The world is changing due to the changes brought about by technology. The business environment is increasingly getting competitive. Firms are finding it difficult to manage this competition due to several factors. According to Handlechner (2008), it is practically impossible to find the best strategy that would last a lifetime and will not need regular adjustment. A firm’s ability to adjust to changes within the environment will always determine its success or failure within that market.
Coming up with the right strategy should always be followed by the swift implementation to achieve the desired result. Marketing planning can be a very challenging task, especially in new markets. The planning will also depend on the size of the firm and the product offered to the market. Marketing products of a hospital will be very different from electronic products.
Similarly, the marketing of a Mercedes Benz will be different from the way bread is marketed. When developing a marketing plan, it is always important that concerned individuals understand the product’s nature and target customers. As McLaughlin and Aaker (2010) state, marketing planning and strategy development should not be left to the marketing department alone. Success in this planning will benefit the entire firm. The organisational structure stipulates people responsible for making various decisions at various levels. However, it should be appreciated that all organisation members, irrespective of their position within the firm, have a role to play.
They can help come up with strategies that can meet the demands of the market. The research will be based on Apple Inc, which has had massive success for the past decade. This research focuses on analysing various strategies that can help a firm succeed in the market and how the implementation should be conducted, including the relevant authorities involved at every stage.
Analysis of Value Chain Management
Value chain model is a framework that tries to define activities that would help a firm to get a competitive advantage in the market. The world market is getting very competitive. A firm must prove to the market that it can meet its demands in the best way possible. According to Harper (2010), value chain management involves inbound logistics, outbound logistics, operations, marketing and value-added services on the products. These are the primary activities of value chain management. The supply chain may be considered as part of the value chain. The supply chain is concerned with the movement of goods from the manufacturer to the ultimate consumer. The value chain includes all the activities that would ensure that a given product reaches the desired consumer within the right time and with the right qualities.
Logistical issues of value chain involve activities that would ensure that a product is delivered to the customer in the best way possible. It defines supply chain management. This involves activities that would ensure that products are transported to the destination without breakage or any other damage that would make it undesirable to the customers. According to Harper (2010), value chain management and supply chain may be considered as one role in the management of products. However, this scholar states that while supply chain is concerned with the movement of products, value chain involves all the activities that would ensure that the product is delivered within the right time, and in the right quality that would be pleasant to the market.
Tools Used by Apple Inc in Their Value Chain Management Strategy
Apple operates in a very competitive industry. The need to ensure that customers get the best value for their products has been overemphasised by various industry players. According to Viardot (2004), the value chain is a series of activities that starts and ends with the customer. The market has changed a great deal from what it used to be in the past. Customers have become increasingly demanding. They know what they want and always insist on getting just that.
When planning to offer value to the customer, a firm should first start getting what the customer prefers. Using this knowledge, all departments will work in unison to ensure that they deliver the customer’s desired value in the best way possible. It is a chain because every department has a role to play in the value chain. There are several strategies or tools that an organisation such as Apple Inc can use to ensure that they benefit in the market. In this research, the focus will be put on two tools directly involved with the customer.
According to Hooley (2008), it is always important to maintain a positive relationship with the public. Public relations help a firm in maintaining a positive image in the market. This scholar says that firms (irrespective of their size), needs to maintain a positive relationship with the public to operate in the market successfully. One of the factors that make public relation very important is the need to manage negative propaganda that may be levelled against the firm. The market has gotten so competitive that firms are using every available strategy to win the competition. This involves spreading the wrong message to the public about the firm.
Montiel (2011) recalls the incident that forced Steve Jobs to quit working at Apple before being recalled to head the firm. It was alleged that he was high handed when working with the employees. This did not only make him lose favour with the employees. It also resulted in a negative public image of the firm. This message was highly distorted in the face of the public. Apple was considered as an oppressive firm by the local market. The only solution that could save the firm from this was to force Steve Jobs to quit working with the firm (Gerber, 2008). Public relation department also had to convince the public that this firm had implemented policies that are meant to improve the working conditions of its employees.
Apple may need to employ direct marketing in some selected markets in Europe and the United States. Direct marketing is important in the current competitive market. However, this strategy is not very easy when a firm produces in mass. Direct marketing, just like personal selling, involves sending specific individuals to the market to engage consumers directly. In this case, however, the individual sent to the market must be an employee of the firm.
As Ferrell (2011) puts it, it is a situation where a firm bypasses all the intermediaries to sell its products directly to the customers. A firm like Dell or Apple may not find this strategy very relevant. However, the strategy may be useful when test marketing some products, the strategy is limited to just that: test marketing. It may not go beyond this. Chaston (2009) says that Dell has global market coverage. This makes it very complex to apply direct marketing because it may be challenging to open its facility in every city where their product is sold. However, the strategy can be very appropriate for firms selling high-end products and have exclusive outlets in various cities worldwide where their products can be sold.
Advantages of Direct Sales Model
The direct sales model is one of the most popular models that some specific firms prefer to use in the current sophisticated market. The world market is increasingly getting competitive. New firms are coming into the market with products that already exist. This has increased competition in various fields. Enhanced transport and communication system has turned the world into a small global village. Firms from America can easily trade in South Africa. This has an increased level of competition in the local markets. The market is no longer closed to international firms. Because of the above factors, direct sales have become very popular.
Direct sales enable personal contact between the buyer and the sales agents. This makes it easy for the sales agent to convince the buyer to purchase the product. It also allows the buyer to seek explanation over the use of a product, reducing the post-purchase dissonance. It is also another form of conducting market research (Griffin & Moorehead, 2012). During the interaction with the customers, the sellers will be able to understand the current needs of the market and advise the management accordingly. The sales agents can also help improve the image of the firm.
Supply Chain Strategy for Apple Inc.
Apple is increasingly becoming popular globally, especially the youths in various parts of the world. Youths make the largest markets for most of the products of Apple, such as the iPhones. In Europe, over 60 per cent of the youths use Smartphone. The percentage is slightly higher in the United States. However, this percentage is rising every year. Such emerging markets like parts of Asia and in Africa have also seen a rise in smartphone use such as Smartphone among youths.
It is that Apple is the most preferred Smartphone brands, such as iPhones. Samsung is one of the strongest competitors of Apple, especially its recent slim design. This makes Samsung the strongest competitor of Apple in the electronic market (Bissoondoyal, 2006). Apple must ensure that it distributes its products to all the markets around the world. The products must reach the world market fast enough when it is still cherished.
The supply chain strategy should emphasise on speed. The products for this firm must reach the market at the fastest speed possible. This is one of the ways of beating the competition. The possibility that a competitor like Samsung will come up with a similar product should never be ignored. To thwart such a possibility, it would be important for this firm to realise that such products’ market can easily be swayed.
The management is responsible for ensuring that this product reaches all the intended market within the shortest period and in the best shape. According to Hill and Jones (2010), Apple is considered one of the best smartphone brands in the market today. However, the firm lacks a clear strategy to distribute its products in the emerging markets. Although the firm has a clear supply chain strategy in the American markets and some selected markets in Europe, it lacks a clear strategy for handling the emerging markets.
In this new strategy, Apple Inc will open up branches in various markets around the world. The firm will be releasing its products from the manufacturing plants in China and the United States directly to these selected stores worldwide. The stores will be responsible for ensuring that the product reaches the final retailers (Hill & Jones, 2010). These outlets will be managed by employees of Apple Inc. They will be directly responsible to the top management of this firm.
However, they will be controlling all the operational activities of Apple Inc in the various regions. They will act as the correspondence of the head office of this firm. In this new strategy, Apple will try to integrate all the production units to ensure that the process of developing and delivering products to the customers is well coordinated. The diagram below shows the structure of this new supply chain model.
Supply Chain Management for Apple’s Products in the World Market
The above supply chain activities will be integrated so that the management can be able to satisfy the needs of the markets where it sells its products. Before any purchase can be made, the production unit must be well informed of the products that the market needs.
In this case, a product is already manufactured ready for sale. The inventory will have to be properly managed. The new regions worldwide where they will receive orders for the product and determine how the product will reach customers (Jain, Haley, Voola & Wickham, 2012). These new branches will have the full mandate of ensuring that all the necessary transactions are done to ensure that various products of this firm are sold off to the customers. The following are some of the activities that involve this new strategy.
Using the Model in Managing Information
It is clear from the above model that emphasis will be laid on various activities, from the time of purchase of the inventory to the time the product is delivered to the customers. It is important to reiterate the fact that the top management will allow regional offices to operate semi-autonomously. The regional heads will be responsible for various activities that will ensure a general success of the entire project. Information is important in ensuring that there is success in this model.
According to Viardot (2004), information has become relevant to various business units to reach out for the market. Having a clear mechanism through which information can flow from an organisation to various stakeholders and back can help a firm succeed in the face of competition (Graves & Parry, 2008). Management of information helps in avoiding conflicts both internally and with external stakeholders.
Firm to firm interaction is very important. There are organisational buyers that a firm should be able to interact with. A regional marketing manager should be given the mandate to interact with such organisations, and pass important information to the head office. Another important organisation is the government through various departments. The regional heads should be able to communicate with these government agencies. There are other regulatory agencies that may seek the attention of the firm at various levels. The management should have a way of facilitating this interaction (Gountas & Mavudo, 2008). It will also be vital for management to ensure that there have competitive shops to attract physical customers. The marketing manager should also conduct regular market research to determine any changes in market trends.
The Impact of the Findings on Apple’s Marketing Strategy
The findings of this research will have an impact on the marketing strategy of Apple Inc. Apple Inc has been reputed for its innovative capacity. The firm has been able to consistently provide the market with new and better products at regular intervals. This firm has also been very keen on acting on the feedback they get from the customers. However, given the information in this research, it is clear that other competitors like Samsung are also coming up strongly with attractive products in the market.
To maintain its lead in this market, it must redesign some of its operative structures. It must embrace devolution and let various regions operate semi-autonomously. Different markets have different forces that affect them. When devolution is employed, each region will treat various factors in the external market uniquely. This will improve the performance of the firm.
The marketing planning strategy is important to firms, especially those that operate in highly competitive industries like Apple Inc. Developing a working strategy is one of the strategic duties that top management is always concerned with. Value chain management is one of the aspects of strategic functions in marketing planning strategies. Apple Inc has developed marketing strategies that have seen it remain competitive in the market. This has made it the market leader in this industry.
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