Unit 4 – Discussion Board

600–800 words; See assignment details

Primary Task Response: Within the Discussion Board area, write 600–800 words that respond to the following questions with your thoughts, ideas, and comments. This will be the foundation for future discussions by your classmates. Be substantive and clear, and use examples to reinforce your ideas.

You are speaking on the phone with Mike when he asks about what sort of cultural aspects you are considering in this plan.

You think about this and say, “There may well be some considerable cultural differences that need addressing. I remember last year when there was a language mix-up with a doll. It was just saying ‘I love you’ in a different language, but it sounded like ‘kill mommy.’ It’s funny now, but imagine being the marketing team in that building!” Both of you laugh as you hang up the phone, but the memory does get you thinking seriously about cultural differences. Complete the following:

  • What cultural considerations should you take into account for your strategy?
  • Will this negatively impact your current strategy?
  • Does this change your approach? Why or why not?
  • Scenario

  • Company BiographyIn January of 2002, John Ferrer and his wife Deborah started their own corporation, a large custom furniture manufacturer located in Boston, MA. Their initial accounts were in the Northeastern region of the United States, and they annually observed a constant profit increase. By March of 2006, they were able to grow the company enough to go from five distribution and manufacturing plants to 10 to allow shipping to 48 states. Although they have two retail stores, one located in Phoenix and one in Boston, their primary source of revenue is online catalog sales. They have 10 manufacturing plants and distribution centers throughout the country.John and Deborah’s corporation is known throughout the industry for its exceptional customer service and superior quality. The contemporary designs lend themselves to a younger market, and the customer base is predominantly upper-middle class because it is one of the highest priced furniture companies in the market. Part of the appeal of John and Deborah’s brand is their consistent involvement with the local communities to create green gardens. They have also been a major contributor to organizations that build houses for people in need.One of their primary strengths is their vertical integration. They have a team of in-house designers saving the company design costs and allowing the flexibility to rapidly change designs as the market changes. Their products have been featured on several prominent home design and gardening shows and have been endorsed by several well-known designers.Because of the recent housing market sales decline (8% from 2005–2006), home renovations have slowed significantly. This has impacted the amount of furniture and fixture sales and continues to impact revenue. Furniture sales in the United States have decreased significantly, and John and Deborah have recently been discussing the possibility of global expansion.Another potential threat to their company is that many higher-end brands have been marketing aggressively and creating lines for popular retail stores. These allow the lower-income consumers to have access to high-end brands at a much lower price point. So far, these lines have been incredibly successful and have significantly increased profits for competitors. Many of these competitors have also had great success in the global marketplace with these lower cost replicas.John and Deborah know that it is time to seriously consider expanding their business. They want to be able to make it through the economic crisis and rely on other ways to increase sales and business. They are open to looking into the global market, but they want to be sure that it is the right move for the business. They have requested an advisory board meeting next month in which you will present the global marketing strategy. As the market strategist, you will play a key role in helping the board decide if this is the right move for the company.The ProblemYou are sitting in Deborah Ferrer’s office. After the customary small talk, Deborah sits forward and states, “I am very impressed with the work that you have done as the strategic marketing manager. Since John and I started this company in Boston, we have seen continuous growth, but nothing like what we have seen since you started. However, the housing market is really starting to impact our profits. This last quarter’s numbers were not looking good.”You reply, “The crisis has really hit us hard. We have some stiff competition, too, with the other brands creating retail knock-offs.”She counters, “We’ve had great success with your strategies in the domestic markets, but we do need to think of a new approach and strategy. I have complete faith in your abilities to take this company exactly where it needs to go. I must say that we are really counting on you, and I know that you will follow through.”“I will make sure that we do well. Do you have any new projects for me?” you ask.Deborah smiles and says, “You know me well. I do have a new project for you. I sent you an e-mail just before our meeting. I’m curious if expanding in a global market would be a good move for our company. I would like you to look into this for me.”“Our team is definitely up for the challenge,” you say with enthusiasm.Deborah shakes hands with you warmly, and you make your way out of the meeting. As you drive out of the parking garage, you think about your success with the company. You cannot wait to get started.
  • Quantity not Quality
  • IntroductionThe story that you are about to hear is from actual events that occur in the field. Its purpose is to provide you with a real-world example from a seasoned professional in the business world. Quality, Not QuantityInformation and data that are used to determine business opportunities abroad are not always easy to find. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Census Bureau, and countless trade organizations and industry publications exist online to help researchers determine future business trends. However, this is not always the case in developing countries and those with emerging financial markets. My role was as a market researcher for business valuation specialists, and I was challenged with determining the value of companies in cases of sale, mergers and acquisitions, or liquidation abroad. I have often found that pedestrian search engines can be unfriendly places for insightful business views. Although using savvy key words and phrases yields results in bulk when surfing the Internet, relying on business databases such as ABI/Inform Global, General Business File ASAP Gale, the Economist Archives, or similarly compiled electronic academic resources typically yields higher quality and more accurate market research.One assignment was for a client who wanted to break into the precious stones and gold jewelry market at the global level. This was in 2008, when the global economy began to spiral downward. Although the United States (followed by Europe) led the world in gems and gold consumption up to that point, middle-class and luxury markets in China, India, Russia, and Brazil were rapidly overtaking U.S. consumers. This was mainly because of the United States’ lack of credit and cash flow, which resulted from the recession. Many jewelry retailers in the United States had closed their doors or sold operations to larger, more capitalized companies abroad that year.Notwithstanding the high intrinsic value that was attached to gold jewelry and diamonds or their actual trade value based on weight, cut, and purity, the United States would no longer be the center of consumption. This was because the Eastern markets were outpacing U.S. demand, and also because of the declining interest by American youth in the fanfare that was previously associated with these purchases.Although my research on the subject began by exploring commodities, luxury markets, currencies, and capital investment via global business databases, a more overarching element was brought to my attention: the eventual attrition of older consumers who held fast to the belief that diamonds and gold were the most luxurious items. This led to a shift in research and a focus on the cultural demands and belief systems of youth abroad as part of projecting the demand for diamonds and gold approximately 5 years out.With rising global publicity on black-market or “blood” diamonds and a growing global concern for human rights, research indicated that without significant investment and a marketing plan that focused on short-term gains, diving into gold and diamond markets abroad might not prove as stable or profitable as investing in semiprecious stones, fashionable metal alloys, or what some consider as costume jewelry, whether it was homemade or fashioned by brand-name designers. This required a research strategy that was focused on current events, foreign fashion, and culture, which took me to a different place from where I started.