Innovative marketing and product by Sony
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Innovative marketing and product concepts made Sony, a leader in Asia’s apparel industry by penetrating new markets in foreign territories in the region. Franchise agreements among most of the overseas operations are implemented to ensure capitalization of local marketing expertise and practices of the franchisees. Sony employs a merchandising information system which enables the management to analyze customer needs and preferences both on the regional and local market bases and customize product designs to exceed customer expectations.
To gain management buy-in, the integrated marketing communications plan for launching the Sony, this executive report provides relevant integrated marketing communications plan along with grounded recommendations in order to achieve the 15% annual increase in sales and to geographically expand existing target for Sony so as to embark PSP as one of the top ten products in the industry.
According to the Journal of Real Estate Practice and Education: “Consumers purchase products and services for the benefits derived from their use. While the study of economics focuses on outcomes, consumer behavior emphasizes the process. Rather than assuming perfect conditions, researchers of consumer behavior explicitly recognize the impact of situational elements on behavior and the variance among individuals faced with the same conditions”
Which means that consumers buy products for the benefits they reap out of it, the study of consumer behavior investigates the steps, or the processes involved regarding the decisions made by the consumer. Most consumers regard the purchase of real estate to be ‘high involvement goods’ that require complex decision-making,’ in purchasing real estate, such as houses, apartments or units, consumers usually go through three key processes before they consider buying, and these are: information search, evaluation of alternatives and decision rules.
Current Marketing Situation (4-6 pages)
Along with the changing business world, customers change as well, becoming more demanding and knowledgeable than before. The consumers of mass communication messages today are active and critical in the simple choices they make. As such, the mere purchase of everyday necessities has proved to be crucial in analyzing the consumer market at present.
In turn, company management had shifted their focus on their clients or customers so as to stay successfully in business. The changing world has then placed much emphasis on the importance of communication for effective marketing. This transition meant that organizations have to completely reformulate their conventional business aims and purposes from being process-focused to customer-centered (Lowenstein, 1997).
In this age of globalization and information technology, deciding which brand to choose can be a problem. Competition is evident and intense, and the marketing and management divisions of corporations are surely giving everything they can to establish their brands. Competition forces certain brand names to become stronger than others because of product loyalty and name recognition. As such, all types of communication became more involved in marketing communications, including literature, training, advertising, mail, telephone, product promotions and other contact relevant to marketing communication (Goldberg & McCalley, 1992).
Moreover, consumers tend to buy what is already familiar to them (Mittelhauser, 1997). A fine and well-advertised brand might have a competitive edge from a lesser exposed brand name. But then, a lesser known brand can also have an edge over price, given that they cost less than known brands (Kim et al, 2002).
Market researches are most of the time conducted before and after the launching or implementation of an advertising campaign so as to provide generalization or specific definition of the characteristics of the type of people belonging in market category as well as the reactions of the consumers to the product or service being made available (Neumann & Sumser, 2002).
Competition is an important factor Sony PSP to consider before entering a business. Companies should have successful competitive strategies to be able attract, retain and grow customers. However, before the company can plan and execute these strategies, it should be able to pinpoint its sources of competitive advantage which can be differentiated through products, services, channels, people and image (Kotler & Armstrong, 2001).
Moreover, consumers tend to buy what is already familiar to them (Mittelhauser, 1997). A fine and well-advertised brand might have a competitive edge from a lesser exposed brand name. But then, a lesser known brand can also have an edge over price, given that they cost less than known brands (Kim et al, 2002).
Sony PSP serves as agent to cottage owners who wish to outsource their booking services whose business transactions and contracts involve sole responsibility for the marketing needs. Aside from the need to market itself, Sony is likewise concerned with gaining market visibility among PSP clients as the basic customers of the business in which the company earns 20% per month. At present, Sony use the traditional communication channels in marketing its services to reach their clients. The communication media utilized by Sony is through print media, television and through their website (Avlonitis & Karayanni, 2000).
An organization that offers products as well as services also depends on suppliers that deliver the company’s raw materials. This condition leads to the buyer-supplier relationships within different industries. Such relationship is directly influence by the changes in the supply and demand variables based on the existing needs of the consumer population (Lee & Billinton, 1995; Katsikeas, Schlegelmilch & Skarmeas, 2002). The influence of the supplier is defined by its ability to dictate price and influence availability of materials.
Other strengths of the supplier include their ability to (a) increase prices without suffering from a decrease in volume, (b) reduce the quantity supplied, (c) organize in a formal or informal manner, (d) compete in an environment with relatively few substitutes, (e) provide a product/material that is a critical part of the end product or service, (f) impose switching costs on their customers when they depart, and (g) integrate downstream by purchasing or controlling the distribution channels (Berry et al, 1998; Degraeve & Roodhooft, 1999; Anderson & Katz, 1998).
According to Avlonitis and Karayanni (2000) 58% of the demand for rented holiday cottages caters to customers belonging to the A, B, and C1 socio-economic groups. Demands for independent family vacation packages are relatively higher compared to group outing packages. During the lean seasons, the notion of escaping from busy urban life to the countryside for a short and relaxing break is common among customers.
On the other hand, the peak season during the summer months caters to the ideal family vacation which includes perks and activities that interest all ages apart from the picturesque scenery that the resorts and other accommodations offer. Approximately 94% of the bookings during the peak seasons extend to four or more night stay in the months of June to September. Moreover, the purchase decisions of target customers are based on the offered services and amenities that will entertain them during the stay as well the customers trust to cottage owners and service providers due to high satisfaction level.
Customer satisfaction is the primary aim of marketing. Most enterprises ensure the best possible chance of attaining long-term stability and competitive standing through comptehensive customer analysis and implementation of marketing communication plans. Marketing makes the basic assumption that customer satisfaction should be the primary aim of the business.
Such satisfaction can be achieved and sustained through the provision of competitive products or services, at competitive prices (Spreng, MacKenzie & Olshavsky, 1996). It should focus on every aspect of marketing, not only on promotion and sales techniques, to persuade customers to buy but also on target market, marketing mix and the effective marketing strategy (Kotler & Armstrong, 2001) because successful marketing results in stronger products, happier customers, and bigger profits.
Moreover, customers recognize the importance of knowledge in relation to the product being purchased. Several consumer behavior researches testified to this fact. Wong (2000) argued that a customer evaluates a product or a service. Such action is based on the customer’s reaction from the using the product or service, which means that the product or service should leave a good perception to the customer’s contentment.
Frederick and Salter (1995) explained that it can be ensured that a customer is satisfied by taking into importance the value package, which includes: price, product quality, service quality, innovation, and corporate image. Others also stated the importance of maintaining or establishing a uniqueness of the product, while also understanding customers and what pleases them (Denton 1993). Customers should also understand the product and be allowed to set their own standards in order to be satisfied (Frederick & Salter 1995)
SWOT Analysis (5-7 pages)
Most companies find it impossible to create any kind of sustainable competitive advantage based on product alone. Since competition is an important factor to consider before entering a business, companies should have successful competitive strategies to be able attract, retain and grow customers. However, before the company can plan and execute these strategies, it should be able to pinpoint its sources of competitive advantage which can be differentiated through products, services, channels, people and image (Kotler & Armstrong, 2001). Indeed, making a business successful in a particular setting demands crucial and detailed studies and examination of the factors that will generate the best results that will serve the aims and objectives of the company.
In this light, owners of big business organizations operating in a competitive business environment should be in constant look out with its competitors and the overall status and events in the industry.
Taking advantage of the opportunities and intensifying the strengths while minimizing the risks and weaknesses of a business firm greatly helps in predicting the success of the business enterprise. As such it is important to examine the consequent (a) strengths, (b) weaknesses, (c) opportunities, and (d) threats of Sony PSP in order to accurately illustrate sound business propositions and recommendations pertaining to its aims to expand market share and increase profitability of the PSP products.
- Strengths. Compared to the industry competitors of Sony PSP, the company exercises an almost direct access the market-base. Since the company originated and developed in Japan which is a free economic zone economy long before its affiliation and subsequent participation in the activities of WTO, Sony is highly of advantage compared to foreign entrants in the local market. This gives Sony the experience, skill, and knowledge of the people in the market along with the cultural orientation and social practices in their perspective localities.
Along with Group’s high similarity and familiarity with the social, cultural, economic, and political setting, Sony is also in synch with the international computer game console trends since it houses designers and staff from diverse cultural background.
This is in line with the company’s far-reaching share in the international game console market across the Asian region and other parts of the world. In this light, the company offers products and services that do not limit their talents to local markets. This is highly relevant in increasing the market share of PSP product line since numerous expatriates or individuals from foreign countries stay due to the country’s abundant business ventures as well as international events.
The franchising business expansion strategy of the company likewise proved to be successful in different locations. This enables Sony to balance the centralized and decentralized approaches to business management and operations.
The centralized aspect of the Group ensure capitalization of foreign franchisees abroad which results to good return of investments and profits while the decentralized business approach of the franchises extends possible business opportunities for the entire business in terms of product innovation, design, research and development. This makes possible continuous growth of the business enterprise through a pool of creative staff and employees that contribute to the competence, security, image and integrity of the company.
- Weaknesses. Basically, game consoles in today’s modern world are everywhere, with the help of globalization nonetheless. However, the problem with this is that world game consoles has witnessed a dramatic shift in the way in which gaming styles are determined away from an intrinsic interaction between gaming and the regional environmental factors towards the dominance by global capitalism. Game consoles like PSP is now being considered more of a retail material rather than a medium on which artists can express their artistic ideas to the fullest (Azuma & Fernie, 2003). Globalization has made statements of different cultures available to every individual around the world. Although mass production of fashion is being created with extensive consideration on production budget and marketing research, Sony should be sensitive to the importance of maintaining technology in its products and designs so as not to fall into the common retail-crafted game console orientation perception regarding today’s gaming technology.
The franchising strategy of Sony allows continuous product innovation and design as well as more cost-effective materials for manufacturing the companies clothing lines. As such, the development efforts and research initiatives and projects that the company invest in order to maintain continuous operation and competitive position call for wise selection of business opportunities as well as skilled leadership and risk management skills among its decision-makers. The staff and employees of the company should be highly familiar with the fashion existing and upcoming fashion designs in order to take lead in introducing new and future fashion trends. But more importantly, the company should foster tasteful and intrinsic creative designs for the consumers at the lowest possible prices.
The company should likewise intensify its promotion campaigns particularly the game console line like PSP since they have a very large market across the globe. Advertising and marketing communications tools should leave a good impact to the target market to increase its appeal to the public. Good relationships with the suppliers and other business affiliations for the successful operation of the new clothing lie should be observed. Moreover, technological innovations and facilities in apparel manufacturing and marketing should be fully exhausted in order to serve the economic and aesthetic purposes of the company.
- Opportunities. Since Sony has long been familiar with the local and international market, conceptualizations of the value propositions of its products are highly in synch with the lifestyle and fashion trends present in the targeted location. As such marketing and advertising strategies and opportunities come relatively easier to Sony management with its compilation of market researches particularly the buying behavior of the people. This situation should be taken advantage by the management to gain competitive edge against foreign clothing fashion companies that are operating businesses internationally. The lively business economies and activities in China can also provide potential business deals and partnerships with other foreign business entities operating in the country to further expand the market share of the company and increase profits. This serves the long-term viability and stability of the business in other foreign territories in the future.
As was mentioned earlier, the company operates foreign outlets and retails stores for its fashion clothing lines through franchises. Since each local franchise adheres to the regional design and ambiance projected by all Sony shops, the company is able to maintain its own standards across diverse market base.
But the management is also sensitive to the unique characteristics and demands of each local market in which the company is willing to meet. As such, specific product designs are not constrained by the limited know-how of the top management when it comes to products designs customizing some units and models. This allows an array of product development and innovation particularly in terms of materials and workmanships.
- Threats. The continuous transformation of the monopolistic economic environment in the game console industry in general into a free market system as initiated and presented by the Sony PSP not just benefits but risks as well. The competitors in the local as well as the international clothing fashion industry is a major intimidation to Sony since highly acclaimed, recognized, popular and sophisticated companies in the industry can exercise the same market penetration initiatives of the company. In particular, there are highly stable local apparel manufacturers that supply and distribute materials, designs and products to other internationally acknowledged clothing lines. These local manufacturers are also distributing their products and designs in the local market under their own respective brand names. At the international level, European and American designs and products are existent and likewise persistent in increasing market share in lucrative business locations.
Objectives and Issues (about 2 pages)
Because of the implications for profitability and growth, customer retention is potentially one of the most powerful weapons that companies can employ in their fight to gain a strategic advantage and survive in today’s ever increasing competitive environment (Lindenmann, 1999). Aside from having a strategic purpose, gaining customer loyalty is also a key corporate challenge today especially in this increasingly competitive and crowded marketplace because of the eventual profitability it will provide (Chow & Holden, 1997). Every business wants to have a regular customer base because customers dictate profits and how the customer is treated will reflect on whether the customers will remain loyal with the company or not.
The discussion that follows enumerates the (1) corporate objectives, (2) marketing objectives, (3) marketing communications objectives, and (4) positioning of Sony PSP in initiating the business organization’s drive towards the game console industry to be able to market and advertise the offers of the company to their consumers.
- Corporate Objectives
- To match the organizational structure to the needs of the clients and customers by anticipating and meeting the demands and expectations of the market;
- To extend service designs and innovation leadership by being sensitive to the dictates of and trends in the consumer demand or business behavior of the clientele;
- To develop leading positions in the game console industry by adapting competitive stance that is committed to the aim of the company to excel and best other agencies;
- To achieve excellence in service execution through consistent and on-time commitment to client and customer needs that ensure service quality and best-practice social standards; and
- To focus on financial performance through effective management of working capital and generation of free cash flow to optimize financial leverage; and
- Marketing Objectives
- To increase the market share of Sony PSP;
- To provide satisfying products and services to the consumers;
- To accelerate revenue growth by focusing on selected consumer group and expanding the customer-base; and
- To initiate continuous optimization of marketing communication channels and activities to best showcase the PSP products
- Marketing Communications Objectives
- To increase consumer awareness of the products offered by the Sony PSP through the improvement of their website;
- To exhibit the facilities and amenities offered by contract cottage owners to subsequently increase market share;
- To penetrate other lucrative customer-base through the broad reach of the Internet as facilitated by the online portal;
- To encourage open communication between the agency and the customers using the Website as a feedback system that caters to the needs, suggestions as well as complaints of the clientele; and
- To exhaust means of spontaneous and flexible developments and improvements of the online services that is reflective of the market trends in the industry.
Marketing Strategy (3-5 pages)
- Customer Analysis
Customer satisfaction refers to the consumer’s positive subjective evaluation of the outcomes and experiences associated with using or consuming the product or service. It refers to either a discrete, time-limited event or the entire time the service or product is experienced (Duffy & Kechand, 1998). Satisfaction occurs when the product has been able to meet or exceed the conceived expectations that the customer has (Padilla, 1996). Furthermore, customer satisfaction may also be considered as the measure of the high degree of quality of the product (Jacobs et al., 1998). Crosby and colleagues (2003) deemed that once a product or service has been delivered or sold, its quality is believed to have been established.
Customer satisfaction is the primary aim of marketing. Most enterprises ensure the best possible chance of attaining long-term stability and competitive standing through comptehensive customer analysis and implementation of marketing communication plans. Marketing makes the basic assumption that customer satisfaction should be the primary aim of the business.
Such satisfaction can only be achieved and sustained through the provision of competitive products or services, at competitive prices (Spreng, MacKenzie & Olshavsky, 1996). It should focus on every aspect of marketing, not only on promotion and sales techniques, to persuade customers to buy but also on target market, marketing mix and the effective marketing strategy (Kotler & Armstrong, 2001) because successful marketing results in stronger products, happier customers, and bigger profits.
According to Cheong (2004) the demand from the consumers of Sony PSP will emerge as the primary market trend setter in the coming years particularly the increasing imports of the product globally. Moreover, customers recognize the importance of knowledge in relation to the product being purchased. Several consumer behavior researches testified to this fact. Wong (2000) argued that a customer evaluates a product or a service. Such action is based on the customer’s reaction from the using the product or service, which means that the product or service should leave a good perception to the customer’s contentment.
Frederick and Salter (1995) explained that it can be ensured that a customer is satisfied by taking into importance the value package, which includes: price, product quality, service quality, innovation, and corporate image. Others also stated the importance of maintaining or establishing a uniqueness of the product, while also understanding customers and what pleases them (Denton 1993). Customers should also understand the product and be allowed to set their own standards in order to be satisfied (Frederick & Salter 1995).
Furthermore, because of the implications for profitability and growth, customer retention is potentially one of the most powerful weapons that companies can employ in their fight to gain a strategic advantage and survive in today’s ever increasing competitive environment (Lindenmann, 1999). Aside from having a strategic purpose, gaining customer loyalty is also a key corporate challenge today especially in this increasingly competitive and crowded marketplace because of the eventual profitability it will provide (Chow & Holden, 1997). Every business wants to have a regular customer base because customers dictate profits and how the customer is treated will reflect on whether the customers will remain loyal with the company or not.
This concept is illustrated by Mittelhauser (1997) in a study about the textile and apparel industry. Competition forces certain brand names to become stronger than others because of product loyalty and name recognition. Consumers tend to buy what is already familiar to them. Thus, it becomes imperative for retailing outfits, especially small or exclusive ones to build a steady base of customers to exist in the competitive marketplace.
This relationship becomes mutually beneficial with the company, gaining steady profit and the consumer having the product/s of the said company. Consumers tend to buy what is already familiar to them (Henry, 2000). It becomes imperative for retailing outfits, especially small or exclusive ones to build a steady base of customers to exist in the competitive marketplace.
Fournier (1994) stressed that the relationship of consumers to certain brands are established through the individual’s concept of oneself. However, the company can go a step further and make additional profits by cross-selling as well as save money from having to acquire new or replacement customers.
The consumer, on the other hand, can also do the same, by demanding benefits from being a loyal customer that companies would certainly give to maintain them. Previous researches have concluded that satisfied consumers are more loyal to the product as compared to unsatisfied customers (Bailey & Schultz, 2000). Meanwhile, customers may remain loyal for a number of reasons and may not even be happy with the product or service (Ryan, Rayner & Morrison, 1999). Customer loyalty becomes evident when choices are made and actions taken by customers (Wansik, 2003).
All these issues will be taken into consideration in order to facilitate effective market penetration of Sony PSP. Since the Sony PSP cater to more usable and enjoyable game console which are relatively priced higher than other products, successful market integration of the company appears feasible and effective based on the growing trend towards the local and international consumers, particularly by the local market. Brand competition seems negligible in this regard.
- Market Segmentation
Initially, the understanding of buyer behavior is one of the more perplexing tasks confronting every manager (Schiffman & Kanuk 2000). The difficulty arises from the heterogeneity of buyers, from being groups of individuals who differ from one another. But notwithstanding differences, consumers do share attitudes, opinions, reactions, and desires at various times (Schiffman & Kanuk 2000). Business experience, marketing research, theoretical constructs and models, and trial-and-error methods help to find some of the common denominators.
Market segmentation fully recognizes that buyers of any product or service category need, desire, want and expect different performance characteristics from products or services in the category. It helps the company to position the product properly and prepare marketing strategies to satisfy a more focused range of consumer needs and wants.
Furthermore, it is also a factor in effectively using limited marketing resources, identifying unique market niches, improving profitability and helping to retain consumer loyalty. The basis for the market categorizations of Sony PSP clients and customers include the (1) demographic characteristics, (2) the geographical location, (3) consumer behavior, and (4) psychographic characterizations (Kotler & Armstrong, 2001).
Consumers around the world are different in various factors such as age, income, education level and preferences which may affect the way they avail of goods and services. In the case of the initiatives of Sony to penetrate the market through the introduction of the PSP, the product being offered by Sony could be a good start in planning and executing an effective campaign.
Knowing the product and its demands in the market as well as the people who will likely avail and take advantage of the offer will open the possibilities for a campaign that will be most ideal in the market. Looking into the characteristics and thought processes of the people still holds as the most significant factor to be looked into by the individuals in the field of sales and marketing. The large scope of market can pose a hindrance to a successful marketing strategy in terms of over generalized definition of the target or niche market.
According to Kotler and Armstrong (2001), consumer buying behavior refers to the buying behavior of the individuals and households who buy the goods and services for personal consumption. This behavior then impacts how products and services are presented to the different consumer markets. There are many components which influence consumer behavior namely: cultural, social, personal and psychological (Kotler & Armstrong, 2001). As such, consumers can either be subjective or objective, testing the persuasiveness of brand names. Retail stores selling the products also play an important role in swaying the decisions of consumers. The whole package or visual appeal of the retail outlet can determine sales, or the service of the sales ladies or the clerks.
Furthermore, consumers may choose particular products/brands not only because these products provide the functional or performance benefits expected, but also because products can be used to express consumers’ personality, social status or affiliation (symbolic purposes) or to fulfill their internal psychological needs, such as the need for change or newness (emotional purposes) (Kim et al, 2002).
In this regard, the market segmentation for the Sony PSP focusing on consumer behavior and psychographics entails the identification of the governing social norms and culture in the local and international market as well as the general buying behavior of the consumer population. Moreover, the existence of foreign nationals in the country should be likewise taken into consideration fro more effective and comprehensive segme3ntation of the market to identify the target consumers.
- Target Market
Of all the components of a marketing plan, perhaps the most overlooked but most critical element is the definition of the target market. According to Claravall (2000), it is a homogenous group of people or organizations that a company wishes to appeal to. There are two basic targets for a product or service: the user and the non-user segments.
Thus, there are also two business and marketing decisions that the company must decide upon in light of the basic targets. The first is to cultivate the present market alone while the second is to go after non-users. The former can inspire consumer loyalty which is an important factor in the survival of any business. These are among the consumer characteristics that Sony PSP particularly men and children, should identify and gain market visibility.
Culture influences behavior through its manifestations: values, heroes, rituals, and symbols (Luna & Gupta, 2001). Since the market for chain convenience store is in the international orientation, the management as well as the advertisers should keep in mind the differences that are distinct between and among the target market from different cultural backgrounds which significantly affect the effectiveness of the campaign.
The fact is there may be ideas that will not be applicable across the diverse target market population. Studies on the relationship of consumer behavior and their personal values and cultural orientation as well as their beliefs on certain principles, the dispositions they hold and side they take on political, gender and social problems and issues should be duly accorded.
Moreover, companies now face the challenge of making its target consumers respond accordingly to their marketing efforts and those who understand its consumers’ responses will have a great competitive advantage (Kotler & Armstrong, 2001). As such, there is a need for a common understanding with regards to Sony PSP offers and the needs of its targe5t market in order to initiate market share among non-users and extensive customer loyalty among patrons.
This will further the economic gains of the company and the achievement of corporate goals and objectives. Since the Sony PSP focuses on the marketing of among men of the middle age and children population of the local and International consumers, the company should make it a point to provide marketing and advertising efforts that will most appeal to the targeted market through critical market analysis of consumer preferences and consumer behavior in the locale.
Practically, essential decisions that are taken in developing an effective marketing mix for specific product/service are based in the systematic knowledge of the consumers that make up its permanent target market (Johnson & Mullen 1990). Johnson and Mullen (1990) believe that understanding the behavior of the consumer is the most basic step in helping marketing authorities to visualize and predict future trends, reactions, and changes in the marketing mix.
It may also serve as a reference in determining the potentials of new products and its adoption. The identification of the characteristics and buying preferences of the target market will make it possible for Sony PSP to strategically conceptualize the value proposition and marketing agenda of the products to appeal to the target market. Conceptualization and developing future products for the Sony PSP will likewise prove easier and accurate to the needs projected by the consumers.
- Product Strategy
Cultivating customer loyalty is about establishing a relationship between the company and its consumers (Chow & Holden, 1997). This is emphasized by Michael Lowenstein (1997) who considers that gaining consumer loyalty is a business’s most advantageous strategic purpose because it has a constructive effect on company, culture, development and the bottom-line. However, customer loyalty is not a one-sided arrangement with the company reaping all the benefits. The customers also expect to be rewarded for patronizing the company. Aside from assuring customer satisfaction, the company will also devise strategies that will make the regular customers buy more or try new products of Sony PSP.
These product strategies include (1) matching the organizational structure to the customers by anticipating and meeting the demands and expectations of the market; (2) extending design and innovation leadership by being sensitive to the dictates of and trends in the consumer demand or buying behavior of the clientele adapting technological means to widen product design and innovation reach; (3) developing leading positions in all major markets by adapting competitive stance that is committed to the aim of the company to excel and best other brands accelerating revenue growth and focus on selected consumer group;
(4) achieving excellence in execution through consistent on-time retail delivery, ensuring best quality and the commitment and ability to go the extra mile for the customer along with maintaining the best-practice social and environmental standards, continuous optimization of the own-retail activities to best showcase the brands and products and to improve customer services; and (5) focusing on financial performance through effective management of working capital and generation of significant free cash flow to reduce debt and optimize financial leverage as well as increasing returns to shareholders through share price performance and dividends.
Rather than going after every potential source of revenue, companies eliminate useless assets that do not add value for customers’ satisfaction. Business organizations implement bureaucratic policies and procedures for the benefit of the staff, customers and the company in general.
Moreover, Hessan & Whitely (1996) emphasized the idea to take advantage of the competitive situation not just by being better in how that product gets sold, serviced, and marketed at the customer interface. It requires that companies create breakthroughs in how they interact with customers, and design a way of interacting that makes an indelible impression on customers, one that so utterly distinguishes them from others that it becomes a brand in itself (p. 14).
The management initiated product development strategies by marketing their existing products in a new market, exporting products in different areas of the region and thereby advancing opportunities of increasing market penetration and market share through the Sony PSP line. To ensure the success of the product launching in the game console business as a fast-moving consumer good, the Group should make investments in store promotions as well as multi-media advertising in the market. This will be likewise considered in conceptualizing other advertising and brand strategy schemes to effectively launch Sony PSP in both local and international market.
The first marketing decision would be to decide Sony wants to maintain solely their present market and just plan incentives for them to consume more of the product. The major task here is to decide more usage situations for consuming the product. This is easier for food products but may be difficult for functional products. On the other hand, the second strategy would be for the company to go after the non-users.
Sony should employ a dual strategy for attracting both users and non-users alike (Neumann and Sumser, 2002). In order to get an idea of how large the potential market among non-users is a market penetration study must be implemented called the Usage, Attitude and Image (UAI) study. Using this tool would evaluate the opportunities existing outside the company’s present market. However, there is a disadvantage to focusing solely on non-users at the expense of the current users.
Since PSP devices are new products in the market that are still in need of active promotional campaigns and advertising, stabling a solid consumer base should primarily take into account. The loyalty of these people will serve the business organization when the time comes that the distribution of the products are made wide wherein the company will be targeting the incorporation of non-users in the consumer base. Furthermore, time acts as a market variable that should be similarly considered upon plans to expand the target market.
- Distribution Strategy
According to David (2003), there are at least four types of resources which the company can use to achieve its objectives: financial, tangible, human and technological resources. These are the same critical success factors that Sony should be equipped with in order to conceptualize efficient supply management and cost-effective distribution strategies from the main suppliers to the end-users of the products, particularly Sony PSP.
Some of the ways that companies acquired cost advantages are by improving process efficiencies, gaining unique access to a large source of lower cost materials, making optimal outsourcing and vertical integration decisions, or avoiding some costs altogether. If competing firms are unable to lower their costs by a similar amount, the firm will be able to sustain a competitive advantage based on cost leadership.
This has been the practice within Sony PSP manufacturing and apparel production through contracts with direct supplier in order to lessen the expenditures of the company spent on materials. Moreover, the franchising system that the company manages internationally in initiating expansion of its market penetration and market share contributes to the current functionality of the distributions system of the Group through its retail outlets.
- Price Strategy and Promotion
Organizations that capitalize on customers’ active participation in organizational activities can gain competitive advantage through greater sales volume, enhanced operating efficiencies, positive word-of-mouth publicity, reduced marketing expenses, and enhanced customer loyalty (Lovelock & Young, 1979; Reichheld & Sasser, 1990). Channel communications works in a two-way system wherein information transfers to the user and bounces all the way back to the producer (Goldberg & McCalley, 1992).
In other words, marketing communications works like a feedback system, which allows company producers to relay information to the customers. In response to the provided information, consumers give certain reactions or behaviors. According to Bowers, Martin and Luker (1990), if consumers somehow become better customers — that is, more knowledgeable, participative, or productive — the quality of the service experience will likely be enhanced for the customer and the organization.
The changing world has then placed much emphasis on the importance of communication for effective marketing. All types of communication are involved in marketing communications, including literature, training, advertising, mail, telephone, product promotions and other contact relevant to marketing communication. Among the channel members, even follow-up on complaints as well as customer billing may be included within the communication loop. In order to effectively serve the marketing channel, correct timing and accuracy in communications is essential. Moreover, it is important for the company to recognize that all members of the channel have an obligation or important role in maintaining the efficacy of marketing communications.
To make the regular customers buy more or try new products, Sony PSP could initiate the following promotional strategies: (1) distribution of samples, (2) discount coupons to customers in the retail stores, (3) rebates, (4) price-off particularly a few months after the launching period, (5) bonus packs or tie-ups with the companies other products during the launching period, (6) sample packs, (7) special packs, (8) premiums, (9) free trials for new customers, (10) warranty or free health consultation on booths, (11) prizes through raffle draws, (12) issuance of patronage card/reward, and (13) product sponsorships for contests that are both directly and directly associated to the lifestyle of the target market.
Discount coupons and club cards will serve as a marketing strategy to developed similar loyalty schemes in order to identify and stimulate brand awareness in the market. These database marketing and loyalty programs, the ultimate promotion strategies for the retailer are powerful, highly segmented customer-oriented forms of promotions, encouraging customer retention and purchase activation.
Moreover, e-marketing is a powerful tool that could be exhausted by the Group in achieving marketing its objectives through the use of available and up-to-date electronic communications technologies Smith and Chaffey (2001). E-commerce removes the geographical separation between regions, and made dealing with foreign trade a snap. E-commerce is just on its initial phase, but it is expected to grow as the Ministry of Information Industry starting to structure the basic framework for e-commerce development, rules and regulations.
As such, the arrival of broadband internet means that more and more people will shop online – suggesting there is plenty of room in the market for the convenience store and its competitors. Service differences are likely to smooth out, making it more likely that people will choose on the basis of price and brand loyalty. With this, the Sony management will need to reassess its goals as well as opt to take on a differentiation strategy by promoting unique attributes that are valued by customers and that customers perceive to be better than or different from the products of the competition
Finally, the company’s social responsibilities should be taken seriously by supporting local charities, funding educational scholarships, and contributing to the socially relevant causes and projects that get publicity. Moreover, sustainable development efforts of the organization through environment-friendly social drives that promotes responsible waste management along with other cause-oriented social activities in the communities where there is market for Sony PSP.
Action Programs (about 3 Pages)
Recommendations as to how the company will conduct its marketing communications plans is governed by the assumptions that using the right mix of advertising tools (TV, Internet, print and radio) will allow the company to get the best of online and offline advertising. Following is the six-month communications plan for the launching of the company.
1st Two Months. This is when initial collaboration with prospective advertising partners should be done. They should be selected by virtue of their reputation and performance in handling advertising tasks. The company will contact partners that will cater to its need to be publicized online and offline. Specifically, the company will employ extensive new media, TV, radio, and print campaign. Each would-be partner will be given the chance to present their marketing plans for the company. There will intensive negotiations between suppliers, assessment of artworks, and evaluation whether such marketing strategies are designed following the company’s objective. The activities will include the following:
- Complete a detailed situation analysis to examine the context of the environment and to determine the need for the project.
- Involve the stakeholders of the project so as to consider their needs and preferences.
- Identify alternative options of the organization so as to exhaust the available alternatives.
- Set the assumptions and objectives of the project to distinguish the direction as well as the standards for project assessment.
3rd and 4th Months. Once the right mix and budget communications were decided, it is expected that at this time of the year, all the advertising outputs will be ready for their launching nationwide. The advertising efforts will be completed by criteria to measure its effectiveness. Intensive researches will be implemented to determine the success of each campaign tool.
Advertising media could be in the form of brochure, newsletter, printed materials, the Internet, newspapers, radio, and television. The communications department of the company will be directly responsible on monitoring the content design, layout, dissemination, and communication training and development for employees and executives. Furthermore, the department is also expected to supervise all the market and attitudinal research. The activities will include the following:
- Determine project size in order to limit the concerns of the project, identify the necessary resources, and evaluate its feasibility.
- Examine the available resources whether material or human that should be acquired to meet the goals of the project.
- Analyze the risks, benefits, and costs of the project so as to ascertain the project’s financial return that will assist to the long-term goals of the organization.
- Develop a master plan that details the focus and concerns of the project’s goals.
5th and 6th Months. The last period of advertising campaign will focus on the maintenance and management of media relationships. Research findings must guide the company on appraising its marketing approaches. All the steps that will be taken must be geared towards the determination, development, and design of the organization image, presence, and reputation. The activities will include the following:
- Document all the development and changes of undertaking the project at all its stages.
- Coordinate planning and project efforts between all of the project participants.
- Effectively and efficiently manage information, technology and people.
Budgets (3-4 Pages)
Companies employ marketing communications in order to gain several benefits such as increased profits and enhanced customer relations. The application of strategies directed towards the achievement of these objectives naturally requires the allocation of financial resources. However, while the company is capable of providing a budget for marketing communications, the outcomes should be able to recover these allocations. Hence, in order to prevent capital losses, the company should employ strategies and create objectives that are compatible to the capacity of the company and what it intends to achieve.
With US$1.5 million to complete the project, it is estimated that about one-fourth (US$375,000) of the budget will be spent in conducting researches to determine which partners will best serve the company’s ends. The company will spend approximately half (US$750,000) of its allotted budget for advertising materials, product placements, and training and development of marketers.
Lastly, the company will allot the remaining budget (US$375,000) on the maintenance and management of media relationships. The funding shall come from the stakeholders and proprietors of the company. In order for the objectives of the company to materialize, the company shall welcome on board, experts such as cosmetic surgeons, general practitioners, medical staffs and assistants.
Controls (3-4 pages)
The art of planning for the future has always been a human trait as humans are thinking individuals. In essence a project can simply be captured on paper with a few simple elements: a start date, an end date, the tasks that have to be carried out and when they should be finished, and some idea of the resources (people, machines etc) that will be needed during the course of the project and when the plan is one which involves different things happening at various times, some of which are interconnected on each other, plus resources needed at varying times and in different quantities and perhaps working at different rates; monitoring and control of the project is required for its successful and timely completion.
Researchers have said that, financial management is concerned with the raising and allocation of financial funds (Van Horne, 1986, p. 2). Norms for efficient financial management can be derived once the financial environment and the functioning of financial instruments have been understood. This approach to financial services, such as the price-risk management services of futures markets, will create the necessary conditions for success. The financial approach to financial services is a normative one: what conditions have to be fulfilled for a financial service to be a success? It is an approach that is particularly valuable to the manager of a financial institution.
For many establishments, one of the major issue is where to get funds from for starting up, development and expansion can be crucial for the business. It is essential, therefore, that the different sources of finance be understand fully to be able to open a business and are able to asses how efficient these sources are in relation to the needs of the business.
Traditionally, there are four major sources of finance for a limited establishment was internal sources: Personal savings- Quite simply, personal savings are amounts of money that a businessperson, partner or shareholder has at their disposal to do with as they wish.
If that person uses their savings to invest in their own or another business, then the source of finance comes under the heading of personal savings. Although we would generally discuss personal savings as a source of finance for small businesses, there are many examples where business people have used substantial sums of their own money to help to finance their businesses.
Second is Retained profit this is often a very difficult idea to understand but, in reality, it is very simple. When a business makes a profit and it does not spend it, it keeps it – and accountants call profits that are kept and not spent retained profits. That’s all. The retained profit is then available to use within the business to help with buying new machinery, vehicles, computers and so on or developing the business in any other way. Retained profits are also kept if the owners think that they may have difficulties in the future so they save them for a rainy day!
Third is the working capital, This is the short-term capital or finance that a business keeps. Working capital is the money used to pay for the everyday trading activities carried out by the business – stationery needs, staff salaries and wages, rent, energy bills, payments for supplies and so on. Working capital is defined as:
Working capital = current assets – current liabilities
current assets are short term sources of finance such as stocks, debtors and cash – the amount of cash and cash equivalents – the business has at any one time. Cash is cash in hand and deposits payable on demand (e.g. current accounts). Cash equivalents are short term and highly liquid investments which are easily and immediately convertible into cash.
current liabilities are are short term requirements for cash including trade creditors, expense creditors, tax owing, dividends owing – the amount of money the business owes to other people/groups/businesses at any one time that needs to be repaid within the next month or so.
Sale of Assets
Business balance sheets usually have several fixed assets on them. A fixed asset is anything that is not used up in the production of the good or service concerned – land, buildings, fixtures and fittings, machinery, vehicles and so on. At times, one or more of these fixed assets may be surplus to requirements and can be sold.
Alternatively, a business may desperately need to find some cash so it decides to stop offering certain products or services and because of that can sell some of its fixed assets. Hence, by selling fixed assets, business can use them as a source of finance. Selling its fixed assets, therefore, has an effect on the potential capacity of the business – the amount it can produce.
There are also external sources, in this context the owner depends on those people or group of people who are called shareholders, on the other hand sole traders and partnerships do not have shareholder, while individual or partners are the owners of the business but do not have shares. The units of investments in a limited company, whether it be a public or private limited company is called shares, shares are being broken down into two categories:
Ordinary shares- Ordinary shares are also known as equity shares and they are the most common form of share in the UK. An ordinary share gives the right to its owner to share in the profits of the company (dividends) and to vote at general meetings of the company.
Since the profits of companies can vary wildly from year to year, so can the dividends paid to ordinary shareholders. In bad years, dividends may be nothing whereas in good years they may be substantial. Some businesses may choose to pay out a dividend even if it has had a difficult trading year and has made a loss.
Managing Current Liabilities
The first step in improving company’s accounts payables management is to benchmark against your industry peers. This process will allow management to determine whether there is room for improvement in payables management. One of the key metrics to benchmark is days in payables, which measures how long the company takes to pay its suppliers, on average.
The metric is calculated as:
Days in Payables = Number of days in a year (365) divided by the ratio of Cost of Sales divided by average Accounts Payable.
If performance gaps are identified between company’s performance and that of industry peers, these gaps may represent opportunities to further analyze and improve those business processes that affect accounts payable.
The following should be considered:
- Manage payment dates and terms to maximize cash flow
- Employ technology to automate the accounts payable transaction processes
- Maintain open communications and build strong relationships with vendors to access valuable trade credit
- Communicate accounts payable requirements to suppliers at the beginning of transactions
- Efficient and effective management of accounts payable helps improve cash flow and making the most of your company’s cash is just good business
Working Capital Performance Measurement
Information entail that, working capital performance measurement is a financial liquidity measurement. This indicates what current assets remain after paying all the current liabilities and provides a measure of the hospital’s ability to meet its short-term obligations. (Sony Annual Report, 2006)
New Economic Opportunities
Such economic opportunities in relation to marketing and finance of such business is vividly present as certain business can open up such opportunities that will also help in pursuing goals and objectives in achieving a stable economy in relation to the actual scenario that involves business in the society .
|Dividend Information (FY03)|
|Gross Margin %||57.04|
|Operating Margin %||21.32|
|Per Share Data (FY03)|
|Management Effectiveness (FY03)|
|Return on Equity %||59.9|
Source: Sony Annual Report 2006
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