Marketing Research and Relationship Marketing COLLAPSE Marketing Research and Relationship Marketing Important Definitions: Marketing Research – The systematic design, collection, interpretation, and reporting of information to help marketers solve specific marketing problems or take advantage of marketing opportunities Relationship Marketing – Establishing long-term, mutually satisfying buyer-seller relationships (page 16, Pride and Ferrell text) Marketing Research This mini-lecture combines two concepts that have become linked in the minds of many organizations today, marketing research and relationship marketing. The reason for this association is quite simple: A large number of organizations today are focusing their marketing research efforts on discovering or understanding what it takes to make consumers loyal to specific brands of products. The assumption in this discussion is that organizations are much more profitable when their customers make repeat purchases of their brands. Hence, building relationships with consumers has increased in importance for nearly all organizations. One of the most significant marketing research challenges facing organizations today is the actual collection of information. Traditionally, organizations conducting marketing research studies have utilized methods such as surveys, experimentation, or observation. However, many consumers are reluctant to participate in traditional marketing research studies for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, a sense of privacy invasion, a lack (or perceived lack) of time, the assumption that participation in a research study will lead to the consumer being asked to “buy something”, and an overall sense of distrust or skepticism of marketing research studies. Therefore, organizations today are being creative in the methods they are utilizing to gather consumption information from their consumers or intended target markets. One such method is through the utilization of advanced technology made available through the internet. Discussion Question #1: How has the internet changed the way organizations conduct marketing research studies and collect relevant marketing research information? How have these changes positively impacted organizations and their marketing research efforts? Or negatively impacted organizations and their marketing research efforts? Relationship Marketing Relationship marketing has become a critical point of emphasis in the global business environment. Although the concept is identified by a variety of names (customer relationship management, relationship marketing, customer loyalty marketing), the underlying foundation of relationship marketing rests on the concept of creating and maintaining satisfied customers. The following article identifies a number of significant implications associated with the concept of relationship marketing and the methods of utilizing it today. https://www.helpscout.net/blog/relationship-marketing/ (Ciotti, Gregory (2016), “The Business Case for Building Real Relationships with Customers,” HelpScout, July 11, 2016.) The key in relationship marketing in the modern era of business is to be able to identify the reason (or reasons) consumers exhibit brand loyalty. Only after these reasons are identified can organizations build marketing campaigns that emphasize the characteristics of their products that meet the needs of relationship-oriented consumers. One of the best methods of identifying the reasons a consumer exhibits brand loyalty is through the utilization of a technique that combines a marketing research program with a relationship marketing incentive. This technique is called a “Frequent User Incentive”. There are a variety of organization-specific labels used to identify these programs (for you to identify), but the common underlying purposes of these programs are simple: 1) reward loyal consumers who are willing to make repeat purchases, and 2) obtain important marketing research information from consumers through their participation in these programs. One of the earliest industries to utilize this type of program was the airline industry and its frequent flyer promotion. The premise behind the frequent flyer program was simple: The more trips a consumer made with a particular airline, the greater the number of free airline tickets or trips a consumer could receive. In other words, an airline looked to build customer loyalty (and the resulting long-term customer commitment) through an incentive program that over a period of time rewarded the consumer for his or her loyalty. What most consumers failed to realize (and still fail to realize with most relationship marketing programs today) is that the organization gains tremendous amounts of consumption information from each consumer participating in these programs. This allows organizations to obtain and analyze a tremendous amount of purchase information from already-established customers without being forced to spend the time, money, and effort on expensive traditional marketing research methods. Discussion Question #2: What organizations have been successful in creating relationship marketing programs? More importantly, why have these organizations succeeded? What specifically has made these organizations stand out from their competition? Finally, is relationship marketing a viable option for all industries? Lecture 2 International Marketing Summary This particular mini-lecture will be rather brief. The reasons for this abbreviated mini-lecture are 1) the textbook material for this particular topic covers a significant amount of concepts and definitions, but very few concepts are covered in depth, and 2) the problems facing many organizations that are attempting to broaden their product offerings in foreign countries (or those that have already done so) are ever-changing and need to be discussed in an open forum, not a lecture format. Therefore, two important issues from an international marketing perspective have been listed below. Both issues will vary in terms of importance depending on specific industries and the products being offered. However, each issue is important in many industries and the discussion that I hope will take place on the discussion board will substantiate this claim. Finally, if you are not familiar with many of the concepts or expectations of international marketing and its applications, you might want to read Chapter 9 in the Pride and Ferrell textbook. Issue #1 – The Importance of Price in International Markets A common accepted principle among organizations selling products to consumers in the United States is that consumers determine value by comparing the price they pay versus the perceived quality of the product. However, a large number of organizations in the United States compete strictly on price and work hard to be a low-price provider of products in certain product categories. The issue facing these organizations is that in an increasing number of international market opportunities, price is a minor concern for consumers. (For greater reference information, see http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/marketing/6-issues-related-to-pricing-in-international-market/5788.) Therefore, price-driven organizations striving to succeed in international markets face the problem of identifying whether or not price will be important in specific new markets, and if not, what attributes of their product or brand can be championed instead. Discussion Point: 1. Name and discuss specific organizations that are low-price providers in the United States that are currently operating in international markets or could be operating in international markets in the near future. How have (or will) these organizations overcome the issue of price not being an important consumer concern in these new markets? Be specific in your explanation. Issue #2 – Franchising Opportunities and Challenges in International Markets The Pride and Ferrell textbook identifies four advantages for organizations that choose to franchise their product or brand in a foreign market as opposed to the actual organization opening these business establishments. These advantages all involve reduced risk to the organization and include “(1) the franchiser does not have to put up a large capital investment; (2) the franchiser’s revenue stream is fairly consistent because franchisees pay a fixed fee and royalties; (3) the franchiser retains control of its name and increases global penetration of its product; and (4) franchise agreements ensure a certain standard of behavior from franchisees, which protects the franchise name” (Pride and Ferrell text, page 296). However, the book fails to identify the significant disadvantages that exist in franchising in foreign markets. Therefore, Discussion Point: 2. What possible disadvantages are associated with the decision to allow foreign investors to sell your products, use your brand name, etc… through a franchise agreement? What steps can organizations take to insure that these disadvantages or risks are minimized?