Smiley Grow is an upcoming New Zealand firm that specializes in nutritional products. The firm manufactures most of its products for the purpose of exportation. The production currently takes place in the home country in New Zealand. Its current market is in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. However, the management is keen on spreading its markets to various parts of the Chinese market. Before moving to the global market, the firm plans to ensure that it is successful in its operations in China and other regional markets. This may not be a simple task. According to Gabrielsson and Tomi (2012), developing a new brand in a market that is highly competitive is one of the most challenging management tasks. The brand Smiley Growth is relatively new in this industry, and it will require an appropriate strategy in order to achieve success. As Han (2005) notes, this may involve massive expenditure in terms of brand promotion. This brings in the second challenge that this firm is facing.
Smiley Growth needs enough financial resources in order to support its expansion strategies. This means that it must have a reliable revenue flow from its market operations. It must have enough income from the sale of its products in the current market in order to support its intended market growth (Hooley, Nicoulaud & Piercy, 2011). To do this, the management must develop creative marketing strategies that will help it achieve success in a market that is dominated by giant firms such as Dumex, Abbott, and Nestle. This may not be a simple process given the dominance of these firms not only in the local but also in the regional markets. In this study, the researcher seeks to develop avenues through which Smiley Growth can increase awareness of its brand, and expand its revenues in order to gain strength that will enable it go global.
As mentioned in the introduction, the stakes are very high for Smiley Growth and its management will need to find appropriate strategies to take the advantage of the massive market in China. According to Walker, Gountas, Mavondo and Mullins (2012), China is home to about one third of the world’s total population. This makes it one of the most lucrative markets in the world. However, competition in this market is very stiff because the many established firms are also struggling to dominate this market (Ferrell & Hartline, 2011). At this moment, the focus of the management will be to increase the brand and product awareness in the current market. This will have direct impacts in the firm’s revenues. To do this, it will require effective marketing strategies that will reach out to the targeted audience within the Chinese market. As Kotler (2009) notes, effective marketing strategies not only help in the promotion of the brand, but also creates a perfect platform to fight other existing brands. The following are some of the key marketing strategies that this firm will have to use in order to create awareness about its products and increase its revenues.
Mass media marketing
Mass media marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing that firms have been using to create awareness among the targeted audience (Cravens & Piercy, 2009). Smiley Growth may find mass media marketing to be very important in its effort to increase awareness of its products. This can be done in several ways. According to Glynn and Woodside (2009), television commercials remain one of the most effective mass media marketing in the current society. This firm can use television commercials to reach out to its Chinese market. Although this may be an expensive strategy, it also has high returns because the firm will be assured that the targeted group will get its message. This is specifically so if the advertisement is run at the prime time such as during the time of reading news. When using television commercials, care should be taken to ensure that the message is drafted in a way that will be appealing to the targeted customers. As Aaker (2009) observes, a message designed for the aging population may not be appealing to the youth. Similarly, a message designed for the rich may not be relevant to the poor members of the society. For this reason, the management will need to ensure that the targeted group is clearly defined so that the message can be crafted to meet their needs. Selecting of an appropriate television channel to reach out to the customers is also very important at this stage. Knight (2006) says that some channels are popular among the youths others are preferred by the elderly, while others are very popular among the children. When selecting the channel, it will be important to know the people who frequent those sites.
Another popular mass media are the radio commercials. According to Bergh and Behrer (2013), many Chinese are still actively listening to radios, specifically for music. Smiley Growth can take advantage of this and develop commercials that can be targeted to the audience. Just like television commercials, radio commercials should be developed with care in order to achieve the intended impact in the market. The use of popular newspapers and magazines is another option when thinking of the mass media. The elites in China are regular readers of newspapers (Hartwell & Chen, 2012). They read newspapers to get the latest news about politics, economic, and other social issues. This makes the newspapers very appropriate for this firm because of its large geographic coverage.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing is another strategy that Smiley Growth can use to reach out to the targeted audience. According to Cavusgil and Shaoming (2004), when social media started growing as platforms for advertisement, many large firms dismissed them, preferring to continue using mass media marketing. However, this has drastically changed, and the social media may be the magic that this firm needs to achieve growth in the market. The research by Aaker and Mills (2005) reveal that Facebook currently has about one billion followers globally, most of them being youths. When using this social media, the firm will need to use a different approach from that which is currently used by the big brand. The firm can develop special software that can direct targeted viewers from their Facebook accounts to a website the firm. Alternatively, Smiley Growth can become an active participant commenting about views that affect the society. Instead of being in this website as an advertiser, the firm will be an active champion of values that the society considers right. The firm should avoid controversy in its posts, only propagating for values that bring together members of the society. This strategy will help it develop a positive image for its brand.
Another popular social media is Tweeter that has about 700 million followers (Keegan & Green, 2013). Unlike the big brands that only use Tweeter for advertisement, Smiley Growth can use this medium for research. It can use it to determine the changing tastes and preferences of the targeted consumers so that it may offer products that meet their needs. The response obtained from the audience may help the firm get insights on issues such as the changing tastes and preferences in the market, views that customers have about the product in the market among other factors (Hansen & Christensen, 2004). The third social media platform that has remained very popular in the market is YouTube. Unlike Facebook and Tweeter, YouTube majorly relies on audiovisuals for communication. According to Knox and Gruar (2007), youths and other young adults currently listen to music and watch movies through YouTube. Smiley Growth should try to be different when using YouTube. For instance, this firm can develop captivating movies where their representatives are working with the local communities to conserve the environment. The viewers of such movies will consider the firm to be environmentally conscious, a fact that will give it a positive image and a competitive edge over dominant brands.
E-mail marketing is the third major strategy that Smiley Growth can use to reach out to its audience. According to Kotler and Keller (2012), many firms are currently using e-mail marketing to reach out to the targeted audience. However, Holt (2004) notes that it is important to be careful when using e-mail marketing. Some firms would consider sending e-mails to the targeted audience within a given region. However, Narula (2006) warns that such unsolicited messages may be considered junk by the audience. Instead of creating the desired positive impression about a firm, it will be a form of irritation to the customers. However, this can be done in a way that will generate the desired impact. To do this, Vaid (2003) says that a firm should have proper knowledge about the audience before sending the message. For instance, sending a message to a farmer about farm inputs would most likely be received positively. On the other hand, sending such a message to a taxi driver will be considered an irritation. Although this may be an expensive venture, Keller (2003) says that it is the best way of achieving the best result. To start with, this firm can form alliance with major hotels where conferences are always held. Whenever forums are held where people targeted by the products of the firm attend, the firm can request for their e-mails. With this knowledge, it can develop an appropriate message and send it to them. Alternatively, sites such as Yahoo and Google also allow for direct advertising (Grigoroudis & Siskos, 2010). This way, whenever one is visiting these sites to read or send their e-mails, they can come across these advertisements.
Other Key Marketing Strategies
The above marketing methods will be very vital in increasing awareness and revenues at Smiley Growth. However, the marketing team of this firm will need to be more creative and innovative in their strategies. It should develop additional strategies that will help it gain competitive edge over its market rivals. As Borja (2003) notes, the best way of gaining competitive edge over leading market rivals is to increase awareness creation platforms. The following are some of the strategies that can be used by Smiley Growth to increase its awareness in the market as a way of gaining competitive edge over existing brands.
According to Kwaku and Murray (2004), website marketing may be an additional platform that a firm can use to advertise its products and its brand to the market. Smiley Growth can make use of its website to reach out to the customers. However, this will require special software to direct people to its website when browsing. One of the best strategies that firms are currently using is to post interesting stories in Facebook or Tweeter (Novikova, 2009). Once one clicks on the story to read more, they are directed to the firm’s website where they will not only read the story but also learn about the firm, its products, and the brand. This will require the firm to be in touch with the current events that would attract the attention of online community (Hernon & Whitman, 2000). The website should be interactive and it should have the right images that will draw the attention of the visitors.
In-person interaction or face-to-face referrals is one of the least used marketing strategies that can help create the desired difference in the market. The main reason why this strategy is rarely used is that it is limited in terms of geographic coverage. It may also require a large size of human resource in order to reach out to people (Kerin & Peterson, 2010). This makes it a costly strategy. However, it should not be ignored. The firm should make an effort to reach as many potential customers as possible within the major markets and explain to them why this firm’s products are superior to that of the other brands. The hope will be that through this, the message will go viral in the market. The marketing unit will have to convince the few potential customers they come across and successfully turn them into evangelists who will strongly market the brand to their friends. Such viral marketing may be what this firm needs to make a difference in the market.
Participating in major social events may be another avenue for advertising that this firm can use to win favor of the target audience within a given region. According to Starling (2011) supporting events such as sports may increase awareness of the brand. In China, various indoor games such as Kung Fu and Tie Chi have remained very popular. In the major competitions, such events are covered in the major media channels. The presence of this firm in such events as a sponsor or participant may offer it leverage in the market.
Outbound calling is another strategy that can be used when dealing with organizational buyers. Given the large volume of products that organizational customers buy, a firm can consider calling them directly to strike a deal on the sale of the products (Parameswaran, 2006). This is one of the best ways that Smiley Growth can use to increase its revenues as it plans to go global.
Public relations are commonly used by large corporations as part of their corporate social responsibility. Smiley Growth, though an upcoming firm, may use this strategy to build a positive image for its brand in the market. China is currently suffering from a number of health problems as a result of massive pollution due to emissions from the industrial sector (Ansio & Mattila, 2009). Smiley can organize programs meant to reduce the emission of wastes into the environment. This will help it build a positive image of itself in the market.
Just like direct outbound calls, direct mails can be used when dealing with organizational buyers or important customers. A firm can send them regular messages not only to remind them of the existing products, but also inform them of any changes that may affect them in one way or the other (Pike, 2011). Direct mail can also be used when a firm targets specific customers who have the desire and capacity to buy the products of this firm.
Pay-per-click is an online marketing strategy where a firm uses websites of other organizations to advertise its products (Fisher & Vallaster, 2008). When using this strategy, the management of Smiley Growth will use special software to determine if a visitor of this website has clicked on a product placed on their website. The special software would direct the visitor into Smiley Growth website where they can learn more about this firm.
Follow-ups may also help strengthen marketing strategies of a firm. When using this strategy, the management of Smiley Growth will need to keep a close contact with their customers even after the purchase. The intention of this strategy is to eliminate any post-purchase dissonance and increase customer satisfaction. This would help the firm to build a pool of loyal customers in its current markets (Kotler, 2011).
Developing referral networks may also be used by the firm to enhance popularity of his products (Sen, 2005). This can be done using special software that will make it possible for a satisfied customer to share his experience with all the online friends through a simple click.
Giveaways may be another strategy that this firm can use to reach out to its audience in the market. When using this strategy, the firm will need to give its customers some gifts in order to make them loyal to this firm. Nash (2000) warns that when using giveaways, a firm should understand the demographical factors of the targeted market.
These ten ways of awareness creation will help ensure that the brand Smiley Growth is always in the mind of the customers. This will increase chances that consumers will be willing to buy their products.
Key Distribution Strategies
A number of distribution strategies exist that a firm can choose from when taking its products to the market. However, Smiley Growth will need unique strategies that will give it an edge over the dominant market rivals. It may consider using the existing channels but in a unique way that will enable it fight the dominant brands. The following are some of the common strategies that this firm can use in a unique way to deliver superior value to its targeted customers.
Online market has been growing at a considerably high pace. According to Cook (2008), countries like China have experienced massive growth of the online market. This is associated by the expanding middle class. Most of the middle class Chinese work five or six days in a week. They have limited time to visit brick-and-moter stores such as supermarkets to make their purchases. They prefer using online shops to make their purchases. This allows them to make their purchases while in the office or at home (Tungate, 2012). One of the biggest advantages of this strategy is that Smiley Growth will not need to incur the cost of setting up a store along the streets of the major cities where it operates. Its customers can easily visit the firm’s website, view the products on sale and make their purchases without leaving their homes or offices. To use this strategy, the firm will need to enhance its website to support additional functions that will make it possible to engage in online trade. However, Keller (2001) says that a firm that sells its products directly to the customers through online platforms should ensure that its customers are protected from possible fraudsters who may want to steal from them. For this reason, Smiley Growth will need to ensure that its systems cannot be accessed by the cybercriminals. This firm can also partner with the leading online markets within this country to sell its products. For instance, Alibaba.com can be a good online market that Smiley Growth can sell its products (Tungate, 2012). The website is known not only in China but also in the global market.
Using specialty shops
The management of Smiley may consider using specialty shops to sell its products. According to Bradley (2005), this distribution strategy may be appropriate when a firm is introducing its products to the market for the first time. A firm may also use it in a region where its customers are highly concentrated. In this strategy, this firm will set up brick-and-moter stores in selected regions such as in Hong Kong and Shanghai. In these markets, the firm will have its own employees to sell its products. The advantage of using this strategy is that customers will be served by the employees of this firm who have enough knowledge about the products and brands (Temporal, 2010). Customers can have their issues addressed at these shops other than buying of new products. For instance, a client with the problem of using any of the new products offered by the firm can visit the store where help will be given. However, the cost associated with putting up a specialty shop is sometimes prohibitive, making it a less popular method among many manufacturers (Temporal, 2010). Smiley Growth may only be in a position to put up a few shops because of the associated costs.
Smiley Growth can find agents who can help it in the distribution of products. According to Davis and Baldwin (2005), although the agents are sometimes unpopular in some setting, they may help this firm expand its market shares. This is specifically the case when the agent has enough experience within a given market. The figure below shows the channel that will be taken.
This strategy may particularly be important when targeting the organizational consumers. The agents may be better placed to negotiate with these organizational buyers. In such cases, they may be considered part of the marketing team.
Another viable strategy would be to use large retailers with the capacity to break the bulk for the individual consumers. This may be large supermarkets within the targeted market. The figure below shows the channel that the product will follow when retailers are used.
This channel may be very appropriate when the retailers are convinced that the products of the firm are popular in the market. As Jain (2011) notes, some retailers are always reluctant to stock new products or products of a brand that is not properly known in the market. For this reason, this firm may need to convince these retailers that the products will get the attention of the consumers.
Using wholesalers and retailers
Smiley Growth may chose the traditional channel of manufacture-wholesaler-retailer-consumer as shown in the figure below.
This is one of the most popular distribution strategies among the large manufactures of consumer goods (Lehmann & Winer, 2008). In this strategy, the management will need to reach out to large wholesalers in the current market and convince them to distribute its products. Once the wholesalers take the products, they will ensure that they are delivered to the retailers who will ensure that the products reach the consumers.
Smiley Growth is an upcoming New Zealand firm that specializes on nutritional products. It does the production in New Zealand while its main market is in China. The firm plans to go global after some time. However, it is facing serious competition from dominant brands such as Dumex, Abbott, and Nestle. In order to achieve the desire to go global, this firm will need to popularize its brand in the current market and generate enough income that will finance its intended global market coverage. Other than the marketing strategies, the firm will also need to select appropriate distribution channels that will help it deliver its products to the customers in time and good shape.
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