INTRODUCTION TO MARKETING PLANNING
According to McDonald (2007), Marketing Planning describes the marketing and advertising efforts of a company for the coming year. It includes a discussion of company positioning and target markets, a statement of the market situation and description of the marketing mix that the company intend to use for achieving its marketing goals. It helps the company in conceiving the idea for developing a product and transforming it to a commercially viable proposition. It also helps in generating more clients by effective communication.
In this report, a study has been done on the marketing planning of 'Apple Inc.'. It is a renowned company and well-known for the quality and features of its products. The company is planning to launch an Apple watch in the market. So, a market plan and objectives for the same have also been discussed here. This report also provides details about various marketing strategies, ethical issues and recommendations for the company.
Role of marketing planning
Marketing plays a vital role for the promotion of any business. Therefore, marketing planning should be done with due consideration as it decides how the product will be promoted among the people. Some roles of marketing planning are discussed below:
Creates a guide: It serves as a written guide for the company which is followed for promoting its products and services (Dibb and Simkin, 2008). Planning the marketing strategies well in time enables the said company to involve proactively in its sales.
Integrates the business: It integrates all aspects of the business: from pricing of its products and services to the financials of the said company. This helps in bringing the head of departments and the upper management together.
Forecasts: It also plays a forecasting role as it requires the business to estimate sales from each marketing effort. These forecasts help the finance department in creating budget and the human resource department in planning for its employees (Luther, 2011).
Company product/service: Marketing plan makes a keen observation of its products and services and compares the same with the products and services of its competitors. It also reviews the said company in terms of customer response, customer interest and among other qualities too. Appreciation of these elements helps in improving the existing products and in developing new products as well.
Pricing: A comparison between the prices of the products and services of various companies is done by the marketing professionals (Payne and McDonald, 2012). This helps the company in developing a pricing plan that can serve the two primary purposes, viz., assists the company in achieving its financial goals and enables the company in strategic pricing within the markets.
Barriers to the process of marketing planning
Marketing planning is a complex exercise which involves a logical sequence of events for defining marketing objectives and drawing up plans for achieving these objectives (McDonald, 2009). So, the barriers are quite obvious and inevitable in this process. Some of the barriers faced by Apple Inc. in the process of marketing planning are:
Environmental barriers: The external environment of the business may cause major barriers in the marketing process by regulating corporate conduct, or by placing limitations or restrictions in the interaction of business and the environment. The external environmental factors include political, technological, economic, legal, social, ethical regulations and norms. Apple Inc.'s products are launched according to the consumer’s demand after an in-depth survey. These barriers sometimes restrict the survey and the comparison with other companies.
Cultural barriers: Culture consists of the morals, values, customs, knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and any other habits and capabilities shared by the people. If the said company fails to understand the cultural sensitivities of the target audience, it will lead to faulty marketing planning in the international marketing as well.
Behavioural barriers: These barriers arise due to the behavioural traits of the employees. Behavioural barriers can be in the form of lack of support from top management, lack of cross-functional involvement, etc. (Westwood, 2002).
Cognitive barriers: Marketers without adequate skills and lack of knowledge often make faulty, ineffective, distorted and unsuccessful plans. They fail to conduct a market survey for identifying customer preferences and new trends for launching effective marketing campaigns. So, Apple may sometimes lack the skills of designing eye-catching phrases or visuals which can enhance the responsiveness of advertisements manifold.
Solutions to overcome the barriers
Apple Inc. can adopt the following measures for overcoming the barriers in the marketing process:
Removing existing regulatory and legal barriers: The regulatory and legal barriers of the said company can be reduced to some extent. This will facilitate the company in doing detailed survey about the people and the market. As a result, the planners will be able to make a comparison with other companies also which will lead in a better planning (Beamish and Ashford, 2007).
Addressing externalities: Externalities include the benefits and costs incurred by those who are not directly involved in a particular market transaction. The negative externalities, i.e., the cost imposed on a society, individual, or group as a whole (e.g., traffic and pollution), should be minimised.
Encouraging team-work: Team-work should be encouraged to ensure proper interaction among the staff and other employees of the company. The said company should also pay consideration on improving the communication system in the workplace (McDonald and Keegan, 2002). The top management should also help the employees in resolving their problems by supporting them.
The company should ensure that the planners are well versed with the knowledge and skills because the growth and development of the company is not possible without effective planning.
Environmental factors affecting the marketing activities
Micro environment of Apple can be explained by SWOT Analysis.
Strengths: Apple is a renowned and well-established company. It has gained a strong brand name among its competitors and consumers through the quality of its products and services and by introducing new products. It has been innovative from the beginning and always comes up with new products and ideas through strong research and development. It produces its own software for the products and has earned huge profits by working with Intel and Microsoft (Stephenson, 2005). Apple has strong financial vitality and customer loyalty as well.
Weaknesses: Many people cannot afford to buy the Apple products because of its high prices. It has weak presence in business and weak relationship with Intel and Microsoft. The revenues of Apple mostly depend upon the new products and service as its products have a small life cycle. It does not attract corporate customers and has to face technological complications most of the times.
Opportunities: It is a fast growing industry which encourages technological innovations. The company started with personal computers and is now selling laptop computers, iPads, mobile phones, music players and online music store as well. Now, it is planning to launch an Apple watch. It has also developed online stores like ITunes. It has an opportunity to improve warranty and reduce its prices to challenge the competitors and for holding a strong position in the market.
Threats: It has to face fierce competition in the industry. Also, it has to face some other threats like the threat of economic crisis and threat from the services provided by Microsoft. Also, free downloading of videos and music can affect the business from ITunes. (Fisher, Pride and Miller, 2006)
Macro environment of Apple Inc. can be explained by PESTLE Analysis:
Political: This includes type of government, its stability, future and current taxation policies. Apple has no control over these factors. So, it has to come up with this by changing accordingly. This results in change in price of the products.
Economical: It includes interest rates, inflation, economic situation and strengths of consumer spending. In case of a bad economic situation, the consumers will spend less. So, it has a direct impact on the profits of the company (Whalen and Boush, 2014).
Social: It includes culture, life style of people, population growth rate, religion media views and perception. All these factors should be considered by the company in order to meet the needs of the consumers.
Technological: It represents rate of change in technology, research and development, future and current technology. Being an electronic organisation, the company need to be updated and should adopt new technologies.
Legal: It focuses on changes in law, regulatory bodies, trading policies and legislation in employment, health and safety. It needs to update its policies according to the prevailing laws.
Environmental: It focuses on attitude towards environment from government and environmental pressure groups, recycling consideration, pollution created by the products and services. Being an electronic organisation, it should focus on such type of packaging that can be recycled.
Potential Opportunities for Apple
Apple has to face many competitors in the industry. So, it should try to reduce its prices while maintaining good quality. This will help in attracting more consumers as the people who cannot afford Apple products now, will be able to afford the same after reducing the prices. It does not have much market share, so, it can expand its business by opening retail stores at various places. Entering into joint venture with other big organisations will also help Apple in expanding the business. It can also encourage and bring in new ideas, innovation and initiation for expansion of the business (Pulendran, Speed and Widing, 2003).
SMART marketing objectives for the new products
Specific: Specific marketing objectives help in maximising efficiency by focusing on one goal per plan. If Apple wants to launch an Apple watch in the market, then there would be separate plans for the product release and for the expansion of audience.
Measurable: The cited company needs to have goals and milestones that can be measured for determining the success of a market plan. In order to be effective, the measurable objectives should be very specific. The said company can set gaols of increasing the sales by 30% by introducing its new product in the market.
Achievable: Business growth is a planned and gradual process. While creating a marketing plan for the Apple watch, achievable goals should be used. Setting such goals which seems to be impossible to achieve will lower the morale of the employees and will make the planning of budget difficult (Pickton, 2005).
Realistic: The major difference between achievable objectives and SMART objectives is the resource planning. Realistic SMART objectives for the Apple watch will be the manufacturing expectations that do not exceed the historical average and sales coverage.
Timed: Every marketing plan should have a scheduled ending and beginning. It helps in analysing how the methods worked in order to produce the projected results after introducing the apple watch. It will also help in analysing the actual results and the projected results in order to identify the adjustments required to achieve the goals.
The success of a product depends upon the marketing strategies to a great extent. Apple can use the Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP) Model for formulating strategies for its new product. Segmentation is the process of dividing markets into segments on the basis of the needs and characteristics of the consumers. Apple can use psychographic variable of segmentation because it involves studying the attitudes, interests, lifestyles, opinions and values of the consumers. It represents the characteristics and pattern of living of the people. This will help in determining the category of people which will be the best suitable for the product.
After selecting a segment, the company should start targeting the segment. In this step, a promotional message is given to the selected market segment. There are three different marketing strategies: undifferentiated, concentrated or differentiated targeting strategy. In this case, undifferentiated targeting strategy will be suitable for Apple Inc. as it involves sending the same promotional message to everyone (SWAM, 2012). The product will also provide same benefits to every consumer so this targeting strategy will be the most suitable for the company.
Positioning is the process of identifying market opportunity or problem and developing solutions based on the market segmentation, support data and research. Positioning can be done on the basis of the product, its uses, users, quality or value, etc. In this case, it will be appropriate to use the product positioning strategy because in this case, company will focus on the promotion of features and benefits of the Apple watch. The company can also use its goodwill or the brand image in order to promote the quality of the product.
Besides the STP Model, the company can also use Ansoff Matrix for formulating marketing strategies for the Apple watch.
This model provides four growth strategies:
Market penetration: It is used when the firm wants to achieve growth in current market segments with the existing products.
Market development: This strategy is used when the company wants to target its existing products into new markets.
Product development: When the firm wants to target new products to the existing markets, this strategy is used.
Diversification: This strategy is used when the company wants growth by diversifying into new businesses by developing and introducing new products to new markets.
Thus, in the given situation, product development strategy will be the most appropriate because Apple's strength is related with its specific customers. So, it can leverage its strengths by introducing the Apple watch.
Application of marketing mix elements
The focus of marketing plan is on the marketing mix which includes product, price, place and promotion. Marketing mix is required in communicating with the target market effectively.
Product: It should meet the requirements of the consumers and should possess all the qualities and features that the company claims to provide in the advertisements. The products of Apple are famous of their quality, features, appearance and innovation. This is the reason why consumers are ready to premium prices for its products.
Price: The price should be relevant to the product and the market. In this case, the pricing decision is aimed at attracting a particular market segment. Just like its other products, Apple will charge a premium price for the watch also as it wants to sell its product at the top end of the market.
Place: The location or the place of the product can be physical (such as mortar and brick) or virtual (such as website). Apple should use such a place from which the product can be easily availed by the customers.
Promotion: Promotion of the products includes its branding, packaging, advertising, sponsorship, special promotions, public relation activities and other kinds of publicity. Apple should pay more focus on branding and advertising of the Apple watch.
Ethical issues at apple
Though Apple has been working successfully and profitably over the years, it still faces some ethical problems. Some of these ethical issues are:
- The employees engaged in the Apple Inc. face many safety problems and the working conditions of the company are also very harsh. Sometimes, employees have to work for seven days a week with their swollen legs.
- Child labour and student abuses are also seen in the organisation. Interns are also forced to work as labour in the company and young employees of 18 years of age are also forced to work like adults.
- It also faces issues relating to the customer service and quality control.
- Apple Inc. doesn't pay much consideration on the protection and preservation of the environment (SDBC, 2012).
Impact of consumer ethics on marketing planning
Various ethical issues of the consumers affect the marketing planning to a great extent. Some of these issues are:
Vouchers: The vouchers provided by the company are misused which leads in developing a negative image of the product among the consumers.
Warranty deception: Sometimes, the staff members of the company refuses to accept the products for repairing by claiming that the damage in the product cannot be recovered through the warranty card, or refuses to accept the fact that the product was damaged since it was being sold to the consumer. This creates dissatisfaction among the customers.
Copying: Many fake or duplicate companies like Chinese companies try to copy the products of Apple and attempt to devaluate its image in the market among its competitors.
Return of products: Sometimes, the company sells damaged products to the consumers and when they ask for returning those products, they refuse to accept their proposal. This results in decrease in demand and goodwill of the product, decrease in consumer satisfaction.
Recommendations for improving ethical practices
Apple can overcome the ethical issues arising at the workplace in the following ways:
- The company should take due care of the health and safety of its employees. It should ensure a healthy and safe working environment for the employees. Also, the employees should be provided with some breaks while working so that they can relax and gain some energy to work more efficiently.
- The employees should be provided with holiday at least once in a week so that they can concentrate on their personal lives as well. This will help them in managing their personal and professional lives.
- The interns in the organisation should be provided with proper and adequate training. They should not be forced for doing labour work. Also, the company should prohibit the child labour in the workplace (Sharma and Dasgupta, 2009).
- The said company should pay enough consideration on the quality of its products and services and on the satisfaction of its customers because these two factors play a vital role in building image of the company.
- Apple should also make contributions towards the protection and conservation of environment by organising various activities like tree plantation, etc., or by joining any organisation that is engaged in such activities.
From this report, it can be concluded that market planning and marketing strategies play a vital role in the growth and development of any product or service. In addition to this, marketing planning also helps in achieving the goals and objectives of the company. Moreover, it has been elucidated that opportunities of any company can also be met if proper and strategic marketing planning is done.
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