Critical Analysis of Assignment 1

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Assignment 1 tasked us with the responsibility to introduce a new innovative product in the market and conduct a full internal and external analysis of the product, and the company in general. Settling on the product Acquacotta Soup by the company named Antica Maremma, the biggest challenge was to conduct an analysis of: product concept and market analysis; operations strategy; operations design; supply chain and distribution; brand strategy and marketing; and future developments. During the course of the project, there were individual’s assignments that were assigned to each group member so that everyone could positively contribute to the final product. Most importantly, the group will synthesize the individual ideas of the members together and come up with a common unified idea. This paper is a critical reflection of the process of completing the assignment.

Critical Analysis of the Assignment Completion Process

As a group, we decided we would progress from one topic to the next beginning from the product concept and market analysis. During this stage, everyone had the task to brainstorm about a new innovative product to focus on, then bring ideas to the table for a final decision to be made as a group. Personally, I had a difficult time deciding on the market segment/industry where innovative products would perform well after launch (Kotler & Keller, 2016). My two choices stood out to be the Information Technology industry and the Fitness industry. My proposal for the technology industry was a social media App and for the fitness industry I settled on proposing a training product or a product that advanced physical and psychological fitness. Combining the ideas with members who had diverse opinions focusing on the: Internet of Things segment; manufacturing; sneaker and clothing segments; electrical engineering industry and so forth was the most challenging. Once we settled on the product though, the rest of the process was less challenging.

The process of choosing a theory was based on a theory that was well-suited to push a product that was relatively new and unique within the market. This part about choosing the theory came up during the brand strategy portion of the assignment. As a group, we were all in agreement that the product was relatively new and unique and hence we needed to strategize and expand on our customer target, consumer insight, and competitive attributes well enough so as to ensure that the product achieved the intended market success. In a nutshell, the brand strategy heavily depends on the marketing strategy and the two must innately be connected via theory (Jensen, 2016). . Marketing and branding strategies indicate the approach of the company to marketing and hence the theories within these two areas shape the frame of mind of the management in regard to the market.

Within this company, we sought to be market-driven and hence all the decisions were to be made based on marketing philosophy, where the marketing responsibility was supposed to be a responsibility for everyone in the company (Hunt, 2015). The process of deciding on the most appropriate theory involved seeding out some great theories that were proposed by individual members. Personally, I was aligned towards the Darwinian theoretical approach – according to Charles Darwin, it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one that is most adaptable to change. Another group member posited the resource-advantage theory and yet another proposed the market segmentation theory. Two members however proposed Herzberg’s Two-factor theory.

After deliberating on all theories, we agreed on Herzberg’s Two-factor theory because it argues that the motivation to purchase is determined by the presence of satisfiers. Given that Acquacotta Soup is a new and unique product in the market, the most important factor was how satisfied customers were with the first experience with it (Krake, 2015). I figured that once the product had been launched, then the Darwinian theoretical approach would be used to guide the branding strategy, but most importantly, the discussion about the Darwinian theories and the resource-advantage theory set the stage for a fruitful discussion that helped in the rest of the segments of the assignment (Slack, Brandon-Jones and Johnston, 2016).

After settling on the product name, the company name, the industry, and the theories to be utilized in marketing the product and the brand as a whole, the rest of the process of designing an operations strategy, design, supply chain & distribution; and marketing went on with minimal challenges both at the individual and group level. While conducting the market analysis using the Porter’s 5 Forces theoretical framework, a real challenge was discovered. This product is relatively unique in the market and in one way pursues its own path within the industry (Krake, 2015). It almost creates a unique path of its own within the market due to the unique designing we achieved as a group. There is limited threat of new entrants, moderate bargaining power of suppliers, limited rivalry currently, low bargaining power of buyers, and a substantial threat of substitutes. There were no extremes within the five factors which led to the realization that this product was quite unique.

In concluding the brand strategy and marketing section of the assignment, we had to agree on some weaknesses and threats within the product. By large, once an individual member cited a threat or a weakness, we would revisit the previous sections and seek to fill a loophole so as to reduce the extreme impact of the identified weakness or threat. Ultimately, the weaknesses that couldn’t be eliminated because they were by default part of the business were: limited variety; and premium prices. Additionally, there were threats in the lines of: emerging local competitors; presence of established brands; and expected changes in customers’ lifestyles.

In noting the areas of improvement, we acknowledged that there were parts of the assignment that were too much for the group due to limited sources of information, or which represented areas of compromise as a group. The process of creating a table where the comparison between our company and the competition could be conducted was not achieved to limited sources of information. The concept of visibility was not well elaborated because a plan was not strategized meant for the customers. The assignment to research on tracking mechanism was not fully synthesized and this part was left out unfortunately. Personally, I felt that since the company was a startup, there wasn’t a pressing need to analyze the local suppliers segment in regard to how to maintain a mutually valuable relationship with them. Afterwards, I made the realization that it was critical to provide an in-depth analysis of the current potential suppliers within the region because it would expound more on the production process, the brand strategy, and the process to counter the threats and weaknesses (Grover & Vriens, 2009).

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the greatest takeaway from this assignment is that the process of working on all the segments is more connected than disjointed. We had to go back and forth between the segments to adjust and edit information to fit into the overall plan of the presentation. Regardless of this, we still had to agree that the theoretical analysis of the business had to settle on the most appropriate theories. Additionally, the weaknesses and threats as identified following the SWOT theoretical framework analysis are inevitable since the business is operating in an industry with the dynamics present in any other industry (Grover & Vriens, 2009).

References

Grover, R., & Vriens, M. (2009). The handbook of marketing research uses, misuses, and future advances. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Hunt, S. D. (2015). Marketing theory: Foundations, controversy, strategy, resource-advantage theory. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Jensen, K. B. (2016). Marketing strategy for small business (3rd ed.). Toronto: Concept Press.

Kotler, P. & Keller, K.L. (2016). Marketing Management, 15th Edition. Pearson Education Limited: Harlow –Chapter 7: Analyzing Business Markets

Krake, F. B. (2015). Successful brand management in SMEs: A new theory and practical hints. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 14(4), 228-238. Doi:10.1108/10610420510609230

Slack, N., Brandon-Jones, A. and Johnston, R. (2016). Operations Management (8th Edition). Pearson Education Limited: Harlow.

Part B – Combined Marketing/Operations Question

Apple Inc. which started out as an idea of a single individual, Steve Jobs, has gone on to achieve innovative success to unimaginable levels. In essence, the company designs, manufactures and then markets personal computers besides offering other communication and mobile technology related services, digital services and music appliances (Kotler and Keller 2016). The company has diversified its operations into the software, hardware and networks peripherals and solutions thanks to its excellent marketing and operations management practices. The operations management of Apple Inc. involves the application of Operations Management (OM) techniques that ensure that all the business aspects are running on smoothly (Dedrick et al. 2008). The marketing section of the company is as well critical to the bottom line of the Apple Inc. since it emphasizes a strategic marketing approach based on the aspects of product design, quality management, capacity and process design, and location strategies to drive inventory management. This paper examines the marketing and operations management of Apple Inc. through examining its long-term relationships with customers; the organization of the strategies for operations and marketing to support the identified customer relationships; and the extent to which marketing and operations work together to build and manage customer relationships.

Apple Inc. – Building Customer Relationships

Apple is one of the most popular retailers within the innovative technology framework and has built customer segments from its personal computer business segment to the segment dealing with such handheld devices as mobiles and tablets. For instance, the corporation has been named the third largest maker of PCs in the United States, whereby since 2001 the company has focused more on customers and retail than on its competitors. Consequentially, the customer relationship segment of the company is now an essential part of the growth strategy of the corporation and is almost as much as a company brand feature as the i-Series of products (iPads, iPhones, et cetera) (Lashinsky 2012).

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) needs of Apple Inc.

Apple has been using the CRM framework within its customer service segment for more than a decade, and this has varied from sending emails to their customers who have been listed as contacts within their in-store departments, to focusing upon assessing the emotions, opinions and feelings of the customers when dealing with the company employees (Kotler and Keller 2016). As well, within their retail segments of the company, Apple has generally sought to focus on making sure that their customers have an experience through interaction with the company staff as opposed to simply purchasing their products and exiting their premises (Lashinsky 2012).

The objective that Apple has attached to using CRM approach in their retail base is mostly to encourage the formation of long-term relationship between the corporation and the customer segment. As part of retaining the established relationship, the company is actively involved in improving and enhancing the customer experience so that customers can have unique and lasting memories when buying their products. As opposed to concentrating upon customers purchasing their products, they instead pay attention to teaching customers to appreciate and love the benefits of possessing one of their products. This forms the central strategy of the company in general (Ballantyne, Christopher and Payne 2003).

Due to the diversified nature of activities that the company has established within it CRM framework, the company as well as the customers enjoy the benefits of this framework. They both enjoy a beneficial relationship whereby the company incorporates the proposals made by their customers based on their product reviews, while the customers look forward to purchase the next series of products from the company (this is the case for iPhones). There are many strands of utilizing CRM within the infrastructure of the company (Dedrick et al. 2008). The foremost purpose of applying the CRM framework is collection of data. This happens when a customer purchases an item, whether it is a software like iTunes or a product like and iPhone, or even if its registration of a purchased product which enables the customer to list their identification details. All this information benefits the company as well as the customer because while the customer will be satisfied that their feedback is being put into consideration, the company will use the same collected information to define its advertising approach so that it is more directly targeted towards the potential customers (Mahmood, Zubair and Salam 2015).

Besides designing a CRM tool that is appropriate for their own uses, Apple Inc. have also developed the same CRM for their customer base. This tool is completely cloud-based which implies that there is a pyramid effect of other customer businesses benefiting from data collection using CRM framework, which can also be utilized by Apple Inc.

Organization of Operations and Marketing at Apple Inc.

The strategies for operations and marketing are organized within Apple Inc. to support the management of the company’s customer relationships. Apple Inc. has specifically dedicated a team of senior management personnel who are tasked with the implementation of measures focused on addressing the various decisions of operations management (Lashinsky 2013). The company has performed excellently in maximization of efficiency within the operations management framework.

One of the most critical decision areas is regarding the best design of goods and services. The company’s processes in the design of its products is handled through various organizational officials and products. For instance, the production and development of Macs involve two senior company personnel; the senior vice president for Mac Hardware Engineering; and the Vice President for Mac Software Engineering. Within this segment of operations management, these two departmental vice president’s coordinate with the Senior Vice President for Operations within the company (Lashinsky 2013).

Also, quality management is one of the central roles performed by operations management segment at Apple Inc. which involves the decision system that emphasizes on quality controls and standards. The senior vice president for operations at Apple Inc. coordinates together with other eight senior vice presidents to ensure that there is compliance with the quality standards of the company. The company which has been made popular by the high quality standards it abides by ensures that quality permeates the different sections of the business including product development and design, marketing, retail, industrial design, online sales, and human resource management (Slack, Brandon-Jones and Johnston 2016). Within the human resource management operations, this functions mainly include the use of the best support to maximize the capacity of the workforce so as to optimize product design process and development. The company works in a close coordination with suppliers to ensure adequate capacity and efficient processes within the decision area of operations management.

Marketing operations within Apple Inc. are also strategically coordinated to support the management of customer relationships. The customer focused marketing recipe is a key marketing mantra at Apple. Apple for instance launched the first iPhone in on 29 June 2007 with the biggest screen ever in the market, hidden keyboard and even a touchscreen, making the technology company a pioneer in the market segment for smartphones (Lashinsky 2013). In the current landscape, the iPhone is steadily extending past the computer into the wider realm of consumer electronics as well as digitally connected lifestyles and in the longer-term, this device has promised to instigate a process of diversification and innovation. The marketing operations of the company are based on the strategy to satisfy customer wants through product quality and building long-term relationship through diversification of the customer experience (Colvin 2009).

The operations and marketing strategies for Apple Inc. are working so well in conjunction to support the CRM framework in the company. While there might not seemingly be areas of weakness within the strategies, there are always areas of improvement that could be proposed to even improve the customer experience more hence cement the customer relationships within the company. Due to the nature of the evolving technology within the industry in which the company operates in, efforts should be targeted towards increasing efforts meant to allow the company: rethink its advertising approach; strengthen its unique value proposition; simplify products and marketing; and continue to talk more in the language of their audiences (Colvin 2009).

Operations and marketing working together to manage customer relationships

Both the marketing and operations management segments of Apple Inc. are focused on designing a better customer experience as the greatest source of advantage for the company. This strategy aims at the emotions of the prospectus customers and has succeeded in creating a community of customers and users. The CEO of the company, Tim Cook has been quoted citing that close relationships with customers is the secret behind driving sales and improving the products offering.

In connection to the CRM framework in the company, operations and marketing in Apple work hand in hand to improve the customer experiences for new and existing customers, which is the most important focus of the CRM segment in the company. For instance, the company has implemented an Apple Genius process which is a program which forms part of the Tech support. This program especially focuses on allowing customers to have a face-to-face interaction with the company technicians which provides an opportunity for them to discuss problems and their possible solutions in depth (Colvin 2009).

The operations and marketing functions help CRM to manage the effect of the face-to-face interaction, besides, it also is central to enhancing Apple brand awareness especially when focusing on CRM-focused advertising and targeted email advertising in the future. Through the extensive use of CRM within both their wholesale and retail structure, the company has been able to produce a lifestyle experience attached to the purchases they make (Goldfayn 2015). Apple as a multinational corporation which has had success in linking the operations and marketing departments so well that there are no conflicts or challenges that have been experienced. Each day is an opportunity for the two company dimensions to collaborate and create an interpersonal environment where CRM will excel. There are no associated demerits that have been witnessed within this enduring partnership since advancements have been witnessed within the: technological segment; the demographic segment; and the socio-cultural segment (Goldfayn 2015).

Conclusion

The operations and marketing functions at Apple Inc. have worked in conjunction to support the CRM framework which is based on including the customer experience within the purchasing experience within the company. Apple believes in selling their product bundled together with an experience that is available elsewhere through the use of target customers who value the ease of use of Apple products (Young and Simon, 2015). The company has focused the operations and marketing functions to create a community of users through the erection of stores exclusively for Apple; offering complete solutions where Apple’s products complement each other; pushing strong identification by pushing fashionable products; offering varied products; being consistent with new innovations; and embodying attractiveness in their offerings. The future of the company seems even brighter as the operations and marketing functions will continue building on the CRM framework of the company (Young and Simon, 2015).

References

Ballantyne, D., Christopher, M. and Payne, A. (2003). Relationship marketing: looking back, looking forward, (Marketing Theory), 3 (1); 159-166.

Colvin, G. (2009). The World's Most Admired Companies 2017. (Fortune). 159 (5): 76-88.

Dedrick, Jason, et al. (2008). Who Profits from Innovation in Global Value Chains? A Study of the IPod and Notebook PCs. (SSRN Electronic Journal); doi:10.2139/ssrn.1125024.

Goldfayn, A.L. (2015). Evangelist Marketing: What Apple, Amazon, and Netflix Understand About Their Customers (That your Company Probably Doesn’t). Benbella Books.

Kotler, P. and Keller, K.L. (2016). Marketing Management (15th Edition). Pearson Education Limited.

Lashinsky, A. (2012). Inside Apple: How Americas Most Admired--and Secretive--Company Really Works. (Choice Reviews Online), 49 (11); doi:10.5860/choice.49-6372.

Lashinsky, A. (2013). Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired—and Secretive—Company Really Works. Springer Publishers. ISBN 978-1455512164.

Mahmood, U., Zubair, S.S. and Salam, A. (2015). Synergistic relationship between Total Quality Management and Marketing Management in creating customer’s value, (Journal of Business Strategies) 9 (2); 99-114.

Slack, N., Brandon-Jones, A. and Johnston, R. (2016). Operations Management (8th Edition). Pearson Education Limited: Harlow.

Young, J.S. and Simon, W.L. (2015). iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-72083-6

January 19, 2024
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