Marketing is a significant concern for social enterprises because it is necessary both for-profit maximization and for fulfilling these companies’ broader purpose of satisfying the needs of the target population. Hence, the primary aim of the project was to support Prep Mate in developing an advertising strategy based on the analysis of the market. Prep Mate is a company producing multifunctional chopping boards for people with upper limb differences and difficulties. The structure of the chopping board meets the complex needs of the target population, thus helping people to cook independently. The product is currently in the second stage of user testing, and clear marketing and advertising strategy are needed for the company to attract investors and fulfill its future commercial goals. As part of the project, two separate marketing tools were utilized. First, the segmentation, targeting, and positioning framework were applied to identify the target market and clarify the ways of engaging with it. Secondly, a marketing mix involving the 5Ps of marketing (product, price, place, promotion and people) was used to assist the company in developing its value proposition to customers. The present paper will discuss and evaluate these two tools in terms of theory, practice and application to the target company.
Like other social enterprises, Prep Mate seeks to maximize profits while also maximizing the benefits offered to customers. In order to achieve both goals, it is essential for the company to understand the needs of the target population and to develop innovative solutions for attracting customers. The application of various marketing tools is thus crucial to Prep Mate because they assist in defining the value proposition, identifying potential advertising channels and developing the desired brand image to support sales. Because the product is currently in the testing stage, the marketing strategy resulting from research and analysis has to support the company’s future entry into the market. The STP framework and the 5Ps marketing mix were selected for the project because they do not require information about existing customers and may be used by startups to generate marketing ideas ahead of the launch. The advertising strategy presented to the company could also complement its business plan, thus enabling the company to attract more funding that could support its future operations and development.
STP Framework Evaluation and Justification
Market segmentation is an essential aspect of any company’s marketing strategy because it narrows down the focus of marketing efforts to a specific population. As explained by Venter, Wright and Dibb (2015), market segmentation theory stemmed from economic pricing theory, “economic pricing theory, which suggests that maximum profits are achieved when pricing levels discriminate between segments” (p. 65). The STP framework is a model of market segmentation focusing on three separate processes: segmentation, targeting and positioning. The framework offers a comprehensive approach to segmentation, thus allowing companies not only to identify the target market segments but also to clarify their position in the market accordingly (Venter, Wright and Dibb, 2015). Although the model is actively used in practice by various companies, scholarly literature highlights some limitations to it.
First of all, there is a lack of congruence between segmentation theory and practice, which makes it challenging for some companies to benefit from the STP framework. Venter, Wright and Dibb (2015) note that “the theoretical description of the STP process fails to 6 acknowledge the numerous restrictions imposed by the organizational context and resources” (p. 65). In other words, the STP framework does not take into account organizational resources and capabilities that are essential for translating the results of the analysis into practical benefits, such as improved sales and competitive position. The statements made by the authors are drawn from a significant number of high-quality scholarly studies of market segmentation, and thus this conclusion appears credible. Other articles on the topic have also highlighted similar limitations (Sanfelice, 2014). The article explores the limits of STP in greater depth, stating that practitioners might struggle with implementing the outcomes of segmentation, targeting and positioning due to internal barriers (Venter, Wright and Dibb, 2015). One of such obstacles is data availability, which affected the application of the tool to Prep Mate’s case.
Secondly, some authors have also suggested that the application of STP impairs the company’s customer-centricity. A theoretical work by Kannisto (2016) explains that, by clustering customers into segments, companies risk missing their individual needs and responding to them in their value proposition. This study also stems from a critical review of past literature on segmentation, which supports the authors’ arguments and validates the issue. While the problem described here does not necessarily restrain the application of STP in practice, it creates additional concerns for marketers who seek to promote products meeting customers’ needs.
Cases of market segmentation vary significantly by industry and product type, but the number of studies applying STP in social enterprises is clearly limited. One study by Mitchell, Madill and Chreim (2015) examined the cases of 15 social enterprises to describe their marketing practices. The researchers confirmed that the framework fit the market pull approach of identifying and fulfilling market needs, which is prominent in social enterprises (Mitchell, Madill and Chreim, 2015). This suggests that the STP framework is helpful to social enterprises in the first stages of development because it assists them in determining customers’ needs and identifying ways of meeting them. However, the study did not focus on the application of STP specifically, and thus provides limited, non-specific data.
Case studies focusing on other businesses also show that the STP framework offers valuable insight to companies seeking to maximize profits, improve customer satisfaction and increase brand awareness. For instance, a case study of FINA Bank by Kamau and Wafula (2015) showed that the application of the STP framework could support customer satisfaction by tailoring the services to customers’ needs. The study focused on all three aspects of the STP framework, showing that their combination fulfills the needs of the company in designing personalized service offers and propositions (Kamau and Wafula, 2015). Nevertheless, because the study focused on employees’ perspectives rather than on actual customer data, it is possible that customer satisfaction was influenced by factors other than STP use.
The vast majority of case studies in STP application were conducted in the tourism and hospitality sector. This is likely because of the high heterogeneity of customers in this industry and the need for tailored services to withstand competition. For example, a case study of Airbnb focused on market segmentation of the platforms’ customers (Guttentag et al., 2017). The authors noted that segmentation based on existing customers’ data enabled the generation of five market segments with distinctive characteristics and offer suggestions on service improvements that would appeal to each group (Guttentag et al., 2017). It is not possible to evaluate the real-life effects of STP application on performance based on this study because it did not analyze the results of implementing these recommendations. Still, like other studies on the topic, the research shows how STP can ease the development of marketing strategies and their components, thus assisting marketing managers working in various contexts.
In applying the tool to Prep Mate’s case, the group followed the sequence of steps outlined in theory. Demographic, psychographic, geographic and behavioral approaches to segmentation were selected as the most promising due to their congruence with the company’s description of its future customers (Schlegelmilch, 2016). While demographic segmentation highlighted a wide variety of age and income groups within the target market, psychographic, geographic and behavioral aspects were rather narrow. This suggests that, despite variations in terms of demographic characteristics, the diversity of preferences is rather low, which allows Prep Mate to target larger market segments (Nadube & Didia, 2018). Consequently, the two segments selected for Prep Mate were adults with upper limb disability and elderly people living independently. The positioning strategy chosen for Prep Mate was design-based because the product differs from the ones offered by competitors through portability and lightness. The considerations regarding STP use that were highlighted in research did not have a significant effect on the application of this framework to Prep Mate, and it is unlikely that the company will face any practical challenges implementing the results. Overall, it can be said that the project benefitted from the use of this framework, and the STP process was useful both to the group and to the company’s leader in defining its marketing focus.
5Ps Framework Evaluation and Justification
A marketing mix is also a useful tool in marketing that serves to clarify the value proposition, thus establishing how and why the brand and its product are different from competitors. This tool is widely used by companies regardless of their size or industry. Nevertheless, current literature evaluating it from a theoretical viewpoint is scarce. The main conclusion that can be drawn from theory is that the marketing mix can and should be tailored to the context of a specific organization and its target market. An article by Jackson and Ahuja (2016) explains that the first definition of the marketing mix included four components (product, price, place and promotion), which were then expanded or altered based on changes in the business environment. For instance, in the service sector, a broader range of components is used to reflect the complexity of the value proposition of service companies and their potential to tailor service to customers’ needs (Jackson and Ahuja, 2016). Apart from the main four components, the 5P tool used as part of the project also features people (personnel). This addition was suggested in the 2010s to offer companies an opportunity to make their organizational culture part of the value proposition (Ikechi, Chinenye and Chiyem, 2017). With the growing body of research in corporate culture, many companies seek to incorporate it into their products and services. Employees reflect organizational culture in their interactions with customers and colleagues as well as in marketing communication, which justifies the addition of this factor to the marketing mix.
In the context of Prep Mate, the choice of 5Ps as the second tool was justified by the nature of the company. As a social enterprise, Prep Mate has to focus on the unique needs of its customers in order to fulfill them. However, it also has to be socially responsible, which must translate into its organizational culture. Research by Glaveli and Geormas (2017) shows that social enterprises benefit from a strong corporate culture through improved cohesiveness and shared social vision. Defining culture and integrating it into the company’s marketing mix could thus help the organization to succeed, which is why the 5Ps framework was selected as opposed to the traditional 4Ps.
The use of the marketing mix in organizations is prevalent, and there is a lot of research focusing on the effects of individual marketing mix components on performance and the application of marketing mix in case studies. For instance, Wu and Li (2018) performed a high-quality study with data from 600 participants to determine the usefulness of a marketing mix in social commerce. The results show that components of the marketing mix reflected the benefits provided to customers, thus influencing the interactions between companies and their target market (Wu and Li, 2018). Although the study focuses on digital products and the results may not be generalizable to social enterprises like Prep Mate, it justifies the use of 5Ps in the project and contributes to the body of evidence supporting marketing mix application. A case study by Lin, Lee and Lin (2013) focused specifically on the 5Ps approach and highlighted its usefulness for developing a marketing strategy that meets the needs of both the company and its clients. The researchers show that applying the 5Ps approach to the marketing mix can assist companies in building long-term relationships with customers, which is also relevant in the context of social entrepreneurship (Lin, Lee and Lin, 2013). Thus, the study also provides support for the use of 5Ps in the project.
In applying the 5Ps marketing mix to Prep Mate, the group focused on clarifying the company’s competitive advantage rather than on defining product qualities. This was justified by the company’s current stage of development and the pressure from competitors that it would experience without a better value proposition. In order to develop the components of the marketing mix, the group focused on the needs and preferences of the target market, taking into account the data gathered from segmentation, targeting, and positioning activities. Consequently, the group suggested after-sales service, online, seasonal, and holiday discounts, digital advertising, advertising through hospitals and healthcare centers and multi-channel distribution. These features of the marketing mix fulfill two purposes. On the one hand, they distinguish the company from its competitors, who are less accessible and do not offer the same service benefits to customers. This would help Prep Mate to attract more clients and raise levels of brand awareness in the target segments. On the other hand, the proposed marketing mix also translates corporate culture into service outcomes, thus helping Prep Mate to establish positive, long-term relationships with customers. This would support the company in fulfilling its social goals while also contributing to the effectiveness of its marketing strategy.
On the whole, the project focused on Prep Mate, a startup company based in the United Kingdom that offers accessible chopping boards for people with upper limb differences and difficulties. The two marketing tools used by the group as part of the project were the STP framework and the 5Ps marketing mix. The use of the first tool was justified by its applicability to companies that are currently in the pre-launch stage and supported by case study research that showed the benefits of STP to marketers. The other tool also proved to be beneficial based on research and practice, and it fits the company’s social profile by incorporating organizational culture into the value proposition. The recommendations stemming from the application of both tools will likely help Prep Mate to gain funding and launch successfully.
Team Roles and Contribution
While working on this project, each team member followed their role requirements and contributed accordingly. Monitor Evaluator had the primary thinking role and was thus involved in evaluating evidence and synthesizing conclusions. This input was instrumental to providing Prep Made with recommendations based on research evidence. The action role, namely, the Implementer, supported the ideas gathered from research by creating action plans. He also introduced the necessary level of the organization into the teamwork, which assisted us in meeting deadlines and milestones. The Co-ordinator supported the Implementer and other team members by clarifying goals and distributing work. The Teamwork, in turn, helped to ensure that team members demonstrate excellent communication, collaboration and participative decision-making. Communication between members occurred primarily through online tools, and we also used web-based collaboration software to share ideas, content and comments. As a Resource Investigator, I was responsible for evaluating various ideas and opportunities and making the necessary connections to support project completion. All in all, the combined efforts of team members and their role-specific contributions facilitated our work on this project. Team performance was measured based on milestones, which were agreed upon before the beginning of the project. In general, the team has met each milestone set within the specified time frame, which helped us to complete the project successfully.
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