Module Description:
The module develops critical learning into the organisational necessity of creating, developing and delivering superior and sustainable customer value achieving long-term competitive advantage in current, and potential, business economies and environments. But commercial reality and engagement means putting the customer central to, and across all levels of, the organisations’ processes.
All organisations, whether in the commercial, not~for~profit, business to business or public sectors, or whether in manufacturing or service provision, large or small, the module is designed to develop management skills to support professionals capable of operating in increasingly complex, customer driven, fast~moving and ever~changing regional, international and global environments.
To fully understand business and market behaviour the module is underpinned by economic principles, and their impacts, on the choices and strategies that marketers can adopt in competitive marketplaces. Management of all transformational, and operational, activities matter because they are the delivery system processes that will satisfy those customers, and their needs, by producing the necessary goods, and/or services, effectively and efficiently. Creating and delivering customer value will create in return mutually beneficial exchanges with all stakeholders. Organisations need prudent financial planning from marketers to achieve their annual targets.

Module Learning

1. Critically examine the impact that market structures, costs, pricing and competition have on marketing strategies

2. Critically evaluate how customer value can be maximised through marketing activities to produce sustainable, strategic, competitive advantage

3. Reflect on current trends and critical issues that are pertinent to the successful strategic alignment of sustainable value to customers and organisations

4. Demonstrate personal skills sets for employability using analysis, planning, implementation and control techniques

Assignment ~ Individual Business Report (covering all Learning Outcomes) ~ REFER also to your ‘Writing at Masters Level’ booklet for possible structure, referencing, etc.
Overview and Scenario:

As the newly-appointed Marketing Director of your agreed fast moving consumer goods company (brand/sector to be agreed with Module Leader) you have been briefed by the Board of Directors to prepare a new Marketing Plan, using SOSTAC*, that incorporates the development of an additional marketing strategy FOR A RELATED, BUT NEW, SECTOR to take your mainstream products’ business into a related field in order to generate fresh revenue streams and enhanced profit levels over the next three years.

*(Note that the Marketing Plan is a written document that details the SOSTAC ~ Situation, aims and Objectives, marketing Strategy, Tactics, Actions and Controls to promote and distribute the new product/s and/or service/s in your agreed FMCG sector)

In presenting your MARKETING PLAN, you should begin with a detailed strategic situational analysis of the chosen product/market. This analysis should also be informed, and enhanced, by reference to, and the inclusion of;

~ A COMPREHENSIVE, ACADEMIC, STRATEGIC MARKETING LITERATURE REVIEW of recent strategic marketing publications (not more than 3 years old, and not more than 500 words, in the Appendix)

~ REPRODUCTION OF SPECIALIST ARTICLE/S, and a SUMMARISED REVIEW, FROM RESPECTED SOURCE/S on market economics and supply/demand/prices which will have a direct and predicted impact/implications on your cost base, your pricing structures, price strategy and gross/net margins in the next 3 years, for YOUR review/appraisal (not more than 250 words, in the Appendix).

TYPICAL and INDICATIVE EXAMPLES to illustrate the scenario (but you have to come up with your ideas, for agreement, please);

a) A branded/specialist coffee/tea/beverage company wishes to diversify into electrical drink-making equipment for the finest beverage experience to enrich their customer/consumer satisfaction, or into a broader, extended product range to explore global tastes, such as Inuit or Far Eastern teas, beverages…

b) A household cleaning products company, with an emphasis on effective but gentle domestic cleaners, wants to move into after cleaning hand-care products normally associated with skin care companies…

c) A sun-care brand wishes to move into retailing Sunglasses or ice-creams…

d) An energy drinks brand wants to move into health supplements such as protein plus supplements and vitamins…

e) An Olympic sponsor wants to extend specialist sportswear into related areas..

Assessment Guidelines:
The total MAXIMUM number of words for the assignment (excluding Executive Summary, quotations/references, diagrams/tables, MS Project chart and Appendices, are;
~ Individual, written assignment as a Business Report ~ 3000 words
~ Contemporary, relevant, issues from a Literature Review of strategic
marketing in your FMCG sector ~ 500 words
~ A summarised review of economic factors, using specialist articles or
sources, which is/are reproduced ~250 words
Plus, in order to fulfil the requirements of your Personnel Development and Skills Planning (PDP) with your Personal Tutor you MUST include a Personal Reflections on the process of ‘managing your learning’ on this module. Include this as a final ‘Appendix’ to your assignment and then you will receive feedback on your ‘Reflections’. This will not count towards your overall mark or towards your word count.

(Generous) Credit will be given for using appropriate, & applied, academic models, with critical evaluation, in your situation analysis (PEST & SWOT need doing but not showing, probably show Porters 5 Forces, and definitely TOWS!!! All of these you will need as background analysis, with key aspects brought into your text).

Thorough, coherent arguments, and full critical evaluation, are essential and must be in line with the ‘Expected levels of attainment’ marking guidelines as provided.
The Detail ~ Your proposed submission should critically evaluate the following aspects which could act as minimum guidelines:

~ A fully informed/researched, market data rich, SOSTAC Marketing Plan, WITH APPROPRIATE MODELS, THEORIES AND CRITICAL EVALUATION (supported through the Business Report and the Appendices)

~ The effects from environmental business scanning of Customers/Consumers, Competition (competitive forces, globalisation) in the next 12 months and, overall,a three year planning cycle (Porters 5 Forces, Ansoff Growth Strategies Matrix, TOWS and better reports will also include appropriately selected Boston Consulting Grid/Shell Directional Policy/Abell & Hammond matrices, Product Life Cycles, etc.)

~ Analyse the market potential, the product/market opportunities, and justify the marketing rationale and plan (SOSTAC) for a more specific approach to sustaining extending customer/consumer value, loyalty, customer relationships, management.

~ Market and marketing orientation, internal and external marketing planning, the overall business aim and SMART Objectives

~ Your re-defined, and well-articulated, Marketing Strategy (both academic and practitioner) for the enhanced group

~ Marketing Strategy underpinned by an academic and data rich section on Segmentation, Targeting (Un/Differentiated marketing) and overall brand Positioning

~ Adaptation of contemporary 7Ps as marketing tools to endorse your strategy and brand positioning, and to include suggestions as to digital marketing, social media strategy within your integrated MarComms.

~ Provide a detailed Risk Assessment. Create a Project Plan, using a Gantt or MS Project Chart detailing the new venture.

Detailed Report Content
You are expected to use full academic underpinnings for each of the tasks set and formally structure your Business Report to cover, as a minimum:

1) Assess the marketing environment, the Situational aspects in order to analyse the market potential. Detail the new key strategic Objectives (SMART), the product/market opportunities, the brand enhancement potentials, key benefits, etc. Articulate, & critically evaluate, your revised Marketing Strategy. SOS(tac)
Critically evaluate the strategic values of potential, sustainable, enhancements highlighting the strategic marketing ‘fit’ with current Marketing Mix of products & services, product & service offerings and process systems.

2) Justify the marketing rationale and the Marketing Stratgey for a more specific approach to sustaining customers/consumers, and customer relationship, management. Fully develop your (sos)TAC plan in detail, especially the marketing and its 7Ps, to both current brand loyalists and new customers/consumers to the existing and/or new brand.
To do this you must evidence the advantages / benefits, & disadvantages, for the brand and its relevant stakeholders and critics, as well as its current/future customers/consumers traffic. Use marketing tools for analysis, planning, implementation and control to make a full, critical assessment of areas that are challenging, for example: managing different customers/consumers needs and wants, or modified customer buying behaviours, new merchandising, sub/branding issues, pricing strategy, customer service, added value, etc. and provide clear guidelines and Recommendations on the SMART Marketing Objectives, the Marketing and Sales plans, etc. Use ‘Product Level’ and ‘Means-End’ Chain Analysis for Product, critically evaluate cost and Pricing Strategies, how exclusive might Place distribution be, what of the communications plans under Promotion, how do People, Processes and Physical Evidence add user value?

3) For your Report plan, and especially your chosen ‘initiative’, provide detailed understanding of the activities required for the successful implementation. Provide a detailed Risk Assessment. Create a Project Plan, using a Gantt or, preferably, a MS Project Chart detailing the new venture.
What is required for implementation of your strategy, operation marketing? What of sourcing and procurement (in/out of house), new personnel skills/training, stock turnover issues, delisting, returns, storage, distribution & logistics, IT data requirements, stock availability, etc. with detailed risk assessment of feasibility, viability, vulnerability and sustainability AND your mitigating actions.
For the Gantt/MS Project we anticipate this to have between 75 and 100 listed ‘tasks’ sequenced and integrated, to plan for your proposed new venture into this new consumer merchandise

4) With academic support, justify and evidence how both the strategic marketing issues and the economic factors of your Markets and Marketing must integrate ‘strategically’ and drive this initiative for continuous brand development and enhancement/value
5) PLUS,
YOU MUST evidence your estimates for the £/% REVENUE/CUSTOMER gains from your revised marketing strategy.
You must provide a clear guide as to how both Marketing and Operations will integrate, support and drive this ‘initiative’ for your brand and the expected commercial returns resulting from the new strategy. Detail the anticipated revenues from ‘new’ customers and ‘existing’ ones, highlight anticipated estimated revenue levels for the brand and elaborate on the intended features, advantages and benefits to promoting customer value amongst both new and old customers (25%)


Assignment ~ Individual Business Report (covering all Learning Outcomes) ~
Expected levels of attainment
In this section, we set out the competences you must demonstrate in order to pass the module, and what we look for. It is most important for you to appreciate that the module is not just about learning a particular body of theory and techniques – you must show that you can:
• Interpret the questions we ask you
• Apply the theory implicit in the module
• Interpret data thoroughly and perceptively
• Strive for robust and rigorously academic arguments, conclusions and (where asked for) recommendations in practitioner contexts.

Interpreting the questions
We aim to develop your capacity for addressing real business problems. These tend not to come in nicely pre-digested form, where it is obvious which technique you need to apply to get “the answer”. They are more likely to come as open-ended questions – “Is this business unit still viable?”, “Which direction should we expand in next?”, “Should we invest in this new industry?” or “Do we need to change our corporate culture?”. These are the kinds of question we ask you in your assignment, which are based on substantial case studies of real companies and industries.
There will rarely be an obvious “right answer”. There may be ten factors affecting a unit’s viability, and your view of its prospects will depend on which you has believe has the most weight. There will typically be several directions in which a firm might expand, each with things to be said for and against it. Theory we teach you in the module will be useful, and often essential, if you are to get a thorough answer. But it will be up to you to work out which elements of theory and how they will help.

You cannot expect better than a low pass (40%) grade if you:

• fail to spot the relevant elements of theory and give answers based on general “common sense”
• give answers consisting solely of theoretical models (a Five Forces model and aPEST and a value chain followed by a …. web followed by a….) that have not applied so as to answer the question you have been set.
Applying the theory
You will encounter a variety of concepts and models on this module, some of them more complex and difficult to apply than others. We expect to see evidence in your answers that you have understood these, that you have adapted them and applied them to the case studies on which your assessments are based. (We do not need to see EVERY model. It is sufficient that you use academic models/terminology accurately, and in the appropriate place, when demonstrating your achievement of the Learning Outcomes).
There are two fundamental ideas about strategy that you will need to understand in order to get better than a bare pass on the module:

• For a firm to have any kind of competitive advantage, it must be doing something distinctive i.e. different from its competitors. You are expected, not just to identify what a firm is doing (which is normally obvious from the case study) but which of them is distinctive and how both Operations and Marketing can contribute to the success of the firm.
• A firm’s Strategies, Marketing and Operations must be understood in the particular context in which it finds itself. You need show us why and how a strategy makes sense in that particular industry at a given time, and why and how it benefits that firm’s particular customers and helps it use its specific Operations and Marketing resources.

The basic models, tools and concepts help you apply these two ideas. For a good piece of work (50%+), we expect you as a minimum to be able to see where they are relevant, and to be able to apply them accurately.
For an excellent piece of work (70%+), we expect you in addition to show a complete command of the more complex elements of theory, are able to improve or “tweak” the models to address the particular task you have been set, or where you apply advanced concepts gleaned from textbooks or from other modules.
You are expected to be able to apply the theory. There are no marks in this module for simply reproducing diagrams and definitions from textbooks or telling us what a particular model is for, however accurately you may do so.
You need to take care when applying elementary tools and techniques, in particular PEST analysis, SWOT analysis and the marketing mix (as only 4Ps, when you should consider 7Ps). Masters students should be able to move beyond such simple ideas, so if your analysis contains these and nothing else, you will fail the module.
Interpreting data
You are expected to take account of all quantitative data when reaching your conclusions. Depending on the case study, this might involve the computation of financial ratios, market research data and figures on operational performance, by division or geographical area. In order to get any better than a low pass grade (40%+), you should be able, not only to compute the numbers, but also to interpret their strategic, marketing and operations significance and use them to support any conclusions you draw about a firm’s strengths or weaknesses.
Students typically pitch their interpretation of data at one of three levels:
? Description – the information in the case is repeated, perhaps in slightly different words or a different order. Masters students must move beyond mere description and add value to the data in the case study. Descriptive pieces of work, however detailed, will be given a Referral or first fail grade.
? Classification – different theoretical models are used to classify the information in the case study under one or more headings. This is an improvement on mere description, but is normally only sufficient for a low pass grade (40%+).
? Evaluation – theory is used to draw conclusions about, for example, the attractiveness of an industry, the appropriateness of an organisation’s structure or culture, or the viability of a strategy. This is the way in which you must interpret data if you want a good pass grade (>60%).
Strive for robust, rigorous, academic arguments, outcomes in
practitioner contexts, being precise and creative
When we set you a problem, there is not a “right answer” that we are expecting you to “get”. Instead, there may be a whole range of plausible answers. This means that, to get a good grade, it is not enough to produce reasonable-looking conclusions or recommendations. You must convince us that they are robust, by showing how the facts and theory support them.
For example, it is not good enough to state that Company X has a strength, or a core competence, in technology development. You must support this assertion. You may choose to highlight the number of new technologies that the firm has introduced over the last five years, and the fact that this is 50% higher than that of the nearest competitor. You might show that 50% of profits come from new technologies. You can point to examples of customers that have been won recently, or to press articles that praise the technologies. All of these would constitute hard evidence that the company is genuinely strong in this area. What you cannot do is rely on what people working for the organisation say – sometimes they overlook things, or try to delude themselves that things are better (or worse) than they really are.
Similarly, if you propose that Company X should launch a new range of products, you must demonstrate that there are potential customers for it, that the firm is capable of winning customers from existing competitors and serving them at a profit, and that it can master the technologies involved. This will involve a careful examination of the firm’s track record, to see whether it has tackled similar problems successfully in the past. You may also want to look at what theory has to say about the viability of this type of strategy in Company X’s business environment.
Mastering this kind of hard-headed thinking is vital if you want a good grade on the module. If you don’t then, regardless of how you perform in other areas, you are unlikely to get a better than a low pass grade (40%), and you may well fail.
Along with robustness, two other things we look for in your conclusions and recommendations are precision and creativity. In real life, it is extremely important to be precise about which particular technologies Company X is strong in, which particular customers it should target with its proposed new range of products and how precisely it should differentiate them from competing products and what this means for both Operations and Marketing. It would be a major problem if X launched a new range of specialised microprocessors when its real strength was in low-cost, high volume memory chips, or launched new products without a clear market focus.
The best pieces of work may also show enough confidence in the quality of their analysis to propose something out of the ordinary – a departure from the existing strategy that can nonetheless be shown to make sense, given the market conditions and the organisation’s ability to cope with them. It is this ability to be precise/creative that tends to mark out a 1st class piece of work.


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