Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back to school: Market Research and Corporate Strategy

It's been back to school in two ways in the past few months:

First, later today I start teaching Marketing Research at the University of the Netherlands Antilles, using the same text book I had as an undergraduate student (Aaker/Day), albeit a much newer edition. It's a real pleasure to see the difference in the 2nd and 9th edition with regard to geographical scope. The chapters on secondary data sources are also expanded to reflect the abundance of timely, easily and inexpensively available secondary data that researchers now have access to. More emphasis on cost-benefit analysis before embarking on research is also a welcome addition, especially in our small markets. And lastly, obviously, the impact of the Internet on the market research function.

It will still be a challenge to translate the concepts to our smaller market and showing students how to be creative with their knowledge given the limitations. This while reminding them that we do live in a global world and they can more easily end up doing research for larger markets (while still sitting in Curacao) than ever before.

Back to (graduate business) school days also came in an assignment some time ago where we used Product Life Cycles, Boston Consulting Group Matrices and Ansoff growth models, the stuff specialization at The Wharton School was made up of. Now we used them to examine the existing and future potential of each brand as it relates to the client's bottom line and which marketing strategies to follow to realize that potential. Given the experience I have now, I could also develop some of my own strategies. Without doubt one of the more interesting assignments recently.

I realized the increased relevance of these concepts as marketing directors try to manage product portfolios that are ever expanding with new products and line extensions targeted to increasingly smaller segments.

It also made me realize how even more relevant these strategic concepts are to small markets. Marketing Directors are inclined to take on all (or many) extensions of their brand owners in their portfolios in an effort to fulfil the desires of their customers, who have access to global information and just know there is a product "just for them" even if, in a small market, they may be the only one in the segment. What is the MD to do?

Have you stopped to evaluate:
  • the added benefit of a new extension to your clients
  • the added contribution of a line extension to your bottom line, given the sometimes really small segments.
  • how to duly support line extensions in the long run
  • how to support the growth of extensions that will be more relevant in the future with present "cash cows"

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