INTRODUCTION TO MARKETING ACTIVITIES
Marketing is one of the important functions of organizations which helps the business firms in enhancing their business activities in terms of sales revenue, customer market share and branding of products in the market (Chernev, 2006). The present report is made to develop the understanding that is related to marketing activities which are undertaken in the blue chip companies like Sony Corporation. While working in Sony Corporation, significant knowledge related to marketing activities were acquired which will be presented or penned down in the present report in a systematic manner. With the help of this report, a reader or user will be able to comprehend a significant amount of learning about the way in which marketing planning and activities are carried out in Sony Corporation as well as in other related firms. In the report, it is explained about the way in which marketing auditing is done. In addition, the tools and techniques which are used for the new product development will also be explicated in a defined manner.
1.1 Changing perspectives in marketing planning
In the contemporary time, the change in needs and desires of buyers are leading to alteration in the perspectives related to marketing planning. In recent time, business organizations like Sony Corporation gives significant emphasis on doing appropriate marketing planning in order to reap the important advantages from the market (Fernández, Cala and Domecq, 2011). Each and every firm is now attempting to come up with some innovative products or services in order to attract the customer attention at large. In earlier times, business organizations were giving emphasis on traditional marketing concept which was related to selling and production function however the perspective related to marketing planning in present time is changed completely. Now, the firms like Sony Corporation adopts 4P's and 7P's of marketing for successful undertaking of marketing of their products in larger extent (Mason, 2007). In 4P's of marketing, Sony Corporation makes careful planning which is related to product development or product mix, promotional activities, place of selling of products and pricing strategy for the products in order to get maximum benefits from the market. In addition to this, marketing department of the firm also gives focus on developing brand of the product and on doing best packaging of the products to make product differentiation in the highly competitive environment. While working in Sony Corporation, it was experienced that business organizations of contemporary time are using plan of action called Push vs. Pull marketing strategy (Nicholas and et.al., 2003). The concept of this strategy is to push the products in the market by pulling the customer attention through undertaking unique or differentiated marketing mix activities which includes products, price, place and promotional activities.
1.2 Analyzing Sony Corporation's capability for planning its future marketing activities
The capability of Sony Corporation for planning its future marketing activities can be successfully analyzed by doing SWOT analysis of the firm. The SWOT analysis technique is widely used in business organizations for the assessment of internal capabilities for undertaking of a task or marketing activities (Intrieri, 2013). Similarly, the same tool will be applied here in order to evaluate the internal capabilities of Sony Corporation for planning of its future marketing activities. The findings which are deduced by applying SWOT analysis on Sony Corporation are detailed with respect to Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats which are as follows:
Strengths of Sony Corporation:
- The company is established as a well branded electronics firm in the industry.
- The company is also coming with innovative and best Smartphones in the industry to fulfil the needs and desires of customers (Wise and Sirohi, 2005).
- Sony Corporation has tight hold over video games and laptops market.
- Company has the best competent staff in marketing, production and operation as well as research and development department which is giving best efforts in the achievement of company's goals and objectives.
Weaknesses of Sony Corporation:
- The company has not been able to create sound revenue and profits from its mobile manufacturing business division.
- Continuous decrement in income and profits of the firm results in less investment in research and development activities.
- Company has recorded huge losses for its personal computer products in which it had made divestment at last.
Opportunities for Sony Corporation:
- The electronic segment is seeing with huge growth in smartphones and imaging (Cameras) products (Vining, 2011).
- Company is able to develop good image in the market which can be enriched more prolifically by developing new technological products in a continuous manner.
- Company should also offer range of Phablets and Tablets as the demand for these products is also surmounting in the market.
Threats to Sony Corporation:
- The fundamental threat which the firm perceive is stiff competition in the industry.
- Quick change in perception and buying behaviour of consumers.
- Direct impact of competitor's strategy on the sales revenue and customer market share.
- Increasing availability of low price substitute products in the industry.
The following resources will be required by Sony to achieve its future objectives –
Technology – Sony will be required to deploy latest technological equipments to develop new products and services that it can sell successfully in the market and earn higher profit margin.
Human resources – it is also important of the brand to hire experienced and professionals to who will contribute with their skills and knowledge in the achievement of goals.
Finances – Sony will also be required to identify potential financial sources to fund new project requirements.
Examining techniques for new product development
In business organization, when a new product is developed or decision related to new product development is made then different tools and techniques are used to ensure the product that would prove to be a success for the organization (Strategic Analysis Tools, 2007). The techniques which are most commonly used in Sony Corporation for new product development are detailed underneath-
SWOT Analysis Technique- In Sony Corporation, production and marketing managers adopts SWOT Analysis technique whenever any decision related to new product development is made by the top management. In SWOT analysis, assigned managers evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to the new product development (Intrieri, 2013). Once the SWOT analysis is made, they assess the viability of new products. The final decision related to product development is made when the product will have high number of strengths and opportunities as compared to weaknesses and threats.
Brainstorming Sessions- The other interesting thing which was found at the time of working in Sony Corporation is that the adequate brainstorming sessions are conducted for the new product development. In this brainstorming session, different things related to the new product development are discussed between the departments of product development, creative and marketing division and production department of the firm (Vining, 2011). The things which are most commonly discussed in these brainstorming sessions are design and costing of the product, total requirement of inputs, product life cycle, customer responses and competitors strategy etc (Raghavan, 2011).
The new product development approaches are as follows –
- Existing industry sources – Sony can develop similar products with the industry peers and leaders.
- Consulting – it can also take the help of the consulting firms to generate new product ideas.
- Brainstorming – it can ask its employees to provide new product development ideas,
- Internal research - an internal research team can be deployed to search and test new product and service development.
Marketing Plan of Sony Corporation for its new product Sony A1 Series Phablets
3.1 Marketing plan for new product
By seeing the increasing demand or sales of Phablets in the global market, Sony Corporation decided to introduce new Phablets with the name A series (A1, A2, A3, A4) in the market. These A series of Phablets will meet the customer expectations related to gaming functions and controlling, smooth functioning, high definition camera and 3G & 4G data network accessibility. Company introduced these series by classifying the targeted customers on the basis of demographic (income level) and behavioral (Business people). The detailed marketing plan about the product is explained underneath-
Market segmentation- In order to decide the target market for product, the market for the offering is segmented on the basis of demographic profiles of consumers and behavioral aspects of them (Kemmer and Boden, 2012). In addition, the market is segmented on the basis of income (demographics segmentation) and usage rate by business people (behavioral segmentation). The A4 model is exclusively for business people whereas A1, A2 and A3 is for upper middle and high upper income class consumers.
Targeting- In order to communicate the actual information about different products to the targeted consumers, differentiated marketing strategy will be followed for each product so that no ambiguity would arise in the minds of consumers (Kapur, 2009). The other reason of selecting this targeting strategy is that company has developed products for different types of consumers.
Positioning- Positioning means developing an image of product in the minds of customers. The company will make positioning of A series Phablets as the best easy functioning mobile that can be used as a computing and communicating device.
Product mix- At present, the company has decided to offer 4 products in the market with different designs, internal memory space and camera specification (Fernández, Cala and Domecq, 2011). A1 and A4 Phablets will be having all high end features.
Place of selling of products- The products will be sold through online as well as from retail stores of the firm. In addition, the products will also be made available for sales on third party based on online and offline stores too (Harker, 2009).
Promotional activities to be carried out- The products will be marketed or promoted by using the mediums such as TV, digital Billboards, Billboards, Magazines, Blogs, Reviews on TV media websites, third party websites, SEM and SEO along with Youtube.
Pricing Strategy of products- The pricing of all products will be determined on the basis of technological features, competitors pricing strategy and design. The prices of A1 Phablets will be high as compared to A2, A3 and A4 products.
- Mission – to provide most innovative products range to achieve highest customer satisfaction.
- Vision – to become the world leader in Phablet.
- Strategies – to launch the product with innovative features.
- Objectives – it aims to launch the product in selected market for the initial time. In the next one year the Phablet will be available around the world.
3.4 Justifying recommendations for pricing policy, distribution channels and communication mix
In the above paragraph, the marketing plan is prepared by considering all the factors and aspects that are related to marketing mix of the particular product or segment. This can be properly understood from the forth coming paragraph. The pricing strategy of A series Phablets are decided by analysing the market demand, availability of products, competitors strategy, prevailing threat in the market related to entry of new firms and cost of producing the product (Dasgupta, 2014). Further, prices are decided on the basis of technology which is used in the products. For example; the price of A1 Phablets will be high as compared to A2 and A3 and A4 as it will be having all highest specifications and features.
The distribution channel's strategy is selected by seeing the present scenario where it is essential for the firms to have presence or stores on both offline and online retail segment in order to increase the customer market share and business revenue. Alliance with third party online firms will also be done for marketing and selling of products. On the other hand, identified communication or promotion activities is selected by seeing the competitor's strategy in the prevailing market situation (Cooper, 2000).
3.5 The way the factors which affects the effective implementation of the marketing plan
During the preparation of marketing plan, various factors were identified which affects the successful implementation of marketing plan. These factors are effectively eliminated by adopting right actions and practices. The factors which are identified and the way they are eliminated are explained in underneath points-
Financial resources- During the preparation of marketing plan, it was anticipated that issues and challenges related to unavailability of financial resources will arise but it can be successfully overcome by making standard budget for the marketing activities (Chernev, 2006).
Selection of right communication channel- The other big challenge which was encountered at the time of preparation of marketing plan was related to selection of right communication channel. The challenge was seen because each communication channel bears cost which increases the cost of operation (Blankson and Kalafatis, 2007). However, by seeing the competition in market and nature of product, all communication channels were selected.
Assigning of roles and responsibilities- It has been usually seen that when roles and responsibilities are not assigned in a right manner then it can affect the overall marketing plan of the firm. In the implementation of present marketing plan, proper due care was adopted in assigning the roles and responsibilities to eliminate any unfavorable situation.
Tools and Techniques for doing of internal auditing and external factors which affect marketing planning
There are various techniques or methods which are used in business organization for doing auditing of internal and external environment that affects the marketing planning. In Sony Corporation, SWOT Analysis and Value Chain Analysis techniques are used for internal auditing whereas PESTLE and Porter's Five Forces model is used for analysis of external factors which affects the marketing planning activities of firm (Strategic Analysis Tools, 2007). Companies use these tools and techniques for doing implementation of good marketing plan which will lead to achievement of significant benefits to the firm.
Sony Corporation can use SWOT analysis in order to understand the internal capability of firm for the undertaking of marketing planning in a successful manner. Through SWOT analysis, management of Sony Corporation identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the firm related to marketing planing. On the other hand, Sony Corporation also adopts value chain analysis method in order to assess the supply chain management and operational activities of firm with regard to the marketing planning (Intrieri, 2013). Company makes final plan related to the product development when firm is able to achieve greater value than the operating cost. So, this was the aspect related to internal auditing. Sony Corporation undertakes PESTLE and Porter's Five Forces Model in order to understand the external and competitive environment. From these models, the firm make attempt to assess the feasibility of marketing plan with respect to external market situation (Wise and Sirohi, 2005).
Political – Sony needs to make sure that its operations comply with the rules and regulation of each nation it operates in. This includes filing of financial statement; tax payment and due follow of laws and policies.
Economic – The brand needs to make sure it takes into account inertest and inflation while determining pricing strategies.
Social – the characteristic, taste, choices and preference of people must not ignore while preparing marketing and other strategies.
Technological – it must also update itself with new technological developments.
Legal – legal rules must be followed to avoid image loss.
Environmental – the product and services of the brand must not contribute to higher pollution levels.
SWOT Analysis for internal auditing
By applying SWOT analysis on Sony Corporation, it was found that the company has strengths with many respects like it has good brand name in the market and also has the capability to produce best innovative products. On the other side, it has also some weaknesses like down falling of revenue and profits year on year and incurring of huge loss in personal computer product's business division (Raghavan, 2011). To see the opportunities with respect to Sony Corporation, it can be believed that the Smartphone industry is rising rapidly and this is what Sony Corporation can harness by offering innovative Smartphone products to the consumers. In the mobile manufacturing industry, there are also some challenges related to increase of low pricing and low profit margin competition among the rivalry firms (Nicholas and et.al., 2003).
Applying PESTLE Analysis for evaluating the external factors which affects the marketing plan of Sony Corporation:
Political factors- The government regulations related to taxation, entry into foreign market, foreign direct investment and industrial policy has substantial impact on Sony Corporation. For example; rising of tax rates will affect the profits of firm.
Economical factors- The frequent fluctuation in foreign exchange market is making direct impact on the foreign reserves of firm as well as on its income which is acquired from foreign countries. Further, rise in interest rates also increases the cost of capital for firm (Mason, 2007).
Social factors- The quick change in attitude and behavior of buyers is increasing the unsold stocks for the firm.
Technological factors- Competition is continuously rising in the industry due to quick change in technology like operating system of Smartphones.
Legal factors- Rivalry firms are suing each other on the ground of intellectual property rights.
Environmental factors- The government regulation related to maintaining of environmental laws related to pollution control brings significant impact on the marketing plan of firm (Kemmer and Boden, 2012).
Barriers to marketing planning
The barriers which are mostly seen in the complete marketing planning and implementation are as follow-
- Organizational barriers - The fundamental problem which was experienced in the marketing planning was related to decision making. Due to long schedule of brain storming session for product development, it took much time to draw final decision. This also includes rigid organizational structure and culture which requires to be changed to allow flexibility.
- Economic barriers - The other barriers which were encountered in the marketing planning was related to downturn in economic situation. Due to weak economic situation, it was difficult to raise funds for the implementation of marketing plan (Dasgupta, 2014).
- In the implementation of marketing planning, it was also seen that cost of promoting the products was increased as no zero-budgeting method was followed.
- Another barrier which has been seen was related to quick change in competitors strategy which is resulting in diverting of action plans for the marketing planning and implementation (Cooper, 2000).
Ways of overcoming from the barriers related to marketing planning
The ways through which the above barriers can be eliminated or reduced and can be overcome are explained underneath-
Doing of Market research- Market research can be considered as the best way through which the above identified barriers could be eliminated in a significant manner. Thorough analysis of economic situation and competitors strategy can prove to be prolific in overcoming from the barriers related to sourcing of finance and impact of competitor's strategy on firm's action plan (Cohen, 2005).
Following Zero-based budgeting for cost control- The problem related to increasing of cost of operation can effectively be resolved or overcome by using Zero-based budgeting system. The particular financial planning techniques keeps the cost under control.
Doing of proper brainstorming session by involving competent staff- The long time which took place in brainstorming session in taking the final decision related to product development can be minimized by involving highly competent people of organization in planning process (Chernev, 2006).
The way in which ethical issues influence the marketing planning
Many a times, it happens that ethical issues and marketing activities of the firm contradict or go against with each other. This can be understood from the forthcoming sentence. For example: The company wants to present or prove its products to be different or better from the products of other firms so that consumers can take better decision. However, comparative promotion or advertising practices is not allowed in many countries due to certain legislation. So, this ethical issue influences the marketing planning of the firm (Fernández, Cala and Domecq, 2011). In recent studies, it was found that the companies which adopts ethical practices are able to establish sound image in the minds of customers and are also able to acquire greater customer market share. There are many cases related to non-practice of ethical issues which lead the firm's marketing plan to an end (Kemmer and Boden, 2012). So, now every firms adopts appropriate way of marketing of their products so that their marketing plan do not contradict with ethical issues (Dasgupta, 2014).
Analyzing examples about the manner in which organization respond towards ethical issues
The best example which can be given here about the way in which business organizations like Sony Corporation respond towards the ethical issues is framing of organization norms, rules, policies and procedures (Aljukhadar and Senecal, 2011). Further, organization also respond to ethical issues by following the practices like providing of accurate information to the consumers about product and providing of parental control in the products or electronic devices (Harker, 2009). In addition, Sony Corporation also makes its TV commercial advertisement by following the code of conduct that is formulated by the Broadcast board of different countries.
Analyzing examples of consumer ethics and its effect on marketing planning
The best example which can be given here about the cigarette firms for whom it is mandatory to write “Smoking causes cancer” and leads to death on the products. So, this is the consumer ethical aspect which they need to follow for educating people about smoking that causes cancer. This caution warning on the cigarette packets makes positive impression on minds of some smokers and this stimulates them to leave smoking (Kapur, 2009). It is not that kind of consumer ethics that always have negative effect on the marketing planning of firm as it also creates positive image of firm in the minds of consumers or on the marketing planning of firm. For example, giving warning on the product that the product should not be used by the pregnant women or children creates positive impression on the minds of customers and this also creates positive effect on the marketing planning of firm (Mason, 2007).
Significance of marketing planning in strategic planning process
Marketing planning holds strong importance of strategic marketing planning process as it directs the actions of all departments towards the achievement of standard goals and objectives of the organization. Marketing planning is the activity which is done in aligning with strategic planning or goals and objectives of the organization (Kemmer and Boden, 2012). Marketing planning helps firms in deciding activities which must need to be undertaken to lead the organization towards the path of growth and success. So it can be stated that marketing planning directs or guides employees and other staff of the organization about the way targets can be met for the fulfillment of strategic objectives of the organization. The significance of marketing lies in the fact that it identifies the potential barriers and limitation before the launch.
In the above report, efforts are been made to laid down substantial information and learning which is related to marketing planning. From the report, a reader can comprehend that marketing planning is a very crucial aspect for the business organization which is undertaken by using various tools and techniques like SWOT analysis, Pestle Analysis, Value chain Analysis and porter's five forces model. Further, it can be deduced from the report that marketing planning is also done by doing brainstorming sessions and effective marketing mix activities.
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