"Serving small rather than large customers or densely rather than sparsely situated customers are other examples in which the best way to configure marketing, order processing, logistics, and after-sale service activities to meet the similar needs of distinct groups will often differ" (Porter, 1996, p.67).
But choosing a unique position, however, is not enough to guarantee a sustainable advantage. A competitor can reposition itself to match a superior performer by copycatting, like J.P. Penny did with Sears, or straddle customer segments in its marketing strategy" to match the benefits of a successful position while maintaining its existing position" like a luxury line offering a value line (such as Continental Airlines offering 'Continental Lite' (Porter, 1996, p.67). But there are always trade-offs, as straddling can create inconsistencies in image or reputation, dilute finite resources like labor and capital, and also from limits on internal coordination and control (Porter, 1996, p.67).
Porter's analysis remains useful to modern marketers because it stresses that an effective marketing campaign cannot merely be effective in the abstract, rather it must take into consideration the needs of the customer and also what rivals are providing the customer. Porter's...
Ferrell and Michael Hartline might call branding strategy, or communicating effectively to the consumer what is unique about one's product line. Difference is key -- one is not merely 'cheap' but the 'cheapest' or the 'cheapest at the highest quality' on the market.
However, Porter's wisdom is not always directly conveyed in product marketing. For example, Jiffy Lube stresses speed and quality of service in its commercials, but it always is careful to remind the viewer how inexpensive the product is, in comparison (by implication) to getting one's oil changed at a standard repair shop. Ikea may use striking and innovative ads to grab consumer's attention, but it too is careful to note how inexpensive the price of its furniture is, as well as its attractiveness or durability. It also is a reminder to marketers that no matter how good the marketing idea, must still take into consideration operational efficacy, when straddling marketing strategies, for fear of diluting a strong brand name or reputation or simply taxing a company's finite economic resources.
Ferrell, O.E. & Michael Hartline. Marketing Strategy. 4th Edition. Mason, OH: Thomas Learning/
Southwestern College Publishing,…
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