Alibaba Group: New Brand Strategy

Introduction

Alibaba Group Holding Limited is one of the leading and fast-growing e-commerce companies in the globe (Wulf 2). The company offers “a wide range of business models for consumers, businesses, and manufacturers via its web portals” (Wulf 2). The other services provided by Alibaba Group include cloud computing, electronic payments, and e-marketing (“Alibaba: Global Trade Starts Here” par. 2).

Headquartered in Hangzhou in China, the corporation has been expanding its operations across the globe. Alibaba continues to dominate China’s domestic e-commerce industry. The economic opportunities and business processes associated with China have supported Alibaba’s business model. The company has been growing exponentially since Jack Ma started it in the year 1999 (“Alibaba: Global Trade Starts Here” par. 3). However, the firm has found it impossible to realize its business potentials due to a number of strategic challenges. This discussion presents a powerful strategic plan that can make Alibaba more competitive and successful.

Current Situation

Alibaba Group’s mission is “to ensure people do commerce easier” (Wulf 4). The firm operates numerous mobile and online marketplaces that make it easier for different businesses to engage in successful trading activities. The firm provides appropriate payment platforms, technologies, and logistical assistances to ensure entrepreneurs conduct business conveniently (Wulf 4). The company’s online business platform has continued to attract more persons because it is reliable and trustable (“Alibaba: Global Trade Starts Here” par. 5). As well, the company presents new opportunities and resources that make it easier for many marketers to achieve their business potentials.

However, the company faces a wide range of challenges that might threaten its future business performance. Alibaba’s business model has been replicated elsewhere by mushrooming companies. Such firms are attracting more customers and business partners. This development has continued to limit Alibaba’s profitability. The level of competition in the global e-commerce industry has increased significantly. This development has been caused by the new wave of technological change. The global economy has also been characterized by inefficiencies (“Alibaba: Global Trade Starts Here” par. 7). The firm is also facing stiff competition from other players in the industry. The emergence of disruptive technologies and cyber-crimes continue to threaten the success of many companies such as Alibaba.

These issues explain why Alibaba Group must put in place a new strategic plan. The new plan must be consistent with the current challenges that make it hard for the firm to achieve its potentials (“Alibaba: Global Trade Starts Here” par. 3). As well, a powerful strategic plan should be defined by the threats affecting the company’s business model. It should also be guided by the opportunities and strengths than define the company’s performance. The ultimate goal is to ensure the company achieves its business objectives.

Recommendations and Rationales

Alibaba Group can design a new brand strategy in order to deal with the challenges affecting its business performance. Alibaba is still one of the leading players in the global e-commerce industry. However, it still needs to implement new approaches that can sensitize more people about its product offerings. Such approach can also address the issue of competition and promote the company’s global image (“Alibaba: Global Trade Starts Here” par. 5). In order to achieve these goals, the proposed brand strategy must use different traditional strategy elements. Most of these tested strategies have made it easier for many multinational corporations to achieve their business potentials. Alibaba should therefore strike a balance between the use of traditional strategy and cultural elements (Flamholtz and Randle 18). These approaches have the potential to drive change and develop a strong brand image.

Traditional Strategy Elements

Positioning strategy

The current positioning strategy used by Alibaba focuses on the needs of the internet user (Hu, Xun and Wang 299). The firm targets internet users who have the potential to purchase different products. The company’s business partners have failed to maximize their profits because of this positioning strategy. That being the case, the company has failed to address the problem of competition from upcoming companies. Shun believes that “a powerful positioning strategy is needed in order to ensure the company supports its brand” (19). Alibaba can use such a positioning strategy in an attempt to achieve its potentials.

The most appropriate positioning approach is known as “the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) strategy” (Flamholtz and Randle 18). The company should use the IMC strategy to design effective messages that can convince more customers about the superiority of the Alibaba brand (Hu et al. 301). This approach will ensure the brand occupies a special part of every consumer’s mind. The brand will be able to accommodate the changing needs of the consumers. Alibaba should also transform its business processes in order to make the brand more competitive. This positioning approach will ensure Alibaba “creates a competitive and powerful brand” (Shun 22).

Value propositions

With a proper positioning approach and IMC strategy, Alibaba will be able to support its value proposition. Flamholtz and Randle define “value proposition as the promise of value to be acknowledged and delivered to the targeted customer” (23). Alibaba will have to strengthen its services and improve the level of security. By so doing, every targeted customer will be aware of the anticipated value. The value proposition concept should also be applied across the firm. Marketers and employees will be required to sustain this value proposition in order to support the targeted brand strategy.

Brand essence and brand personality

Alibaba should also use the most desirable approaches to support its brand essence. The “term brand essence refers to the emotional heart of a specific brand” (Flamholtz and Randle 32). In order to develop this brand essence, the firm should ensure the marketed products are superior and admirable. The marketing processes and services should also be admirable to the targeted consumer. By so doing, the developed emotional heart will encourage more customers to use the firm’s website for various online transactions. Different service providers should also be ethical and always be ready to fulfill the ever-changing demands of the customers.

It is also hard to separate brand essence from personality. However, brand personality is the superiority of a specific name or product that continues to attract more customers for years (Shun 17). A positive brand personality ensures that a specific product is admired and embraced by many consumers. The strength of “the brand personality results in brand equity” (Shun 18). Alibaba must focus on the most appropriate strategies in order to support the personality of the brand. This move will ensure Alibaba gains value and support (Flamholtz and Randle 53). More customers will be happy to be associated with every functional benefit of the Alibaba brand.

If Alibaba continues to deliver superior products and services, more consumers from different parts of the globe will be happy to be associated with the brand (Hu et al. 301). More people from different parts of the globe will be ready to purchase their products from the company’s online portals. As well, more businesspeople will use the company’s online services to market their products to more customers. The company should therefore support every business process in an attempt to improve the personality of its brand. This positive personality will attract potential consumers and eventually make Alibaba the brand of choice across the globe (Flamholtz and Randle 18).

Cultural and Narrative Strategies

After implementing the above traditional strategic elements, Alibaba will establish a powerful brand image that has the potential to support the needs of every consumer. However, this move might not make the proposed brand strategy successful. In order to have a successful strategy, Alibaba must empower its workers and equip them with appropriate resources (Flamholtz and Randle 68). The leaders at the firm will have to consider specific approaches that have the potential to add value and promote the most desirable practices.

The important approach towards supporting the proposed brand strategy is through the use of a powerful cultural strategy. Flamholtz and Randle believe that “cultural strategies are powerful approaches for guiding entrepreneurs and business leaders on how to leverage the most desirable opportunities” (41). By so doing, Alibaba will be able to formulate new business practices that have the potential to support the targeted brand.

The concept of cultural strategy makes it easier for companies to embrace the most appropriate research and development (R&D) processes. These processes will make it easier for Alibaba to come up with superior innovations. The company will be able to design powerful, secure, and stable portals that can support the business processes of many customers (Zhao, Wang and Huang 7). The strength of the company’s portals will play a positive role towards improving the personality and essence of the brand (Holt and Cameron 39).

The cultural strategy will also ensure Alibaba uses modern technologies. This approach will make it easier for the firm to develop a new business model that supports every stakeholder. The newly-developed business model will focus on the needs of different customers. The marketers and employees will constantly address the emerging needs of the targeted clients. Every business process will be aimed at addressing the existing challenges while at the same time adding value to the stakeholders (Zhao et al. 8).

This strategy can support Alibaba’s expansion goals. In order to emerge successful in different countries such as India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Alibaba Group should come up with sub-cultural brands that fulfill the needs of every consumer in these local markets. This concept of personalized marketing will focus on the diverse needs of many consumers in different regions. Customized marketing processes will ensure Alibaba succeeds in different markets across the globe (Holt and Cameron 69). These achievements will also make it easier for the company to target more markets in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Brand Narrative Statement

At Alibaba, we focus on sustainable business practices that add value to our customers and stakeholders. As the e-commerce industry continues to encounter a wide range of obstacles and challenges, Alibaba Group is focusing on the most appropriate innovations that have the potential to present new opportunities for every stakeholder. The corporation’s employees understand the importance of focusing on the needs of the consumer. Every service availed to the consumer is of the highest quality.

Alibaba plans to expand its operations across the globe. This move is supported by new measures in an attempt to strengthen the superiority of the brand and support the needs of every stakeholder. A powerful leadership strategy has been developed at Alibaba to empower different employees and promote the concept of innovation. The research and development (R&D) is always guided by the demands of the customers. The approach will make it easier for the company to establish its reputation in the global e-commerce industry. The company believes that every staff member is dedicated to the needs of the global consumer (“Alibaba: Global Trade Starts Here” par. 6). Constant improvements are being made to deliver quality, secure, and timely online services to every esteemed stakeholder. The future will be brighter as Alibaba seeks to improve its brand strategy and support more people across the globe.

Conclusion

Alibaba should combine various traditional elements and cultural strategies. These cultural strategies will develop a competent workforce that works hard to add value to the targeted consumers (Holt and Cameron 37). On the other hand, the traditional strategy elements will support the cultural approach and eventually strengthen the company’s brand image. The company will also deliver quality services to more people across the globe. The firm will be able to address the major issues affecting its performance such as competition and the current economic crisis. These strategies will create a superior brand image that is revered by more consumers in every corner of the globe.

Works Cited

Alibaba: Global Trade Starts Here 2016.

Flamholtz, Eric and Yvonne Randle. Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset. Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books, 2012. Print.

Holt, Douglas and Douglas Cameron. Cultural Strategy: Using Innovative Ideologies to Build Breakthrough Brands. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

Hu, Qin, Xun Wu and Clement Wang. “Lessons from Alibaba.com: Government’s Role in Electronic Contracting.” Info 6.5 (2004): 298-307. Print.

Shun, Liu. “The shallows: Development of Alibaba in Chinese domestic logistics system A Case Study Based Analysis.” Business Economics and Tourism 1.1 (2015): 1-41. Print.

Wulf, Julie. “Alibaba Group.” Harvard Business School 1.1 (2010): 1-21. Print.

Zhao, Jing, Shan Wang and Wilfred Huang. “Value Creation in B2B E-Markets of China: A Practical Perspective.” eCollaboration 1.1 (2008): 1-11. Print.