Skechers is one of the global leaders of the shoe industry. The company manufactures stylish high-quality casual footwear and production for kids, men and women. Nevertheless, the company has originated a new line of sports footwear recently. The main idea of this line is the improvement of footwear for sports in general. The product is positioned as a reliable alternative to fitness clubs and treadmills. The aim of the paper is to analyze the product positioning principles of the company and review the consumer behavior processes through the prism of marketing strategy.
The key difficulty is explained by the fact that the company manufactures up to 3,000 models and styles in order to meet the needs and requirements of males and females of all age’s cultures and tastes. Hence, the active brands involve sport and casual models as well as footwear for work. Additionally, the company manufactures up to 20 brands of footwear that are separated from the Skechers brand. Hence, the issuing of a new brand will be featured with essential difficulties associated with the necessity to introduce, promote, and improve the new line.
The key aim of the paper is to analyze the mentioned particularities of the brand and provide an in-depth analysis of the decision-making strategies and principles, motivation influence, customers’ attitude towards a new band, advertising strategy, including multi-media audience targeting strategy. In fact, these analysis points will be associated with the principles that are closely linked with the business strategy of the company and the advertising principles, implemented by the managerial structures of the company.
Internal Influences on Consumer Behaviour and Consumer Marketing Engagement Strategy
Target Consumer Perceptions and Recommended Marketing Strategy
The perception of the brand generally depends on the aspects closely linked with advertisement strategy and brand positioning principles. The strategy of the company is mainly based on three main postulates: strategy, focus, growth. Hence, the company is interested in extensive growth by focusing on the main problems, aspects of sales strategy and by improving the business performance and marketing activity strategies. The main aim of this chapter is to analyze the customers’ perceptions and define the reasons for their attitude towards a brand. However, in order to study the reasons for this attitude, the key branding principles should be reviewed. In accordance with the branding theory, the key aims of the branding positioning are as follows:
- Include the message for the audience in the frames of a brand, and deliver this message
- Confirm the reliability of the company
- Improve the emotional links with a brand
- Motivate the audience to purchase the branded production
- Improve loyalty of the audience (Zinn and Liu, 2008)
The accomplishment of these tasks is the inevitable clause for effective branding. Consequently, the perception of a brand should be regarded from the perspective of the branding functions.
Previous experience with the brand: considering the fact that the company is interested in effective and successful cooperation with the audience, the experience of most of the audience may be regarded as positive. (Edwards, 2000) As for the Shape-up brand, it should be emphasized that the brand itself is new, and the experience can not be estimated in full measure. Anyway, the positioning of the brand should not prevent the company from implementing reliable targeting principles.
Interaction with the audience: the company is interested in quick and effective solutions to the appearing problems, hence, the feedback system is adjusted perfectly. The audience has an opportunity to contact the manufacturer or with a retail department and ask any questions. Additionally, an extensive warranty system is implemented for improving the interaction. (Mullen and Johnson, 2005).
Recommendations from friends: this aspect should be studied independently, as the actual importance of this aspect is closely linked with the importance of previous experience with the brand. In detail, this aspect may be analyzed only by social research (questionnaires).
Reviews by reputable sources: the reviews point out the fact that the company in general aims to expand the networks and improve both the range and quality of the production. It is pointed out (Holbrook, 1999, p. 189) that the company’s long-term aim is to capitalize their premier brand status:
This will be performed by capturing the increased share of the global footwear market which is estimated at $43 billion worldwide. Skechers took specific measures in 2001 to achieve this goal; the company assumed direct control of the international business in parts of Europe, opened retail stores in key locations, introduced three new lines of shoes, and added styles to existing lines of Skechers Sport, Skechers Collection, Skechers USA, and Skechers Kids.
In the light of this statement, it should be emphasized that the reviews are focused mainly on the successes of the company, hence, these reviews play an important role in the customers’ perception of the company in general, and the Shape-up brand in particular. (Maronick and Andrews, 2002).
Advertising: this may be either traditional or multi-media. In fact, the company aims to resort to various types of advertising in order to hit a larger audience. Nevertheless, multi-media advertising is the key method of promoting the Shape-up brand. In fact, it is associated with the innovative technology used in the product. Hence, the potential customers need to study it from all the sides and perspectives possible, which is impossible with the traditional advertising approaches. (Johnson, 2008).
As for the recommended marketing strategy, it should be stated that the key principles of this strategy should be closely linked with the analytic approaches of the customer perception study: the stated aspects of customer perception, as well as the values of the branding functions, should be observed. The recommendations will be as follows:
- Improve the feedback principles of the customer care strategy
- Increase the network of multi-media representatives for Shape-up and other brands
- Implement the MLM principles in the promotion in order the “recommendations from friends” targeting was more effective
- Consider the necessities of people with restricted physical abilities, who wish to be fit (Foot Protection, 2004)
Motivation Influence and Related Strategy
Customers’ motivation is one of the key aspects which is influenced by the advertisement strategy. In fact, the actual importance of the motivation may be explained by the fact that this motivation originates the purchasing force of the audience. In general, this means that the audience is motivated enough in order to make the correct choice. This is achieved by observing several strategic objectives:
- Brand awareness
- Customers’ satisfaction
- Extensive feedback and customer care strategy
- Sufficient attention to innovation implementation (Bagozzi and Gürhan-Canli, 2002)
In accordance with Lichtenstein, Kaufmann et.al., (1999, p.187), the following should be emphasized on the matters of customers’ motivation principles:
Looking purely from the viewpoint of a customer the company-customer relations could be a short time or long time. It is primarily dependent on the objective of the customer and the supplier or vendor. A customer will always wish for a long-term relationship with the vendor. The vendor on the other hand has his own values and objectives. The whole talk about customer satisfaction or customer delight turns meaningless when all over the place we see customers not satisfied with the service level provided by the vendors.
In the light of this statement, it should be stated that the long-term relations have not been established yet, considering the advertising and promotion of the Shape-up brand, as this brand is quite new, and has not achieved wide popularity among consumers. In fact, the category of this footwear is different from the categories produced by other manufacturers, as Shape-up is not intended for running and for some other sport activity (especially those that require solid soles). Hence, it is for people who do not have time to go for sports, but who wish to be fit. Nevertheless, in order to motivate customers for purchasing this brand, the company should not promise quick and miraculous loss of weight, as the target audience will get upset very quickly with the brand and the company in general. Consequently, the people should be motivated by the actual functions of the shoes, which are the simulation of the sand walk.
In accordance with the research by Michman and Mazze (2001), the factors of customers’ motivation may be divided into two categories: attribute importance and product performance. The importance of these factors is represented in accordance with the customers’ opinions and the analytic assessments of market researchers.
|Attribute Importance||Product Performance|
|Increase in customers’ productivity||65%||85%|
|Fun of Use||45%||73%|
These are the key factors of motivation, and the correct allocation of the branding, advertising and brand-positioning resources will help to:
- Arrange proper communication with consumers and emphasize the most important product attributes more effectively
- Target and emphasize the demerits of the products manufactured by competitors
- Design new products and improve the existing model lines
- Improve the targeting strategy in accordance with the most valued attributes positioning, and pay attention to customers’ preferences
However, arguing on the matters of motivation, it should be emphasized that the motivation system and structure may be inverted. In fact, in order to have a deep analysis of the motivational structure, essential social research will be required. In accordance with Michman and Mazze, (2003 p. 312): “Attribute importance and performance scores are obtained using straightforward consumer surveys. Respondents are asked about a list of product or brand attributes and provide feedback about the importance of each attribute in their buying decision and their perception of how each product or brand performs against these attributes.” In general, the results of these considerations are given in the table. Summarizing all this up, it should be stated that the company needs to fulfill at least five motivational factors of the consumers: Basic Needs, Convenience, Peace of Mind, Ego, and Fun.
Consumers’ Attitude and Related Strategy
The attitude of the consumers towards the company is mainly positive. This is confirmed by the success of the retail strategy, as the audience has an opportunity to purchase the selected goods on the internet or through the retail network. In general, consumers remain satisfied with the quality of the production; however, the wide range of the existing Skechers brands will create a barrier for the effective improvement of the customers’ attitude towards the Shape-up brand. In fact, the brand is specific enough for the wide and effective development of the sales strategy. These shoes are not intended for most sports activity, as some types require solid sole, the others presuppose that the sole should amortize the shock, and the Shape-up sole amortizes most of the shock imposed, while the loads imposed on the muscles are originated by the unstable position of afoot. The main aim of the sole construction is to simulate the sand walk. Hence, the attitude should be shaped by the clinical tests, advertisements and reviews by those who have already tried this innovation.
In fact, it is impossible to define the attitude at the moment, as the brand has been introduced recently, and the data which is necessary to define the attitude has not been collected yet. Hence, the company needs to implement the sales strategy first, and then implement the data collection principle into this strategy. In accordance with Polachek and Polachek (2001, p. 91):
The goal of any sales strategy is constancy. Thus, the doors should be kept open for customers. Some companies do not understand these basic fundamentals. The consumer becomes a target to be hit. The consumer should not be sold short. If the sales approach is not tolerant toward the delicate customer attitude, a dependable and honest supplier can lose sales and customers.
Additionally, it is explained that the attempts aimed at spicing up the advertisement strategy in order to improve the loyalty of the consumers generally cause more harm than good. The presentation of the Shape-up brand is condensed enough, and the advertisement strategy presupposes disclosing all the aspects of the training process, as well as manufacturing tips. Hence, the consumers’ attitude should be positive enough, if it was based on the advertisement. The sales approach should not be united with the sales motivators (Schniederjans, 2004), otherwise, the audience will be forced to look for the facts, and compare them with the proposal. Hence, most of the audience will be distracted.
The advertisement approach of the Skechers is based on the principle of gradual giving of the advertising information in the videos and other multi-media ads. Hence, the audience has an opportunity to find out all the useful features of the production, moreover, some information is free to access, and not included in the advertising video. Hence, the consumers have an opportunity to find all the additional information by themselves. On the one hand, this makes people more interested in the production, however, considering the possibility of distracting the potential target audience, the company takes some risk for improving the advertising strategy.
Decision-making Criteria and Related Strategy
Considering the innovative nature of the new brand, the decision-making process is mainly arranged on the basis of focus group researches. In fact, focus groups are created out of the representatives of the target audience, hence, their recommendations and wishes are taken into consideration and then accepted or denied. The structure of the decision-making process may be represented in the following chart which involves the motivational principles:
The consumer perception is fully involved in the process of decision-making, as the company needs to test the innovative product on the target audience. Hence, the best decision is the arrangement of focus groups and surveys which will help to define the key problems and key advantages of the product. In the light of this fact, it should be emphasized that the actual importance of the decision-making is closely associated with the principle of considering the motivational forces of purchasing the analyzed brand. In fact, these forces may not be included in the decision-making, nevertheless, the analysis will not be based on the preferences of the audience which is essential for the decision-making process associated with the promotion of the new brand.
In accordance with the research by Ratneshwar, Mick, Huffman (2000, p. 292), the decision-making from the perspectives of marketing strategy should be divided into two parts: Problem Analysis and decision-making. These concepts should be separated from each other, as in order to take the correct decision, the company needs to know the aim of any particular decision which in its turn may be defined only on the basis of problem analysis. Problem analysis involves the following components:
- Analyze the existing performance: how should the process flow in comparison to the current process flow
- Deviations of the problem in comparison to the problem standards
- Definition and clear description of the problem
- A distinctive feature of the process flow which causes the problem
- Clearly differentiate the causes and the consequences of the problem
- Define the central and secondary reasons for the problems
The decision-making process involves the elements which are based on the analysis of the customers’ behavior and the attitude of the audience towards the brand:
- Define the objectives of the problem and the further strategy
- Classify and structure the objectives in accordance with their importance
- Develop alternative actions
- Evaluate the main plan, and compare it with the alternative decisions
- Take the decisive actions and analyze the problem-solving process from the perspective of the implemented decisions
Target Segment Multimedia strategy
Key External Influences on Target Consumer Segments
The segmentation principles of the Skechers’ audience are based on the differentiation of the style and model range which the company produces. In fact, segmentation is regarded as the key principle of targeting the consumers’ audience and implementing an effective marketing strategy, thus, differentiating the audience into several groups and applying various marketing principles for each. In fact, the market segmentation principles are involved in the product specification basis in order to provide a close comparison of the specific production and individual requirements. A shape-up brand may be regarded as a specific product, consequently, generic market system segmentations are not allowed. The very process of segmentation should be different from targeting principles and positioning aspects, as the former chooses the segment, while the latter defines the marketing mix for every segment. As it is stated by Smart and Martin (2002, p. 104): “The overall intent is to identify groups of similar customers and potential customers; to prioritize the groups to address; to understand their behavior, and to respond with appropriate marketing strategies that satisfy the different preferences of each chosen segment.”
As for the segmentation principles implemented for the Shape-up brand, it should be emphasized that due to the specification of the brand, some segmentation principles are regarded as irrelevant. The present analysis will be aimed at grounding this irrelevance, as well as the relevance of the other segmentation principles.
Gender segmentation of the Shape-up brand is not arranged properly. In fact, the training sneakers of this type may be useful for both males and females; nevertheless, the product is positioned as a female mainly. Hence, females are the main characters of the advertisement video, and the advantages which are emphasized are for females mainly. Hence, the strengthening of buttocks, thigh muscles and posture improvement is needed for females. The other features are universal and suit both males and females.
Reference group segmentation is implemented from the perspective of positioning the brand as a product for those who do not have enough time to visit fitness clubs. Hence, this may be useful for everyone who wishes to be fit by applying minimal efforts.
Opinion Leader segmentation is not mentioned in the targeting process, as this method is not relevant. It is explained by the fact that the actual importance of the segmentation is targeting the widest audience, however, the opinion leader method presupposes targeting the needs of a restricted audience. Income level is not subjected to targeting differentiation, as the Shape-up level is in the middle price range. This makes it available for everyone who can afford to visit a fitness club. Regional differences are not included in segmentation, as independently of the region and climate, these may be used both indoors and outdoors.
Multimedia Strategies for Reaching Target Consumers
First, it should be emphasized that the advertisement is mainly based on multi-media approaches and principles of interactive advertisement. The information that is included in the advertisement emphasizes all the advantages of the product and targets the audience. Hence, the main aim of the multimedia advertising strategy is closely associated with the values of audience segmentation and the possibility to include all the segmentation principles into a single strategy. Hence, the advertisement and presentation on the official website of the Skechers company allowed to include all the features required for targeting the segmentation. Hence, the targeted age groups are free to watch the video advertisement, the reference groups are free to watch the manufacturing principles of this production, while both relevant groups may observe the advantages of the brand by looking through the corresponding pages that are dedicated to this brand.
The strategies that are involved in the multimedia advertisement are close to the one-to-one approach which makes this type of advertisement one of the most popular and effective. Hence, the target audience has an opportunity to find the information they need, while the manufacturer emphasizes all the merits of the production, and conceals all the possible demerits. This strategy is aimed at attracting the audience from several segments; hence, the segmentation practices may be improved for the analyzed brand. The key values of the multimedia advertisement and the marketing mix approaches are explained by the statement that different interests of the audience are appealed, consequently, everyone has an opportunity to find something for him- or herself.
The company is not a leader in the market of sports footwear, thus, the innovative decision may be regarded as the attempt to lead the challenge of competency. In fact, the Shape-up brand is a decision that is rather specific, and people will need to be persuaded in the advantages and use of the production. In general, these advantages are explained by the means of multimedia advertisement and the interactive informational sets which are free for access for anyone.
The advertisement campaign is based on the actual importance of the motivational factors which make consumers buy the selected products, and the customers’ behavior in general. The key feature of the advertising strategy is the clear definition of the segmentation principles as well as the definite realization of the interests of the target audience.
The consumer behavior concepts that are involved in this study are closely linked with the consumer’s interest in purchasing a good. Hence, if a consumer is interested, the discussion of the concepts is reasoned. Otherwise, the assessment of the information, perception of the brand, attitude towards a brand will be meaningless. The key concepts explain the importance of purchasing motivation, as the most important factor of the consumer behavior concept is the reason why a person becomes a consumer. Consequently, the main emphasis should be paid to these reasons.
Consumer psychology and its influence on the decision-making process are explained by the motivational factors of a purchase. People need to know that a purchase will be useful, funny or satisfy their personal needs that may be associated with anything. In general, the customers’ psychology may be studied only after launching the product line, as it will be helpful for defining the actual attitude towards a brand. In the light of this statement, it should be emphasized that consumer insights may be regarded as factors of particular importance. It is hard to conceal something from an audience, and companies should avoid tricking their audience or hiding the truth about their products. Otherwise, the trust of the audience will be lost, and the consequences of this loss may be unpredictable.
The developments in consumers’ behavior are inevitably linked with the positioning of a brand and the marketing environment which is defined by the density of the competition. In general, these factors are defined by culture, and the importance of brand awareness may be regarded as a reason for shaping this culture.
Customer management practices are partly defined in the advertising strategy of the company. Skechers aims at positioning its new brand as the innovation, while consumers wish to be fit slim and healthy by applying minimal efforts. The customer’s management presupposes the effective and quick satisfaction of this necessity. These management principles, in their turn, define the frameworks of the external environments. Nevertheless, both management and the environment may be controlled by the company.
Management theory in relation to the external influencing factors may be analyzed only from the perspective of customers’ behavior, as the actual principle of this behavior is defined by customer care principles. These principles are performed with care towards the target audience, as any excess information is not given. The information is concentrated and useful for the audience.
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