Sony UK has many manufacturing subsidiaries around Europe and the globe. Sony Europe operates three main European factories for production. These are situated in Barcelona Spain, Nitra Slovakia and Budapest Hungary. Additional to this, the Sony Corporation owns numerous factories around the world producing consumer electronics products for the global market. Sony UK are the market leaders in consumer electronics and currently own around 13% of the total AV/IT (Audio Visual and Information Technology) market. Sony’s nearest UK competitors are Samsung with a nearing 12. % market share in February 2008, followed by Panasonic and Apple with 8. 9% and 6. 1% market share respectively. Sony UK’s turnover FY07, ending in March 2008, totalled ? 947m, resulting in a total annual market share of 15. 5% with a total AV/IT market value of ? 6,109m. This is an annual increase of market share of 0. 3% over FY06’s 15. 2% (Appendix 1). Sony, over the years, has developed into a strong brand name with very high customer loyalty. There are a massive amount of consumers out there that only buy Sony products (Business Superbrands, 2005, p. 31). The AV market has become excessively more competitive over recent years with the substantial growth of competitors such as Samsung, Panasonic and Phillips to name a few. 2. 0 Aims and Objectives 2. 1 Aim The aim of this project is to test the validity and reliability of Sony UK’s segmentation practices to reveal, if any, changes in Sony’s customer segments. 2. 2 Objectives 1. To review the current literature surrounding the subject of market segmentation. 2. Analyse what Sony currently believe are their target segments. . Using new research, discover any changes or shifts in segmentation behaviour. 4. Conduct an in-depth analysis, contrast and compare new research with previous research. 5. Provide recommendations to future strategy and position. 2. 3 Scope 1. Project is solely concerned with Sony’s segmentation of television (TV) customers. 2. Only concerned with Sony’s UK operations. This is due to a majority 61% of Sony’s turnover is generated through TV and attributes of customers can dramatically change between product groups.
Similarly, the attributes of customers can also change depending on the country and any assumptions that the segmentation will be the same globally will be false. 3. 0 Literature Review 3. 1 What is Market Segmentation? Market segmentation is defined by McDonald and Dunbar (2004) as “the process of splitting customers, or potential customers, in a market into different groups, or segments” (McDonald & Dunbar, 2004, p. 34). Wendell Smith introduced the term ‘Market Segmentation’ in 1956 and sees these “differences between groups of consumers to be opportunities in the market” (Raaij & Verhallen, 1994, p. 9). The identification of these groups allows companies to customise their marketing communications and results in a shift from “mass marketing towards a target marketing strategy where the focus is on a particular group of customers” (Kara & Kaynak, 1997, p. 873). This denotes that companies need to research their customers in order to recognise the different groups, or segments, that occupy their customer base. Kotler and Keller (2006), among other credible authors, state that a “marketer can rarely satisfy everyone in a market” (Kotler & Keller, 2006, p. 24).
Dickson and Ginter (1987) look at the definition of market segmentation in more detail and draw upon a devised a theoretical economic framework developed by Rosen (1974) and Lancaster (1979). The following demand function was drawn up from their research into the subject; Q = F (p,x? … xn) This equation is commonly used in marketing literature and postulates that demand (Q) for a particular product is a function of the price (p) and the product characteristics, x? … xn, are attributes that could be physical or non-physical and reflect the products performance, quality, image etc.
F denotes disposable income and other market place factors (Dickson & Ginter, 1987, p. 4). This equation can be regarded as an effective framework that can be applied to the demand of products, but it does not seem to take into account that x? … xn should be perceived product characteristics and attributes. Dickson and Ginter (1987) explain that the stimuli received by the consumer is “controlled by the marketing managers of the brand… and by the marketing efforts of competing firms” (Dickson & Ginter, 1987, p. 5). 3. 2 The Process of Market Segmentation
In order for companies to take advantage of market opportunities, segmentation must be successfully accomplished so a product can satisfy a customer and their individual needs. Once a company understands their customers’ needs, they can position themselves correctly, market efficiently and effectively and serve their target markets needs. The initial STP (Segmentation, Targeting and Marketing) sums up strategic marketing and is dictated by eight clear stages. 1) Identify the organisations current position, capabilities, objectives and constraints. Situation Analysis 2) Identify the segmentation variables and the markets. ) Develop profiles of each segment. Market Segmentation 8) Develop the unique marketing mix strategy for each target market. 6) Identify the positioning concept within each target segment. 7) Select and develop the appropriate positioning concepts. 4) Evaluate the potential and attractiveness of each segment. 5) Select the target segment(s). Market Targeting Product Positioning The Marketing Mix Source: Gilligan and Wilson, 2003, p. 398 Gilligan and Wilson’s (2003) diagram works through the stages of market targeting and positioning ensuring companies are resourceful and efficiently meet customer needs.
Companies should select markets that “(they) have a sustainable competitive advantage within” (Gilligan and Wilson, 2003, p. 398). Using Gilligan and Wilson’s (2003) diagram will be useful to a marketer trying to segment a market. However, dependent on variables such as the marketer’s creative ability, resources allocated, time allocated and others determines how the segmentation is approached. Also, the quality of segmentation relies quite heavily on how effective the data collection is. Surveys and other research techniques must ask critical questions in order to successfully divide the subject population. 3. Bases of Market Segmentation Bases of segmentation refer to the individual variables by which consumers can be grouped. Tedlow (1990) identifies the segmentation era occurred between 1950 and 1990 and speculates that the technological developments within information technology (IT) has led to closer and more intimate relationships between consumers and manufacturers. Kotler (1994) refers to this new era as “micro-marketing” or “hyper-segmentation” and defines this as the identification of the “needs and wants of narrowly defined geographic, demographic, socio-economic, psychographic, or benefit segments” (Kotler, 1994, p. 68). These different preferences can be categorised into four main dimensions. Demographic Variables Age Occupation Sex Family Size Race Family Lifecycle Ethnicity ReligionIncome Education| Geographic VariablesRegionUrban/RuralCity SizeCounty SizeClimate| Psychographic VariablesLifestylePersonalitySocial class| Behavioural VariablesBenefits desiredPurchase frequencyUsage occasionBrand loyaltyAttitude towards brandPrice sensitivity|
Figure 3. 1: Matrix of business-to-consumer variables Source: Financial Times, 11th Dec 2000, p. 10 Figure 3. 1 above shows some business-to-consumer (B2C) variables that marketers will use when grouping consumers into segments. Demographic Variables Demographics of the population is an objective measure of human “populations in terms of size, density, age, sex race, occupation and other statistics” (Kotler, et al, 2008, p. 185). A good source for demographic data is www. statistics. gov. k where historic and current data collected by the Government is available for perusal. While demographics play an important role in a segmentation project, “they do not define a proposition a segment requires” (McDonald & Dunbar, 2004, p. 36). McDonald and Dunbar puts this into context by stating that when a consumer wakes up on their birthday they do not become a stereotype associated with that age. Demography can give important, additional information about a segment of the market but cannot define a segment on their own. Geographic Variables Geographic segmentation calls for dividing the market into different geographical units such as nations, regions, states, countries, cities or even neighbourhoods” (Kotler, et al, 2008, p. 411). The Geography of consumers, like demography, cannot define a proposition but is important for companies when defining what geographical area to market to. An excellent example of how geographic data was used by Tesco stores can be found in appendix 2. The objective measure of the geography of consumers can be useful when trying to find the most likely locations of a firms consumers and can be of further assistance when trying to market to them.
Psychographic Variables Psychographic variables are different to the previous two as they are a subjective measure. They relate to the internal drivers of customer behaviour. Kotler and Keller (2006) define psychographics as the “science of using psychology and demographics to better understand the consumer” (Kotler & Keller, 2006, p. 252). Psychographic segmentation uses lifestyles, social classes and personality variables to segment markets. Wells (1975) in his critical review of psychographics argues that “psychographic methods… ave many advantages over alternative methods” but he continues to speculate over the controversy surrounding the validity and reliability of psychographics (Wells, 1975, p. 196-209). McDonald and Dunbar (2004) argue that psychographic data can prove to be extremely useful in this cluttered world of communication (McDonald & Dunbar, 2004, p. 37) and can provide the means by which marketers isolate and reach particular market segments. Behavioural Variables Benefits, usage, loyalty, price sensitivity and attitudes are all examples of behavioural values.
These variables really try to investigate consumer behaviour and data collected can be objective or subjective. The user status of consumers is regarded as an important variable for marketers. Kotler and others (2008), segment markets into “non-users, ex-users, potential users, first-time users and regular users” (Kotler, et al, 2008, p. 417) when looking at user statuses of consumers. Usage rates can also be useful to marketers when conducting a segmentation product. “Many marketers believe that behavioural variables are the best starting points for constructing arket segments” (Kotler & Keller, 2006, p. 255). The differences between the main types of segmentation bases have been explained and it is clear that in order for companies to effectively segment the market they must use numerous approaches incorporating a variety of different variables. By following this procedure companies can reliably develop products, communicate effectively and position concepts to focus on particular target segments. 3. 4 Market Segmentation Archetypes
There are different segmentation archetypes which are present within different organisations. Jenkins and McDonald (1997) examined different archetypes within different companies. Jenkins and McDonald concluded that there are two main dimensions within companies and the way they segment the market. Customer driven Customer driven segmentation archetypes are when a company is centred around the customer. “Customer focus is limited to particular initiatives which are task specific and function specific” (Kara & Kaynak, 1997, p. 22).
McDonald and Dunbar (2004) speculate and explain that companies that adopt customer driven segmentation consider customer focus to permeate and define the separate business units. Segmentation is seen as an operational as opposed to strategic process (McDonald & Dunbar, 2004, p. 45). Organisational integration Companies who have high levels of organisational integration see segmentation as not just a way of targeting potential customers, “but an intrinsic part of the structure and culture of the organisation” (McDonald & Dunbar, 2004, p. 45). The segments of the market dictate the structure and strategy of the organisation.
Customer driven and organisational integration aspects of a company fit into a matrix used in analysing segmentation archetypes within companies. Customer Driven| High| Bolt-on segmentation| Strategic segmentation| | | | | | | | | | | | | | Low| Sales-based segmentation| Structural segmentation| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Low| High| | | Organisational integration| | | | Figure 3. 2: Market segmentation archetypal matrix Sales-based segmentation An organisational archetype that involves sales-based segmentation is centred around the sales function within an organisation.
The particular clusters of segments that a company appeals to does not really affect the way the company is structured or in the way it operates. Organisations using a sales-based approach to segmentation are “internally (sales territories), as opposed to externally (customer) driven (McDonald & Jenkins, 1997, p. 21). Structural segmentation Similar to sales-based segmentation, organisations adopting a structural approach tend not to focus on segments as groups of customers. The structure of the organisation dictates the way the company goes about selling.
Product groups and management teams are constructive within the company. These types of firms adopt an approach which is “both production and sales driven and is embedded in all the structures and processes of the organisation” (McDonald & Dunbar, 2004, p. 47). Bolt-on segmentation The bolt-on segmentation approach is highly customer driven and organisations using this approach use vast amounts of customer data when defining segments. External sources are also used such as socio-economic profiling and this combined information is really what drives the organisation.
Bolt-on segmentation is, however, low in levels of organisational integration which is similar to a sales-based approach in the fact that segmentation is not embedded into the structure of the company and is limited to a number of functional areas. Jenkins and McDonald (1997) conclude and state that a “customer focus exists, but this does not permeate the whole operation of the business, as it is not considered at a strategic level (McDonald & Jenkins, 1997, p. 22). Effective segmentation The final cell has a high customer focus as well as a high level of organizational integration.
Customer data is used from internal and external sources and controls the key functional activities and the strategic decision making within the firm. In this type of approach, management “can picture the target segment and have a basic appreciation of how the segment can be served most effectively” (McDonald & Dunbar, 2004, p. 48). Jenkins and McDonald (1997) comment on their framework and state that the matrix is a working hypothesis which is exploratory and descriptive, rather than diagnostic and prescriptive. Further comments suggest that some cells should not be considered more desirable than others. . 5 Sony – Market Segmentation In the summer of 2004, Incite conducted some research into market segmentation for Sony UK. The project was well funded and generated some extremely useful and informative results which Sony could use strategically in positioning and designing their products. Sony UK had long relied on using similar segmentation practices as those used in the Japanese market and adopted very similar product ranges. It was apparent, however, that European consumers, particularly from the U. K. , had a diverging set of values and benefits to those consumers from Japan.
Research conducted had two phases and used the following method; * Qualitative Phase – Data gathered from 12 stores in Kingston and Brent Cross visiting Currys Digital, John Lewis and Sony Centre stores. * Quantitative Phase – 602 surveys completed online by people who had either bought a new TV for their main room in the last six months OR were considering purchasing in the next three months and had started actively looking. Research was very successful and clusters of consumers with similar behavioural, psychographic and demographic variables were quickly built up.
This is illustrated in figure 3. 3. Figure 3. 3: Diagram showing Sony’s market segmentation Show Offs 10% of TV buyers, male bias but includes women, 30-44 years, household income of ? 30-40k. With 10 percent of total consumers, ‘Show Offs’ are categorised as considering brand and design as the most important factors of a TV purchase. A style-conscious segment who like to brag about their belongings. This segment has an acceptable level of understanding technologies and is prepared to pay more for a brand. The most important part of buying a TV for this segment is the social currency it gives you.
The TV not only needs to look good, it also needs to bring status. Discrete Style 13% of TV buyers, predominately female, 18-34 years or older: 55 years plus. Style is the key factor for this segment. Occupants ensure everything has to match and ‘fit in’. A highly sociable segment that will go to look at TV’s with friends. Care about their own appearance as well as their TV’s and is likely to spend a lengthy period browsing. The TV is not the centre piece of the living room; it needs to fit in with the other furniture.
Techies 10% of TV buyers, predominately male, socioeconomically ABC1, 25-44 years, ? 40k plus. This segment spends the most amount of time researching prior to purchase. Technological features on a TV are crucial and are ultimately deciding factors. Brand is also considered quite an important benefit. Extremely high knowledge of technology and influenced by reviews and chat forums. A TV is an extremely important purchase, which needs to be researched thoroughly. Big is Best 12% of TV buyers, predominately male, 25-34 years, ? 0-40k and above. This group are early adopters of technology and focus on size as the most important factor when purchasing a TV. Understand the technology and want the TV to be the focal point in their living room. Decision process focuses around getting a large TV to satisfy their entertainment needs. Picture Perfect 18% of TV buyers, socioeconomically ABC1, 25-54 years, household income – ? 40k plus. This cluster of consumers will spend more in getting the best picture possible. Like using online reviews to gain reassurance.
Brand signifies quality to this type of consumer. Have basic knowledge of the technology and spend long periods of time browsing TV’s in store. It’s all about picture quality based on what they see in store and believe is best. Value Seekers 25% of TV buyers, equally men and women, C2DE, 45-54 years, ? 23-30k or under 7k. These consumers do not consider technology important at all and therefore have limited knowledge. Style is also not an important factor and sees a TV as a TV. Look for basic features on a TV and likely to shop in ASDA and Tesco for convenience.
Bundling offers are very appealing to this segment. Extreme Price Led 11% of TV buyers, female dominated, 18-24 years or older: 65+. Income: ? 17k or under. This segment is extremely motivated by price and look for the cheapest TV possible. Style of TV is not important and neither is the technology. Not bothered by brand and more likely to choose cheaper alternatives such as Bush and Goodmans. Students and the unemployed are likely to be contained within the category. Sony plots this new data onto a diagram indicating the likelihood of each segment buying Sony.
By doing this attractive target segments can be selected and a product offering can be customised to fit the relevant segments. Picture Perfect Big Is Best Techies Picture Perfect Show Offs Discrete Style Value Seekers Extreme Price Led Figure 3. 4: Diagram indicating segments’ likelihood of buying Sony The research concluded that Sony’s most attractive segment is ‘Techies’ followed by ‘Show Offs’ and ‘Discrete Style’. Sony use this valid information when considering product differentiation, positioning and overall strategy.
More detailed findings of Sony’s segmentation research can be found in appendix 7. 4. 0 Methodology The author believed that because this research project was customer focussed needing new data in order to successfully achieve set objectives and aims, the focal point would be on primary research. However, a combination of both primary and secondary research methods was used to achieve a real understanding of Sony’s target segments. 4. 1 Primary Research The author found it imperative to take a survey approach consisting of questionnaires, but additional to this a series of focus groups would be setup.
This would help the author in collecting valid and reliable data from multiple research approaches and therefore purposively answering the research question of the project. 4. 11 Questionnaires A questionnaire is described by Saunders, et al (2007) as “all techniques of data collection in which each person is asked the same set of questions in a predetermined order (Saunders, et al, 2007, p. 354). Whilst the author was on placement with Sony, Steve Dowdle, Managing Director, made it compulsory that each member of the sales team would have to spend two full days working on the shop floor of a major electronics retailer.
This was seen as a great opportunity for obtaining the data needed for the project. The 18th and 19th of September, were spent within the Currys store in Guildford and questionnaires were filled out during working hours. Similarly, Simon Owens, a colleague of the author also spent the same two days in the Comet store in New Malden obtaining the data needed for the project. This method of data collection was chosen because a large set of standardised questions can be asked to a large number of people relatively inexpensively and efficiently.
The questionnaire would be interviewer-administered as opposed to self-administered and be completed face to face. Self-administered interviews were preferable as the author did not want respondents to “deliberately guess at an answer due to insufficient knowledge” (Saunders, et al, 2007, p. 359). This will keep the rate of uninformed responses to a minimum. The structure of the questionnaire was entirely closed. The reason behind opting for a questionnaire was to gain quantitative data as opposed to qualitative data which would be gathered using focus groups. This will be discussed in the following section.
A combination of list and category questions will be used and all answers will be indicated with a tick. This was a more desirable approach as the maximum amount of time with each respondent was five minutes. Closed questions would therefore be a more efficient method of collecting the information which was needed. Testing Prior to pilot testing, the questionnaire was analysed by members of Sony’s Research Marketing Team. These individuals, who are regarded as experts in this field, were extremely helpful in checking the representativeness and suitability of questions.
Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2007) claims this will help establish content validity and enable the author to make any necessary amendments prior to pilot testing (Saunders, et al, 2007, p. 386). As this was a smaller scale questionnaire and time and financial resources were minimal, the questionnaire was pilot tested using work colleagues, friends and family. This helped “refine the questionnaire and provide the author with an idea of the reliability and suitability of questions contained within” (Saunders, et al, 2007, p. 87). Pilot testing proved to be successful as some minor errors were spotted in the construction of the questionnaire, where respondents may interpret some statements differently. These were immediately corrected before the questionnaire was to be issued out to the sample. There were also some minor grammatical errors which were also corrected. Choosing a sample Obtaining data from the entire population is impractical and quite simply impossible so a sampling technique had to be decided upon.
The most suitable method of sampling, using the resources available, was haphazard sampling. This is due to having no access to a sampling frame. This would be performed by randomly selecting respondents on the shop floor of Currys or Comet. In order for respondents to be from the same population as the previous research carried out by Sony in 2004, respondents to the questionnaire had to have; * Bought a TV for their main room in the last six months OR * Were considering purchasing in the next three months and had started actively looking.
A total of 100 cases would be collected from the two locations; 50 from the Guildford store and 50 from the New Malden store. The two stores, Currys and Comet were chosen as these two retailers have the largest market share in electronics retailing and the author believed this would be more representative of the entire population. Constraints The author felt that a major constraint to the questionnaire process was the sampling technique used. An ideal sample would be representative of the whole population of consumers who have recently bought, or are considering buying, a new television set.
Although previous research by GfK shows the majority of consumers do tend to shop in Currys and Comet when considering buying a TV, particular segments would shop in other retailers. For example, a consumer who is less price sensitive but considers customer service important in the buying process might shop in John Lewis. Another identified constraint was the sample size. A total sample of 100 respondents is, in the author’s opinion, too small and ideally a number closer to 200 would have been more desirable. However, due to time constraints and working to tight deadlines this could not be made possible. 4. 2 Focus Groups Incorporated into the primary research of this project were a series of focus groups to gain the qualitative data needed to answer the research question. Focus groups have the ability to extract personal opinion from participants and if managed and directed properly can be a very good source of data. There has been much confusion over the meaning of a focus group in recent years, Saunders et al, (2007) defines it as a “group interview that focuses clearly upon a particular issue, product, service or topic and encompasses the need for interactive discussion amongst participants” (Saunders, et al, 2007 p. 39). A sequence of three separate focus groups was to be conducted, each consisting of four, information-rich participants. Each group lasted between 30 to 40 minutes and was facilitated by the author. The moderator ensured that all members had an equal role in the interview and tried to restrict dominating members over-contributing to the group. This was done using Torrington’s (1991) approach by asking questions such as “What do other people think about this? ” (cited in Saunders, et al, 2007, p. 338). The focus groups took place with kind permission at the author’s relative’s office premises in Haslemere, Surrey.
A neutral and relaxed setting is key when conducting focus group interviewing as this minimised discussions from being distorted. Three separate focus groups took place on different days and were successful in obtaining some really useful qualitative data. Three groups with four participants each enabled discussions to reach saturation and gave the author enough data for analysis. Points of discussion (Appendix 3). Constraints Although focus group conversations reached saturation, the author felt that it would have been more credible to the research if the focus groups grouped together types of participants to resemble the population.
Out of the three focus groups, two were formed from middle class individuals between 30-44 years and the remaining group were students between 20-25 years. The middle aged participants were kindly accessed through the author’s parents’ clientele. Ideally, if time was less constrained, the author would have like to look at the population in more detail and formed up to six different groups that would represent the socio-economic build up of the population. By doing this responses and data which were recorded would give a much closer representation to what the wider population would have to offer. . 2 Secondary Research In order to answer the research question and objectives of this project, a variety of secondary research was used. This secondary data was obtained from a variety of sources. There was an extensive amount of literature that has been published on market segmentation, its roles and responsibilities within an organisation and also the controversy that surrounds the subject and its validity. These sources included a variety of text books and journals which could be accessed through Brighton University Library and online databases.
Text books were very useful in defining market segmentation and its uses, and journals helped put segmentation practices into context using case studies and examples. These sources of secondary data facilitated conducting a thorough literature review but also helped to explore what was currently surrounding the subject of market segmentation. A full list of literature used can be found in the bibliography in section 10. 0. There were limited internet sources used in the project as the author found the wealth of literature in books and journals were substantial.
Also, the opinions and views of the credible authors of these books and journals seemed more relevant, valid and reliable than those obtained through internet sourcing. Survey-based secondary data was also sourced through Sony UK. The analysis and findings of Sony’s previous research into TV Buying Segmentation in 2004 proved to be an invaluable source which was both vital and central in the construction of this project. The findings from this previous research project conducted by Sony were used in making comparisons and helped realise any differences, shifts and changes in Sony’s market segmentation. . 3 Alternative Methods Using questionnaires and focus groups combined with a variety of secondary research methods was the most effective approach to answering the research question. However, other approaches and methods of research were considered. Although Saunders, et al (2007), see telephone interviewing having potential advantages such as speed, access and lower cost, the author saw this type of collection method as impractical. In face to face interviewing the importance of establishing personal contact is high as this can affect participant’s responses.
Also, the author believed that consumers are “less willing to spend as much time with the interviewee” (Saunders, et al, 2007, p. 342) as they would with face-to-face interviewing. Another approach in primary research which was considered was administering the questionnaires through email. This type of approach does have many advantages over other methods of mediation, however, the one key problem was access. Email mediated questionnaires were thoroughly considered and was going to be the approach adopted but the author could not find an appropriate mailing list.
Mailing lists could not be used within the organisation and without financial resources a mailing list could not be sourced from a third party organisation. 4. 4 Summary In summarising the research methodology the author was satisfied with the methods chosen and also with the data that was collected. There were constraints as there would be in most projects but with the allocated resources, particularly time and capital, the author felt the right approaches to performing the research were chosen and provided enough information to answer the research question and objectives of the project. . 0 Findings 5. 1 Focus Groups The focus groups provided some very interesting data that was useful when analysing how TV buying market segmentation differs between certain groups. As there were multiple groups, each will be looked at individually to identify any key findings from the groups. Note: For ease of distinguishing and identification the author used a code to identify speakers clearly. The first character would relate to the group and the second character would relate to the participant. For example 2C would relate to the second group, participant C. 5. 11 Group 1 – Students
The focus group took place on 20th September and members were aged between 20 and 25 years with an income of less than ? 10,000 per year. The author thought that the general themes of the group would be similar among all members, however, the outcome was very different. Participants had very different attitudes towards buying a TV. The structure and points of discussion can be found in appendix 3. Member 1A had good knowledge of technology and considered himself as very up to date with the latest technology. This participant considered technology to be crucial and quoted “the more technology, the better”.
He also quoted that he likes to shop in Sony Centres as opposed to Currys or Comet because he finds he knows more about TV technology than the shop floor staff. Member 1A also preferred more expensive brand names such as Sony and Panasonic who have built up a name for being an innovator and leader in technology. Member 1B was the most dominant of the group and was also male. This participant regarded size as one of the most important benefit factors of buying a TV. Member 1B responded to members 1A’s quote by stating “it’s not about the technology, for me the bigger the TV, the better”. This participant had a lot of input into the group.
Member 1C was extremely quiet in terms of personality and had very little input. This participant seemed to agree with the majority opinion of the group. Member 1C was female and seemed to agree with a lot of member 1B’s statements. Member 1D was also female and the author could see she was more style driven than the other members of the group. This participant preferred brands like Sony and Samsung as they gave the perception of style and quality. When encouraged by the mediator member 1D continued to state that she would spend a lot of time in stores browsing the different styles of TV’s and considering what would fit in best with the room.
Size was not a particularly important factor for this participant. Above are the individual themes of the group members but there were also some themes which were more general of the group. These common themes are outlined below. All members, when asked about price as factor of importance seemed to all agree that they would look on the internet to compare prices across the market before making a decision. Member 1B put this statement to the group and the whole group agreed. All members expressed that the actual price of the TV was not that important but finding the best price for a particular TV was important.
All members also seemed to agree that they would shop for a brand name as opposed to an entry level brand such as Akura, Technika or Bush. 5. 12 Groups 2 and 3 – Middle aged Groups two and three consisted of very similar types of consumer. Participants were all aged between 30 and 44 and had household incomes between ? 40,000 and ? 70,000. Some of the key statements from these two groups are outlined below. Member 2A, when asked about price, said he too compared pricing across the market before buying a TV, which was similar to member 1B.
However, the only other member who agreed with this was member 2B who was the only other male in this group. Members 2C and 2D, the females within this group, seemed slightly confused by the statement and therefore did not admit to using price comparison sites on the web before purchasing a TV. Member’s 2A and 2B both declared that they both considered technology as a relatively important factor when purchasing a TV with members 2B stating that he has bought two TV’s in the space of two years because he wanted the top technology on his set.
The female members (2C and 2D) seemed more style driven and was not particularly bothered by the technology on a TV. “I like anything pink in the bedroom and anything black in the living room” (member 2D). Themes coming from group three were very similar to group two. Prominent statements derived from this group were “picture quality is the most important factor” (member 3D) and “contrast ratio is really important” (member 3A). Member 3D was extremely dominant in this group and no matter how hard the mediator tried to get others involved, the discussion was centred around 3D’s opinions on the subject.
Other members seemed to comment and agree on member 3D’s beliefs and attitudes towards certain subjects. Member 3B did however state that the “bigger the TV the better” which had mixed reaction amongst the group, particularly from member 3D who stated that she rates aesthetics as a really important factor. Common themes and attitudes from groups 2 and 3 included how important price was. Members 2C and 2D both stated that price was the most important factor when deciding what TV to purchase. This was echoed in group three when most members ranked price as one of the most important factors.
However, participant 3D did not seem to rank price as highly as the others in the group. Members from both groups, excluding 2A and 2B, seemed like they weren’t too bothered by the technology on the TV just as long as the set looked modern and stylish and was reasonably priced. When asked about cheaper brands most members said they would consider/have already considered looking at these lower-cost alternatives. The general consensus also believed that bundling a TV with other products such as a Blu-Ray player or home theatre kit is very appealing as the consumer is getting “more value for their money” (member 3C). . 13 Summary The findings of the qualitative research are interesting in the way that groups containing respondents of an older age seemed to be more price sensitive than the group of students. This was a surprising finding and was not expected by the author who predicted quite the opposite. Other findings were more expected, particularly male consumers being driven by technology and screen size and females considering style to be an important product benefit. These findings support Sony’s previous research into market segmentation in 2004.
Perhaps another enlightening discovery was the importance of online price comparison sites, particularly to the male members of the group. This was something that was not mentioned in previous research and is becoming an increasingly important factor in the buyer-decision process. Overall, the author was pleased with the volume and value of findings gathered from the focus group process. It seems Saunders, et al, (2007) are correct in clarifying that “participants are ‘information rich’ and you can learn a great deal from these individuals” (Saunders, et al, 2007, p. 337). 5. Questionnaires Quantitative data is more sophisticated than qualitative data, therefore the methods used to present quantitative data are generally more elaborate (Buglear, 2005, p. 143). The raw data obtained from the questionnaire process was compiled into frequency distribution tables which can be found in appendix 4. From these tables, graphs, charts and other statistical analysis methods could be applied in order for it to convey more information. It must be noted before presentation of the findings that out of the expected 100 respondents, only 89 cases were collected.
Therefore, proportional analysis tools will be often used to convey information. Questions 1 and 2 were categorical questions that could be classified as dichotomous. These questions were designed and were integrated into the questionnaire to identify whether participants were appropriate and useful for questioning. Any candidates answering ‘No’ to both questions were omitted from the results. The author has therefore proceeded to question three in presenting findings as questions one and two have no benefit to the research. Question 3 – Are you male or female?
When interviewers were in the stores of Comet and Currys gathering data, it was evident that there were more males than females browsing or purchasing a new TV. The findings from question three therefore show that some 64% respondents were male. Question 4 – What is your marital status? Figure 5. 1: Pie Chart showing the marital status among respondents A surprising 44% of respondents were single and were the majority share in terms of marital status. A minor 1% of questionnaire respondents were widowed compared with 31 out of the 89 respondents being married. Question 5 – What is your employment status?
Figure 5. 2: Bar chart to illustrate respondent’s employment As figure 5. 2 shows 39 out of the 89 respondents to the questionnaire are in full time work with only one respondent being unemployed. The author believed this to be a fair representation of the population. Question 6 – How many dependent children do you have living with you? Question six provided the author with some continuous data. However, it seemed valueless to plot this data on a line graph as the author did not need to know precisely, to decimal points, how many children respondents are likely to have.
A bar chart to convey this information was therefore sufficient enough. Figure 5. 3: Bar chart showing amount of children respondents have As figure 5. 3 illustrates the majority of respondents did not have any children and 21 out of the 89 participants having a single dependent child. The remaining 20 cases were spread over 2 or more children gradually decreasing. Question 7 – Please indicate your household income per annum? Figure 5. 4: Cumulative frequency polygon displaying respondent’s household income The income of respondents was quite evenly distributed with the majority earning a household income of less than ? k. In terms of percentages, 74% of respondents fell into the first three categories leaving the final 15 respondents earning ? 60,000 or more. Question 8 – How much would you be prepared to/did you spend on a new TV? This question investigated how much consumers actually spend on a new TV. The chart shows that the majority of respondents would spend or already have spent between ? 500 and ? 799 on a new TV. 24% wouldn’t/didn’t spend any more than ? 500. A total of 39% of the sample would be classified between spending ? 800 and ? 1999. A mere 1% representing a single respondent had spent ? 2000 or more on a new TV set.
Figure 5. 5: Percentage component bar chart showing consumer spend Question 9 – How often do you normally replace the TV in your main room of the house? Responses to this question were distorted. Pilot testing with friends and family did not recognise that this question would formulate so many similar, unpractical responses. An overwhelming 40% of participants answered ‘other’ in response to this question. Almost all reasons given for this response was ‘when my TV breaks’ or ‘when I need a new one’. Question 10 – Using numbers 1, 2 and 3, rank what you believe is the most important factor when buying a new TV.
Using a component bar chart, respondents’ rankings towards the importance of factors could be plotted. Figure 5. 6: Component bar chart illustrating importance of factors The findings were quite interesting as price wasn’t ranked as the most important factor but a majority 39 respondents considered price to be the second in importance. The sample considered value to be the most important factor with nearly 30% of respondents ranking this as the most important factor. On the other end of the scale, quite surprisingly, brand was seen as a less important factor with only 6 respondents regarding it as their first choice.
At the heart of the ranked importance factors were screen size, picture and technology, all having similar cases. 5. 21 Summary Results to the questionnaire process revealed some very interesting data. Now findings are presented the author can analyse the data and identify any trends or patterns and particularly try to identify changes in the segmental build up of Sony’s consumers that have occurred in recent years. 6. 0 Analysis 6. 1 Focus Groups By looking at the findings from the focus groups the author can draw points together for analysis and dig deeper to understand the characteristics of the groups.
This will identify certain themes, patterns and relationships that appear within the focus groups. The approach taken to qualitatively analyse the data received was to categorise and unitise statements and responses to develop patterns or themes present within the groups. This process involved grouping the responses from the groups into similar themes which can then be analysed further. 6. 11 Developing Hypotheses After data categorisation it was clear that there were clear themes that were emerging from the discussions. An inductive approach was taken to develop what Silverman (2006) calls ‘testable propositions’ or ‘hypotheses’ Silverman, 2006, p. 13). These are as follows; * Male consumers consider technology and screen size as much more important factors than female consumers. * Female consumers are more style driven than male consumers. * Male consumers are more likely to use comparison sites than female consumers when considering purchasing a TV. * Middle aged consumers are more price sensitive than students. 6. 12 Testing Hypotheses In order to test the validity of these hypotheses, statements and examples will be used that conform to the patterns or trends apparent in the focus groups.
This will help to meticulously test the propositions put forward by the author. Note: For ease of discussion, each focus group consisted of four members, two male and two female. Using the coding outlined in section 5. 1, members A and B in each group were male and members C and D in each group were female. Male consumers consider technology and screen size as much more important factors than female consumers Conversations that took place within the focus groups led the author believe that males did consider technology as an important factor when considering buying a TV.
Member 1A had extremely high knowledge of the technology on TV’s and stated that he normally knows more than store staff at the likes of Currys and Comet. Member 3A quoted “TV must have enough HDMI inputs and be HD1080”. This led the author to believe that this member was technologically ‘savvy’ and, similar to member 1A, had good knowledge of the features on a TV. In group two members 2A and 2B both comment on how they regard technology as an important factor when considering buying a TV and member 2B quoted “I have bought two TV’s in the space of two years” due to keeping up with the technology.
The females within this group did not share this view and seemed not to understand some of the terms that the male participants were using. These and other similar statements that have been highlighted indicated to the author that males have a better knowledge of television technology but more importantly rate the benefit of having a TV with better technology much higher. Having better technology on a TV seemed unimportant to the females of the groups. This was similar to how important screen size was in the decision process of purchasing a TV.
This theme was colloquially backed up by member 1B’s statement of “the bigger, the better! ” Again, the females within the group did not rate screen size as much of an important factor as the male participants. This is in line with what Sony had previously discovered in their segmentation project in 2004, categorising consumers that fell into the ‘Techies’ or ‘Big is Best’ segments as predominately male. These groups of consumers are technologically adequate or consider screen size as one of, if not the most, important factor when considering purchasing a TV.
Therefore proving this hypothesis correctly and proving that males are technologically savvy and prefer larger screen sizes is not an enlightening finding. It does however prove that, particularly in this area, Sony’s segmentation from 2004 is still valid and reliable. This unquestionably works towards answering the research question of the project. Female consumers are more style driven than male consumers. After analysis of the transcript from the focus groups, this hypothesis almost seemed the opposite of the proposition discussed earlier.
The author could see a correlation between consumers that were technology driven to those that were style driven. This pattern has been put on a parameter scale with males situated towards the technologically driven and females situated at the other end of the scale towards style driven. Technologically Driven Style Driven Females Males Figure 6. 1: Technological/style drive parameter Comments from the female participants such as “How it looks is the most important factor for me” and “I like anything black in the living room” gave the impression that the females were more style driven.
This was common across all females within the groups. Similarly, this hypothesis supports Sony’s previous segmentation research by grouping these female consumers into the ‘Discrete Style’ segment. This group of consumers were identified by Sony as being predominately female who care about their appearance and the way things look. The author believes this to be a common characteristic of the female consumer who generally tends to care about aesthetics more than the average male consumer.
Again, this is not a groundbreaking discovery but furthermore answers the research question and verifies, to a certain extent, that Sony’s segmentation practices are not dated and incorrect. Male consumers are more likely to use comparison sites than female consumers when considering purchasing a TV. Groups one and two both discussed using comparison sites before making a TV purchase without any encouragement from the mediator. By analysing dialogue in group one it can be seen that all members, male and female, agreed that they would use some sort of online comparison tool before making a purchase.
This is seen as a negative case and to some degree flaws this particular hypothesis. However, there is an explanation for this unconformity to the pattern. By observing the behaviour of the group, participant 1B was very dominant and had an unfair contribution to the discussions. The author believed that this dominancy within the group led to some distortion of responses. When member 1B exclaimed “you have to pretty much compare prices for everything on PriceRunner before buying” the other partakers all just seemed to agree so they would not become a member with a solitary response.
Member 1A then went on further to say he had “saved ? 40 on a new iPod by using PriceRunner”. The female members did not comment and seemed unknowledgeable about the subject. Similar patterns emerged from the other two groups in reactions to online comparison sites. In group two the female members seemed unaccustomed to any sort of online comparison tool. Furthermore in group three, although discussions about price comparison sites were prompted, member 3D acknowledged that she had never used a price comparison site before. This is something that has not been identified by Sony as a characteristic of the male consumer.
Even in Sony’s previously identified segments of ‘Value Seekers’ and ‘Extreme Price Led’ there is no mention of the use of these comparison sites. An article from The Independent (2008) quotes that these CSE’s (Comparison Shopping Engines) “have exploded in popularity over the past few years” (The Independent, 22nd January) and research by E-Consultancy and DoubleClick found that “comparison sites now drive 10% of online sales” (www. internetretailing. net). The growing popularity of these comparison sites could have implications on Sony’s strategic movements in arketing certain models of TV’s. Middle aged consumers are more price sensitive than students. The final hypothesis claiming that the middle aged consumers are more price sensitive than students was inductively constructed by looking at themes and attitudes between the groups as opposed to differences between members of the groups. Price sensitivity often changes and Kotler and Keller (2006) assume “customers are most price sensitive to products that cost a lot” (Kotler & Keller, 2006, p. 439). This is particularly relevant to Sony and their market segmentation.
Statements by the group of students (Group 1) suggested that participants were less bothered by price. Member 1B stated “you pay for what you get” when asked to comment on the importance of pricing. Whereas in the other two groups of middle aged consumers there were very different attitudes and relationships presented to the mediator. Some of the comments included “definitely the most important factor when purchasing a TV for me (price)” (member 2C) and “I don’t see the point in spending a fortune” (member 2D). These common themes were also constant throughout group three.
The importance of bundling a TV with a DVD Player or Blu-Ray player also appeared to be more appealing to these groups of consumers as it gave the impression of better value for money. A study into the impact of strategies on consumer price sensitivity suggests that “value-oriented positioning decreases price sensitivity” (Kalra & Goodstein, 1998, p. 222). However, again there was a negative example that did not conform to the hypothesis. This occurred in group three’s focus group interview where participant 3D did not give the impression that price was not a factor of great magnitude.
The author believed there was an explanation for this differing attitude towards purchasing a TV and put it down to the fact that member 3D gave the impression she was of a higher socioeconomic group to the others within the group. Statements that led the author to believe this included “I don’t tend to look at the prices” and “I have no idea how much our TV was”. With these types of responses occurring during the discussion it was clear that member 3D had a high household income and was less price sensitive than the others in the group.
This is very different to what Sony had researched in 2004 where they’re evidence suggested that the identified segments of ‘Extreme Price Led’ and ‘Value Seekers’ were demographically younger and had incomes of under ? 17k or ? 23-30k respectively. Sony also consider students to be classified as ‘Extreme Price Led’ yet they are less price sensitive than those consumers with incomes between ? 40k and ? 70k. So what are the explanations for this shift in segmentation? The current climate and what is known as ‘the credit crunch’ must be a cause for this change in attitudes towards TV purchasing.
These segments that have household incomes between ? 40k and ? 70k are more likely to have dependent children, mortgages and other forms of expenditure. The ‘credit crunch’ maybe hitting these types of consumers a lot harder than it is hitting students, and therefore effecting the price sensitivities of particular segments. Coming from individual experience, the author has not experienced any major difference in spending and consumer behaviour over the last 12 months. There could be some other factors that are affecting the results obtained from the focus groups.
These could be that students are less likely to actually purchase a TV and could possibly have much lower average spends than the middle aged consumers. Average spends and purchase frequencies are factors that were not fully addressed during focus groups and are discussed in section 6. 2 where data obtained quantitatively can shed more light on this matter. 6. 13 Summary From what has been collected there have been some discoveries that were not evident in Sony’s market segmentation.
The development and testing of hypotheses and propositions helps in forming well-grounded conclusions which can provide an analytical framework for achieving objectives. Through thorough and rigorous analysis of the data obtained from the focus group interviews, unitising and categorising themes, patterns and relationships, the research question can be partly answered; to a certain extent, Sony’s segmentation practices that they regularly and ultimately rely on and influence strategies and positioning, have changed in recent years. 6. 2 Questionnaires
Presented findings of questionnaire research carried out will aid in analysis of any shifts or changes in segmentation of Sony’s customers between 2004 and 2008. By examining each question individually, changes in certain attributes can be identified and discussed. 6. 21 Male or Female Data shows the majority of respondents were male. This could seem like it is unrepresentative and could affect the validity of the research. Especially seeing that there are a higher percentage of females than males in census data (Appendix 5). However, by taking a closer look having a slight male bias in the findings would better represent the population.
Sony had previously discovered that 72% of TV sales were from male consumers. The AV market could be seen traditionally as a more male-oriented market but this is changing. Companies are starting to recognise the potential in gender segmentation by becoming more appealing to the female population. Sony comprehends this by introducing pink and violet LCD’s to their product range. Furthermore, Kotler and Keller (2006), armed with research confirm that “80 percent of home improvement projects are initiated by women” and “women control or influence 80 percent of consumer goods” (Kotler & Keller, 2006, p. 50-252). So although the majority of TV purchases are by males, companies like Sony must recognise and appreciate that women have a persuasive and compelling influence over TV sales. 6. 22 Marital Status Marital status of respondents was researched in order to compare results with national statistics from the census. The author found it necessary to identify what the likely marital status of TV consumers were and analyse these in comparison with census data to identify any differences, trends or patterns. Table 6. 1: Resident population by marital status (millions)
Total| Single| Married| Widowed| Divorced| | | | | | 53. 7| 24. 9| 21. 5| 3. 2| 4. 0| 100%| 46%| 40%| 6%| 7%| Source: www. statistics. gov. uk At first glance it would seem that census statistics were very similar to the data gathered from the questionnaires. However, the author has incorporated more categories into his research. Where the census data classifies ‘single’ as one category, the author has divided this variable into ‘single’ and ‘separated’. This alters the data completely and suggests that 56 percent of respondents to the questionnaire were single. By looking at table 6. and the differences in the two sets of data, there is a substantial difference of 10 percent between what the research found and what the census states. Table 6. 2: Resident population by marital status (millions) Status| Census| Research| Variation| Single| 46%| 56%| 10%| Married| 40%| 35%| -5%| Widowed| 6%| 1%| -5%| Divorced| 7%| 8%| 1%| Source: www. statistics. gov. uk There could be many explanations for this discrepancy. By analysing the national statistics (Appendix 5) it can be seen that 50 percent of males are single in contrast to only 42 percent of females.
As 64 percent of respondents to the questionnaire were male this can have an effect on the outcome of results regarding marital status and create a shift in the percentages. This does not however devalue the usefulness of these findings. Sony’s market segmentation from 2004 did not clearly conclude that over half of their potential customers are classified as single. This could have implications on their marketing strategy. These new findings therefore work towards identifying attributes of Sony’s consumer base, tying in with the objectives of this project. 6. 23 Employment Status
The employment status of the consumer can be important. It can determine where to market a product by identifying where particular concentrations of a type of consumer may be. The research found that the majority of participants were in full time work with a percentage of 44 percent. Again, Sony’s segmentation research did not reach any well grounded conclusions on how employment status differed between types of consumer. The only reference to employment was the identification of students and the unemployed as likely to be within the ‘Extreme Price Led’ segment.
With only 9 percent of respondents falling into these two types of employment status, it led the author to believe that the focus should be on trying to discover what segments full time workers are likely to be contained within. Particularly considering, based on the findings nearly half of consumers are employed full time. As figure 6. 2 illustrates this is an attractive segment for Sony. By comparing the full time respondents likely spends on a new TV and independently plotting these against the whole samples, it proves that consumers with a full time status spend considerably more.
Figure 6. 2: Line graph comparing spends of full time workers to the sample 6. 24 Dependents The findings from question six generated some unexpected results. The author anticipated respondents to have more children. However, the results obtained illustrate quite the opposite. Over half the sample did not have a single dependable child. The fact that the majority of participants were single may have had an effect on this. This aside, some 46 percent of respondents did have dependent children and this may have implications to Sony and their strategies.
A study into this subject concluded that “children’s influence on family purchases continues to grow” (Shoham & Dalakas, 2006, p. 349). This must be considered when marketing to certain segments of the market, particularly those segments that are likely to have dependents. 6. 25 Household Income Household income was considered as an important demographic variable when considering market segmentation. The data could be statistically analysed to identify the lower and upper quartiles.
Quartiles are used as a means of “identifying the range within which most of the values in the population occur” (Quantitative Techniques for Business, 2002, p. 146). Figure 6. 3: Cumulative frequency polygon showing inter-quartile range of household incomes By referring to figure 6. 3, the lower quartile can be calculated at ? 9,000 with the upper quartile situated at ? 46,000. This gives an inter-quartile range of ? 37,000 and indicates that the middle half of the population is quite widely dispersed. The median and mean can also be calculated as ? 24,500 and ? 1,630 respectively. This tells Sony that their average customer will have household incomes around these averages. This statistical analysis can be advantageous when considering pricing and predicting consumer behaviours of certain segments. Organisations can use income segmentation to target consumers and although it is useful in itself “income segmentation renders more actionable results when complemented by other segmentation strategies” (Goldman, 2005, p. 6). 6. 26 Consumer Spends By analysing consumers likely spends on a new TV, patterns or trends can be identified.
The survey categorically discovered what consumers are willing or have already recently paid for a TV. Price is an important component in consumer behaviour and can play an important role in the decision process. By analysing data gathered in 2004 and comparing this with data gathered in 2008 (figure 6. 4), there is undeniably a shift in consumer responses. Isolating the first category, only 18 respondents replied that they would spend or have recently spent less than ? 500 on a new television set. If we accelerate to 2008, this number has increased to 24.
This is an increase of 33 percent in a matter of four years. Similarly people are less prepared to spend in the higher priced categories illustrating that the amount of consumers willing to pay ? 800 or more has reduced from 47 in 2004 to 40 in 2008. That’s nearly an 18 percent fall. This leads to the conclusion that current consumers have lower price thresholds than in 2004, again working towards achieving the aims and objectives by supporting that fact that Sony’s consumer segments have changed in recent years. Figure6. 4: Percentage component bar chart comparing amount spent/looking to spend As figure 6. illustrates, consumers’ price intentions have changed quite dramatically in a relatively short period of time. The term price intentions “reflect an attitudinal disposition to consistently respond to price cues. The main component is willingness to pay” (Wertenbroch & Skiera, 2002 p. 232). Correctly knowing the price intentions of consumers can provide an invaluable basis in pricing strategies. Research conducted by Stamer and Diller (2006) concluded that TV purchasing “differ from most fast moving consumer goods with respect to a more extensive purchasing process” (Stamer & Diller, 2006, p. 1). This means that consumers will consider more aspects and features of the product and therefore generally be more price sensitive. Understanding price sensitivities and thresholds can impact consumer choice. Once these elements are understood, consumer purchase behaviour can be better understood. Sony must bear in mind “of all the tools available to marketers, none is more powerful than price” (Han, Gupta & Lehman, 2001, p. 435). 6. 27 Purchase Occasion
As discussed previously the author revealed that this question produced distorted responses due to participants clarifying that they tend to only replace their TV set when they need to. There was no mention of consumer purchase occasion in Sony’s segmentation research conducted in 2004. Referring back to Stamer and Diller’s (2006) research, it was found that the average usage cycle of a television set is 11. 4 years. This behavioural variable can “help firms build up product usage” (Kotler, et al, 2008, p. 415) and is deemed important in building a better picture of the consumer.
However, further, more complex research will have to be conducted in this field in order to generate some enlightening findings. 6. 28 Importance Factors By analysing what consumers believe to be the most important factors when purchasing a TV, it is evident there has been some shifts in consumer behaviour. Figure 6. 5: Multiple bar chart showing shifts in importance factors Figure 6. 5 illustrates consumers most important benefit factors between 2004 and 2008. The findings are somewhat remarkable. It is apparent that consumers seem to rank price and value higher than in 2004.
There is less of an influence from the picture, style and brand of a TV. Consumers seem to be more price sensitive and price driven than in 2004 by stating that these two factors are major considerations and influences in the buyer-decision process. New entrants into the market place with less expensive product offerings may have had an impact on consumer’s attitudes and behavioural traits towards benefits such as style and brand. Sony’s segmentation research in 2004 did not explore what consumers believed to be second and third most important factors affecting a purchase decision.
Exploration into this data can uncover some useful information, particularly on certain segments and what they consider to be their decisive buying criteria (DBC). DBCs are defined by McDonald and Dunbar (2004) as “perceived or stated attributes of a purchase that customers evaluate when choosing between alternative offers” (McDonald & Dunbar, 2004, p. 212). By using the research gathered from this project a better understanding can be made of certain segments behaviour and how their individual DBCs are constructed.
The research findings show that customers perceive value as the being the most important factor but with an overwhelming 44 percent, price comes in as the second most important benefit factor for consumers. This leads the author to believe that consumers are more price sensitive and that segments and their attributes have changed in recent years. The current climate and what is known as ‘the credit crunch’ can partly explain these changes and has definitely had an impact on consumer spending. 6. 29 Summary
By thoroughly analysing data trends, patterns and shift it is clear that there has been some changes in market segmentation over the past four years. Some findings are deemed more informative than others but nevertheless some discoveries have been found that can aid Sony in future marketing decisions and strategies. The current climate will have an effect on Sony’s target segments and their behaviours but the company must react to these changes and capitalise on any opportunities that arise by identifying changes in customer needs and profiles and creating a product offering that exceeds their expectations. It is no longer enough to satisfy customers, you must delight them” (Philip Kotler, Guru of Marketing). 7. 0 Recommendations There have been some interesting and informative discoveries regarding Sony’s market segmentation. With these now identified and understood appropriate action could be taken to better address Sony’s target segments. Some actionable responses to the research and findings gathered will be more financially rewarding than others but nonetheless should be taken onboard and considered in future marketing planning and strategies.
Research concluded that male consumers consider benefits such as technology and screen size more important than others and are more driven by these factors. These differences in behavioural and attitudinal orientations can be capitalised upon. When marketing to the male market through male-oriented medias such as GQ, Men’s Health, Sky Sports and gaming, Sony should focus on communicating technological and dimensional benefits. A full-page advertisement in Maxim showcasing Sony’s flagship 52-inch Bravia TV, packed full of the latest technology would be extremely appealing to this audience.
Sony do use product placement in the Bond brand which is primarily aimed at the male audience but these other varying marketing techniques should be considered. Findings also discovered the growing popularity and usage of price comparison websites, particularly among male consumers. Negotiations could be made with Kelkoo. com, PriceRunner. co. uk and other CSE’s and Sony could use these sites for better reaching certain segments. Adverts are displayed between product search results and are effective at capturing consumers’ attention.
An example of this type of advertising is contained within appendix 6. Research also found that females are more style driven than male consumers. This should be considered when Sony promote and advertise through female oriented medias to really place particular focus on the aesthetics and design of products. This will better address female consumers and appeal to their behavioural attitudes more effectively. The growing importance of female influence on the buyer-purchase process was also discussed and how an increasing proportion of TV sales are initiated or at least strongly influenced by females.
Sony should see this as an opportunity and address the situation by fabricating a product offering that appeals more heavily to the female audience. Sony’s product range does address gender segmentation by offering certain models in optional colours such as pink and violet. However, they do not have DVD players/Blu-Ray players to complement these TV’s. This could be a valid suggestion for the future. It was also established that over half of consumers were single. Marital status was not mentioned in Sony’s market segmentation research from 2004 and the author believes that it should be considered.
Sony can use these findings to promote in areas where there are distinct concentrations of single customers. Examples could be match. com or product placement in national nightclub chains to better reach this type of segment. Perhaps the most informative finding was the changes in consumer price sensitivity. Evidence shows that students do not seem to be hit by the credit crunch as hard as other groups of consumers. Sony could see this as an opportunity to market and capitalise on this finding by targeting students through different marketing approaches.
Student discounts and other associated benefits could be promoted in heavily student oriented locations such as universities. This strategy is currently being used by Virgin Media who have been heavily targeting students over recent months and have profited from discovering this segment and its potential financial rewards. Sony must also address that the majority of consumers are more value and price driven. Adopting a product-bundle pricing strategy by combining products at a reduced price will appeal to more consumers and generate more sales.
Alternatively a good-value approach to price setting could generate further sales. However, Sony must balance this with their psychological pricing strategy by being perceived as an innovative brand leading the way in cutting edge technology. Results also show a decrease in average spends on a new TV. Sony has developed an entry level range of Televisions that appeal to lower socio-economic segments but they are still quite highly priced and packed full of the latest technology.
Maybe the development of a very basic model that is not immaculately styled, HD1080p and wireless but is a high value product offering that can be afforded by more of the population. After all, new research shows that ‘Picture Perfect’ and ‘Discrete Style’ segments are shrinking. Sony could also look at distribution channels as a method of better targeting segments. In times of financial uncertainty, value brand supermarket chains such as Aldi and Lidl are experiencing record sales and increased quarterly profits of up to 30 percent.
The author was aware of distribution negotiations taking place between Sony and some of these supermarket chains but action ceased to materialise due to a disagreement on terms. With these circumstances in the current climate combined with drastic changes in the commercial environment, negotiations should be reignited as there could be opportunities within these growing channels. With variations happening in the physical build up of segments, their attitudes and behaviours, Sony must be proactive in recognising these changes and adapt their strategies and communications to better serve their target segments. . 0 Conclusion The validity and reliability of Sony’s market segmentation research has been tested rigorously and it is evident that there have been some distinct changes in segments needs, characteristics and behaviours. The most remarkable finding being the shift in consumer spends and price sensitivities, Sony can use this enlightening information to re-evaluate what segments are most attractive and accessible and design a more focussed customer driven approach to better serve these segments through tailored product offerings.
Discoveries have been highlighted and recommendations given on how to react to the changes in market segmentation that have occurred over recent years. Alterations in market-offerings or distribution channels may serve to become rewarding to sales and profits. Variable approaches to product differentiation and positioning can aid in reaching particular segments that may not have been reached previously. Consumers that have dropped out of Sony’s target segments can be reconnected with less expensive product offerings that customers can afford in times of financial hardship.
The growth of electronics manufacturers offering cheaper alternatives are threatening Sony’s market share. Sony must react by revising a strategy that offers a unique collection of benefits that new entrants cannot match. Brand association and consumer perception of Sony as a high-quality and superior brand can be utilised in financially challenging times by communicating the importance of reliability and dependability when purchasing a TV. Correctly engaging with consumers and exceeding their expectations through segmental customisation of products provides the foundations for success, growth and profit.
Sony must recognise and appreciate that consumer tastes, DBC’s, attitudes and behaviours change and regularly segmenting the market and identifying target segments is imperative, especially in a fast paced industry such as electronics. Market structure and dynamics also change and Sony need to keep an eye on the horizon for new segments or entire markets. The current climate does essentially have an impact on consumers’ disposable income and therefore attitudes and behaviour. It is widely reported that the credit crunch has affected customer spending and organisations such as Sony are feeling the brunt of it.
Sony should see the current condition of the economy as an advantage as opposed to a burden as they have experience in times of recession where other competitors may not. In difficult times companies cannot just discount market segmentation but recognise the changes and react and capitalise on opportunities within the market, before their competitors do. Segmentation remains to be regarded as an important factor in marketing and often plays a central role in an organisations strategy.
It is, however, an ongoing process and companies like Sony must frequently update their market segmentation in order to gain a real understanding of their consumers. Up to date segmentation strategies can aid in predicting shifts that may happen in the future. Philip Kotler once said “the most important thing is to forecast where customers are moving and to be in front of them”. 9. 0 Further Research Expansion on the research conducted into other perhaps enlightening areas could be very interesting. The scope of this project covered only segmentation of TV buying.
One could research further into consumer tastes and behaviours of different product groups such as digital music players or digital imaging products such as cameras and camcorders. This would paint a clearer picture of Sony’s overall market segmentation. One could explore links between segments across product ranges to really identify market segments and their overall attributes and behaviour towards consumer electronics. Further and more complex and statistical research and analysis could delve deeper into TV buying market segmentation and adopt a econometrical approach to identify the correlation between segment behaviour and the economy.
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Cisco Systems(OEM routing and switching equipment
Cisco Systems(OEM routing and switching equipment.
Company name: Cisco Systems(OEM routing and switching equipment) Provide an overview of the existing network architecture, including the following: Description of the network The topology Protocols allowed Connectivity methods Network equipment Number of routers, switches, and any other network equipment, such as VPN concentrators, proxies, etc. A summary of the current security devices in use on the network List the type of device, the vendor, and provide a brief description of how the device is used.
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