The New Hybrid Toyota Prius: Marketing Plan

Executive Summary

Saud Bahwan Group has partnered with Toyota Motors Corporation to improve sales of Toyota cars in the local Omani market. In this plan, the focus was to improve the brand and sales of the new hybrid Toyota Prius locally. The strategy has identified several strategies that the management of the Saud Bahwan Group will need to employ to realize the desired goals. The plan has also proposed a budget that will be needed by the company to implement the proposed strategies. Effective implementation of the recommended strategies will increase the market performance of the firm.

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Introduction and objectives

Toyota is one of the leading automakers in the global market. In Oman, the company has partnered with Saud Bahwan Group (SBG) to meet the local needs in the best way possible (Jargosch & Jurich 2014). The partnership between Toyota Motor Corporation and Saud Bahwan Group has made it possible for the two companies to understand the emerging market needs in Oman and how they can be met based on the targeted market segment. According to Agola and Hunter (2016), the automobile industry is one of the most competitive in the world. The ability to attract and retain customers depends on the superiority of products offered and how these products are offered. Blythe (2013) notes that customers always want to feel valued. The approach that a firm uses to handle customers before, during, and after their purchase determines how well they are likely to refer their colleagues to the company. As the representative of Toyota Motors in Oman, Saud Bahwan Group is solely responsible for the marketing initiatives which are employed to promote the brand and sales locally. As a marketing consultant, the researcher seeks to develop a marketing plan for the Toyota Prius brand to enable the company to achieve greater customer satisfaction over the next three years.

Current Market and Company Situational Analysis

According to Borges, Babin, and Spielmann (2013), Oman is one of the most attractive markets in the Middle East for automobile companies because of the relatively high purchasing power that its citizens have. The country has also enjoyed a long period of political stability, which is critical in promoting business growth. In this section, the focus will be on the current market and company situation analysis.

Competitive Analysis

Conducting a competitive analysis will enable the Saud Bahwan Group to understand market forces that may affect its operations in various ways. Porter’s Five Forces model is one of the theoretical models popularly used to analyze the competitive market forces (Aulia, Sukati & Sulaiman 2016). One of the main factors that have to be considered when using this model is industry rivalry (Gbadamosi, Bathgate & Nwankwo 2013). The level of industry rivalry in Oman’s car industry is very high. Some of the top brands that Toyota has to compete against in the local market include Mercedes Benz, Hyundai, Nissan, Lexus, KIA, Mazda, and Mitsubishi. Each of these brands has characteristics that make them unique (Walsh & Darke 2017). The threat of new entrants is considerably big. Some of the new top brands that are finding their way into the market include Range Rover SUV, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, and other top-of-the-range brands such as Ferrari, Bugatti, and Lamborghini (Lu, Marek & Chen 2015).

The threat of substitute products is significantly low. As Gbadamosi (2016), the need for a car cannot be replaced easily with other products. As such, the management of the Saud Bahwan Group should not worry about this issue in the local market. However, the bargaining power of the buyers should be a major cause of concern. The fact that customers are presented with numerous choices whenever they want to purchase a hybrid car means that they can negotiate for lower prices (Molenaar 2016). The bargaining power of the supplier is low. The fact that Saud Bahwan Group is acting as Toyota’s distributor of the new brand Prius, it cannot come up with unfavorable terms for its partner. Figure 1 below is a summary of the five forces that the local company should be ready to deal with within the market.

Five forces model.
Figure 1: Five forces model (Gurski 2014).

Consumer Behaviour

According to Jham and Puri (2014), understanding consumer behavior is important in enabling a company to define the appropriate market propositioning strategy. The message that is passed to the customers during the marketing campaigns should be in line with their expectations when looking for a car. Consumer behavior is defined by age, social class, gender, and other socio-economic and political factors. As Ni and Wart (2016) note, a firm should define consumer behavior based on how they are likely to make decisions when planning to purchase a given item. The cost of a brand new Toyota Prius is $26,000. Oman is home to over 4.5 million people, with the immigrants forming a significant minority (Prange 2016). A significant section of the market can afford this car. When targeting young adults, one of the most important behavioral patterns is the desire for classy cars (Barbery & Anderson 2013). They want a car that will pass a message to their peers about their new social class. The desire for a high level of performance also influences their decisions (Zolait 2013). The marketing strategy should be aligned with these interests to achieve the desired impact on the sales volume of the firm. The strategy can enable the company to move forward in the market.

SWOT Analysis

It is also important to analyze the internal factors that have a direct impact on the ability of this firm to achieve success in the market (Pride & Ferrell 2014). The strength of the Saud Bahwan Group lies in its many years of experience operating in the market. It understands the local forces in the country that may affect sales of the new product. The company also has a financial muscle that can enable it to fund various marketing initiatives and promotional programs. The strong brand name that the company has created in the local market over the years and the popularity of the Toyota brand will also improve its ability to realize the set goals (Zhu, Pickles & He 2017). However, the biggest weakness of the company is its inability to expand its market share beyond the country.

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Other firms are penetrating the local market, but this firm has not considered exploring the regional markets. Blazey (2013) recommends the need for a firm to understand and take full advantage of the existing opportunities in the market. The growing population in the country is one of the biggest advantages because it increases the size of the local market. The improved living standards that make a car a necessity among the locals is also another opportunity for growth (Baack, Harris & Baack 2013). However, the management of this company should be keen on managing threats in the local market. The increasing market competition from other brands such as Nissan, Lexus, and Mercedes Benz should be dealt with effectively. The company should also be ready to deal with economic forces such as recession and inflation.

Market Segmentation

According to Boone and Kurtz (2016, p. 31), market segmentation refers to “the process of dividing a broad consumer or business market, normally consisting of existing and potential customers, into sub-groups of consumers (known as segments) based on some type of shared characteristics.” Saud Bahwan Group will need to segment the market to understand the most attractive group that it should target with its products (Zia & Kumar 2016). In terms of age, the firm can divide the market into three groups of young adults, the middle-aged individuals, and the elderly. The most attractive market segment will be the middle-class keen on having environmentally friendly but efficient cars such as Toyota Prius (Vryoni, Bakirtzoglou & Ioannou 2017). A new segment of white collar-job immigrants who have decided to settle in the country is a new segment that should also be given emphasis when developing promotional campaigns. They have the purchasing power but are keen to purchase efficient cars at relatively low cost. The value offered by this new brand of a hybrid car would be appropriate for the new segment.

Marketing Plan Objectives

The next important phase of the marketing plan after identifying the segments to target is the development of objectives (Baglieri & Karmarkar 2014). The primary goal of this plan is to promote the brand in the local market and improve sales. The following are the specific objectives that should be realized through this plan:

  1. To understand the emerging trends in Oman’s car market over the past five years.
  2. To quantify the size of the market for the Toyota Prius hybrid in the Oman market for the next five years.
  3. To identify factors which define the decision of customers when planning to purchase hybrid cars in the local market

Marketing Mix Strategy Recommendations

The marketing mix, as Kaufmann (2015) defines it, are elements that can be controlled by a firm to influence buyer decisions. Saud Bahwan Group can work closely with Toyota Motor Corporation to ensure that these factors are aligned with the expectation of the customers based on the targeted market segment identified in the section above. The following strategic recommendations should be considered by the management:

Product

The product has already been identified as the new hybrid Toyota Prius car. Saud Bahwan Group can work closely with the manufacturers to address specific issues based on the tastes of the targeted market. One of the most important factors that should be considered is improved safety in the car. The middle-aged middle-class members of this society are often keen on purchasing cars that will guarantee the safety of their families. The product should ensure that this need is met. Other factors that should be considered are the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the car. Customers should find it easy to use this product.

Price

According to Kamath & Saurav (2016), pricing is another important factor that will need to be considered by the two partners to attract more customers. As mentioned above, the targeted market segment is the middle-class middle-aged people living in Oman. Although they desire quality products, one of their most important characteristics is their consciousness of the price of the product they purchase (French & Gordon 2015). The company should price the product in a way that will attract more customers. The price should be high enough to emphasize the quality of the product and assure the firm of impressive profits, but at the same time affordable to the customers.

Place

The place element is critical in ensuring that sales are improved. Muscat city forms the main market for Saud Bahwan Group. The management should ensure that it has the product available in the showrooms strategically located within the city (Frynas 2015). It will also be important for the firm to make these products available in other major urban areas around the country to improve sales.

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Promotion

The firm should invest in promotional campaigns to promote the firm’s brand and improve sales. Cavallone (2017) strongly recommends the need to use the most effective promotional tools to target customers. The targeted market segment can best be reached through mass media, especially through television because they spend time watching the news. As such, television commercials can be an effective way of reaching out to them. According to a report by Walker (2016), 18% of the population in Oman are actively using Facebook. It will be advisable to use Facebook marketing to reach out to them. Figure 2 below shows the demographics of Facebook users in the country.

Age of Facebook users in Oman.
Figure 2: Age of Facebook users in Oman (Nielsen 2014).

Evaluation and Control

It is important to monitor the performance of the organization after the recommended metrics have been implemented. The main interest will be to ensure that the desired goals are realized when they are applied. Using the key performance indicators will be instrumental at that stage.

Financial Metrics

The proposed plan should enable the firm to achieve financial benefits that it desires (Kumar & Shah 2015). It means that when the strategy is used, the cost of making the products available in the market should be reduced, sales should increase, and profit should improve.

Customer Metrics

It is also expected that the strategies will reduce the cost of acquiring new customers (Perreault, Cannon & McCarthy 2014). It will be considered to be an effective tool if customer satisfaction is improved, and the number of customers that the firm is serving increases within a specific period.

Process Metrics

The internal operational processes should improve when the strategy is used (Lovelock & Patterson 2015). The management should find it easy to understand the market forces and readjusting the company’s operations in line with them.

People Metrics

The employees should also feel satisfied with their work when the strategy is used. The level of strain on employees should be comparatively less compared with when the firm was operating before implementing the proposed strategies.

Budget

The proposed strategies will need to be financed to realize the desired goals. The management will need to plan on how to spend on each of the identified activities identified above. The budget should not strain the resources of the company, as Ravens (2014) suggests. The following table is a proposed budget that may be needed to implement the plan above:

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Activity Cost {Omani rial per year}
Television marketing 18,000
Social media marketing 24,000
Improved logistics 28,000
New retail outlets 32,000
Total 102,000

The least amount that will be needed to implement the plan is 102,000 Omani rials.

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