A careful analysis of the marketplace should lead to alternative market opportunities for existing product lines in current or new markets, new products for current markets, or new products for new markets. Market opportunities are areas where there are favorable demand trends, where the company believes customer needs and opportunities are not being satisfied, and where it can compete effectively. For example, the number of people who exercise has increased tremendously in recent years, and the market for athletic footwear has reached over $13.5 billion.1 Athletic-shoe companies such as Nike, Reebok, and others see the shoe market as an opportunity to broaden their customer base both domestically and internationally. To capitalize on this growth, some companies spend millions of dollars on advertising alone. In 2001 New Balance spent "only" $13 million, Reebok spent $49 million and Nike spent over $155 million. All told, athletic-footwear companies spent over $5.9 billion on advertising and celebrity endorsements in 2001.2 Changes in lifestyles have seen changes in the market for trail, running, basketball, and "lifestyle" shoes such as slip-ons (Exhibit 2-1).
A company usually identifies market opportunities by carefully examining the marketplace and noting demand trends and competition in various market segments. A market can rarely be viewed as one large homogeneous group of customers; rather, it consists of many heterogeneous groups, or segments. In recent years, many companies have recognized the importance of tailoring their marketing to meet the needs and demand trends of different market segments.
Exhibit 2-1 Merrell sees market opportunities for "lifestyle" shoes
For example, different market segments in the personal computer (PC) industry include the home, education, science, and business markets. These segments can be even further divided. The business market consists of both small companies and large corporations; the education market can range from elementary schools to colleges and universities. A company that is marketing its products in the auto industry must decide in which particular market segment or segments it wishes to compete. This decision depends on the amount and nature of competition the brand will face in a particular market. For example, a number of companies that have been successful in the luxury-car segment have now introduced SUVs. Lincoln, Cadillac, Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes now offer models in this line. Porsche—a successful participant in the sports-car segment—will introduce its SUV in 2004. A competitive analysis is an important part of marketing strategy development and warrants further consideration.
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