Marketing intelligence can be termed as the every day’s information with reference to the markets in which a company operates which is collected and assessed with an aim to make appropriate and effective decision for the purpose of determining several market opportunities existing in the target areas. Marketing intelligence includes confident decision making with the help of which management makes market penetration strategy and evaluates the market development metrics (What is Market Intelligence, 2015). It helps the firms in keeping track of competition and position of business so that accordingly, measures can be taken in such a way that they will gain a competitive advantage over others.
In present report, the organisation, Marks and Spencer (M&S) has been chosen that is a British multinational retailer with having its headquartering in Westminster, London, UK. With reference to the selected firm, main stages of purchase decision making process will be described along with factors that may affect the behaviour of buyers. Further, there will be focus on market research objectives of organisation with assessing the validity and reliability of findings gained from the study. Moreover, competitor analysis for the given firm will be planned and carried along with evaluating the company’s opportunities and threats for a given product or service.
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a) Main stages of the purchase decision making process (1.1)
In Marks and Spencer, there are different stages by which customers make decision to buy a product. Main stages of purchase decision making are like:
- Recognizing the problem– At first, the customer recognizes that there is a need to purchase a product or service as per the changing trends, tastes and preferences as well as actual requirements and expectations. This need can arise due to any reason that may be either internal or external stimuli.
- Describing the need by searching information– After analysing the need and demand, customers decide that whether they want a complete new product in the market or some improvement in the existing one in terms of its features and benefits by searching some information on sources like internet or through friends and relatives.
- Evaluation of alternatives– Now, with searching alternatives of product offered by M&S available in the market which customer wants and judging them on the basis of price, quality and brand, the one which suits best with actual requirements of customers is being selected.
- Final purchase decision– By getting satisfied on the parameters on which product or service is evaluated, the final purchase decision is made by the customer. However, even at this stage, there are some chances that the decision would get altered.
- Post purchase behaviour– Taking the final decision to buy a product is not the last stage as even after that, firm needs to analyse the behaviour of customers which may either be positive or negative. At this stage, Marks and Spencer determines that whether the customers are satisfied with the product or service purchased or not. If the customers get satisfied then firm gains the benefit of higher profits and goodwill and in case if they get dissatisfied then firm needs make some modifications in the product as per the needs and demands of target market.
b) Relevant buying behaviour theories and the way they relate to organisation in terms of individuals and markets (1.2)
Major purpose of Marks and Spencer behind doing marketing is to change the perception of customers towards products and services offered by the firm positively. The consumer behavior gets changed in different markets and to understand the same, different theories of consumer buying behaviour have been developed. Among all, there are four major theories by which buying behaviour of consumers can be understood. These are like:
- Habitual buying behaviour– As per this theory, involvement of consumers is low as well as the difference between brands is also less.
- Dissonance reducing buying behaviour– According to this theory, involvement of consumers is high in making the selection between products but the brand differences is little.
- Complex buying behaviour– This theory refers to that situation in which there is high involvement of consumers in making the purchase decision for a product or service of company. This involvement is mainly for the expensive, risky, highly self-expressive and for those products which are not purchased on frequent basis.
- Variety-seeking buying behaviour– As per this theory of buying behaviour, involvement of consumers is very low but the differences among brands are extremely high.
c) Factors that may affect the behaviour of buyers (1.3)
Several factors are there that affect the buying behaviour of consumers in Marks and Spencer. These factors are stated as below:
- Cultural– Culture plays the most significant role behind customer’s wants and behaviour. As with the changing scenario, culture is becoming more materialistic, people are now desires to have more electronic and other technological goods. Thus, Marks and Spencer needs to offer the same so that business can survive in the long run.
- Social– These factors also affect the behaviour of buyers to a high extent as people get influenced with the views and opinions of members of their group who can be either friends or family and relatives. Therefore, it is important for the firm to target those groups as well who affect the buying decision of customers.
- Personal– These factors are like life styles, age, economic situation, life cycle stage as well as personality and self-concept. All these factors prove to be highly influential in affecting buyer’s decision of purchasing products and services of Marks and Spencer. So, company is required to offer the products by keeping in mind the personal factors so that targeted customers can buy the same.
- Psychological– Along with all above factors, these are like motivation, perception, beliefs and attitude which play a vital role in making a customer take decision regarding whether to buy a product or not. If Marks and Spencer becomes successful in creating the perception of buyers positive, then they will get motivated to buy the product or service of firm. Along with that, offerings must be in accordance with the beliefs of target customers so that their values would not get hurt and they will be ready to buy the product or service offered by M&S.
d) Defining brand loyalty, corporate image and repeat purchasing and evaluating the relations between them (1.4)
Brand loyalty refers to the trust of buyer on a particular brand which he/she buys on repeat basis over time from the same manufacturer even when it is available to various others manufacturers as well that fall under the same category. It can be termed as the degree to which customers purchase the product or service of same brand on consistent basis.
Corporate image is the perception and impression of an organisation in the eyes of public which it has maintained by doing interactions with the target people or by presenting itself in front of audience through providing products and services along with satisfying them. In the present scenario, to gain a strong corporate image, firms now-a-days are focusing on public relation (PR) programs to maintain healthy relations with the target customers so as to stay in the competition for longer span of time.
Repeat purchase can be referred as an idea of consumer by which he buys the product from same brand that was earlier also purchased by him on some previous occasion. This notion can also be termed as repurchasing on the basis of which brand loyalty of customers can be calculated. In order to retain the customers and make them purchase offerings again and again, it is important for M&S to offer high quality products and services in comparison to their competitors.
There is a strong relationship in between brand loyalty, corporate image and repeat purchasing as they all ultimately lead to gain competitive advantage over rivalry firms in the market. Trust of customers is the result of brand loyalty that ends at repeat purchasing of products and services by them. However, it cannot be said that repeat purchase is only done due to brand loyalty as there are some other factors too which makes consumers buy a product or service again and again. These factors are like convenience of customers and lack of lack of variables alternatives. Overall, it can be said that if Marks and Spencer will have a strong and positive corporate image, brand loyalty of its customers will automatically increase that will result in repeat purchase.
a) Identifying market research objectives
In Marks and Spencer, there are various objectives behind conducting market research with the help of which it is effectually running business activities with gaining a competitive edge over others in the market. Some of the objectives are mentioned as below:
- To find out opportunities– With the help of market research, further opportunities are gained by the firm in terms of exploring new markets where it can expand. Apart from that, it also helps in assessing opportunities to maintain a strong position in the existing markets only (Chand, 2016).
- To decrease the marketing costs– Marketing research proves to be highly beneficial for providing the ways and means by which costs of marketing activities can be reduced like selling, advertising and distribution, etc.
- To do proper planning– Market research plays a crucial role in making marketing and sales forecasting in Marks and Spencer which serves as a base on which planning is done and strategies are formulated along with several policies, programmes and procedures.
- To determine pricing policy– By doing the market research, company comes in position to determine the pricing policy, that is, to fix the prices of products and services in such a way that it will gain maximum profits at minimum cost with high level of customer satisfaction (Stubberup, 2010).
b) Range of market research techniques and evaluating their use and effectiveness (2.1)
Market research is mainly conducted to gather information that can be used and implemented in the marketing activities of firm. Majorly, two techniques are there by which market research can be performed in Marks and Spencer, that is, primary and secondary which are stated as below:
- Primary research– There are two ways by which primary research can be conducted by the firm. These methods of gathering primary information are qualitative and quantitative. Under qualitative research technique, tool of questionnaire is generally used in which open-ended questions are taken to make the survey on target market area. Along with that, focus group is also one of the ways by which primary research can be done as it helps in gathering descriptive information on the basis of which Marks and Spencer can make its decisions regarding marketing activities (Kearney and et.al., 2011). However, on the other hand, under quantitative research technique, numerical information is collected by the marketing team by which judgements are made that are beneficial for the business.
- Secondary research– Whenever there is any issue which company is facing or if it wants to take some decision like expanding business by operating in new markets, launching a new product, etc., market research is required to be done. Other than primary, secondary research also proves to be highly helpful for gathering information which is already published (Jakal, 2015). Sources from which the secondary data can be collected for marketing research in M&S are magazines, media like newspaper, trade associations, etc.
c) Using secondary data to achieve market research objectives (2.2)
Several sources are there which help in making firm able to gather secondary data. These are already published by some authors in the form of journals, online articles, books, company reports, etc. When for some purpose, the information is already present in published sources then data from primary research is not required. In Marks and Spencer, to achieve the market research objectives, information can be gathered from real estates, insurance companies, NGOs and other media representatives. Apart from that, there are some other sources too from which data to attain market research objectives can be gathered like regional organisation, wholesalers, public information centre, trade associations, banks and business publication (Hui-qing, 2012). Therefore, with the help of all these sources, secondary data can be gathered through which M&S will attain the objectives of the research that its marketing team will conduct.
d) Validity and reliability of market research findings (2.3)
It is not necessary that every research will require high level of explanation and elaboration of study to attain the objectives. But, it is the responsibility of marketing research team in Marks and Spencer that they will conduct minimum level of study so that the actual results can be gained. Whenever there is small and informal research background, it mainly brings either irrelevant or the wrong results that ultimately results in reducing the profits of firm as well as increased marketing costs (Chow, 2015). However, with the help of ethical considerations, data collection methods and the claims which are made while getting prepared for conducting market research, study becomes valid, that is, authentic which will render accurate results to M&S. Apart from that, along with becoming valid, it renders reliable results which means that if the study will be made again on same purpose, it will give the same results as that of the present one (Knoblauch and Bulander, 2014). Therefore, appropriate selection of data gathering techniques results in providing high validity and reliability in the market research findings.
e) Market research plan to obtain information in a given situation (2.4)
In the situation where Marks and Spencer wants to operate in a new market, it will require a marketing research plan that will be like:
- Step 1– At first, company will be needed to know the target audience from whom M&S will find out the view of general public regarding the products and services it offers. It will help the firm in assessing that whether it is required to make any modifications in the products and services that it is going to offer to the target market or not.
- Step 2– In the next step, research objectives will be established by the firm where it will be required to define the basic aim and objectives to the shareholders. These objectives will help in taking further steps as it will serve as the basis of plan.
- Step 3– After that, the value of information will be estimated in which Marks and Spencer will assess that whether the information required for operating in a new target market is more than the cost of acquiring it or not (Matsumoto and Watada, 2012).
- Step 4– At last, research is designed where the plan is finalized by keeping in mind that for data collection, mail survey, self-administrated questionnaires and focus group session will be used by M&S.
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a) Assessing market size trends in which organisation operates (3.1)
For Marks and Spencer, total volume or value of sales in target area help in calculating the market size. However, the number of units sold by the entity to its target areas and amount which customers have spent on consuming the goods sold lead to calculate the total volume. The market of Marks and Spencer is healthy and dynamic which shows that company is having upward size of market (Vrontis and Thrassou, 2013). It can be said that for cited firm, consumers are the main drivers who are playing the most significant role in making the firm successful in market with gaining a competitive edge over others. Company is further expanding in new areas which is increasing its existing market size. It can be said that at present, the firm is having large market size which is helping it to earn higher profits and revenues (Claycomb and Martin, 2013). However, by operating in more nations, the scope of business is getting increased and also, the market size is also enhancing leading to enhance the sustainability of business in the long run.
b) Key competitors of organisation and planning and carrying out competitive analysis (3.2)
Marks and Spencer is one of the biggest supermarket chains in the UK with having a large market share. However, firm is facing huge competition due to presence of many competitors in the same market like Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury, Morrison, etc. In the UK, supermarket and food retail market are considered to be the most heavily consolidated industries which are facing intense competition in the present scenario. The stated competitor firms are having more than 80 percent market share from the entire supermarket sector of UK. However, Marks and Spencer as well as Sainsbury are having string market influence after Tesco (Baker, 2014). These firms come at the second and third position with having 16 and 17 percent market share after Tesco which is at present having 30 percent from the total of entire retail industry of UK. However, Morrison is at the fourth position which is having market share up to 11% after acquiring Safeway. Overall, it can be said that Marks and Spencer is running its business activities in an effectual manner with giving tough competition to other firms present in the same market (Zeng and et.al., 2010). However, Tesco is the biggest rival of M&S and to beat the same, firm needs to give proper emphasis on its marketing activities.
c) SWOT analysis of organisation and evaluating opportunities and threats they face for given product or service (3.3)
In the competitive environment, it is essential for the organization to carry out the Swot analysis to identify the strong and weak points of the firm. As for the Marks and Spencer, it becomes significant to evaluate the opportunities which are prevailing in the country. In the clothing sector, the company is required to assess the threats which can hamper the profit of the firm.
- With the strong name of the brand, the firm easily sells its clothes to their customers
- Due to positive brand image, the customers are loyal to the firm.
- It provides good quality of material against the value charged by the customers.
- It has very efficient and skilled employed who are manufacturing clothes for the customers (Kitchen and Burgmann, 2010).
- In the clothing sector, Marks and Spencer faces competition from the other retail brands.
- Besides this, in the apparel wear there are several fake brands which imitate the design and sell their clothes from Marks and Spencer.
- In the apparel sector, they can expand their segment and manufacture clothes for different customers.
- Besides this, Marks and Spencer can expand their clothing brands in the developing nation.
- The major threat is the changing fashion taste and needs and preferences of the customers.
- In case of expansion, the firm has to change the design of the clothes according to the social values as well as culture of the country which prove to be expensive for the organization (Cheung and Li, 2012).
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a) Range of techniques used for assessing customer response and evaluating their effectiveness (4.1)
There are several techniques and tools which are used for gathering the response of the customers. In the competitive environment it has become important for the company to use different technique so that they can identify the taste and preference and make them satisfied with the product (Jones and Rowley, 2011). The best tool for assessing the customer response is questionnaire, through this, Marks and Spencer will make the questions which they want to ask to the customers. This will help them to identify their responses regarding the services or the products which are sold by the firm.
Another technique is face to face method as the firm can ask the question to their customers. This is beneficial for Marks and Spencer because the firm will be able to gather truthful response from the customers. Besides this, it is the cheapest and the easiest way to get the feedback from the users (Crouch and Housden, 2012). On the other hand, telephonic conversations can also be conducted by the Marks and Spencer in which they can ask their regular customers about the products and the grievances if they are facing any. This will help them to identify the weak points as well as with this, through analyzing their strong points they will be able to maintain it. So it is beneficial as well as advantageous for the firm to take feedback from the customers (Moogan, 2011).
Besides this, another method is the online questionnaire method. The normal questionnaire takes long time. In this case, the effectiveness is that the customers can fill the form by sitting at their home and the time taken is less as compare to the normal method. It is very effective because the customer do not find difficulty in filling in the form (Finch and et.al., 2013).
b) Designing a complete customer satisfaction survey (4.2)
Questionnaire can be made for evaluating the response of Marks and Spencer customers regarding the services which the company is providing.
- From how many years you are purchasing products from Marks and Spencer
More than 4 years
- Are you satisfied with the products and services given by the Marks and Spencer?
- Do you believe that authentic and good quality are given by the firm
- Do you think that Marks and Spencer effectively handles complain of the customer?
- Are you satisfied with the return policy of the organization
- Would you recommend product of Marks and Spencer to your friends and family?
- Do you think the organization should introduce products for the new segment
- What recommendations will you give to Marks and Spencer for carrying out its operations effectively ________________
c) Reviewing the success of completed survey (4.3)
For reviewing the success of the complete survey, it is required by the Marks and Spencer to maintain the data and the summary sheet. This will help the organization in effectively analysing the data which has been gathered from the customers. With the help of this, positive as well as negative responses can be clubbed which will aid the firm in analysing the dis-satisfied customers of the organization (Cheung and Li, 2012). The survey will be successful only when the survey department gives the responses to the top management. According to the customers feedback they can modify the services which are provided to the users. For reviewing the success of the survey, it is also important for the organization to see that the comments which are given by the customers are true. Further, the Marks and Spencer is required to take the customer comment seriously because through this only they will be able to satisfy the users of the firm and create competitive advantage. Further, Marks and Spencer can maintain the data in the computer because it will help the firm at the time of introducing new product or expanding their business in the market (Kitchen and Burgmann, 2010).
From the above report, it can be articulated that through proper information, techniques and research methods, Marks and Spencer can come in the position to know its strengths and weaknesses along with opportunities and threats. It has been assessed from the report that to increase its customer base, it is important to develop an appropriate and strong customer satisfaction system that will help the products of company. Also, it can be concluded that as higher the value firm will provide to customers in against of what they have spent, more improved performance of business will be there. Report has shown that Marks and Spencer need to focus on after sales service so that customers can be made highly satisfied that will result in bringing equity in line with the corporate image. Along with that, by sincere efforts of research and development department of organisation, it can be evaluated that whether the customers are satisfied or not. Keeping customers happy will bring higher profits and sustainability in the firm by which company will survive in the long run.
Books and Journals
- Baker, M. J., 2014.Marketing strategy and management. Palgrave Macmillan.
- Cheung, C. F. and Li, F. L., 2012. A quantitative correlation coefficient mining method for business intelligence in small and medium enterprises of trading business.Expert systems with applications.39(7). pp.6279-6291.
- Chow, S. E. S., 2015. Relevant external environmental forces affecting green supply chain in the Philippine consumer electronics industry.International Journal of Supply Chain and Operations Resilience.1(3). pp.219-242.
- Claycomb, C. and Martin, C. L., 2013. Building customer relationships: an inventory of service providers’ objectives and practices.Journal of Services Marketing
- Crouch, S. and Housden, M., 2012.Marketing research for managers. Routledge.
- Finch, D. and et.al., 2013. The future of marketing education: A practitioner’s perspective.Journal of Marketing Education.35(1). pp.54-67.
- Hui-qing, N. I. U., 2012. Knowledge Classification Based on Knowledge Transaction [J].Science Technology and Industry. 10. p.032.
- Jakal, M., 2015.Vizualna komunikacija između potrošača i proizvoda s aspekta čokoladnih pakiranja.(Doctoral dissertation, University North. University centre Varaždin. Department of Multimedia, Design and Application).
- Jones, R. and Rowley, J., 2011. Entrepreneurial marketing in small businesses: A conceptual exploration.International Small Business Journal.29(1). pp.25-36.