SWOT analysis is Merrythought's four core business areas including human resource, finance, operations, and marketing, by looking at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These are indicated in the table below.
Merrythought is an established and recognized name in the UK,
Established brand as quintessential English teddy bear,
Strong local market from departmental stores and independent retailers,
Niche market from up-market client base,
Half of their consumers are collectors who pay premium for teddy bears,
employee Workforce skilled in the manual and traditional teddy bear manufacturing methods,
Stabilization of fortunes in decades since the downturn in the 1990s,
Increase in revenue from annual improvements from strong exports and Olympic games
No product differential strategies as Merrythought only designs and produces teddy bears,
Company has focused on the British niche and up-market clientele,
It's a product led company surviving on producing and designing,
Slow and poor production processes from Victorian style factory, old manual machines, and slow new recruits,
New recruits take two years to reach required standards,
Cost of Repairs to factory do not produce ROI,
High overheads from labor intensive production,
Expensive in house training,
Inexperienced and young new management, for an employee-based used to older-male managers,
Difficult to find skilled labors in the industry,
New markets from strong exports to Japan and demand for dual-branded bears locally,
Potential new market from visitors to the old factory,
Growing demand and new markets overseas,
Overhaul of marketing strategies and use of e-commerce methods like company website to reach a wider market
Web-based marketing cuts back on supply chain costs like distribution as they will sell directly to customers,
Modernization will increase production, lower production costs,
In house training to increase skill and speed of new recruits,
Sarah is a former public relations and recruitment consultant who brings to the business skills in customer, employee, and external environment relations, hiring, recruitment, and training skills.
Cheap bears from off-shore factories and foreign companies,
Competitors have modernized production operations
Slow economic recovery from economic downturn
Few if any skilled and experienced workforce in the market in bear making,
The table indicates the main areas Merrythought needs to strengthen to improve production, sales, and profit margin. The company needs to take advantage of the ready new markets like Japan, the high local demand for dual-branded teddy bears, the collectors online, and the high-end niche upper market. This also entails maximizing the company's name and teddy bear's brand name, and their web site to defend their market share and maintain the increase in revenues realized in the past year. These will provided higher sales and profits, which can be used to overcome weaknesses and challenges like in-house training, modernization of production, and overhaul of marketing strategies. The skills brought to the company by the two daughter's and the strengths and opportunities will assist the company in reducing its overhead costs, train a fast workforce, and realize higher returns on investments.
b) Organizational culture
A factor influencing organizational culture is the masculinity/femininity concept from Hofstede theory (Zabid, Sambasivan, & Azmawani, 2004). The new manager will face challenges since the factory workforce was used to a male dominated older management system for many decades. Moreover, the UK society is highly masculine with higher masculine values depicting traditional masculine qualities. A second factor is the training of recruits on stuffing techniques to reach production speeds of experienced employees. In the organization, a new recruit is considered skilled if they can meet production levels similar to the experienced employees. Thirdly, the company and workforce practices and behavior are under the influence of the new vision for an overhaul of marketing strategies by the new leadership. This means as the new leadership tries to improve the business, the workforce is driven to operate on practices and behaviors that are visionary. Fourthly, the company is founded on a tradition and history of design and production that is labor intensive, and calls for skilled and hardworking employees. The culture of the company is founded on a tradition of values with their roots in traditional, cottage-style production processes, where employees stuff teddy bears by hand. Fifthly, the company is traditionally a manufacturer of teddy bears, which have been embraced by the British market as an icon. The teddy bear is accepted as a "The British Bear," with consumers from high-end and premium buyers, as well as collectors. This is one of the measures of the business performance, for Merrythought evaluates it annual success on the number of bears and the amount of revenue. Overall, organizational behavior is directed by the value, of a traditional British company, a heritage of the community, and the quintessential English Teddy bear.
a) Gathering Market information
To obtain accurate and adequate information of the existing and potential market segments, Merrythought needs to make use of internal records, marketing intelligence, and marketing research. I would recommend internal records since it would provide statistical analysis and a base for forecasting and projections. Internal records can map out the demographics of collectors, sales to Japan, and souvenir buyers from departmental and specialty stores. Internal records will reveal buying trends, preferences, and tastes, price range of the three market segments. This information forms the background for making statistical analysis and making projections for future market behavior. The second method entails marketing intelligence. For Merrythought, marketing intelligence is the feedback they receive from clients and sales team on the ground and online. This also includes information about the market from their employees, friends and colleagues of their father, newspapers, articles, and government or business agency reports. These provide up-to-date information on changing marking forces, consumer behavior, culture, preferences, and economic forces affecting the market. The third method, entails carrying out a market research to affirm the information obtained from the two methods. Market research entails identifying the three market groups, selecting a sample population, selecting the research instrument, and analyzing the data. For Merrythought, its target population is collections half of whom buy online, consumers of souvenirs, and the Japanese market. Given the geographic disbursement of the population, the company can post questionnaires and use an online survey. This research will be seeking information from the sample population on current tastes and preferences for toys and teddy bears and pricing range. They test the number of times they buy toys to determine frequency, and cultural events or factors that promote the sale of teddy bears in any given year.
b) To communicate with collectors, Merrythought needs to create first awareness using public relations. The company can gain useful tips on effective public relations from Sarah, who was a former public relations consultant. Public relations message on the company and the type of bears they make, will target media collectors often use like the internet and vintage fairs. Other potential sites to place the messages are through magazines, social media networks, and the teddy bear convention. After the collectors show interest by visiting the factory, contacting the company, or visiting the company website. The company can heighten this interest with advertisement messages of the old and new collections of teddy bears and their prices. These messages must take advantage of the social networks and online sources for most collectors shop through these media. Interest in collectors is accentuated with personal selling strategy. This is for those collectors that visit the factory, contact the company, or visit the company's website. Personal selling will use messages with details of the company history, the manufacture method, and age of the teddy bears, and the quality assurance. Thirdly, involves the creation of a desire for the teddy bears through promotional strategies and focused advertisements (Kaur, & Sharma, 2009). A sales promotional strategy suitable for this market segment is product-based methods, where the company offers a discount price on the second purchase of a teddy bear. Focused advertisement involves competitive advertising, which distinguishes the Merrythought's teddy bear from other teddy bears in the market. This also accompanies the selling of the company's image as a leading and well-established manufacturer of novelty teddy bears that represent the image of Britain, to appeal to the novelty side of collectors. Advertisement message must focus on the company's brand name, its year of establishment, famous teddy bears sold since its establishment, and the current teddy bear trending in the market. The goal of the advertising is to appeal to consumers that collect toys (Kaur, & Sharma, 2009). In this manner, the company through this focused advertisement will attract teddy bear collectors and other toy collectors to its teddy bears. This then leads to the action stage of the marketing communication strategy. In this stage, the company creates the advertisement, promotional, media messages, images, and slogans for each communication step. The company also prepares the packages teddy bears as novelty items for the collectors.
c) The first pressing human resource challenge is the influencing of current organizational behavior, especially in employees to accept Sarah and Hannah as leaders, managers, and embrace their visions.…