In air ambitious endeavor, Samsung lias launched a digital heme business. In Korea, Samsung has 6,000 networked hemes that are otttfilted with Internet-enabled ovens, refrigerators, security cameras, and wall-mounted Hal-pane! displays. Samsung is looking to take the dca aDtoad. Wiring homes in the United Stales will cost from S2.QOO to $!Q.GOO. making adoption relatively affordable. Besides overcoming a few technical challenges, however, Samsung must also contend with consumers who worry aboul 1hc complexity or even need for such products. But experts loak to the Itrrther penetration of bfoad&and access In propel the adoption of the digital home • as consumers learn to access digital medjfi and commence (rem more devices.3*

Companies are already harnessing the power of virtual riatity (VRL the combination of technologies that alien« users to experience three-dimensional, compute regenerated environments through sound, si gin, a nil louch.. Virtual reality has already been applied lo gathering consumer reactions io new automobile designs, kitchen layouts, exterior home deiigns, and other potential offerings,

BUDGETS Although the United States iea(fe the world in annual expenditures, a growing portion oi U.S. JlK;l> expenditures is guing Into ihe development iideofB&D. raising concerns about whether the United Status can maintain its lead in basic science. Many companies are content to put their money into copying competitors' products and making minor feature and style improvements, liven basic research companies stich as buPorit, iiell Laboratories, anil Pfizer are proceeding cautiously, and more research directed toward major hreakih roughs is being conducted by consort ¡tuns of companies rather than try single companies.

INCREASED REGULATION OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE As products bccome more complex, the public needs to be assured of iis safety, Consequently, government agencies' powers tn investigate and ban potentially unsafe products have been expanded. In the United States, the Federal Food and Drug Administration must approve all drugs before they can be sold. Safety and health rtgulattosts have also Increased, in the areas of fund, automobiles, clothing, electrical appliances, attd construction Marketers ntnsi be aware of these regulations when pro posing, developing, and launching new products,

Political-Legal Environment

Marketing decisions are strongly affected by developments in the political Hflcl legal environment. This environment is composed of laws, government agencies, and pressure groups that influence ¡un! limit various organizations and individuals* Sometimes these laws also create new opportunities for business, For example, mandatory recycling taws have given the recycling industry a major boost and spurred ihe creation of dozens of new companies making new products front recycled materials. Two major trend? deal with the increase in business legislation and the growth of special interest groups-

increase in business legislation Business legislation has throe main purposes; 10 proteci companies from unfair compétition, to protect consumers from unfair business practices, ami to iirotect the inter«!s of society from unbridled business behavior. A major purpose of business Legislation and enforcement is 10 charge businesses with the social costs created by their products or prn-duction processes, A central concern is this; At what point do the costs of regulation exceed the benefits? The laws arc not always administered fairly; regulators and enforcers may lie lay or overzeal-dus. Although each new luv may have 4 legitimate rationale, it may liavt' the unintended effect of sapping initiative and retarding economic growth.

Legislation affecting business has increased steadily over the years. The European Commission has been active in establishing a new framework of laws covering competitive behavior, product standards, product liability, and commercial transactions for I he 25 member nations of the European Union. The United States has many laws on its books covering such issues as Competition, product safety and liability, fail' trade and credit practices, and packaging and labeling.93

Several countries have gone further than the United Stales in passing strong consumer protection legislation. Norway bans several forms of sales promotion—-trading stamps, contests, premiums--as Inappropriate or "unfair1* instruments for promoting pruducts. Thailand requires food processors selling national brands to market low-price brands alsn, so dial low-income consumers can find economy brands. In India, fond companies need

special approval to launch brands iliat duplicate what already exists on the market, such as another cola drink or brand of rice.

Marketers must have a good working knowledge of the major laws protecting competition, consumers; and society. Companies generally esttthlisb legal review procedures and proitudgate ethical standards to guide their marketing managers, and as mors business takes place in cyberspace, marketers must establish new parameters foT doing electronic business ethically.

GROWTH OF SPECIAL-INTEREST GROUPS The ¡lumber and power of special-interest groups have increased over the past three decades. Political action committees (PACs) lobby government officials and pressure business executives to pay more a i tent ion i o consumers' rights, women's rights, senior citizens' rights, minority rights, and gay righls.

Many companies have established public affairs departments to deal with these groups and issues. An important force affecting business is die consumer 1st movement—an Organized movement of citizens and government to strengthen the righls and powers of buyers in relation to sellers. Consumerists have advocated and won the right to know ihe true interest cust of a loan, I he true cost per standard unit of competing brands (unit pricing), tin? basic Ingredients in a product, the mil ritlonal quality of food, the freshness of producís, and ihe true benefits of a product.

With Consumers inereasinglv willing to swap personal information for customized products from firms—as long as they can be trusted—privacy issues will continue to be a public policy hoi button^1 Consumer concerns are that they will lie robbed or cheated; that private information Will be used against them; that someone willsteäl their identity; thai they will lie bombarded with solicitations; and that children will he targeted.riS Several companies have established consumer affairs department to help formulate policies and respond to consumer complaint». Companies are careful to answer their e-moil and to resolve and learn from any customer complaints.

Clearly, new laws and growing numbers of pressure groups have put more restraints on marketers. Marketers have to clear their plans with the company's legal, public relations, public affairs, and consumer affairs departments. Insu ranee companies directly or indirectly affect the design of smoke detectors; scientific groups affect the design of sprav producís by condemning aerosols. In essence, niuny private marketing transactions have moved into the public domain.

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