Research Proposal: Cookware Is a Durable and Responsive Market

Pages: 9 (2836 words)  ·  Style: Harvard  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business  ·  Buy This Paper

Cookware is a durable and responsive market that enjoys a lot of innovation, especially in the more mature markets such as the UK. Competition between cookware providers is tighter and tighter every day, while the consumer's budget is slowly decreasing. The social trends suggest that despite a strong media attention on healthy eating habits, the increasing involvement of women in the labor market diminishes their willingness to spend time cooking at home. In fact, they would rather buy ready made food and enjoy the time outside the kitchen.

These trends also show an opportunity for sales leads in the ready made food industry, which should register increased sales and therefore an increased demand for cookware products.

Kerry Co.'s sales decreased lately and the company needs to identify the factors that led to this outcome with priority. Thus, the first step in its new marketing strategy includes a market research analysis meant to identify customer dissatisfaction factors and new sales opportunities.

The customer satisfaction analysis should be seen as an ongoing project through which the company is always aware of customer needs and wants and the initial budget is evaluated at £4,430, plus an extra £35,000 to £55,000 distributed over a twelve-month period.

The second step of the marketing strategy includes business analytics, including here a set of key performance indicators that monitor the progress of marketing decisions made as a result of the customer research campaign included in the first step. The analysis should be performed by the same analyst at no additional costs and this also should be seen as an ongoing process.

The company's marketing decisions should be kept flexible. This implies that Kerry Co. should change promotional/distribution/price/product decisions according to the customers' needs and wants as identified in the two steps of the marketing strategy.

2. Current Marketing Situation

On a general level, the cookware market is characterized by durability and adaptability, showing flexibility and innovation in order to keep pace with modern trends. In the UK, this market has been estimated at £765m at retail selling prices (rsp) in 2006, which reflects a rise of 1.7% on 2005, and a growth rate of 5.7% between 2002 and 2006 (Market Research, 2007). The same Market Research report (2007) identified utensils sector within the cookware industry as the fastest-growing category, increasing by 11.3% between 2002 and 2006.

In terms of distribution, grocery minimarkets increased their share of sales quite fast starting with early 2000, currently holding 20% of cookware and 36% for bakeware. However, department stores maintain a steady 18% market share of cookware sales (Just Food, 2006).

The intense competition has stimulated the mid and top-end suppliers' creativity, which generated a large influx of low price products in supermarkets and retailers' shelves. In addition to a better price/quality ratio, the consumers enjoy a wider variety of products. Moreover, the media exposure of cooking activities has increased exponentially as people are constantly reminded to eat a healthier diet, low on fat or salt, thus making cooking very glamorous. Thus, over the 2002-2006 period, cookware industry sales have been boosted by increasing number of single households, increase of personal disposable income and media exposure that turned cooking fashionable again.

One upcoming challenge for the companies in the cookware industry is related to increasing prices generated by increases in the cost of labor, fuel and raw materials. The market demand should be very price-sensitive, as many consumers can claim being too busy to cook. Additionally, the credit crisis coupled with the shrinking in the housing market is likely to have a strong impact on the consumer confidence and therefore on cookware industry sales.

Threats and Opportunity Analysis

One major threat is connected to the increasing number of working women, which implies that the demand for ready-made foods remains high and keeps the need for many cookware items at a basic level of heating prepared foods. As women become more involved in the labor market, despite the recent media coverage of healthy eating, the demand for cookware will follow the trend of women's spare time, which is downward sloping.

However, the increasing involvement of women in the labor market can be seen also as an opportunity. The number of business focused on delivering ready made food, such as restaurant or catering companies should increase to meet an increasing demand for this type of products. Hence, the need for cookware in these companies should be increasing.

Additionally, the decline in the traditional wedding market, which is a major source of income in the cookware industry, has suppressed demand as well. Individuals often buy cookware products as wedding presents and due to recent wedding trends, companies operating in this industry need to rethink their sales strategy and focus on other sources of income.

Even though traditional weddings are less and less a choice for young couple, the need for cookware shouldn't drop dramatically on this niche. Individuals can be reminded that offering cookware to young couples is still fashionable, except that instead as offering it as a wedding present, they can relate it to a different event, such as house warming party. Even though couples don't get marry as often nowadays, they still move together in the same home.

One other opportunity has to do with the healthy food recent trend, namely bio food. Cookware companies can associate their brands with this type of companies and thus increase awareness both about their products and the habit of home made food, which implicitly requires consumers to buy their own cookware products.

Objectives and Issues

The market is getting increasingly competitive with fluctuations in exchange rates reducing margins. Turnover has dropped to £1.5m. The company is keen therefore to carry out a complete overhaul of its marketing strategy.

The main goal is to increase sales, whether is by product diversification, or geographic diversification, or change in distribution activity, or even a stronger focus on the sales force. Kerry Co. needs to rethink the way it marketed its products in the past and implement changes that will reverse the current downward sales trend.

Given the increased competition in the cookware industry, many companies are faced with the same decrease in sales as Kerry Co., which is why the marketing activities are also likely to be more intense in this period. Hence, the most important issue now is to allocate resource to the right marketing activities. A market research campaign is a must at this point to determine the next steps in the marketing strategy. The market research is meant to identify the consumer tastes, his/her dissatisfaction and what makes him/her extremely satisfied and thus willing to buy certain cookware products. The research should be mainly primary - directly asking for the opinion of those who already purchase the products - and secondary research should be used just to compensate the primary one despite being cheaper and easily accessible - compile information from various sources, which is assumed to be applicable to the new or existing product.

The next step after collecting the information is the analysis based on it the decision making process. In Kerry Co.'s case, the business owns its freehold property, which means that for the right strategy the owners will be able to raise funds to implement the plan. Nevertheless, even these resources are limited; hence extra attention is required with future marketing decisions.

Marketing Strategy

The first step in the marketing strategy will be to determine why/when customers buy cookware products and what are the satisfaction factors. This can be achieved through a survey sent to the customers that already bought the products or to those buying the products in the present. However, the second option may be more time-consuming. The survey should contain a small number of questions, such as:

What determined you to buy our products? (Answers: (a) personal use, (b) give away as present, - other - please specify).

In case of personal use: Do you often cook? How many times per week? (Answers: (a) every day, (b) mostly weekends, - with special occasions, (d) almost never, (e) never).

In case of give away as present: What was the occasion? (Answers: (a) Wedding, (b) house warming party, - other - please specify).

For both cases: On a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being the best) how would you rate your satisfaction with our products?

Customer satisfaction is essential to the survival of our businesses. A general rule in marketing says that a satisfied customer "tells three people within the first month after the sale, while a dissatisfied customer tells seven people about you during the first week" (Pegram, 2000). In fact in many industries, studies have indicated that "word-of-mouth" advertising, which happens to come for free, is a major source of sales leads (Lichty, 1998).

Once the company increases awareness of what triggers customer satisfaction, it can start changing some of the marketing activities to better fit customers needs of investigate further by sending dedicated surveys (e.g. ask individuals that buy cookware as presents what kind of cookware… [END OF PREVIEW]

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