A sluggish world economy has resulted in more difficult times for both consumers and marketers. Around the world, people's needs are greater than ever, but in many areas, people lack the means to pay for needed goods. Markets, after all, consist of people with needs and purchasing power. In many cases, the latter is currently lacking. In the developed western and Asian economies, although wages have risen, real buying power has declined, especially for the less skilled members of the workforce. Many households have managed to maintain their buying power only because both spouses work. However, many workers have lost their jobs as manufacturers have automated to improve productivity or 'downsized' to cut costs.
Current economic conditions create both problems and opportunities for marketers. Some companies are facing declining demand and see few opportunities for growth. Others, however, are developing new solutions to changing consumer problems. Stronger businesses have recognized and taken advantage of recent developments in communications and related technologies. These developments have raised customers' expectations of product quality, performance and durability. They no longer accept or tolerate shoddy products. Power and control have also shifted from brand manufacturers to channel members, which have become as sophisticated at marketing and exploiting technology as producers themselves. Many are finding ways to offer consumers 'more for less', like Sweden's IKEA and America's Toys 'JT Us. Heavy discounters are emerging to offer consumers quality merchandise at everyday low prices. These days, customers want value and more value. Increasingly, marketers must deliver offerings that delight, not merely satisfy, customers, Toyota has succeeded in doing that: its highly acclaimed Lexus luxury line offers consumers all the technology (gadgetry) and comfort they can ever dream of, and, at about £44,000, is considered exceptionally good value tor money, compared to rival offerings in its class.
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