CSS Solved Business Administration Past Paper 2018 | Brand Positioning is the act of establishing a distinctive image of a product or offering in the minds customers. How do marketers analyze competition and differentiate their products for successful positioning.
The following question is attempted by Miss Nimra Masood, the top scorer in CSS Business Administration papers. Moreover, the answer is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.
Business Management is incomplete without an effective marketing strategy; therefore, in-depth study of marketing concepts is key to scoring good grade in this paper. Understanding competition is critical to sustain in market.
Chapter: Competitive Advantage
In today’s globalized world competition has made it difficult for companies to earn revenue. Brand positioning is a strategic policy that allows products to excel against competitors. Therefore, for an effective positioning strategy a detailed competitor analysis is crucial for success. Furthermore, competitive advantage that would make the product or service standout against competitors is the unique selling proposition.
Before a new product launch a comprehensive competitor is necessary to gain a credible market share. Identifying the number of competitors, their strengths, weaknesses and strategy are all part of the competitor analysis. It also includes the decision of which competitors to attack and which to forgo; moreover, the competitor reaction must also be evaluated.
- Identifying Potential Competitors:
Competitors include all companies satisfying similar customer needs. Potential competitors can be of two types: direct and indirect. Direct competitors are immediate substitutes, for i.e. burger king is a direct competitor of McDonald’s. While indirect competitors are substitute products for i.e. pizza hut is an indirect competitor for McDonald’s. The company must list out all potential competitors that fall in the category of direct or indirect competitors. However, it must avoid “Competitor Myopia” where company cannot foresee future competition and revolves only around current ones.
- Determining Competitors’ Objectives:
Once the competitors are identified, the next phase is to understand their objectives. While some companies prefer to earn maximum profit, others prioritize on market share. Similarly, some focus on innovation and others stick to same products. Thus, understanding the objective of competitor’s strategy is important to examine competitors.
- Identifying Competitors’ Strategy:
The third phase after identifying competitors and their objectives is to examine their strategy. The more the strategy resembles between two firms more intense competition will be. Thus strategic group is a group of firms in the industry following same or similar strategy. Although the real competition is within the groups, but there is potential competition outside the group. Either their strategy could be overlapping or it is difficult for customers to differentiate. Furthermore, there is the likelihood of firms expanding into rival strategic groups. Therefore, the company must have a holistic view of the competitor’s strategy.
- Assessing Competitors’ Strengths and Weaknesses:
The next step is to determine if the competitor has enough resources and capabilities to implement its strategy. Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of competitors is a vital step in competitor analysis. Gathering data might be difficult be any available information can be useful. Recently companies use benchmarking to compare their offering with the competitors offering to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses.
- Estimating Competitors’ Reaction Pattern:
A comprehensive analysis of competitors enables the company to forecast competitor’s reactions. There is no set pattern; competitors may react differently in different situations and threat. While some competitors may not react strongly due to various reasons such as: customer loyalty, lack of resources and slow response rate. Others may respond strongly on some issue while neglecting others.
- Selecting Competitors to Attack and Avoid:
The final step is to select competitors that the company decides to target. This decision could be based on the following classification:
- Strong or weak competitor:
Usually companies target weak competitors to preserve time and resources. But at the same time must develop capabilities to fight with the stronger competitors.
- Close or Distant Competitor:
Companies mostly go after close competitor, as they are their immediate threat.
- Well-behaved or Disruptive Competitors:
Competitors are a crucial part of the industry their presence is useful. They can help increase total demand, legitimize technology and, above all, improve bargaining power. Some competitors will be well-behaved, abiding by the rules of the industry; hence, promoting a stable and healthy environment.
How do marketers differentiate their products for successful positioning:
Once the competitor’s are identified the next step is to design a product offering that creates a competitive advantage. The product, to be successful, has to differentiate from the competitors. Companies can choose from a variety of strategies available to gain competitive advantage.
- Michel Porters Competitive Strategies:
- Cost Leadership: the most well-known and widely used strategy is cost leadership. Companies try to reduce their production and distribution cost in comparison to their competitors. Companies mostly adopt this strategy to gain maximum market shares. This type of strategy is only possible when a company has low production costs. It only suits companies that produce in large quantities to attain economies of scale. For example, a company like Wal-Mart adopts such a strategy as they are in the retail business. Their key competency is to offer the same product at a lower price. In Pakistan, clothing brand like Khadi, to some extent, adopts the strategy of cost leadership by producing at a lower cost as compared to other competitors. It does this by producing in bulk and having a strong distribution channel based on its own outlets.
- Differentiation: company follows this strategy when it has a unique selling proposition. A competitive advantage that no competitor possesses or cannot imitate. This is the killer strategy. It means creating space in the market by offering a new product. This not only adds to the customer value but also increases the market size. With strategy, the company is given an edge over the competitor, consequently allowing it to charge a higher price in the market. International brands like star bucks and Apple follow this strategy. In Pakistan, clothing brands like Bareeze have followed this strategy of differentiation for years.
- Focus: in this strategy,, the company decides to target one of a few segments instead of the whole market. The products and services are designed precisely to cater for the needs of that segment. Thus for this, it needs to build close relationships and access complete awareness about the customers. Brand loyalty is one of the key features of this strategy. While other strategies are focused on gaining a small share in different segments, this strategy is targeted on gaining a large chunk of the small segment in focus. A retailer like Harold’s follows this strategy by targeting a small niche of customers.
The whole effort of marketing revolves around the concept of competitive advantage and competition. Marketing strategy is incomplete of it does not take into account the competitors. Every successful company has a clearly defined and assessed competitive strategy, even for future. The real test for company is to ensure that the competitive advantage is sustained for a maximum period of time
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