategy are working and have potential relative to competitors and which are facing commoditization (Lowengart, Menipaz, 2001). Another…

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References

Becerra, E.P. & Korgaonkar, P.K. 2011, "Effects of trust beliefs on consumers online intentions," European Journal of Marketing, vol. 45, no. 6, pp. 936-962.

Boote, A.S. (1981). Market segmentation by personal values and salient product attributes. Journal of Advertising Research, 21(1), 29-29.

Dimitriadis, S., Kouremenos, A., & Kyrezis, N. (2011). Trust-based segmentation. The International Journal of Bank Marketing, 29(1), 5-31.

Frambach, R.T. (1997). Competitive positioning: The key to market success. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 14(1), 92-95.

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