I have elected to analyse a company called Sony/Sony-Ericsson which is a global market leader with regard to electronics and the various marketing strategies they apply to the products they manufacture.
Moreover, I have opted to examine the Sony-Ericsson “T630” mobile phone which has recently crossed the launch threshold earlier this year in the mobile phone market. The other two products that I will be looking into will be the Sony “MZ N910” Net Minidisc player and the Sony “Playstation 1” games console which are existing products within the company.
Marketing is the approach by which a company primarily strives to expose customer requirements.
Marketing provides a long-term understanding of customers continually changing requirements which is usually based on consumer trends concerning their individual specific ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. ‘The charted Institute of Marketing’ definition of marketing is:
“Marketing is the management process that identifies, anticipates and satisfies customer requirements” 1
It is a fundamental idea of marketing that organisations survive and prosper through meeting the needs and wants of customers. This key perspective is commonly known as the marketing concept. The marketing concept is about matching a company’s capabilities with customer wants. This matching process takes place in what would be classified as being the marketing environment.
The primary concern of marketing is to identify and satisfy, or exceed the changing needs of customers.
Marketing, in fact, refers to any activity undertaken by a firm that has been designed to plan, price, promote and distribute ideas, goods and services to target markets.
These marketing activities are executed in order to create exchange which is that sales will result in the achievement of the firm’s goals, both in the short-term and the long-term.
It is then clear that marketing forms an integral component of any business’s operations.
In particular marketing activities attempt to increase a firms’ revenue base, by placing a strong emphasis on enticing potential customers in target markets to purchase the firms’ products in order to satisfy their wants, rather than those of a firm’s competitors. Consequently, marketing directly contributes to the attainment of the financial aims of the firm.
Marketing as an activity entails several features, all of which are presented during the course of the marketing process. Such features include, firstly and most significantly, that marketing is a comprehensive process that begins with the creation of an idea and ends up as product that will be sold to satisfy a customer’s needs.
Secondly, marketing is seen as a managerial process as it involves making managerial decisions about the particular mix of product, price, place and promotion in a firm. Marketing is perceived as a way in which firms are able to satisfy the needs of customers, and in turn achieve their own business goals.
Approaches to Marketing
Marketing provides the business with the ability to satisfy the changing wants of customers. In light of this, and the fact that businesses have become increasingly aware of the role that marketing plays in achieving success in a business, several approaches or philosophies to marketing have been developed.
There are five central approaches to marketing. The use of a specific marketing approach/s depends upon Sony’s marketing strategy and the type of product being marketed. These different approaches are:
Marketing Concept: this approach believes that customer’s want-satisfaction is the economic and social reason for an organisation’s existence. This approach stipulates that all of the business’s activities should be targeted towards meeting consumer wants, while at the same time meeting the organisation’s goals.
In effect, this approach requires that Sony finds out what the customer wants, and subsequently develops a product to meet these requirements and then sell it at a profit.
Production Concept: this approach states that Sony will sell its product if it is both well made and affordable. Businesses utilising this approach require management to focus on improving production techniques and cost structures of the business. Consequently, this approach does not place stress on customer want-satisfaction.
Product Concept: this approach has the attitude that ‘product is king’ and focuses on the quality, features, and performance of the product.
This approach believes that if the product has more features or is of a better quality and performance compared to competitors, it will gain greater sales.
This approach is not customer want-satisfaction oriented.
Selling Concept: this approach focuses on developing sales techniques and promotional activities in order to entice customers into buying Sony’s product, whether they want it or not.
Therefore this approach places a direct emphasis on customers, but, possibly not on their want-satisfaction.
Societal Marketing Concept: this is the latest marketing approach, it combines the main ideas of the marketing approach, that is, determining customer needs and satisfying Sony’s goals, but also integrates social responsibility into the business.
This social responsibility includes increasing environmental awareness, which may include tackling the problems of pollution and the exploitation of non-renewable resources.
Modern day businesses such as Sony are under pressure to adopt this marketing approach, in order to become more socially responsible.
This approach not only focuses on fulfilling the customer’s want-satisfaction, but also satisfying society.
Businesses such as Sony do not commence on marketing activities alone. They face threats from competitors, and changes in the political, economic, social and technological environment.
All of these factors have to be taken into account as a business tries to match its capabilities with the needs and wants of its target customers. An organisation that adopts the marketing concept accepts the needs of potential customers as the origin for its operations.
Success is dependent on satisfying customer needs because if they’re needs are not met then they will not be content and so will choose not to purchase the goods/service and go to a rival competitor.
This brings me onto my next point, which is what makes successful marketing and to illustrate successful marketing, I have drawn a simple spider diagram below which looks at the ‘American Marketing Association’s 5 point marketing plan.
What Makes Successful Marketing
When bearing in mind the six rudiments within successful marketing which is shown above, it is vital that the marketing process is taken into close consideration. Marketing is simply just the process of anticipating the future and satisfying customers changing requirements.
The planning process creates a blueprint that not only specifies the means for achieving organisational objectives, but also caters as checkpoints from which performance can be compared with the plan to verify whether the current activities within the company are moving them forward into new light.
The basic goals of Sony will be the starting point for successful marketing planning. This is because they serve as signposts from which marketing plans are acknowledged.
These aims will provide a direction in all aspects for Sony as they serve as methods in evaluating the company’s performance. In relation to this, objectives should be Specific, Measurable so that Sony can monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of how well they are doing and must have all aims applied to the SMART criteria.
Moreover, another two imperative terms that need to be understood in successful marketing are customer and competitor orientation and if products are to be developed to meet prospective customer needs and wants through market orientation, Sony will need to keep ahead of competitors i.e. Sony will have to acquire an understanding of what their foremost competitors such as Panasonic has to offer.
For example, if Sony do not attain what their opposition has to offer, then they’re competitors will be in a healthier position to congregate customer requirements and Sony’s customer loyalty base will start to get eradicated thus resulting in a loss of their sales and profitability levels. Due to this, Sony have invested heavily with regard to promoting their products to firstly ensure that they’re products correspond and meet the needs and wants of customer’s, and secondly to ensure that communication is efficient towards the customers so that they get exposed and informed.
Examining Sony’s competitors will involve how they sell and distribute their goods and services, whether or not their competition have similar products and at what price they charge, and most importantly, it will be important to pose as customers to figure out how well the competition are performing. This can be identified through asking rivalry competitors customers what they think and through observing their activities i.e. the amount of people that go and buy products in the outlet in a given time.
Communicating effectively with consumers is extremely vital and probably much more important then any of the other five elements in successful marketing because it is about following up customer’s orders to make sure that everything about the product is all well being and finding out what the company can do to improve the products even further. Communicating simply means keeping in touch with customers, knowing what they want and how to attract them to buy the product.
Co-ordinating of functions involves the simple principle of cautious planning using a blend of a swot analysis and the marketing mix. The overall emphasis of co-ordinating activities is for Sony to train and establish what customers are thinking and the importance of marketing.