Tag: Marketing

Facebook As A Business Marketing Option

Marketing a business on Facebook is a simple as creating a free business page and continuously engaging with over a billion users who use this site regularly. Facebook has many tools applicable to small and large business marketing as well as powerful advertising options that enable business owners to engage with their customers directly. This paper seeks to discover exactly how Facebook is utilized as a marketing strategy, the benefits associated with using it and the contraindications of utilizing social media platforms for marketing.

How Facebook is Utilized as a Marketing Strategy

Discovering a profitable niche isn’t enough to have a thriving business. It is necessary to inform others about the kind of products and services you offer. One way to do this is to run an ad via traditional print and electronic media and incur a lot of expenses that may not target the right kind of clientele for your business. Another way you can approach marketing is to go on Facebook and create a free business page, post regular engaging content, promote your page through coupon promotions, link your page to your business website, engage your audience through content that sparks conversations, host contests and encourage others to share with other users on the site. By engaging with many users on Facebook, business owners can also get leads in the form of email addresses to help them stay in touch with their audience outside of Facebook and enjoy the benefits of the highly targeted inexpensive ads.

Read also Technology and Marketing – Research Paper

Popular businesses that have an active presence on Facebook include Earthogy, which is a business that deals in the retail of ancient gems and modern jewellery. This site provides active engagement with users through the use of pictures and makes use of discount promotions to generate leads and increase its customer base. The Chicken Chick at Egg Carton Labels by ADozen girls has utilized a rare and unique niche, provides maximum engagement with the audience and has exemplary use of contests for promotions. This site deals with the sale of chicken egg cartons. Pool supply world is an online retailer of swimming pool and spa parts and products. This site employs great use of call to action posts that sparks engagement from the audience and builds on existing followers.

Read also Can Social Media Tools Such As Facebook And Twitter Enhance The Organization Image And Create A Competitive Advantage

Benefits to marketing a business through social media platforms such as Facebook

There are several other benefits to marketing a business through social media platforms such as Facebook. These advantages include; (1) Low Marketing expenses compared to marketing using traditional print and electronic media. (2) Incredibly targeted ads that reduce the cost of advertising, provide the business owner with statistics in the form of insights and are easy to comprehend even for the common man. (3) Facebook marketing is also an excellent way to build loyalty to a brand. Users are inclined to trust businesses that are active, responsive and post engaging content as compared to those that have poorly run pages with boring content. (4) Facebook can also drive traffic to your site through the full-width thumbnail images that draw attention from the audience and are more likely than not to get clicked on by users. (5) Facebook also gives business owners the option of watching what competitors in the same niche are doing, get tips for best practices, break bad habits and improve their page altogether. (6) Facebook also provides real-time interactive customer feedback through reviews, comments and ratings that assist business owners when making initiatives to improve on products and services. (7) Facebook is also a mobile ready site makes businesses conveniently accessible to users who are almost always on their phones.

Read also Strategies that Businesses can use to Engage Social Media as a Marketing Tool

Marketing a business on Facebook is becoming more and more important for every business to have a presence on social media. Most people get their news from their phones, shop and communicate with others online. Based on these new trends, marketing a business on Facebook carries an attractive set of benefits. However, some business owners use their leads to constantly hammer their followers with meaningless emails advertising affiliate products or useless junk that the followers did not subscribe to in the first place. Moreover, running a successful Facebook page requires the investment of manpower, hours and resources. Many businesses have to hire a full-time social media specialists that should be skilled in creating engaging content and connecting with the audience. Moreover, business owners have to be aware of the right time to run contests and promotions and the right kind of sponsored content to run to prevent wastage of resources.

Read also Integrating Social Media into Traditional Marketing

Facebook business pages need to remain active and rapidly respond to the needs of the audience. Business owners must spend a considerable amount of their time responding to feedback and inquiries from audiences as well as addressing complaints from customers. Furthermore, not all feedback from customers will be positive. Negative comments from customers will remain present on the page as it is not considered prudent for a business to delete genuine negative comments which could alter the perception of the business in the eyes of existing and new followers.

Read also A Viable Social Media Strategy And Marketing Research Tool Help Understand The Target Market For A Health Care Organization

In conclusion, it is becoming increasingly necessary for business owners to establish an online presence in order to build their business. The use of free marketing through Facebook pages can expose businesses to a larger audience as compared to the use of traditional advertising methods. Additionally, running targeted ads and sponsored content enables the business to make numerous savings that could not be achieved by any other methods.

Gender differences in Advertising Media

The primary function of advertising to convey messages about products to consumers. However, the advertising industry also plays a vital role in changing individual perceptions and existing social norms. After their primary function is accomplished, advertisements can ultimately construct an image of how the world should look like, how the people within it should behave and how they should be treated. This paper seeks to explore the gender differences in advertising media by relying on existing literature to determine what these differences are, why they exist and the impact they have on individuals as well as the broader society.

Read also Gender Stereotyping in Advertising Media – Critical Analysis Paper

Introduction

The advertising industry has been long been dominated by age-old stereotypes since the age of Madison Avenue and the “ad-man”. Popular culture representations of this period in this age portray the 1960s workplace as an environment characterized by male dominance and the assumption of supporting and subordinate roles by women. This image has been reinforced by the kind of advertisements that came out of Madison Avenue during this era. With this kind of foundation, it is not in the least surprising to witness the striking gender asymmetry in advertisements made in the 21st century. Although the typical outrageous misogyny of a 1960s advertisement is absent in the modern ad, its subtle connotations are still there, still reinforcing those age-old messages, still portraying men and women in unrealistic and disproportionate ways and still portraying women in outdated and often unacceptable ways. From a simple application of language to more discernible images applying the strategy of gender-targeted advertisements that relies on outdated stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity. The advertising industry has forcefully created an image of individuals and of society that should not exist even in this in the pseudo-reality of an advertisement.

Read also Advertising Medias And Their Advantages And Disadvantages

Discussion

According to a study conducted by Unilever, 30% of advertisements show women as they are perceived by men, only 3% of women have been portrayed in advertisements as individuals with aspirations or in leadership positions, only 0.03% of women were portrayed as being humorous and only 1% of women were portrayed as being heroes or having problem-solving capabilities. Given the significant proportion of women typically observed in advertising billboards, on television advertisements and even on the internet, these statistics are really shocking. On the other hand, men were 62% more likely to be depicted as smart individuals, inherently intelligent characters or in roles that are often associated with intelligent individuals such as a doctor, scientist, astronaut etc. For instance, in a toothpaste commercial, the doctor will, in most instances be a man. Women are also more likely to be shown in sexually revealing clothing compared to men and be represented by women with perfect proportions, who apparently, 40% of women do not relate to. Advertisements have created such sharp differences between the sexes that 52% of UK men cannot relate to the overly aggressive rough, rugged, highly heterosexual and homophobic men they see in advertisements.

Research conducted across the world reveals a high degree of sexism within the advertising industry and even without this research any layman who picks up two magazines, one aimed towards a male audience and the other towards a female audience can bear witness to these striking gender differences from the language, the illustrations, the color choices and even the kind of fonts used. Texts in female magazines tend to be longer than those in male magazines. Moreover, there is a clear asymmetry in the kind of products that the male magazine will advertise and those that the female magazine will advertise. Products like watches and cars dominate the pages of a male magazine while female magazines often contain advertisements for cosmetic products, home décor, and jewelry. Advertisers tend to provide more details for female cosmetic products than they do for male cosmetic products. Advertisements for clothes on Esquire will typically have no words attached to them, and advertisement for deodorant for men might just contain the word “cool” and left at that. However, when the cosmetic product is directed towards a female consumer, there will be a detailed explanation of ingredients, effects, and sometimes even directions for usage. However, when the product is impersonal as in the case of a car, there will be a more detailed explanation of the product in a male magazine while that kind of a product is less likely to feature in a female magazine. Moreover, this detailed example will typically contain less modifiers, will contain tougher language, bolder color, bolder fonts and will offer details that are more straightforward whereas the description in the female magazine will offer more description of the qualities of the object, will contain softer fonts, softer colors, the language will be more poetic than straightforward.

 Words used to describe the color of an object, emotion, relationships, senses and art occur more frequently in female magazines than they do in male magazines. On the other hand, words used to describe superiority, adventure, strength, achievement, and quantity occur more frequently in male magazines. Advertising in male magazines does not even contain the prerequisite that a sentence is constructed or that the words used together make sense. They just have to be bold, incredibly powerful words associated with the man’s mental strength, superior intellect and product superiority that the advertising industry believes its male clientele desires in all their products (Smith, 1985). Moreover, advertising for male products will contain abundant of number and figures to describe quantity while the quantity descriptions provided in female targeted advertisements are often vague with minimal reference to numbers and figures. This kind of language draws sharp a gender dividd within the society and serves to perpetuate gender-based stereotypes that shape individual perceptions of others and of themselves (Cameron, 1992). The proof of the effects of these stereotypes is that research data will forever label men as abstract thinkers who do not attach emotion into consumer decisions and women as emotionally charged individuals who attach personal feelings to every decision they make. Research has claimed that women enjoy the emotional and psychological aspect of shopping and spend more time shopping more than men (Wood, 1998). Perhaps this is why advertisements targeting a female clientele are so detailed and poetic while those targeted towards men offer no such poetic details and those that do offer details are mostly instrumental leisure items related to the expression of independence, an active lifestyle and often related to male impulse buying (Ditmar et al, 1995).

An advertisement of a watch in the Car driver magazine (July 2010: 7) perfectly illustrates the kind of detail involved in ads aimed at eliciting male impulse buying. Instead of describing the watch, this advertisement goes on and on about an athlete describes him as an “extreme record breaker” a “peerless man of steel”, a role model for all other men with this watch as his sole companion. The word “companion” is not even used in reference to relationships with other people. On the other hand, an advertisement for a similar product in a women’s magazine might relate to impressing other people, contain numerous emotional connotations.

Women are also frequently encountered in advertisements that promote food products, laundry detergents, cleaning supplies, child care products, and household decorations and if men are present in such commercials, they often appear as bystanders or casual onlookers. Advertising for cosmetics is often directed towards women, giving tips on how to use the product to seduce and attract men while advertising for home care products advises them on how to take better care of their home, of their children and impress their husbands. This kind of advertisement reinforces stereotypes about child care, marriage and family life and represents a division of labor that has long been outdated. In a male commercial, female characters serve to sort of embellish the scene, create an often erotic atmosphere for the testosterone-charged male consumer. For instance, it is not unusual to witness an incredibly attractive female character with perfect body proportions, dressed in outrageously revealing clothing and in a discernibly erotic position starring in a car commercial. This kind of targeted advertising, while incredibly good for business, both for the magazine and for the car manufacturer also sends messages. These messages may not be intercepted by adults who can choose between which signals to respond to and which ones to ignore, it can also be intercepted by young adults or even children.  These messages can also go as far as to have a global reach. Can impact subsequent strategies to advertise in developing countries and even third world countries. This can clearly be observed from existing advertising strategies around the world. Advertising has become somewhat similar all over the world, become a universal language aimed at exploiting the gender segments in the market. Unfortunately, it has been exported with its archaic prerequisite for a foul depiction of gender. In Japan, women are portrayed in degrading and demeaning ways and often seen in commercials engaging in the performance stereotypical roles (Arima, 2003). Research all over the world shows that the advertising industry employs an incredibly high degree of sexism in the roles it assigns to women characters within commercials.

The kind of impact the gender differences have on society can be elucidated from the following scenarios. When a boy in a discussion group was asked about why boys do not talk about sex and relationships he responded by saying that talking about relationships was not the kind of thing “boys do” (Willemsen, 1998: 860). A study involving 400 children from a variety of backgrounds in science magazine concluded that girls often start believing that they are less intellectually brilliant than boys at the age of six which is the age that children begin recognizing scenes from advertisements and can generally understand television (Oates et al, 2006). When groups of children between the ages of five and seven years old were told two stories about a really smart person and a really nice person, all the boys and girls answered that the smart person was most likely one of their respective genders. However, the answers began to change when the researchers posed the same question to the older children. The girls had changed their minds and were less likely to say that the really smart person was female.

Read also What does the Research Say about Gender Discrimination in the Workplace?

The advertising industry has defined masculinity and femininity in a narrow heterosexual way, leaving out a significant portion of the male population that does not conform to their requirement for a rough, “uncompromising” aggressive man or a “soft” emotional and sensual woman. Thus, the industry has created an image of the society that is unrealistic, unprogressive and unforgivably discriminatory.  It could be that men are emotional human beings and that there is an emotional aspect to their consumer decisions. It could also be possible that the market could be segmented in other more accessible ways rather than through the overreliance on gender differences, that, from all indications, the industry itself has created. There could be a positive financial result if businesses prevent the backlash in female clientele that often occurs after sexist advertisements considering that two third of consumer spending is controlled by women and that women are the primary shoppers in many households.

Read also Understanding Cultural, Ethnic And Gender Differences By Managers

Conclusion

Although gender segments are large, profitable, easily identifiable, accessible and responsive to the elements of the marketing mix (Wolin, 2003), the consequential creation of unrealistic standards for beauty and attractiveness, propagation of stereotypes and the ultimate legitimization of gender inequality and discrimination is the ultimate price the society will have to pay for the kind of sexist advertising witnessed in this age.  There is a clear need for the advertising industry to change its position regarding gender in advertising and take up a leading role in ensuring that advertising has a positive rather than negative impact on the society with regard to its representation and promotion of gender and gender roles in the society. It is time for the anachronistic perceptions of gender to take their rightful place in history and pave way for a more tolerant society that recognizes every individual based on their own merit and unique attributes and does not seek to lump people together on the mere basis of anatomical differences. It is irresponsible to include in the messages that we deliver to future generations, an affirmation that a certain segment of the population occupies a position of privilege right from birth, are more superior and reserve the right to look down upon others.

Data Mining as a Business Tool

What makes data mining an important business tool?

Data mining is an important business analytical tool because it facilitates the analysis of large volumes of data to find hidden patterns and relationships that cannot be obtained using OLAP (Laudon & Laudon, 2015). These patterns and relationships can then be used to guide future decision making within the business and even determine the effect of these decisions to future values through forecasting. Information gathered from data mining reduces the overall cost of advertising and promotions by providing businesses with trends in consumer behavior that can be used to design more effective marketing strategies that are more likely than not to increase revenue for the business.

What types of information does data mining produce?

Businesses can obtain a considerable amount of information by using data mining including associations, sequences, classifications and classifications (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).   Moreover, businesses can also use existing values to determine what future values will be through forecasting. Associations and sequences can be useful in determining occurrences within the data that are linked to a single event and discovering which events in the data are linked over a period of time. For instance, a buy one get one free promotion at a grocery store would not be justified if there was no association between past similar promotions and increased purchase. Classifications and clustering are useful in partitioning large data sets into meaningful groups or discovering which data sets can be grouped together (Laudon & Laudon, 2015). Through classification, businesses can examine sets of items that have been classified using a set of rules and determine the group to which an item belongs while through clustering, they can define affinity groups within a data set and partition databases into groups even if there are no predefined set of rules to do so (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).  

Read also Homeland Security – Data Mining, Analysis Tools, Collection and Processing, Future Trends

In what type of circumstance would you advise a company to use data mining?

I would advise businesses to utilize data mining algorithms in situations where more detailed analysis than that provided by OLAP is needed (Laudon & Laudon, 2015). Analysis of consumer behavior is possible through associations and sequences as is the analysis of consumer response to one-to-one marketing campaigns (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).   Businesses that are encountering challenges in finding marketing strategies that work can use data mining to test the effect of new marketing strategies and prevent losses resulting from trial and error. For instance, if a restaurant desires to launch a “specials” promotion, data mining can give insight into what customers order most frequently and when they do so. This kind of information will enable the restaurant to tailor their choice of specials to the customers’ preferences and increase the probability that the “specials” promotion will be a big success.  

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Data mining would also be a worthwhile tool to consider in situations where customer acquisition or retention has become a challenge for a business entity. For customer acquisition, data mining would facilitate the identification of the most profitable customers, visualization and prediction of their consumer behavior and the generation of effective strategies to attract such customers and encourage them to spend more. For customer retention, data mining will provide information on the most probable reasons why customers leave and which customers are likely to leave which should assist in guiding the development of marketing strategies to retain such customers (Laudon & Laudon, 2015).

Quality Vs Quantity in Healthcare Marketing

The Great Marketing Debate: Quality vs. Quantity

Healthcare marketing describes the various highly-segmented channels which involve both offline and online techniques established to evaluate and obtain the right patients with the aim of nurturing them to create a strong bond in their recovery journey. In this regard, healthcare marketing seeks to gain and retain customer loyalty by establishing a connection with the patients using multiple channels (Kumar, Jacob & Thota, 2014). Nevertheless, healthcare marketing usually encounters several challenges in balancing quantity and quality in an attempt to create and distribute valuable, relevant, and consistent marketing content that can help healthcare facilities attract more patients.

Read also Healthcare Marketing : Premier Healthcare – Environmental Assessment

The aspects of quality and quantity in healthcare marketing are defined by two statements: “less is more” and “more is more” respectively. A “less is more” approach in healthcare marketing is more suitable in scenarios which a healthcare facility has gained loyal customers but wishes to retain them by providing marketing content that promotes quality healthcare. One of the main repercussions of this approach is that a healthcare facility will tend to retain its old patients and gain new ones through referrals. On the other hand, a “more is more” approach is ideal in scenarios in which healthcare marketing seeks to increase the number of patients visiting a healthcare facility. This approach would lead to outcomes such as a healthcare facility gaining new customers but without assurance of retention in the event their marketing content does not give assurance of quality healthcare to the patients.

Read also Marketing Concepts in Health Care

In my opinion, a “less is more” approach is more reliable compared to a “more is more” approach during healthcare marketing. This is because the “less is more” approach tends to provide patients with an assurance that the services offered by a healthcare facility are reliable. More so, a “less is more” healthcare marketing approach is more costly-friendly compared to the “more is more” approach. In this regard, healthcare facilities should seek to use the “less is more” approach when developing marketing contents that target both new and existing customers.

Read also Marketing in For-profit and Not-for-profit Health Care Organizations – A Matrix that Contrasts the Differences

Marketing Assistant Job Description

Job overview

This marketing assistant position at Deja’ Vu, a non-alcoholic beverages company that is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer, is for a creative and team-oriented person. The successful candidate will help in developing our marketing department by performing primary and administrative duties. This will involve organization and implementation of various marketing projects, performing various administrative duties in the department and market research.

Read also Job Description – Customer Service Call Center Supervisor

The employee for this fulltime position with basic 40-hour weeks will start work on January 5, 2019. The annual pay is USD 80,000 and benefits include insurance and company stocks. The position involves working in the office and in the field, and there are also opportunities to work at home.

Read also How To Write Accurate and Effective Job Position Descriptions

Duties and responsibilities

The duties of the marketing assistant include:

  • Assisting organize and implement marketing campaigns.
  • Assisting the department’s goals achievement for the overall growth of the company.
  • Assisting development of marketing strategies.

Read also Job Analysis and Job Description – Retail Sales Representative And End Manager Positions

The responsibilities of the marketing assistant are:

  • Perform marketing administrative tasks by coordinating the activities of the department for efficient functionality.
  • Assist in organizing various marketing projects.
  • Conduct market research and analyze market data.
  • Update company inventories and databases with relevant marketing data, including financial and statistical data.
  • Assist organizing and implementing traditional and digital marketing campaigns.
  • Manage and frequently update Deja’ Vu’s website and social media accounts
  • Publish and distribute the company’s marketing literature.
  • Develop good relationships with and among company stakeholders.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor degree in marketing, business or relevant field.
  • Excellent communication and people skills.
  • Office administration skills and knowledge.
  • Excellent skills and knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite, marketing software and databases.
  • Market research knowledge and experience. 
  • Experience working in a busy marketing department.
  • Good organization skills that respect time and are customer focused.

Special considerations

  • Deja’ Vu is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer.
  • This job description is not a contract of employment between the employee and the company. The company may exercise its employment-at-will rights at any time.

Determining duties and qualifications

In determining the duties and qualifications, marketing activities of a small to medium sized company were considered. It is appreciated as an assistant, the employee will not be the main decision-maker in the department. However, to ensure the position is challenging and satisfying, some decision-making and problem-solving in administrative and research duties have been allocated.

That it is a small company means the marketing assistant will be involved in all spheres across the department including strategy formulation. The qualifications and experience gained from the position offers the employee room for personal and professional growth within the company. The employment laws considered in drawing up the job description are Equal Employment Opportunity, Equal Pay Act and Fair Labor Standards Act.

MHM525 – Madigan Army Medical Center Marketing Strategy Assessment

Assess the marketing strategy of the health care organization Walter Reed National Medical Center, Army Medical system or Military Healthcare System) with respect to wellness and prevention. What are the limitations to the current approach?

            The health of those involved in the operation of the health care organization at Madigan Army Medical Center is important to those have a stake in the organization. Considering that military health care system is fully funded by taxpayers, the personnel involved in the treatment of military personnel must always maintain a healthy state of being (Horwitz, Kelly, & DiNardo, 2013). Majority of the personnel working at the Madigan Army Medical Center are commissioned officers. Their priority is to ensure that military personnel seeking medical attention in the facility receive the best treatment. It is important to understand that the facility does not only attend to the military personnel, it also offer services to the families of the servicemen.

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            By prioritizing the wellness and healthy of the military personnel, it significantly reduce a missed working days thus improving productivity greatly. Recent study by Center of Disease Control (CDC) indicated that missed worked days as result of health reasons leads to loss of more 225 billion dollars annual thus negatively affecting productivity of a nation (Bastian, et al., 2016). The other thing associated with prioritization is that it allows the employees to actively participate in their personal health. According to Horwitz et al (2013), wellness and prevention programs are not likely to reduce the rate of insuring employees. Unless the programs incorporates the use of discriminatory cost shifting practices. Therefore, the organization should not adopt one wellness and prevention program that focus on blatant savings

Read also Marketing Strategy For a Health Care Product – Maternity and Seonatal Service as a Product

            Madigan Army Medical Center is a military medical facility tasked with the responsibility of promoting wellness and prevention programs through various initiatives that aims at improving the physical and social environment of the military personnel. Madigan Army Medical Center advocates for wellness and healthy living among the military personnel by providing programs designed to promote wellness and prevention (Mello, & Rosenthal, 2008). The clients and stakeholders of Madigan Army Medical Center access the latest information about wellness and prevention programs via employee network and websites fully funded by the Federal government. Therefore, most of the Madigan Army Medical Center marketing efforts in relation to wellness and prevention are carried out through the government sponsored websites. The websites and employees network have been designed to provide various information about the services that are available to the members.

Read also Marketing Concepts in Health Care

Limitations

            The limitation associated with online marketing of the wellness and prevention programs by Madigan Army Medical Center is that members who are not familiar with website may experience challenges accessing the site. In addition, some members are only aware of employee network hence not accessing other website that may contain information that is lacking in employee network (Bastian, et al., 2016). These discriminatory access to information and vital materials about wellness and prevention programs negatively affects the utilization rate thus impacting the health status of Madigan Army Medical Center’s members.

Read also Marketing in For-profit and Not-for-profit Health Care Organizations – A Matrix that Contrasts the Differences

            The second limitation is the lack of incentives to encourage more members to participate in the program. Studies indicated that Madigan Army Medical Center allocates significant amount of resource to maintain the existing wellness and prevention program (Frostin, & Roebuck, 2015). The main objectives of dedicating a significant amount of resources towards the programs is to address the burgeoning problems of chronic diseases that is crippling its members and negatively affecting workplace environment (Bastian, et al., 2016). Despite these efforts the Madigan Army Medical Center has put in place the number of members participating in the program is still minimal. This is because the Madigan Army Medical Center lack the incentives to attract more members towards the program.

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One may argue that members does not find it necessary to participate in the wellness and prevention programs offered by Madigan Army Medical Center because military has already put in place regulations and policies that ensures that its employees regulate their weight and maintain their healthy living (Bastian, et al., 2016). However, it is important to understand that wellness and prevention programs goes beyond regulating weight and preventing illness that are associated with excessive weight gain. Therefore, Madigan Army Medical Center should be put in place incentive that work is addendum with military stipulation already in place in order to improve participation thus enhancing the efficacy of the wellness and prevention program.

Describe how you would improve the wellness and prevention marketing program

            There are several methods that Madigan Army Medical Center may use to improve the marketing of the wellness and prevention program. One of the main methods that can be used to improve marketing program is to expand the scope of the marketing campaign. The program should be expanded to go beyond service members which are mainly the Madigan Army Medical Center workforces to include active duty service members such as those having Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). This approach will improve significantly the utilization of the current wellness and prevention program since it will increase the number its members (Horwitz, et al., 2013). The other aspect is the diversification of the program to include military personnel with MOS that is not health associated. This will increase the number of individuals taking part in the program since it is the prerogative of the government to ensure a healthy servicemen. It also increase the efficacy of the program and members who will benefit from the program.

Read also Marketing and Healthcare System – Restore Health

            The second approach is to use of incentives to attract more members to participate in wellness and prevention program. By incentivizing the program more members will be willing to take part thus boosting its marketing efforts and increasing level of involvement. Therefore, Madigan Army Medical Center should market the program based on its benefits and incentive plan. Some of the incentives that can be tied to the program include financial in the form of health insurance (Mello, & Rosenthal, 2008). The incentive plan should be designed in manner that it does not lead to discrimination in the workplace. For example, discrimination in the workplace can arise when the incentives are provided based on the health insurance cost, so that those individual considered as less healthy receives less incentives, while those considered healthier receives more incentives. This can be avoided by establishing a proper guideline that govern the incentives.            

The third approach to improve marketing of the program is to increase communication channels to the members. Currently Madigan Army Medical Centers uses two communication channels: employees’ network and websites sponsored by government (Horwitz, et al., 2013). By increasing communication channels, vital information and materials about the program will reach more people. These include organizing symposiums and discussion forums where members who have benefited from program inspires others to take part in the program.

Marketing Concepts in Health Care

Proper marketing in healthcare is necessary in the sense that it helps healthcare organization to market their services, promote their products and services and improve the overall health of the community (Codourey, 2013). It is also a critical factor in improving delivery and quality of service provided by a healthcare organization, thus enhancing effectiveness and patient satisfaction in general. A variety of marketing techniques are employed in healthcare marketing to influence health behavior.

Read also Marketing in For-profit and Not-for-profit Health Care Organizations – A Matrix that Contrasts the Differences

The market structure in health care is not similar that deployed in a typical market since few consumers pays directly for the services. In health care, it is normally the third party (medical insurance companies) that directly pays for the services offered to their clients which is the patient. This makes it difficult for marketing to be properly done, which is a major challenge to health care marketers (Morris, & Clarkson, 2009).  A proper marketing plan is necessary in order to enable healthcare organizations to achieve objectives within a specified period of time. Measurement of satisfaction is also a major challenge in healthcare marketing compared to other marketing industries which employ various tools and methods to access satisfaction. Health care systems competition among employers could also have a negative influence on the marketing strategy.

Read also A Viable Social Media Strategy And Marketing Research Tool Help Understand The Target Market For A Health Care Organization

Lack of   a proper   standardized   marketing   technique like in other industries is a major challenge in health care marketing. Healthcare marketing cannot adapt techniques from other sectors, thus making healthcare marketing an independent system hence difficult to employ a variety of techniques. Proper standardized marketing techniques are important since it helps healthcare organizations to save resources and their time in marketing.

Read also Marketing Strategy For a Health Care Product – Maternity and Seonatal Service as a Product

Although internet serves a very important roles in market in all industries, it is very challenging for the patients to accurately verify the information posted on a website of a particular healthcare organization. This means that patients are required to conduct extra research about the information convey on the webpage before making a decision to seek services from that particular healthcare organization (Fellows, 2013). As a result, healthcare organization tend to invest a lot in technology in order to provide patients with more information on healthcare products and services. This affects various marketing strategies employed unlike other industries or organizations. Channels of communication in health care have changed, resulting to increased competition among health issues in the public.

Read also Healthcare Marketing : Premier Healthcare – Environmental Assessment

The marketing strategy in health care marketing has an extremely difficult cost-benefit analysis technique, which resulted into inability to meet or measure the cost of providing the health care service (Codourey, 2013). Competition within different health care systems could also affect employees and customers involved in health care systems and this influence which system gets patients. Cost-benefit analysis enables organizations to determine whether they will be able to meet their objectives in specified market areas or not.

Read also Stopping Outshopping – Marketing Strategies in the Health Care Industry

Marketing as a Necessity for Health Care

Marketing   has not been fully accepted into the health care system yet it has a legitimate role in the provision of health care services. Marketers in some cases are rarely recognized by health administrators and professionals hence affecting service delivery. This clearly shows that marketing has not been fully accepted in health care. Health care is also spending a lot of money in advertising health care issues which do not accomplish anything. More emphasis should be put on health care marketing and its importance to enhance its effectiveness.

Income use in health care marketing varies with the analysis level. Individual income when dealing with insurances in health care is almost negligible. Failure to specify analysis levels and variations within groups in health care could result to it being more of a luxury.

Marketing IKEA Brands in China and Japan

IKEA is the world’s largest furniture store. Phase 1 of its internationalization involved expanding from its home in Sweden to most of Europe whereas Phase 2 looked to expand in the North America and Australia markets. Having successfully achieved these phases, the company set out implementing Phase 3 that looked to expand to the Asian market, especially the Far East (Ringstrom, 2013).

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This paper is an analysis of IKEA’s expansion into China and Japan, its first stops in the Phase 3 expansion strategy. It looks at the opportunities and challenges inherent in the markets, the company’s market entry strategies, marketing mixes decisions and adoptions to these markets and also suggests IKEA’s marketing strategy for increased market share and profitability.

Opportunities and challenges for IKEA in China and Japan

IKEA views the Far East as an important emerging market, with sales in the region increasing gradually to cater for the company’s turnover. It has big and small outlets in various cities in the region, with big stores in such cities as Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Yokohama. (Class notes, undated).

IKEA has stuck to its concept of having its own warehousing and retailing stores, rather than franchising. Notably it had started with franchising in the Japanese market in 1976, but this business model did not work. It consequently reentered the Chinese (1998) and Japanese (2006) markets by opening its own distribution and retail stores. Some of IKEA’s major competitors in these emerging markets retail their products at such platforms as Tmall.com.  

IKEA started with small outlets in the Chinese market by opening small stores in Shanghai and Beijing, but the nature of the Far East market as well as the company’s repositioning has led to expanded, bigger stores not only in China but the rest of the region (IKEA, 2017). IKEA’s outlets are located on the outskirts of the region’s major cities with room for expansion.

Research and development (R & D) are cornerstones of IKEA’s expansion. It offers the company an opportunity to research various Far East markets and develop products customized for these markets. After failing as a franchise in the Japanese market, IKEA took time out from 1986 and did research on the lifestyles of over 100 Japanese families for a period of five years. The company also did research on the Chinese and other Far East markets. The research looked at the lifestyles and needs of its various market segments, especially young families who constitute the bulk of the company’s customers in many of its markets. Consequently, IKEA developed products suitable for the Japanese, Chinese and indeed the entire Far East markets. It consequently launched its big stores for retailing and distributing in China and Japan in 2003 and 2006 respectively (Class notes, undated).   

New Japanese legal requirements are stringent with regard to earthquakes, among other challenges facing the society. For example, all cabinets are required to be able to withstand earthquakes. This offers an opportunity for IEKA to be a catalyst for cultural change, offering furniture and appliances that are guaranteed to withstand climate disasters. IKEA’s R & D can research and develop products that set the trend regarding household furnishing and decoration.

A major challenge in Japan was to make the home an important place for the Japanese. Most Japanese homes are small spaces where the person does not invite their friends and or families. Because of space and time, most Japanese entertain outdoors with the home being viewed as a storage and sleeping place (Class notes, undated).

Another major challenge for IKEA stores in the Far East is to ensure profitability in markets where price is no longer the company’s competitive advantage. There are many factories and retailers in China and other neighboring countries offering items at very low prices in the Far East market because of the low production costs caused by cheap labor, low cost of materials and low transportation costs. This has led to IKEA selling its products at lower prices in the region despite huge capital and management outlays (Ringstrom, 2013). The major reason for closing IKEA’s franchise in Japan in 1986 was the lackluster financial performance over the period of twelve years. In China, the company went without profits for about a decade despite huge sales turnover. IKEA has since developed better business models for the Far East markets that are leading to improved profitability.

Another factor that contributes to low cost of many of the products developed and sold in most of the Far East is that most companies hardly invest in research and development. Many factories and distributors copy the designs of major brands, including IKEA. They even use the brands’ names in marketing. For example, searching “IKEA product” in Tmall.com brings up counterfeits that are produced by Jiayimei, a factory that used to manufacture for IKEA (Ringstrom, 2013). This is a situation that poses copyright and trademark challenges for IKEA and other leading brands.

Another challenge for IKEA is designing new products for the Far East markets. Unlike in Europe and North America where products that vary from the products fond in the international catalog are about 1%, the products that are unique for China make up 5% of the international catalog.  For example, sprung mattresses for China have different sizes from the international brands in consideration of the Chinese Fengshui culture where couples cannot sleep on two separate adjoined beds since this is viewed as bad luck. Japan’s small living spaces also posed a challenge in product development.

IKEA concept of do-it-yourself met resistance from the Japanese and Chinese markets. There is a huge group of Asian buyers of foreign furniture and appliances that has disposable incomes and is looking for quality and good customer service. Associating IKEA’s imported products with low quality and do-it-yourself delivery, assembly and installation flew in the face of these buyers’ perspective. Customer surveys in Japan showed low rating of the stores’ staff attitude (Class notes, undated).

Yet there is a majority of customers in the Asia market for whom price is a major consideration in their buying decision. These opt for local products that are priced cheaper than IKEA products. Consequently it was a challenge for the company to redefine its market segment and adapt its production, selling and distribution operations accordingly.

A challenge to IKEA’s distribution and logistics is the transportation infrastructure in the Far East. For example, in China only a few places are efficiently accessible by road. Most people use public infrastructure, unlike in IKEA’s traditional markets. This has made IKEA stores to be located in more accessible, upmarket, expensive properties; a factor that could be contributing to low profitability (IKEA, 2017).

Market entry strategies that IKEA adopted in China and Japan

According to Edvardsson and Edquist, expansion into the Far East, especially Japan and China, was the third phase in the growth to global success of IKEA. The company could hence apparently tap from its prior experience of expanding into the European and North America markets to adapt the best practices for the Far East market (Ringstrom, 2013).

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After its franchising failure in the Japanese market, IKEA researched and reentered the market as a stronger company in 2006, setting up retail outlets at Tokyo and Yokohama. It set up more retail outlets at Kobe and Osaka in 2008. Rather than the franchise method, having an outlet brought IKEA’s distribution and retail concept to the Japanese market. This was a concept bringing moderate success for the company in the Shanghai and Beijing IKEA stores.

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The warehousing and retailing stores in these markets were designed with ample showrooms. For example, there are displays of enchanting, furnished, Japanese households that use the “tatami” measurements. The furniture and appliances also meet Japanese stringent legal requirements (e.g. all cabinets being able to withstand earthquakes). The large stores also took consideration of the compact population concentration in the region. Having IKEA’s largest store design in the world, all the stores opened in Japan occupied about 40,000 square meters with in-store restaurants that have over 700 seats (Class notes, undated). The restaurants cater for the Japanese culture of entertaining outside the home. IKEA Funabashi had 35,000 visitors on the opening day. It has maintained 30,000 to 40,000 visitors every weekend. Like in many other of its markets, IKEA targets Japanese and Chinese families with household incomes of 40,000 to 45,000 Euros per year.

In China, IKEA started by opening small retail stores in the major cities of Shanghai and Beijing in 1998 and 1999 respectively. The company took its time to understand the Chinese customers, listening to them at their homes when delivering, assembling or installing furniture and appliances. Despite IKEA’s established do-it-yourself approach in European and North American markets, the Japanese and Chinese customers preferred the store to deliver, assemble and install the furniture and appliances. The company took all these concerns on board, adapting to have more suitable retail processes for the Far East market.

IKEA opened a fully-fledged retail store in Shanghai that occupies 33,000 square meters in 2003. The Shanghai store offers ample space for children to play and free parking. It attracted 80,000 visitors on the first day of business. The company has since opened a distribution and logistics center in the city as well as in Beijing. It now has many retail outlets throughout various Chinese cities.

The company adapted a long-term strategy in China and Japan by gradually rolling out stores in mid-sized cities. This strategy also extended to other cities in the region including in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong (IKEA, 2017). The stores adapted to the needs of the respective, new markets. They required huge capital outlay in terms of buildings and staff, with the company repositioning itself to cater for the middle class. The huge outlay and low margins affected the company’s profitability for several years, with the Far East branches being the only loss-making stores among IKEA branches. However, the strategy saw sales increase drastically, with sales in China increasing by over 500% in the five-year period from 2000-2005.

One of the experiences IKEA adapted for the Far East market was its unique organizational culture and retail strategies. These included having stores that looked similar to its other stores in the established markets of Europe and North America, including a prominent logo outside the stores and having warehouses on the ground floors. The IKEA retail experience was also transplanted to the stores in the Far East; including customers browsing the showrooms, buying flat-packed products, paying, and collection or shipping (Ringstrom, 2013). The do-it-yourself concept was retained with associated lesser prices, though more customers were asking for assembly and installation regardless the extra prices for these services.

IKEA was viewed as modern, elegant and representing the aspired Western lifestyle. It not only offered furniture, but the “complete solution” that included cooking appliances, lighting and bedding. Despite the customizing or individualizing approach of the store that went against the societies’ traditions of the collective, this foreign culture in home-making was embraced by the Chinese and other Far East markets. These changes in retailing processes and perception by the society led to IKEA repositioning itself to cater for the middle class, rather than the usual mass market it caters for in Europe, North America and Australia (Ringstrom, 2013).

The company has also adopted Chinese and Japanese local traditions in its marketing mix activities. For example, it has special products and designs for the Chinese New Year, which is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar. It has had various symbols of the various Chinese years on its products. These include red roosters and red pigs, with the color red denoting good luck in the culture. IKEA Shanghai also has three kinds of meat cleavers and three kinds of chopsticks as well as Western-style knives and forks.

Streamlining of distribution and logistics are crucial to IKEA’s operations. Towards this, the company set up two distribution and logistics centers in China. These centers are important to the company’s supply chain since they assure the quality of IKEA products by minimizing costs and enhancing customer satisfaction (Class notes, undated).

IKEA product, pricing, marketing communication and distribution decisions in the two Asian markets and adapting of the marketing mixes to the markets’ preferences and needs

IKEA’s products offer it a competitive advantage in the Asian market. This is because they are unique furniture branded as modern, elegant and western.  The company also offers various home necessities such as cooking appliances, lighting and beddings; promoting itself as offering the “complete solution”. Apart from offering maybe the widest range of home decoration products in China, the “do-it-yourself” concept leads to customized decorations and services, a differentiation from the local traditions and culture that the Chinese and Japanese markets appreciate; viewing it as experiencing a new culture (Class notes, undated).

That the do-it-yourself concept did not catch on among most of the population means IKEA made a decision to extend its production and retail experience to delivery, assembly and installation of the products. In addition to selling the flat-backs, the company offers the extra services at extra costs.

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The company has also built designed products that are unique to the Far East markets. Examples include chopsticks and cleavers tailored for the Chinese market. It also includes products for special occasions such as the Chinese New Year. Indeed 5% of the Chinese catalog consist of products unique to the Chinese market. Further, the sizing of Japanese furniture, appliances and bedding took into cognizance the small living spaces in Japan.

Product development in the Far East is usually low cost. In a bid to offer affordable products, IKEA adapted local production. It sources local material, uses local labor at local factories and reduces transportation costs by limiting to domestic transportation. It is able to pass some of these cost savings to the customer through competitive pricing (Ringstrom, 2013)  . 

Notably, low prices are a major competitive advantage for IKEA in European and North American markets. However in China and most of the Far East markets, IKEA found that its prices were higher than the prices of most of the local furniture retailers. Apart from reducing production costs so as to reduce the prices, IKEA also reduced its margins on many of its products; a factor that impinged on the company’s profitability. The company also charged extra for the extra services of delivery, assembly and installation that are preferred by the Japanese and Chinese customers.

Further the company dropped pricing as its major competitive advantage, repositioning itself to target a different demographic group, the middle class as opposed to its usual mass market. The company hence rebranded itself as the knowledge bank and brand of choice for the big urbanizing population aspiring for Western lifestyles (Ringstrom, 2013).

That the company is a big multinational that established itself in Europe and North America during phases 1 and 2 of its global expansion. As such, despite not making profits in China and Japan, the company could sustain itself in these markets without accruing any profits for several years. This made it to be able to painstakingly acquire local market knowledge that would turn into profits over time. IKEA Chief Executive Mikael Ohlsson noted that “we visit thousands of homes round every store in the world every year… We sit down in the kitchen and talk to them… That is the way we try to learn and understand” (Ringstrom, 2013). Hence the company engages on one-to-one market communication that makes it deliver products and services suitable for each market.

Other marketing communication involves distributing its catalogs. The catalogs are tailored to the needs, products and language of each market. The catalogs are updated frequently to include new designs and products for special occasions (IKEA, 2017).

After the failure of franchising in Japan, IKEA adapted a distribution method that involved starting with small retail outlets in China with a view to understanding the markets first before expanding into fully fledged stores that offered wide range of products. Notably the numbers of visitors to stores in China and Japan are big, making IKEA to build bigger stores in the Far East unlike those in its traditional markets. The stores adhere to IKEA’s traditions of warehousing, showrooms and after-sales services. They have also adapted to cater for the many visitors to the stores and the local culture by offering big restaurants at the premises where the customers can dine out.

In addition to the stores, the company has set up distribution and logistics centers, for example in Shanghai and Beijing in China. All the products distributed in these markets pass through these centers for quality control. This streamlines the supply chain, reducing the distribution costs and enhancing customer satisfaction.

The company has also tweaked its distribution and selling model from the strictly do-it-yourself model it has adopted in mature markets such that it is more involved with its middle-class customers in the emerging markets. This has seen its staff more involved in getting goods off shelves for the customers as well as in delivery, assembly and installation of the furniture and appliances (Class notes, undated).

Moreover IKEA is tapping into the huge online market, with over 25 million Chinese people per year visiting its website. Its website, ikea.com, is structured in a way that it caters for the various markets, with the customer having the option to switch to their local store and local language from the homepage. IKEA has also hastened ecommerce as a sales channel (IKEA, 2017).

For each of these markets, plan, discuss and justify what, in your opinion, IKEA’s marketing strategy should be in the near future to gain market shares and achieve higher profitability.

Despite the many visitors and high sales volume in IKEA’s Far East stores, the company has struggled to break even in these markets. Most of the visitors to the stores are young Chinese who view the stores as exciting and leisurely places to be; hence leading to a big gap between visitors and actual buyers. Most of the items purchased are small decoration products with low profit margins.

IKEA needs to convert the visitors to buyers of the company’s furniture and appliances. This includes ensuring the young visitors continue to visit the stores as they get employed and their purchasing powers increase. It would involve continuing to position the company’s products as exciting and leisurely for the Chinese, Japanese and other Far East markets, despite it targeting low-end buyers in Europe and North America. This means designing a comprehensive range of products and services suitable for the middle class.

IKEA is achieving brand development and market attractiveness through focus on digital marketing in the Asian market, apart from the traditional product catalog (IKEA, 2017). For example, the company is utilizing Chinese social media (e.g. Weibo) and microblogging to ensure that it remains attractive to the young audience. Its website is a good ecommerce portal suitable for purchasing the company’s products. IKEA can further hasten use of internet to ensure that it reaches more customers, especially those that are not catered for by a brick-and-mortar store.  

Public transport is the main mode of transport in China, Japan and indeed for the rest of the Far East market. This means that IKEA had to establish its stores in places accessible and convenient for its customers. Unlike in the European and North American markets where the company usually sets up stores in the suburbs, in these emerging markets it has to continue setting up stores on the outskirts of the city centers where it is easily accessible to the majority of people who use train and metro services. This will lead to higher capital costs, but the company should continue to adapt a long-term strategy for the markets where it should aim at long-term profitability.

There is a lot of red tape to establishment of foreign multinationals in many of the countries in the Far East, and Asia in general (Ringstrom, 2013). IKEA needs to effectively overcome the red tape to enhance its profitability. Apart from establishing the quality control centers, this includes gaining approvals for sourcing, operations and transportation in the various areas from the various state governments. This scenario is especially pronounced in such markets as India where the states are quite autonomous. It also has to adhere to sourcing requirements of the various governments in Asia.

IKEA can shorten the period it takes to update its products. This has been a major selling point of one of its main competitors in the Chinese market, Hola, that entered the Chinese market after IKEA yet has grown to be the biggest furniture retailer in that market. Other strategies it can adapt from Hola include quick turnaround for new designs during special festivals, whilst still retaining and adapting its retail concepts to become more suitable for the middle class it targets in these markets (Ringstrom, 2013).

The company needs to also find ways to curb copyright and trademark infringement of its designs and products that is rife in these emerging markets. For example, online searches of IKEA furniture in China is likely to bring up discounted products from Jiayimei, former IKEA OEM factories (Ringstrom, 2013). Jiayimei offers products similar to IKEA’s products at much lower prices on Tmall.com. Through developing new designs and pursuing legislation standardization and adherence at the government level, IKEA can gradually overcome this piracy, a move that will positively impinge on its profitability.

One of the customer complaints about IKEA in Far East is poor staff attitude (Class notes, undated). This has traditionally not being a strong point of IKEA since it has the do-it-yourself concept in its traditional markets. However, it is important that IKEA trains and retains top talent especially in customer service. Staff with better knowledge, skill and attitudes towards customer service will curb customer complaints during surveys.

Conclusion

IKEA has demonstrated courage, market awareness and adaptation as it implements phase 3 of its global aspirations. Despite initial setbacks, the company has shown bouncebackability to reestablish itself in the Japanese and expand its operations in China and other Far East countries. This is by IKEA shifting production from its traditional bases to take advantage of low production costs and low pricing in emerging markets where the countries have a lower GDP than the company’s traditional markets of Europe, North America and Australia. IKEA has adapted local sourcing of raw materials, working with local cheap labor and adapting local transportation methods.

Further the company has developed unique local brands for the respective markets. It has tweaked its do-it-yourself distribution and after-sales service to cater for the local demand and perception, with the company more involved in delivery, assembly and installation in the emerging markets. It has embraced modern technology to better cater for its customers. IKEA needs to continue listening, respecting and learning from the customers in the markets it ventures to so as to ensure sustainable growth and improved profitability. The company will overcome legal hurdles by closely with local governments and industries. Research and development should continue to be at the forefront for innovation and enhanced customer satisfaction. In so doing, IKEA will grow its market share to be the leading furniture and appliance distributor and retailer in the emerging market.

National Employment Pact Strategic Marketing

The National Employment Pact (NEP) was founded immediately after the end of revolution in the spring 2011. The NEP was formed as a practical response to the growing challenge of unemployment facing the Egyptian youth, particularly in the “Blue Collar workers”. The establishment of NEP came as a result of partnership between the German-Egyptian business communities supported by GACIC. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and German Federal Foreign Office (AA), German Development Cooperation (GIZ) supported the NEP. Due to this NEP is under the patronage of the German Embassy in Cairo.

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The National Employment Pact (NEP) objectives

The NEP has two core objectives:

  • The first objective is to provide as many jobs as possible to the Egyptian youth as well as place them with matching job seeker’s. The NEP achieve this objective through professional employment facilitation with specific focus on “Blue Collar Segment” such as skilled work without university education, semi-skilled and unskilled work.
  • The second objective is to promote and focus attention to the quality of employment. This is achieved through collaboration with Egyptian companies in the creation of decent and fair jobs. In addition, the NEP supports the implementation a motivation in the work environment in order to increase the productivity of the workforce.

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The strategic marketing of the NEP

            The strategy of the NEP is based on the four pillar: scale, innovate, sustain and partner. The first pillar ensures that there is a national dissemination of the employment based on the replication model driven by the needs Assessment and value proposition. The second pillar governs the quality and innovation which is attained through continuous improvement and standardization (Hollensen, 2013). The third pillar ensures that there is available finance to support institutions and setup legal governance. The NEP ensure that the funding is utilized based on the sustainable financing model. The fourth pillar ensures that the NEP engages with stakeholder through Lobbying, PR and Marketing.

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            Strategic marketing for the NEP involves three processes: planning, implementation and aligning the products and services to conform to the needs of the clients in the market. Analysis have indicated that marketing department finds it challenging to move products and services in the market at faster rate. With the competitive nature of the job market and high unemployment rate that have rocked Egyptian labor market, the NEP needs to strategize their marketing model as well as provide products and services that addresses specific needs of the consumers in the market. For instance, the NEP main marketing strategy is to build a strong network partners worldwide. This one of the marketing strategy that has enable the NEP to support its members and Egyptian companies to successful export more of their products into the Germany and European market.

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            The NEP should effective utilize the services of the Import Promotion Desk (IPD), which is the platform utilized by the Federal Republic of Germany to promote imports. The IPD serves as link that connects small and medium-sized international business communities from emerging nations and developing countries and the German importers. The main objectives of the IPD is to ensure that there is a well-structured and sustainable import promotion of particular product and services from a chosen partner countries. These countries must comply with high quality, environmental and social standards. The IPD assists the NEP to consolidate the interest of the Egyptian exporters and those of the German importers with the objective of growing the market from the emerging and developing countries. By facilitating the access to the German and European market, IPD enables developing countries as well as those emerging nations to grow their economic structures, hence improving development in Egyptian labor market.

            Prior to identifying the potential needs of the market, the NEP should evaluate its strengths based on the resources and capabilities such as financial, time and human resources. Also, the NEP should consider internal and external factors that affects market such as political and social dynamics as well as economic, technology and competition from other organization operating in the same market environment. These internal and external factors influence the rate at which the product and services move in the market as well as the provision of services and productivity of the country. It is very important for the marketing team to consider all these factor before deciding on the marketing strategy that the NEP should utilize since it influence service delivery to the clients.

            Generally, strategic marketing involves the use of marketing mix which requires the analysis of traditionally referred to as 4Ps which are price, promotion, place and product. However, as the market become more competitive, three Ps was added; people, process and physical evidence. This is the process that the NEP should utilize in defining the course of action that helps the organization to realize its short-term and long-term objectives as well as gaining the competitive edge. It is important for the NEP to comprehensively analyze the 4Ps in order to come up with strategic marketing which is appropriate for the organization. Marketing mix is part of the marketing strategy that help the NEP to promote its products and services. Although the 4Ps have been expanded to 7Ps, 4Ps remain the core factor for marketing department to choose the action plan that which is suitable for marketing plan.

Product

             Like most of the high-end organization, the NEP offers products such as linking the job seekers with the potential employers as well as matching the qualification of the job seekers with the appropriate type of employment. They also ensures that companies create fair and decent working environment for their employees. These product and services ensures that the job seekers get the right placement for the job and works in an environment that is decent and fair. It include controlling the salary paid to the employees. More importantly, the NEP does not need to expand the range of products and services they offer to their members since some of the products might not satisfy the needs of the clients. It is important for the NEP to first conduct market research in order to establish what the customers need in order to develop products and services that meet the quality and expectation of the market.

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            Some of the factor that the NEP needs to consider while developing and aligning their products and services is that a product should not necessarily be tangible. The product might be in the form of insurance policy for the employees working in a high risks environment. The product and service should be tailored to provide value to the customer. In this case the value of the product and service lies on the eyes of the beholder not what the NEP management thinks to be value to the clients, but it should be what they want (Kotler, & Armstrong, 2014). The NEP should put in place systems that periodically collect feedbacks from the customers about their products and services. The feedback should also determine the needs of the customers now and whether these needs will change overtime. Lastly, the NEP should make the quality of their products and services as the priority because the quality of the product traps the consumers. According to Kotler and Armstrong (2014), both product and services are there to support each other and bring out the highest value to the customers as well as improves the reputation of the organization.

Price

            It is important to note that product or services is only worth the amount the client is willing and ready to pay. The NEP marketing department needs to set the price of the products and services to be competitive. However, competitiveness should not be mistaken to mean that the organization should offer their product and service at the cheapest price in the market. The NEP should consider providing their clients with value-adds, more personal services as well as better value for money. It is important to note that price is the only element in the marketing mix that allow the organization to generate revenue while all the other P’s represent the cost to the organization. Therefore, for the NEP to price its products and service competitively, the marketing department needs to approach the issues from the customer’s perspective. Some of the factors that needs to be considered include:

  • The price of the products and services determines the position in which the client as well as consumers places the organization in the market place in relation to their rivals.
  • The higher price charged on products and services, the higher the quality the consumers expects from the product and services offered.
  • The price of the services serves as a relative measure that determines the quality of the service the consumer expects from the provider.
  • Every service or product offered to the consumer must be consistent with the quality expectation in terms of invoice, letterheads, website, promotional materials, environment and packing.
  • The existing consumers must be looked after very well since they are not more sensitive to the about the price of the product and service as compared to the new consumers who seeks for quality product at fair price.

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Place

            The NEP must ensure that the products and services they offer to the consumers are always available in the right quantity, in the right place and at the right time. For instance, the NEP must ensure most of the “Blue Collar jobs” are within Egypt. This enables the clients to seek these services in a place which is convenient and appropriate to them. The NEP may apply brick-and-mortar operation which is more application in e-commerce. It is important also to note that the way services and products are displayed to the group of clients and consumers also mean a place. In other words, place is described as a channel to which product and services are delivered to the clients. In the case of the NEP, a place is the environment in which the employers and the employees get interact. Due to advance in technology, job seekers can interact with the potential employers through NEP website as oppose to physical appearance. However, it is important to understand that at some pointing time, the employer and the job seeker interacts physically especially where the employment require physical fitness.

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            Therefore, the NEP must identify the appropriate channel that the organization can utilize to distribute their service and products to reach out to many potential employers and job seekers within the shortest time possible.

Promotion

            Studies have shown that lack of feasible and effective campaign promotion, the organization is likely to be drawn out of the market due to fierce competition. Promotion is the initial step that make most companies to be known by the public prior to attracting any further attention from the consumers. According to Blythe (2012), promotion mix is the process of disseminating message and ideas about the producer and the provider of product and service to the potential consumers through different means. Generally, promotion can be conducted using five different means: direct marketing, public relations (PR), personal selling, sales promotion and advertisement (Blythe, 2012). Therefore, apart from selecting the target group such as unskilled, semi-skilled and work without university degree, the NEP must focus to selecting the promotional tools to make strategic management most successful.

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            By using one of the five promotion form, the organization is not likely to attract enough attention as required. As a result, the NEP should consider incorporating all the five forms of promotion in order to ensure the best message is delivered to the client effectively. This approach is commonly referred to as “Integrated Marketing Communication”.

Marketing Strategic Plan for an Electric Powered Adjustable Seat Wheelchair

Introduction

            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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Product

Product Description

            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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Objectives/Mission Statement

            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. 

Competition

            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.

Product Features

            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.

Core Strategy

            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.

Marketing Mix

            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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Price

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.

Conclusion

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.