Marketing Plan for a Company Marketing Plan

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Marketing Plan

This marketing plan is for Starbucks, to guide the company to its revenue and growth objectives. The plan focuses on the cash cow market on the United States and the high growth market of China as twin means by which the company's overall strategic objectives will be achieved. These two work in concert because the cash generated in the United States is basically used to finance the rapid expansion of the company into the Chinese market. Starbucks is positioned as a premium coffee seller in all of its markets, with a very strong brand, and those are the fundamentals around which the marketing program must be developed.

The marketing strategy in the United States is incremental in nature, focusing on finding growth in key growth markets and in large metro areas where there is insufficient saturation. The program is going to be based on the empowerment of local managers to engage in additional promotions, store openings and to develop social media and other emerging marketing channels for the company.

The Chinese strategy is based more on aggressive growth, so building organizational infrastructure is critical. The company also needs to understand its target market, and undertake a marketing program that seeks to build the brand. Starbucks in China will also need to focus on same store sales, but is primarily going to be built on social media and attempts to form a coffeeshop habit among younger Chinese consumers, the new and rapidly growing middle class in that country.

The marketing plan also includes specific success measures for the company and its initiatives. There are going to be concrete numbers attached to the objectives that will be used to evaluate the success of this plan, and to implement effective controls to know what works and what does not.

Environmental Analysis

External Analysis

There are several elements to the external environment. These include the economic, social, political/legal and ecological environments. Each can have an impact on the marketing of an organization. For Starbucks, these need to be considered on the global scale, because the company operates around the world. The first environment is the economic. In this, the U.S. economy is only recovering slowly from a slump, but there has been sufficient recovery for the majority of the Starbucks target market. It is also worth considering the economic growth trajectory of China as well, since this is the major growth market for the Starbucks (White, 2012). The Chinese economy has been growing rapidly in recent years but has recently become unsteady, a function of rising inflation and costs along with significant wealth inequality (Qing, 2013). Thus, the economic environment in moderately favorable with some growth but the risk that growth slows in China makes calls into question the company's pursuit of China as a major growth market.

The political and legal environments are generally favorable. In the United States and around the world, Starbucks will occasionally deal with minor legal actions -- normal for any large company -- but has had little difficulty in the political environment. There is some concern about intellectual property rights, especially as Starbucks expands into developing world nations were IP protections are weak. However, this has not proven to be a major obstacle to growth yet.

The social environment is generally positive. In North America, consumers are hooked on the coffee ritual and Starbucks has been able to leverage that to great success over the years. While Asian markets have traditionally been oriented to tea, Starbucks has been able to trade on offering a "third place" away from small apartments, and this appeals to many people in Asia (Bhushan, 2012). The company has therefore proven the ability to overcome challenges in the social environment by targeting other attributes of the stores besides the coffee itself.

The technological environment is not necessarily something that will affect Starbucks' coffee production, but it does represent a significant change in the marketing capabilities of the organization. Social media in particular has changed the way that people talk to one another, something that can have significant impacts for marketers. Thus, the technological environment is generally positive.

Target Markets

Starbucks targets a broad range of people in order to generate billions of dollars in revenue. However, there are some basic facts about coffee drinkers in particular that can be relevant to the creation of a marketing plan. The coffee market skews older (30-65) with consumption increasing with age. The younger audience is just learning about coffee. Starbucks targets the younger end of the key coffee demographic, both in the U.S. And in China. The market is slightly younger in China because those are the more likely to be interested in Western things. However, the coffee demographic is similar in most countries in the world. The target market for Starbucks also skews towards upper middle income and higher, which is a function of the fact that Starbucks has premium positioning in the market.

The psychographic profile of the target market is also fairly broad. Starbucks offers a mainstream product and experience, so does not stand out among a particular type of consumer other than "normal." That said, such consumers tend to be brand loyal, and they will typically be repetitive purchasers. They are habitual coffee users, ordering the same drinks at the same locations. They purchase Starbucks because they perceive it to be of higher quality than some other coffees, and certainly higher quality than the supermarket option. The Starbucks brand specifically has aspirational appeal -- it isn't the best coffee in the world but it is a solid brand in terms of reputation and that is a draw for many consumers. Some consumers express a preference for Starbucks over competitors but usually location and convenience drive initial purchase decisions.

Current Marketing Objectives

At present, Starbucks is seeking to growth its market, grow its brand recognition and build market share in all of its markets. These objectives guide the marketing strategy at the company. With respect to growth, Starbucks is primarily focused on emerging markets like China and India. Its major established markets -- U.S., Canada, UK -- are basically a cash cow for the company that is helping to finance the high growth markets. In the growth markets, creating brand awareness is probably the most important strategy. In the established markets, the company is focused more on defending its market share and achieving incremental gains in same-store sales. These two different strategies are important because of the very different characteristics of these markets.

This current market performance has generally been strong. Starbucks remains the largest firm in the industry and it has one of the more valuable brands in the world, something it tries to leverage for growth in foreign markets. However, Starbucks is still seen as a luxury items in the U.S., where the brand suffered an image decline in the mid-2000s and into the beginning of the recession. Overall, the company has been successful but there is still room for further growth. Starbucks also faces a tougher challenge in defending its share on the home front, since there are a number of other competitors in the market, which will ultimately put price pressure on the coffee business.

SWOT Analysis

There are several strengths from which Starbucks can gain advantage. The company has strong leadership from Howard Schultz, and his return to the company has brought about its current recovery. His work has guided the company to its current success. Another strength is the brand, which has become one of the most valuable and recognizable brands in the world. The Starbucks brand is often ubiquitous in the markets in which it competes. It has been transferred to the retail and institutional coffee markets, both of which are very large (Porjes, 2011). The company has perhaps the strongest brand in coffee, and this is true in all but the weakest of its markets.

The success of Starbucks is also-based somewhat on operational excellence. The company has developed what it calls the Starbucks Experience, which is the in-store experience. Many companies have sought to emulate this. For Starbucks, the ability to deliver this consistently is something that has allowed it to translate the business all over the world, including to nations without a history of coffee drinking. The company has made several new acquisitions in juice, tea and pastries over the past few years in the hopes that it can apply its operational excellence to these other industries.

There are several weaknesses at the company that could undermine its ability to succeed in the future. The first is the company's reliance on Schulz. As valuable as he is, the company has not demonstrated the ability to succeed without him. If this leadership development pipeline issue persists it is indeed a major weakness. Another weakness is the company's slowdown when the U.S. economy was struggling. This points to weakness in the market. Starbucks may court the habitual coffee drinker, but when routines are changed that same coffee drinker might drop the company. A third… [END OF PREVIEW]

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