Going Global


Besides generating additional revenue, firms are expanding their operations outside their home country to gain other benefits, including new insights into consumer behavior, alternative distribution strategies, and advance notice of new products. By setting up foreign offices and production facilities, marketers may learn new marketing techniques and gain invaluable experience. Global marketers are typically well-positioned to compete effectively with foreign competitors.

A method used by international marketers before entering foreign markets is to conduct transcontinental product testing. Since firms must perform the marketing functions of buying, selling, transporting, storing, standardizing and grading, financing, risk taking, and obtaining market information in both domestic and global markets, some may question the wisdom of treating international marketing as a distinct subject. After all, international marketing is marketing; a firm performs the same functions and works toward the same objectives in domestic or international marketing.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Everything is Tentative


It’s easy to imagine that building a new product is like building a house—first the foundation, then the frame, then the first floor, and so on. Unfortunately, product aspects are rarely locked in that way. Occasionally they are, as when a technical process dominates development, or when a semifinished product is acquired from someone else, or when legal or industry requirements exist.

We usually assume everything is tentative, even up through marketing. Form can usually be changed, and so can costs, packaging, positioning, and service contracts. So can the marketing date and the reactions of government regulators. So can customer attitudes, as companies with long development times have discovered.

This means two long-held beliefs in new product work are actually untrue. One is that everything should be keyed to a single Go/No Go decision. Granted, one decision can be

Decisive—at times, for example, when a firm must invest millions of dollars in one large facility or when a firm acquires a license that commits it to major financial outlays. But many firms are finding ways to avoid such commitments, for example, by having another supplier produce the product for a while before making a facilities commitment, or by negotiating a tentative license, or by asking probable customers to join a consortium to ensure the volume needed to build the facility.

The other untrue truism is that financial analysis should be done as early as possible to avoid wasting money on poor projects. This philosophy leads firms to make complex financial analyses shortly after early concept testing, although the numbers are inadequate.

Still another tentative matter is the marketing date. Marketing actually begins very early in the development process—for example, when purchasing agents are asked in a concept test whether they think their firm would be interested in a new item. Rollouts are now so common it is hard to tell when all-out marketing begins.

Often no one pulls a switch and marketing instantly begins. We more often sneak up on it, which clearly affects the evaluation system.

What results in some cases is a sort of a rolling evaluation. The project is being assessed continuously, figures are penciled in, premature closure is avoided, and participants avoid mind-sets of good and bad.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Hiring Happy Employees


With all the apptitudes, skills, and traits for which managers can test applicants, there is still one thing that’s usually not tested for but that perhaps should be—at least if some recent research findings are valid. Particularly in companies being rocked by downsizings and competitive pressures, there’s something to be said about hiring people who are inclined to remain happy even in the face of unhappy events.

Basically, happiness seems to be largely determined by the person’s genetic makeup—that, in other words, some people are simply born to somewhat happier than others. The theory, in nutshell, says that people have a sort of “set point” for happiness, a genetically determined happiness level to which the person quickly tends to gravitate, no matter what failures or successes he or she experiences. So confront a high-happiness-set-point person with the prospect of a demotion or an unattractive leteral transfer, and he or she will soon return to being relatively happy once the short blip of disappointment has dissipated. On the other hand, send an inherently low-set-point, unhappy person off on a two-week vacation or give him or her a sizable raise or a new computer, and chances are he or she will soon be as unhappy as before the reward.

Like testing employees for any traits, coming up with a set of tests or interview questions to identify happier, high-set-point people requires careful consideration and probably the help of a qualified psychologist. However, the following might provide some insight into the tendency to be relatively happy:

Indicate how strongly (high, medium, low) you agree with the following statements:

  • “When good things happen to me, it strongly affects me.”
  • “I will often do things for no other reason than they might be fun.”
  • “When I get something I want, I feel excited and energized.”
  • “When I am doing well at something, I love to keep at it.”

Agreeing with more statements and agreeing with them more strongly may correlate with a higher happiness-set-point.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Change or Change Management?


Our ability to deal with mega theme dramatic change is the subject of the next trend. Perhaps the single most important indicator for corporate success in the near future is the attitude of the company culture about change. The willingness of a structure to set itself up for change, to regard itself as a testing ground with daily battles, not just those that occur every planning period, is one of the best litmus paper indicators of eventual success or failure.

Today’s information explosion is just beginning. The growing list of mergers, alliances and joint ventures and the rapid deployment of technology are producing change at a velocity that even the seasoned players in businesses can’t surmise. The challenge for businesses will not be in how we manufacture or market change but how we manage it.

The days of the large-scale, vertically integrated corporation are numbered. The trend is toward smaller enterprises with increasing specialization of products are services: the upcoming approach is 50 people are the maximum for the company; if the staff gets above 50 people the company will be cut in two. There is no place to hide in a firm of 50 people. These small companies know what’s happening in their marketplace and with their competitors—they’re not from the marketplace.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Reinterpreting Products


Product is not what the engineer explicitly says it is, but what the consumer, implicitly demands that it shall be. Thus the consumer consumes not things, but expected benefits—not cosmetics, but the satisfactions of the allurements they promise; not quarter-inch drills, but quarter-inch holes; not stock in companies, but capital gains; not numerically controlled milling machines, but trouble-free and accurately smooth metal parts; not low-cal whipped cream, but self-rewarding indulgence combined with sophisticated convenience.

The product does not exist as a separate entity. The product is what the consumer perceives it to be. Consumer perceptions are strategically important at all stages of product development, from initial conceptualization to concept testing, to positioning, to designing, manufacturing, packaging, pricing, delivering, advertising, selling, financing, and servicing. Product analysis, therefore, embraces systematic research at all stages. The focus of such research is not on the product itself, but on the consumers and how they respond to the various alternatives at each stage.

To simplify the exposition I am drawing examples primarily from the field of consumer products, such as the tangible items found on the shelves of supermarkets, in department stores, appliances shops, and automobile showrooms. In doing so I am not overlooking the importance of the field of services, such as airlines, insurance companies, banks, and travel agents; or the field of industrial goods, such as computers, chemicals, textiles, and lift trucks. While there are some differences in marketing strategies from one category to the next, the underlying principle of delivering customer satisfaction is the same.

Therefore, the producer should analyze actual or potential product or service in terms of its ability to meet a consumer need or want. It is axiomatic that consumers cannot draw the blueprints or provide detailed specifications for producers. It is up to the business person to experiment with new products or services, or modifications of old ones, and test their acceptance in the marketplace. Advertising can then be used to point out their presumed need/want satisfying properties to would-be users.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight