Introducing new product in the market can be a challenging task. However, the development of a proper marketing strategy can help in building the success of product and ensuring that a sizeable market share and brand loyalty is attained (Chikweche & Fletcher, 2012). According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), marketing is an aggregate of activities that are designed for conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of products or services in order to satisfy customer needs and organization objectives. This shows the importance of marketing for the success of product introduction in the market. The paper shall develop a marketing strategic plan for an electric powered adjustable seat wheelchair.
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The product to be introduced in the market is an electric powered wheelchair, which has the ability to adjust its seat with the help of the hydraulic system. The product is unique and provides an added ability of the disabled people to climb staircases and do shopping with less help. The product is particularly helpful in that it caters for the needs of the disabled people by giving them the freedom to attend to their needs without necessarily the need of anybody around. It comes with seat belts that help to hold the user in place when it is used to pick loft items or when climbing staircases.
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The product’s hydraulic system provides a way in which the user can adjust the seat in a way that creates balance even when climbing a staircase, thus maintaining the balance of the user. In addition, the adjustment can be controlled, allowing the user to pick commodities that would only be possible when one is standing. This means the product is useful to the people who have amputated limbs. Furthermore, it allows its users to attend to majority of the tasks that would be limited by the current market products. For example, it allows one to attend to kitchen chores like cooking and going to bed. The product is one of its kinds and the organization hopes to reap from its uniqueness of features.
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The success of the marketing process can be achieved if good objectives are developed (Chikweche & Fletcher, 2012). The marketing objectives are outlines of what the marketing process wants to achieve. The mission statement precedes the objectives and it defines the purpose for the existence of the organization. The company intends to improve the lives of people through its mission statement of “improving the lives of the disabled through provision of high quality and affordable products in the market”.
In order to ensure the marketing strategy propels the company to meet its mission statement, appropriate marketing objectives shall be developed. The major objective of the strategic marketing plan shall be to attain at least a 5% of the total market share in the product niche through competitive pricing, over the fiscal year. In doing so, the company intends to meet its other objectives of attaining a profit margin of 10% and increasing the accessibility of the product stores as well as the ease of finding the product by at least 60% by the end of the year. For the objectives stated above to be attained, the marketing strategy shall be designed in order to remove the customer concerns at determined in the customer survey.
The Target Market
According to the (Brault, 2012), the individuals with disabilities bring a distinct set of skills in the market. It has been estimated that the number of people living with disability in the United States was 56.7 million by 2010 and the figures are bound to rise. The numbers vary from one state to another with California recording the highest number of individuals with disability as at 2011. In addition, the women were highly affected, where close to 13% of women suffered from disability and about 12% of men in the country had one form of disability or another in the year 2011 (Texas Workforce Investment Council, 2013). Furthermore, the study done by (Ziegler-Graham, MacKenzie, Ephraim, Travison, & Brookmeyer, 2008) found that close to two million people had disabilities related to loss of limbs and the figures were expected to double by 2050.
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The three studies provide a pointer that the people with disabilities constitute a sizeable proportion of the entire population and the figures are projected to rise. The proportion of the individuals who had problems standing and were under 15 years was 10% of the total individuals with disability, while 30% were older than 65 years (Brault, 2012). In addition, (The Amputee Coalition, 2015) estimates that close to two million American citizens live with limb loss. The statistics points the fact that a sizeable proportion of the individuals who cannot walk/stand remain high and provides a good market for the company product. The company recons the increasing calls by the government to involve people with disability in the nation building and sees it as an opportunity to grow its market share through the sale of customized wheelchairs.
The modern business world is competitive and the manufacturers keep coming up with new products to meet the changing consumer needs. The local and international products serve the wheelchair market in the US (State University of New York at Buffalo, 2009). The major competitors include the manufacturers of the mechanical and the electric powered wheelchairs. The product, which the organization intends to introduce to the customers, is an electric powered wheelchair. Therefore, the major market competitors are the manufacturers of the standing wheelchairs. Two major manufacturers of standing chairs currently serve the US market and these are the Karman Healthcare and Permobil. These two manufacturers enjoy varying degrees of success in the country, separated by their unique pricing models.
The fact that the two companies are the major players in the market means there is a huge potential for growth in the standing wheelchairs. The major trends in the wheelchair market owe much to innovations and customer-centered products. The current consumer is on the look for the product that is manufactured with the latest technology and one that is able to match their needs. The company product fits well to the market trends since aside from its competitive pricing model; it offers unique features owing to the great innovative ideas that were used in its design and production.
The current standing wheelchairs as stated in their names are actually “standing wheelchairs” enabling the user to enjoy other services that would otherwise be possible only to the individuals with limbs. The design of our company product took into consideration of the mismatch in the ever-changing needs of the users of the standing wheelchairs. Although the available powered wheelchairs work on the same principle, they are only differentiated on their pricing models. In contrast, our product offers a unique set of features that makes the product unique in the market.
The product is battery powered since it uses motor and hydraulic mechanism to make it stand. In addition, the product added an extra design in its manufacture, which enables it to climb staircases by raising the seat while adjusting the backrest in order to maintain the balance of the user. The Karman Healthcare and Permobil offer only standing wheelchairs that enables the user to raise the machine allowing them to assume a standing position. The company believes the product caters for the unique needs of the users who have found difficulties in using the powered wheelchairs to climb staircases. Furthermore, the product has ability to stand up to repeat use, can be used in home and office environment and is medically useful. Therefore, it offers the product huge differentiation from the available products in the market, making it unique.
Legal and Ethical Implications That Could Affect the Marketing Process
The marketing process is full of ethical concerns from the consumer and the marketer concerning the expectations on how the marketing relationship should exist as well as the way the transactions should be conducted (Ferrell, n.d.). The other source of conflict that can raise ethical concerns is the market research, where the analysis and placement of consumers into groups may lead to stereotyping. There is often a tendency to exclude the market segments that are deemed non-consumers of the product, and this raises serious ethical concerns.
The other major ethical concern may arise from the promotion of the product. The use of a disabled individual in the advertisement of the wheelchairs may offend the individuals with disability since they will be the major focus of the product. The ethical concerns that stem from stereotyping, market research and promotion may greatly affect the success of the product in the market. In order to meet these challenges, the company shall ensure truth in the information it offers its prospects and that the promotional aspect shall appreciate the contributions of the disabled in the society in its promotions in order to alleviate any inconveniences that may arise therein.
The company hopes to create good product position through its unique brand creation by focusing on operational excellence and product leadership as it core strategies. The product is unique as given in the product description. Therefore, in order to achieve product leadership, the product shall be offered at affordable pricing as compared to the market competitors. The current average market cost for a powered wheelchair is $3000 (Brault, 2012), and this means by adopting a comparatively less or same cost for the product shall make its pricing competitive. This shall enable the company to grow its market share by at least 5% by the end of the year as well as achieving a profit margin of at least 10%.
In addition, the company shall offer high-quality products at affordable prices. The production process shall work in line with the research and development team in order to ensure the products are of high quality and meets customer specification. The product shall be supplied at convenient stores in order to reach many customers. The two core strategies shall create a strong brand name for the product and the company hopes to achieve at least 60% availability of the products in the convenient stores.
In order for the product to attain the set objectives of the strategic marketing plan, the right marketing mix would be necessary. According to (Kim & Park, 2013), the major elements of the marketing mix are the price, product, place and promotion. The four elements of the marketing mix can be achieved through adoption of the appropriate integrated communication strategy. Therefore, the communication mix shall adopt advertising in order to reach the customers. Through advertising in the newspapers, internet, newspapers and direct marketing, the company hopes to persuade the customers to buy the product. In addition, it shall provide a platform to inform the prospects of the product features and distribution channels.
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The use of direct selling involves the sales agents travelling and meeting the prospects in the product exhibition and making sales. The use of direct selling provides an opportunity in which the customers can get a demonstration on how the product works. In addition, direct marketing provides an opportunity for addressing the customer concerns as they arise. On the other hand, advertising helps in reaching the customers that could otherwise be hard to reach due to geographical distances. Furthermore, the use of internet, radio and TV advertisements ensures that a large pool of customers is reached, even those in other countries.
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The main objective of the product pricing is to position the product in the market. The Karman Healthcare and Permobil are the major market competitors and offering the product at affordable price compared to that of the competitors is key in creating market position for the product. The pricing shall be determined in a way that it creates value to the customer. The product shall adopt affordable prices, which shall target the middle and low-class citizens who form a majority of the population.
Channels of Distribution
According to (Chikweche & Fletcher, 2012), it is necessary that an efficient distribution system be designed in the development of a strategic marketing plan in order to allow a sizeable number of customers to be reached. In order to ensure the product is within the reach of all the customers, it shall be distributed through the chain stores, hospitals and the supermarkets. The choice of the hospital centres is because most of the individuals undergo amputations in hospitals and often go back for consultancy and post-operative checkups.
Customer Relationship Management
A customer relationship management is a strategy that enhances the relationship of a firm with its customers as well as the potential customers. The strategy is very important in enhancing long-term company profitability. The consumer choices are constantly changing and switches from one product to another can increases sales costs and affect loyalty. Therefore, the marketing plan shall identify the nature of support the customers need and determine the nature of value they want. The customer analytics shall be incorporated into the marketing plan in order to determine and analyse the customer needs, values, support and preferences.
The success of product in the market is not only based on its ability to meet customer demands, but also down to a well designed marketing strategy. There are an increasing number of disabled individuals without limbs in the US. Most of the disabled individuals have special skill sets. There is need to provide a product that ensures that these skills are harnessed. In addition, there is increasing call from the government and other non-governmental organizations for this set of population to be involved more in the economic developments. Therefore, it provides an opportunity and challenge for the wheelchair manufacturers to meet the demands of citizens without limbs. In response an electric powered wheelchair, with the ability to allow such people to climb staircases and attend to majority of their duties was designed. The product is unique and hopes to reap the benefits from the growing market segment and through its marketing mix and customer relationship management.
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