Essay: Marketing Management and Marketing Questions: The SWOT

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Marketing

Management and Marketing Questions:

The SWOT analysis is one of the most commonly used outlook tools in business assessment. Created and used both internally by organizations seeking to better understanding their own positions in the market and externally by interested parties attempting to characterize a company's circumstances in a concise fashion, the SWOT lays out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats which contextualize an organization.

According to Pierce & Robinson (2009), the SWOT "is based on the assumption that an effective strategy derives from a sound 'fit' between a firm's internal resources (strengths and weaknesses) and its external situation (opportunities and threats). A good fit maximizes a firm's strengths and opportunities and minimizes its weaknesses and threats." (Pierce & Robinson, 159) The authors denote that a firm will employ the SWOT as a way to make future plans, to render key decisions and to initiation organizational change where necessary.

2)

With the collapse of such major modern upstarts as Enron, destroyed internally by the embezzlement, misrepresentation and greed of their own leaders, and conversely, the decision by Johnson & Johnson to adjust its practices according to consumer concerns, it would become increasingly apparent that the presence of strong, defined and enforced business ethics codes is a determining factor in the long-term viability of corporations large and small. This concept of business ethics, which we have addressed throughout our coursework, is demonstrative of the intercession between ethical practice and organizational success.

Through its accounting firm, the likewise large-scaled Arthur Andersen, "Enron lied about its profits and stands accused of a range of shady dealings, including concealing debts." (BBC News, 1) The company's top executives had misled investors and shareholders with regard to actual performance indicators and stock values, creating a false investment atmosphere which persisted for years as a front for the embezzlement of top officials. When the company's collapse became inevitable, its shareholders collectively pulled out, forcing the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As the text by Pierce & Robinson notes, Enron would clearly be in dereliction of its duties from a Corporate Social Responsibility perspective. Indeed, the text connects this directly to organizational viability, indicating that "the goal of every firm is to maintain viability through long-run profitability. Until all costs and benefits are accounted for, however, profits may not be claimed. In the case of corporate social responsibility, costs and benefits are both economic and social." (Pierce & Robinson, 58)

In an article from the Wall Street Journal, former Enron executive Jeff Skilling, convicted and sentence to a 24-year term in prison for his role in the scandal, underscores the way that social and corporate events intercede where ethics is concerned. Indeed, the legal defense in his appeal, the article by Emshwiller & Bravin (2010) denotes, has claimed that "Enron's December 2001 collapse into bankruptcy was so traumatic for residents of Houston, Enron's hometown, that he couldn't get a fair trial there." (Emshwiller & Bravin, 1)

3)

Strategic issues of marketing center around such concepts as target demographics and market segmentation. These are concepts which denote that a company must find ways to appeal to as broad a range of potential consumers as possible. In an industry such as brewing, where significant market consolidation has reduced the number of competitors and has substantially eliminated many smaller sources of competition, it remains an important goal for these monolithic conglomerates to appeal to a diversity of product appeals. This is the explanation for differentiating between 'light' and 'regular' beer, among other specializations.

A Wall Street Journal Article identifies the implications of conglomerate ownership in this equation, suggesting that this is part of a strategy of diversifying market appeal. In a confrontation between the local South African Brewing and the conglomerate Heineken, Stewart (2010) denotes that "SAB's advantages to date have been in the breadth of its portfolio -- allowing it to lure in drinkers with less expensive local beers and then inspire them to reach for its international, premium labels such as Grolsch, Peroni and Miller Genuine Draft -- and a stranglehold on returnable bottles. Now Heineken will have its own bottles, upmarket green rather than brown, and can benefit from SAB's efforts to make beer aspirational with offerings at the upper end of the segment." (Stewart, 1) This denotes that as larger corporations learn the value of diversification, local brewing operations are increasingly unable to compete in terms of pricing or segmentation flexibility.

4)

The scenario described here above suggests that an organization is poised for expansion in a regard that requires some internal and environmental reflection. A wide array of factors will enter into determining the best course to take when contemplating a planned growth strategy, with all of these pointing toward the best way to achieve competitive advantage. Competitive advantage comes from a commitment to a strategic orientation that differentiates a company within its trade by establishing a specialized niche in a market place, by meeting goals which are strategically different from competitors and by sacrificing traditionally valued aspects of a trade in exchange for the heightened optimization of the selected niche. As Pierce & Robinson indicate, "market focus allows some businesses to compete on the basis of low cost, differentiation, and rapid response against much larger businesses with greater resources. Focus lets a business learn its target customers -- their needs, special considerations, they want accommodated -- and establish personal relationships in ways that 'differentiate' the smaller firm or make it more valuable to the target customer." (Pierce & Robinson, 255)

This seems to point our discussion toward the resolution that for our organization, expansion should revolve on a strategy which identifies some such targets and finds ways to vary our approach to these targets without altering the basic design of our product and services. Though this will require a marketing, packaging and design strategy which differ from previous approaches, this would require significantly less capital and less venture risk than the development of a new product. Indeed, as the text here above suggests, competitive advantage can be gained through market differentiation without significant cost increase. Indeed, in some contexts, passing a lowered overhead cost along to the consumer can be considered a competitive advantage.

A positive example of this in the service context might be an airline with a specific service orientation such as Southwest Airlines. A no-frills, short-distance air carrier which targets a specific market by offering low fares and by determining not to offer in any context the perks often provided by would-be competitors may, for example, have a better opportunity at establishing competitive advantage than through simple efficiency improvements. Here, the result is a competitive advantage which comes not from besting the competition with an improvement of efficiency, but from achieving a high level of efficiency in a selective capacity. It also allows Southwest to target specific markets while maintaining low overhead costs and emphasizing a high quality of customer service.

5)

Suppose a strategic plan is in place and the company discovers that it has failed to achieve the sales and profit increase it was expecting. When the results are reported, senior executives begin to blame other departments. Several senior executives have said privately that it might be better to scrap the plan and start over so that the top team can come to agreement. What strategic issues are involved. Would you agree that the current plan should be scrapped? Please cite strategic concepts to defend your answer.

Often, the difference between an effective leadership core and one which fails to steward its organization effectively in the dexterity and sensibility present in its planning mechanisms. This is particularly because it falls on the shoulders of management to construct and oversee the implementation of both strategy and execution. To this end, perhaps the most important function of an effective management team is its orientation of an organization toward the proper activation and continuation of a plan. Especially during a process of major organizational change, where plans are subject to rapid industry change and at the mercy of such factors as economy, technology and consumer culture, it is not possible to ensure against failure. Indeed, in a certain respect, proper organizational leadership will proceed from the perspective that expectations might not be met or that outcomes of a transition will fall short of projections. Thus, it is not the evasion of failure, and certainly not the passing of blame, which may be said to define a successful plan. Those that are seen through to success will reflect the presence of proper contingency planning.

Essentially, research denotes that organizations engaged in any high-risk venture -- defined as such by the use of a large amount of overhead resource -- should be backed by detailed evaluation methods, timelines for applying these evaluations, ways for interpreting outcomes, clear benchmarks for what these outcomes should be and a set of alternative routs which can be taken when flaws in a plan have been identified. It is clear in the case of the question above… [END OF PREVIEW]

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