According to Scott (2006), "today's interesting times are marked by dramatic societal changes, and the breathtaking technological breakthroughs that are instrumental in pushing them have opened a vast spectrum of opportunities, challenges and demands on the marketing profession.
In this rapidly evolving environment, the number of levers that must be pulled to reach the customer is growing rapidly. Technology has not only helped fuel this expansion, but opened up the vistas in expanding marketing's ability to tap into the possibilities more creatively and effectively than ever before." With the growth of the mobile industry and internet has resulted to faster ways of doing business. Hence, most companies must keep up with changes in technology to avoid being outdated and keep up with competition.
Scott (2006) continues to say that "this has enabled companies to gain a richer understanding of customers' expectations of, and interactions with, a brand, giving the business deeper insights into ways to better harness the relationship to create business growth. It has helped create a more personalized, one-on-one interactions and experiences with the brand."
However, he says that there is "pressure in marketing to think strategically in light of these changes: about how to marry the 'art and science' that come with the job more effectively; about ways to demonstrate its relevance and expand its role outside its traditional sphere of influence; about how marketing can quantifiably contribute to the business's long-term success." (Scott, 2006)
According to Steidl and Robert (1999, p. 4) marketing can help arts organizations to "realize their vision, whatever it might be and can contribute to the development of product concepts, the identification of target markets, the promotion of products and other offerings to these target markets, the pricing of these offerings, the decision on where and when to make the offering available, the decision on value-added benefits and experiences audiences might be exposed to the level of service to be offered."
According to Doyle (2000, p. 235), "the specific contribution of marketing in the organization lies in the formulation of strategies to choose the right customer, build relationships of trust with them and create a competitive advantage."
A marketing strategy consists of an "internally integrated but externally focused set of choices about how the organization addresses its customers in the context of a competitive environment (media.wiley.com) a strategy has five elements: it deals with where the organization plans to be active; how it will get there; how it will succeed in the marketplace; what the speed and sequence of moves will be; and how the organization will obtain profits." (Hambrick and Fredrickson 2001, p. 50)
According to degreedirectory.org, "the goal of Strategic Marketing is to improve a firm's performance through enhanced marketing methods. Customer satisfaction is a key component of Strategic Marketing. By outlining how it will engage customers and use new sales and marketing methods, an organization can grow and increase market domination. Strategic Marketing can also help a business become more innovative and better penetrate a market."
The issues raised in this paper do apply to Kenyan organizations. The consumer and business buying behaviour models including the additional specification stage in much business- to-business and the different sets of influencing factors. I think the social influences especially culture and psychological influences have a major influence in the way customers purchase and organizations through market research have been able to identify the distinct needs and wants of the customers and giving them a marketing mix that suits their target markets. Apart from the culture they have been able to segment their markets based on the subcultures including the heavy spenders whereby you find prices of goods in those particular areas are quite expensive. They also segment their markets on income level and lifestyle of the people. In business marketing, since the participants in the buying process are professionals and well informed, decisions have to be made rationally. Additionally, the purchase process is a long process that involves not just the purchasing personnel but personnel from other departments and the tendering process in search of suppliers has to be done to find a suitable one and it is done formally where the company puts an advertisement especially in the newspaper that they require tendering services to fill in their needs as an organization.
With the increase of competition and diversity of products including the huge diverse population in Kenya provides a ready market for goods and service. With the market becoming global there have been many national and international companies in the market each trying to get a share of the consumers' wallet. Advertising (TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazines, Billboards, Direct marketing, referrals) are some of the main methods used in reaching to a large audience unlike in the business markets where markets are concentrated in one geographic area and are few and use more of personal selling, trade shows etc. For example, sugar industries are mainly found in western province which would make it easier to use personal selling since they are geographically concentrated in one area. Additionally, because of the complexity of business products, advertising would not be an ideal method because you cannot adequately discuss the technical aspects, it would need a sales person to demonstrate what constitutes the product. With the growth of the telecommunications industry in Kenya, Safaricom is the market leader. Yu, Zain, Orange are all competing for the same market each trying to come up with marketing strategies to capture the consumers. Yu has come up with a low cost strategy; however, Safaricom's brand portfolio together with the breakthrough innovation of the MPESA (money transfer services) both nationally and internationally has distinctively distinguished it from its competitors. There is intense competition through TV advertising with very innovative advertisements each trying to position itself as better in the minds of consumers.
Market research plays a big role in the consumer market in Kenya. The knowledge an organization gets from the research is used to identify new and emerging needs and wants of consumers, identify new target markets, come up with strategies to defend your market, identify new opportunities, counter threats, identify any company weaknesses and maximize on their strengths. This information ensures that the company can know which segments to target especially in the consumer market since getting information about the needs of consumers is easier unlike the business market, and the distributors are a good source of information about the competitors and the likes of customers. Additionally, market research helps most companies know which aspects they will use to differentiate their products or services and how to position.
To survive in this turbulent environment, companies must undertake a market analysis of their customers, their competitors both direct and indirect, and the marketing environment (both internal and external) in which they are operating. They should be able to come up with the most profitable segments to target, what important and unique attributes they will use to position their products, how they will offer the marketing programmes (product, price, place, promotion, people, process, physical environment) to suit the needs, wants and demands of their customers, and how they will implement and control the plan already set.
Organizations do not operate in vacuums. As they try to strategize and offer value to their customers they are always encountered with threats in the environment both internally and externally which affect their marketing plans, how to efficiently and effectively operate in the light of scarce resources, etc. Organizations should continuously undertake a SWOT analysis which Kotler (2003, p. 102) defines as "the overall evaluation of a company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats." Opportunities help a company identify new marketing opportunities. "A company may make a buying process more convenient or efficient. Consumers can now use the internet to find more books than ever and search for the lowest price with a few clicks; a company can customize a product or service that was formerly offered only in a standard form; a company may be able to deliver a product or service faster and at a lower price." (Kotler 2003, p. 102) With the rise of globalization, companies can now access loads of information from the internet which can aid them in their marketing intelligence. They can be able to get ideas of how other businesses have prospered and get valuable information which they can use to assess their markets and develop strategies to counter competition and also look for international clients and market their products worldwide. Companies can also apply a Market Opportunity Analysis (MOA) "to determine the attractiveness and success probability of any opportunity." (Kotler 2003, p. 103)
The company can look at the threats it may encounter from outside such as many substitute products, intense rivalry, or any other that would lead to a decrease in market share or sales. An ideal business would be one that has less threats but high in major business opportunities.
The company must also do an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses within the organization that will help determine what they are good at and what weaknesses they have such as lack of teamwork that would hinder the company from achieving its goals.
According to cliffnotes.com, "an organization's internal environment is composed of the elements within the organization, including current employees, management, and especially corporate culture, which defines employee behavior and a manager's leadership style which directly impacts on employees."
This information is crucial in understanding how to well utilize your employees to offer the very best services to the market by creating a good and conducive environment, identifying and understanding their training needs and offer training, have open communication and create a culture that thinks customer.
The external environment is crucial because a company can have a well laid out plan but while implementing it, things go wrong. The knowledge companies get from marketing intelligence can help them determine which markets are the most profitable, which areas to avoid especially war torn areas, how culture and subcultures can affect a company's offering, political and legal environments, economic, natural, demographic etc. the external environment affecting a company can either be micro or macro. The microenvironment includes, "owners who expect managers to watch over their interests and provide a return on investments; customers who demand satisfaction with the products and services they purchase and use; suppliers who require attentive communication, payment, and a strong working relationship to provide needed resources; competitors present challenges as they vie for customers in a marketplace with similar products or services; and employees and employee unions who provide both the people to do the jobs and the representation of work force concerns to management." The company must maintain a balance in how they deal with their stakeholders. (www.cliffsnotes.com)
In the macro environment, companies must understand the demographic environment and be aware of "worldwide population growth; changing mixes of age, ethnic composition, and educational levels; the rise of nontraditional families; large geographic shifts in population; and the move to micromarketing and away from mass marketing. In the economic arena, companies need to focus on income distribution and levels of savings, debt, and credit availability" (Kotler 2006, p. 96) "A favourable economic climate generally represents opportunities for growth in many industries, such as sales of clothing, jewelry, and new cars. But some businesses traditionally benefit in poor economic conditions. The alcoholic beverage industry, for example, traditionally fares well during times of economic downturn. (Cliffnotes.com)
In the social-cultural arena, "companies must understand people's views of themselves, others, organizations, society, nature, and the universe. They must market products that correspond to society's core and secondary values, and address the needs of different subcultures within a society. In the natural environment, marketers need to be aware of raw materials shortages, increased energy costs and pollution levels, and the changing role of governments in environmental protection. In the technological arena, marketers should take account of the accelerating pace of technological change, opportunities for innovation, varying R&D budgets, and the increased governmental regulation brought about by technological change.
In the political-legal environment, marketers must work within the many laws regulating business practices and with various special-interest groups (Kotler 2006, p. 96) and also the global dimension in which the organization is operating including the international environment or other global factors that affect the organization.
Kotler (2006, p. 95) points out that, "to carry out their analysis, planning, implementation, and control responsibilities, marketing managers need a marketing information system (MIS). The role of the MIS is to assess the managers' information needs, develop the needed information, and distribute that information in a timely manner." As companies gather knowledge to be able to use it wisely to make their plans and lay out their strategies, the internal and external environments will affect their processes. However, once a company is able to have control measures in place and always undertaking a SWOT and PEST analysis to ensure smooth implementation of plans, they have to learn to handle the micro environment which is controllable, and learn how to operate in a dynamic macro environment (uncontrollable) that they can do little about but can plan in advance and be flexible to changes in the environment both in the short-run and long-run and identify opportunities, move faster than competitors in offering their products as well as trying to turn any threats into opportunities for them.