SonoSite, Apple and Unilever Companies: Strategic Management


Major companies around the world have realized that the only way through which they can remain competitive is to maintain a high level of innovation in the market. They are forced to come up with new products that offer superior value to their clients. However, there are cases where innovation may pose a challenge to some of these firms. According to Jeffs (82), sometimes a firm may invent a product that poses a serious threat to some of the existing profitable products. This can not only hurt a firm’s ability to come up with other products but can also lead to serious losses to the company in terms of the cost o developing such new products (Christensen, Allworth and Dillon 18). This paper will analyze the three cases about SonoSite, Apple, and Uniliver in order to determine some of the challenges they faced when coming up with new products in the market and how these problem could have been avoided or managed properly.


The three companies mentioned above were faced with dilemmas that were caused by difference in the perception that the stakeholders had towards the path to success. In order to understand this, a SWOT analysis will be conducted on the three companies.


SonoSite was operating in a highly competitive environment. Through its innovative practices, it had two products that were revolutionary in the healthcare industry. The company had finally managed to come up with two superior medical instruments that physicians could use to detect illnesses early enough. It would be important to analyze the paradox that this firm found itself in when Titan and iLook were introduced into the market. Titan was five times more profitable than iLook. Appendix one demonstrates the dilemma of these two products. Any business unit would always try to increase sales of more profitable products than those that offer low profits. To analyze how this firm managed this situation, a SO-WO-ST-WT analysis would be necessary.

Internal Strength (S)
  1. Innovation
  2. Skilled and committed employees
Internal Weaknesses (W)
  1. Weak propositioning of the products
  2. Inability to develop specialization among employees
  3. Lack of discipline among the workforce
External Opportunities (O)
  1. Weak competitors
  2. The popularity of the products in the market.
  3. Large market
External Threat (T)
  1. High rate of imitation
  2. The growing number of competitors

The strength of this firm was laid on its innovative capacity. In such a competitive environment, coming up with two new products that are superior to other products existing in the market is a show of massive strength. The firm also had a team of shrewd sales personnel. They had the ability to convince the clients that Titan had the ability to deliver high performance in the healthcare industry. It is also evident that the sales personnel were given the liberty to choose which products they would sell. This is always important because it gives them the liberty to determine the product that is more desirable in the market. This liberty helps in increasing sales volume.

However, there are some weaknesses that are evident (Jeffs, 78). The marketing management unit has failed to come up with a product proposition approach for these two different products that would make them equally popular in the market. The engineers have developed these two products, and they have to be sold because the market is already aware of their existence. However, this department has not been able to align its sales agents in a way that would ensure that the two products are sold without any discrimination. For instance, there should be a group of salespeople dealing with Titan, while the other should focus on iLook.

This would avoid the unfortunate scenario that the chief executive of this firm had with one of the salespeople. The management should also instill some sense of discipline on its employees. It is not appropriate for a junior employee to disregard the instruction of his or her superiors.

The market still has an opportunity that this firm can exploit. It is apparent that the two products are yet to be imitated by the competitors. The firm should move with speed to attract a large market share before its competitors can develop similar products. The positive response that these two products have achieved is a clear indication that they have huge market potential. However, the management should be wary of some of the threats in this market. For instance, market rivals would try to imitate these two products. This firm should be able to determine how such attempts can be countered.

Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. is another firm that found itself in a dilemma in the face of an innovative environment. When Steve Jobs was fired from the firm, the strict principles Job had developed ignored by many of the players. The engineers, the marketing unit, the top management, and the shareholders each seemed to be pulling in different directions. It is important to analyze this firm strategically. SO-WO-ST-WT analysis would be necessary.

Internal Strength (S)
  1. Skilled employees
  2. High level of creativity
Internal Weaknesses (W)
  1. The differing interest of the stakeholders
  2. Weak cohesion among employees
External Opportunities (O)
  1. Large market

The popularity of Apples products

External Threat (T)
  1. Strong competitor

Changing tastes and preferences

Apple Inc’s main strength in the market was its innovative engineers. Their ability to come up with new superior products in the market kept the firm on its feet even when Jobs was out of the firm. The management skills of Jobs when he returned to the firm also enabled all the stakeholders to have a single focus on the firm’s success. He was able to instill discipline on the employees of this firm.

Apple had some weaknesses that almost sent it out of the market. One such challenge was the lack of a common goal for the stakeholders of this firm when developing new products. While the shareholders wanted more profits, the engineers had their own personal goals that were not in line with the overall vision of the firm. This almost brought the firm to its knees. The market had a massive opportunity, as presented in the case.

During this period, the firm only had one major market rival which was Microsoft (Christensen, Allworth and Dillon 18). This means that Apple had the opportunity to expand its market share if it could deliver superior quality than this rival. Given the innovativeness of its employees, and the new drive that Jobs came back with, this was a possibility. It would be vital for Apple Inc to understand some of the threats that it might face in the market that may affect its operations. One such threat is the strength of its competitor. As shown in the study, Microsoft was a superior brand. It can be very challenging trying to upset the market leader because they have a competitive edge that it may use to suppress the firm.


Uniliver, one of the world’s leading manufacturer of food, laundry, and personal care products, found itself in an awkward situation when it realized that the market was changing. The firm had tuned its engineers and research unit to target a specific market segment with new products. However, the management realized that there was need to expand their market scope. It planned to consider ways of targeting the entire market with different products other than sticking to a particular line. However, this did not yield the desired result because the employees had been tuned to focus on a specific market segment. It proved difficult dissuading them from this. It is necessary to use SO-WO-ST-WT analysis to understand some of these issues.

Internal Strength (S)
  1. Strong brand name
  2. Innovative workforce
Internal Weaknesses (W)
  1. Lack of coordinated workforce
  2. Personal interests among the stakeholders
External Opportunities (O)
  1. A large global market
  2. Weak competitors
External Threat (T)
  1. Growing competition
  2. Changing market demands

The strength of Uniliver, as demonstrated in the case, was its ability to come up with innovative products that delivered high value to its customers. It is clear that the firm had the capacity to offer satisfaction to its customers. The brand name was also strong, giving it a higher competitive edge (Saloner, Shepard, and Podolny 89). Despite this strength, the firm had one weakness of being unable to inculcate the culture of diversity and dynamism among its employees. These employees were unable to realize when it was the right time to change their strategic approach.

The market has opportunities that this firm can exploit. As stated in the case, this is a global firm. This means that its market is not only restricted to this country, but spans to other global market. If the firm can expand its product line, then it would have a larger market to target. Most of this firm’s products have also received wide market coverage. It means that it will not have to struggle when introducing the new lines of products as long as they bear the brand Uniliver. This firm should be conscious of some of the threats that it may face in the market. The changing tastes and preferences may be a challenge that this firm may face in the market. If Uniliver fails to transform its products and marketing strategies to be in line with the changing needs, it may be forced out of the market.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Business environment is changing due to changes taking place in the lifestyle of people all over the world, and firms must understand that the only way they can remain relevant is to review their strategic management approaches they use. It is important to ensure that management practices are in line with the changing market needs. One factor that top management must consider is to ensure that all the stakeholders have a common mission that would lead to overall success of the firm. Appendix 2 shows that although different stakeholders may take different approaches in their activities, all of them should share the same mission. The management must also ensure that there is a sense of discipline among all employees. There must be specific principles that should guide employees’ activities. Lastly, the marketing unit has a role to play when two or more products of the same firm appear to pose threats to one another.


Appendix 1

The Dilemma of the Two Products.
The Dilemma of the Two Products.

Appendix 2

Developing a Mission Strategy.
Developing a Mission Strategy.

Works Cited

Christensen, Clayton, Allworth James, and Dillon Karen. Is Your Strategy What You Say It Is? Rotman Management Fall 617.7860 (2013): 17-21. Print.

Freeman, Edward. Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

Jeffs, Chris. Strategic Management. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2008. Print.

Saloner, Garth, Shepard Andrea, and Podolny Joel. Strategic Management. New Delhi: Wiley India, 2011. Print.