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Marketing and its little grey area.
Ask any two learned individuals as to what marketing really is, and two different answers will probably be given to you. This is not to say that either one of them could be wrong – not by a long shot. Marketing, as a discipline, just happens to have quite a number of definitions. Even seasoned marketing professors from different prestigious universities around the world define marketing differently. They also happen to hold different vantage points regarding certain marketing principles. This is not necessarily a good thing in that there now seems to be so much confusion out there. So much so that many entrepreneurs and business persons in South Africa don’t fully understand the concept of marketing, as well as how they can actually use it to grow their market share and ultimately increase profitability.
We once received a call from a prospective client who wanted assistance with regards to “marketing” his product. It later turned out that all he needed was merely a sales person to sell his product offering. We had to decline as we’re marketers and not sellers. Now this brings us to another premise: Marketing and sales aren’t one and the same thing. However, the two are indeed related. True, traditional marketing is about identifying consumer needs, segmenting markets, selecting a target audience, analysing competitors, positioning product/service offerings, utilising the 4 Ps (product, place, price promotion), creating or maintaining a competitive advantage etc. Sales, on the other hand, is about “selling, selling and selling”. The sales person does not necessarily have to understand the aforementioned marketing concepts – he merely needs to know and understand the product/service that he is trying to sell and have expertise in sales to be successful.
Perhaps the reason why different people define marketing differently is because marketing is not an exact science such as chemistry where, for instance, hydrogen + oxygen = water. Or mathematics where E=mc 2. Marketing is an art, and it allows marketing practitioners to combine their marketing knowledge and expertise with their intuition or that gut-feeling that we all experience occasionally. This also explains why no two establishments, despite being in the same industry and competing for the same target market, will have different marketing plans and strategies, and a different implementation process. Coke and Pepsi, for instance, have been rivals for over a century and are both generally competing for the same target market, yet their strategies and the way they go about appealing to current and prospective customers differs extensively. Marketers also know that there are no guarantees in marketing: One could develop an exceptional marketing plan and strategy but essentially fail to implement it correctly due to external factors that could have an impact on strategy. These factors include governmental, economical, technological, political and socio-cultural impediments. Therefore it is quite important for businesses to be proactive by monitoring the macro environment as it affects strategy.
South Africa is filled with entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, small businesses and medium enterprises with really good service/product offerings. However many of them struggle with regards to marketing themselves appropriately in their highly competitive markets. It’s one thing to have an outstanding product/service offering and another to actually develop proper marketing strategies that contribute towards retaining existing clients, attracting new ones and increasing bottom line.
In today’s highly competitive commercial environment entrepreneurs and small-to-medium businesses need to understand that they can no longer get away with engaging in marketing just for the sake of it, without fully understanding what it is they are truly doing. All marketing efforts need to be strategic in nature and be based on realistic objectives, research and logic: From selecting target markets to the tone of voice used when engaging your audience to deciding which publications to advertise in. Measuring ROI (Return on Investment) is not easy, especially for smaller players within an industry, but there will always be a relationship between the quality of your marketing efforts and profitability.
Why #Starbucks will thrive in S.A.
So Starbucks has officially, entered the South African premium coffee market. While many premium coffee drinkers are delighted at the news, there’s also been talk in certain corners that the brand will not do well in the S.A market – given that they offer premium coffee and that the local premium market isn’t as mature as that of Europe or America. Well, we’re of the view that Starbucks will thrive in S.A, despite this, and here’s why:
What many people don’t realise is that the brand has a “halo” in the minds of many South Africans – which has been created by the way in which the brand has been positioned in American TV programmes, movies and internet advertisements that we’re exposed to. Starbucks has a favourable brand image – which will result in the brand eroding competitors’ market share over time. Demographic trends suggest that many locals, generally, are quite image conscious and are inclined to buy items that they really can’t afford, in the name of improving or upholding, as it were, their social image. Image conscious consumers are inclined to spend money on items that they don’t enjoy consuming, but love that the brand puts them in line with certain perceptions. Starbucks has the financial muscle, technical capabilities, marketing expertise and international experience to thrive in S.A.
While the premium coffee market is still in the growth phase of the Product Life Cycle (PLC), it will be interesting to see how competitors such as The Seattle Coffee Company, Vida e Caffè etc respond to the introduction of Starbucks.
Given #VW's long history of producing quality German vehicles for over 70 years, who would have thought that the car manufacturer would resort to fitting devices that allow emissions tests to be rigged?
#VW enthusiasts from all over the world seem quite disappointed, needless to say. Questions that many have on their mind is "In light of what has transpired, would #VW lovers still be willing to purchase their vehicles?" And "If the company has lied about its cars' emissions, what else could it have possibly lied about?" The quality and performance of it's engines, perhaps?
What will be even more interesting to see over the next couple of months is how #ýcompetitors such as #ýToyota, #ýHonda, #ýFord etc take advantage of the situation, to win over new clients and increase their market share.
What are your thoughts?