UTC Plc Nigeria: Marketing Strategy as a Means of Competing in Retail Business

Abstract

The following dissertation focuses on the development of a viable and suitable positioning strategy that is supported through the branding and the marketing initiatives taken by the UTC Plc Nigeria. The research undertaken in the dissertation conducts a qualitative analysis of the literature review as well as the primary research. The literature review made use of secondary data pertaining to the framework of marketing, branding, positioning, customer satisfaction, store image management and the successful marketing & positioning strategies employed by the leading retailers in the international industry. The primary research is conducted to gather information about the UTC Plc Nigeria and its marketing operations to determine the gap that is leading to loss of sales for the company. The analysis of the research conducted provides that the UTC Plc Nigeria needs to identify a target market, use multiple marketing channels for specific marketing objectives, emphasize in store marketing through the development of the store image and support the position of the company in the market, that of its brand and through the management of the store environment. The UTC Plc Company also needs to create a localized focus for its operations in Nigeria to better target the market and cater to their needs while increasing the sales revenue.

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Acknowledgement

I take this opportunity to relay on my gratitude to all the parties who were involved in this project with me and worked towards the successful completion of the project. This has been a massive task that would have been impossible to undertake and successfully complete without the support of my instructor and I greatly appreciate his feedback on my work. Aside form this I would also like to highlight that the UTC Plc Nigeria Company provided immense support in collecting data for the research using the questionnaire based surveys and the in-depth interviews. I acknowledge their participation and seek to provide them a suitable list of recommendations that can be used by the UTC Plc company to better position themselves in the market.

Introduction

Overview

The supermarket and consumer durables providing retailers are using specialized marketing strategies as well as niche marketing techniques to target the different segments of their identified target markets. The Internet is being used as an innovative channel for the marketing of the company and its products as well as an alternative channel of reaching out to the customer and providing them with the products and the services of the company. The changing market dynamics and the trends in the external environment for the retail industry around the world have influenced the marketing strategies making them successful. Inspired by this, I have set out to determine how the marketing strategies that are being used by the top rated retail industry players might be used by the UTC Plc Nigeria Company to increase its value as well as better position in the Nigerian market.

The marketing strategy employed by the UTC Plc Nigeria specifically Kaduna branch operations is analyzed and a research is conducted for the possible implementation of the various marketing programs that can aid the company to better position and establish itself in the market. In the dissertation the concepts and justification behind brand building, establishing and building customer loyalty as well as the roll out of specific market position based marketing strategies are focused upon to resolve the identified problems faced by the UTC Plc Nigeria Company.

The dissertation studies the operations and the marketing strategy of the UTC Plc Nigeria Company through quantitative and qualitative analysis. The marketing strategies launched by the market leaders like Wal-Mart are studied and analysed in terms their target market, the segmentation conducted by the companies in their target market, the marketing mix managed by the company and the new initiatives taken by the companies them selves and the products in the market to determine the marketing initiatives that can be applied to the market in Nigeria and are suitable for implementation for the UTC Plc Nigeria Company to utilize for their operations to establish successfully in the market.

The main reason for choosing the topic of the dissertation as “Marketing programs used by UTC Plc Nigeria as competitive tool for operations in the Nigerian retail” was to highlight how the retail business and companies operating in the retail sector can use marketing strategies and initiatives to be more competitive, as well as more profitable by generating high sales and revenue from the market. Extensive sources of information were available on the marketing strategies being used in the retail sector through online journal databases and industry researches that have been utilized in this dissertation paper. This factor was influential when determining research topic for the dissertation. An advantage of the undertaken research is that enables the researcher to make recommendations for streamlining and improving operations for a specific company that can to a certain level be used by other companies operating in similar sectors and environments to obtain competitive advantage as well. In this manner the company targeted, UTC Plc Nigeria Company as well as the other companies with similar characteristics and facing similar issues can utilize the recommendations to resolve their issues.

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The Aim of the Dissertation

The aim of the research conducted through this dissertation is to analyse the UTC Plc Nigeria Company and determine the roots and the sources of its problems related to marketing, branding and positioning in the Nigerian market. The aims of the research is to point out and highlight the strategies for marketing its retail operations, its products and its brands that can be used by the UTC Plc Nigeria Company to attain a better position in the retail industry in Nigeria and increase its value amongst the target market. This is undertaken by analysing the marketing strategies used by the top competitors in the global retail industry and applying them to the local region of Nigeria. The aim of the dissertation as a result is to identify the marketing strategies that can be used by UTC Plc Nigeria Company to solve the problems that it faces pertaining to its branding, image building and positioning of retail operations in Nigeria.

The problem faced by the UTC Plc Nigeria Company was determined through an initial analysis of the company, its operations and its market position. The resultant problem uncovered pertained to lack of proper implementation and use of marketing strategies for its operations in Nigeria. The purpose of the dissertation is to determine research and analyse the marketing strategies that are used by the top retailers in the global retail industry and conclude how these can be modified to suit the Nigerian market and improve the marketing of the UTC Plc Nigeria Company. The research results provide solutions that have the effect of alleviating some of the problems and issues the company is facing in its operations in Nigeria.

The dissertation paper seeks to improve the operations and the performance of the UTC Plc Nigeria Company, specifically the Kaduna State Branch. The culture and the current marketing initiatives used by competitors in Nigeria have been identified and studied. These are interpreted in terms of their effectiveness. Simultaneously the strategies used by the established leaders in the supermarket industries like Wal-Mart have also been studied to identify the marketing techniques that work best in different cultures and regions. This task is undertaken by launching a research that is covered by the dissertation. The research studies the marketing tactics used by the top players and competitors in the global retail. The dissertation points out the marketing approach that can be implemented by UTC Plc Nigeria Company to improve its operations, sales and positioning in the region. However it needs to be highlighted that when the retail market in Nigeria was researched upon, not much information was available on the internet and there was no information available on the internet or through journal databases on the marketing strategies that are employed by Nigerian retailers. As a result the dissertation identifies the marketing tactics employed in Nigeria through qualitative interviews and questions asked form the UT Plc Kaduna State Branch management.

The UTC Plc Nigeria Company has lack of market awareness, confused market placement and weak product positioning. To identify and determine the marketing techniques that can be adopted by the UTC Plc to solve this problem, the mixed research approach been used to understand strategies used by market leaders in the global supermarket and retail industry. An in detail strategy specific qualitative research was conducted on the market leaders of operating in the retail industry fresh food, grocery, furniture, sports, household goods, recreational toys and games, hardware, cosmetics, dairy produce as well as buffet related products and services. Multinational market leaders were examined to determine the marketing strategies correlated to their market share, increase in sales volume, performance in the market, return on sales (ROS), as well as the effect on their share price.

A mixed research, including qualitative historical research, questionnaire based surveys and in-depth interviews, was also carried out. The research was employed for observing and analysing the marketing techniques that are used by the market leaders of the retail industry like Tesco, Wal-Mart, ASDA and for determining the basis if their success in the markets. The target market characteristics as well as the implementation of the marketing initiatives by the companies has been observed The top performing retail giants of the world were analyzed through literature based qualitative research in terms of their branding, advertising, image building, positioning as well as market targeting and customer retention tactics. A selection of top 5 retailers was taken and their marketing programs were analyzed in terms of their effects on the business and its growth. The primary research for this dissertation is based on the interviews and survey based questionnaires that were put forward to the management of the UTC Plc Nigeria Company to gather information about their current marketing program in place and to determine the tactics that the competitors are employing in the market through cross reference questions.

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The UTC Plc Company in Nigeria

The UTC Plc company was established in 1932 as a corporation and is run as a subsidiary of the Union Trading Company that is based in Switzerland. The UTC Plc is a diverse consumer product offering establishment in China that dominance in the market in terms of its size and its scale of operations. The products that are offered by the company pertain to meat based products, vegetables, baked products as well as bread based confectionaries. The consumer durable products offered and distributed by the company are edible and used as supplements or food or in the preparation and cooking of food by the customers. Aside from this the company also offers other consumer durables like electrical appliances, home furnishings etc, however the company is mostly recognized in the region of Nigeria for its retail outlets and food products. The main brands of the company pertain to Bell, Champ and Chopsy.

The UTC Plc company is faced with vague market awareness and weak product and market positioning. Through the dissertation, the marketing initiatives that have been implemented by the market leaders of the retail industry have been identified and recommendations are provided on how the UTC Plc Nigeria Company can use these strategies to better brand as well as better position it self in the Nigerian Market. The dissertation highlights the tactics employed by retail market leaders pertaining specifically to positioning of the company, placement of the company products, image building, brand development and establishment as well as creating awareness in the market for the company. The marketing tactics employed by the companies for developing and establishing relationships with customers to attract them, and retain them to the company have also been focused upon in the dissertation. This results in a comprehensive model for a marketing strategy for The UTC Plc to operate in the Nigerian retail industry.

Problem Statement

The problem is the lack of market awareness and market positioning of the UTC Plc company. The research will examine the best performing and most successful marketing strategies being used in the retail industry by the global market leaders. This is to introduce and reveal innovative strategies that can be employed for branding and positioning in the Nigerian retail industry. The marketing strategies of retailers like Wal-Mart, Harrods, Next, ASDA have also been studied and modified to propose recommendations that can work for the UTC Plc Nigeria Company. The research method used for identifying successful marketing strategies is a mixed methodology research approach including qualitative historical research and primary research using questionnaires and in-depth interviews.

Purpose

The purpose of the dissertation is to determine research and analyse the marketing strategies that are used by the top retailers in the global retail industry and conclude how these can be modified to suit the Nigerian market and improve the marketing of the UTC Plc Nigeria Company. It has been determined that the lack of proper marketing programs and the implementation of lacking marketing tactics have resulted in an obscure brand of the UTC Plc in Nigeria. The positioning of the company in the local market is also weak and not at par with its international operations. The study therefore seeks to improve the operations and the performance of the UTC Plc Nigeria Company, specifically the Kaduna State Branch. This is targeted by increasing brand awareness and positioning of the company in the Nigerian market. The objective of the research undertaken was to highlight successful branding & marketing initiatives taken by the global industry leaders. Recommendations are drawn from the study results that depict how the UTC Plc Nigeria can make use of use of marketing tactics adapted from the successful marketing strategies of the leading companies in the global retail industry.

The aim of the study is to depict how companies in the retail sector can make use of tried and tested marketing tactics to improve their market position and their brand value in the market. The dissertation provides recommendations which can be used by UTC Plc Nigeria to improve their market position and increase their revenue from sales. Other companies having similar market dynamics for the retail industry as in Africa can also make use of the recommendations to improve their image and increase their sales revenue.

Significance of the Study

The study is of considerable significance as it comprehensively presents the successful marketing stratagems and marketing programs that are deployed in the global retail industry by the market leaders. The study will contribute to the field of marketing and its subsidiary fields of branding and positioning by presenting the specific positioning and branding tactics used by the global retail market leaders. The marketing initiatives of market leaders like Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Sears, and Federates Departmental Stores, and Kohl’s have been analysed in the study for the impact. The initiatives and the marketing techniques used by the industry leaders can contribute to the field of marketing by representing how the leaders in a retail market can influence competition and promotions in industry through the tactics that they adopt themselves for the purpose of positioning and retail brand building.

The study will also be providing information that can be beneficial for the society as well. The study would contribute to the society at large as well by highlighting what products and services the customers in the market want from the retailers. The study will also depict how the market leaders in the international industry are responding to the demands of the customers in their marketing programs. This will improve the choices and the bargaining power available to the society and the consumers in the market.

The research study also contributes directly to the retail industry by comprehensively providing a set of successful strategies for marketing. These strategies can be employed by other retailers in the industry to better brand and position themselves in the market. The study highlights the innovative, successful and profitable strategies that can enable the retailers to adopt similar marketing programs for better results.

The main audience for the study and the dissertation is the UTC Plc Nigeria a retailer in Kaduna Beach. However, the nature of the study and the results that it highlights provide recommendations to the UTC Plc Nigeria along with other retailers in the international retail industry on the successful marketing programs that can be launched to better position and brand themselves. This can benefit the retail companies to increase their brand value and worth and also increase their sales revenue by attracting more loyal customers.

Nature of the Study

The study undertaken to determine the initiatives that can be adopted by the UTC Plc Nigeria, to increase their brand worth in the local retail industry market and create a better position for their company and brands in the market, is conducted using the mixed research approach including qualitative historical research and primary research using questionnaires and in-depth interviews. The secondary sources, reports and journal articles available on the subject matter have been analysed to determine the best possible marketing programs that can be launched by the UTC Plc to overcome its problems highlighted in the problem statement.

The research design for the study is that of a mixed research including a combination of historical research conducted over a period of time and primary research using questionnaires and in-depth interviews. However as the period of time available for the research was limited, the industry reports, market profiles and the performance statistics of the leading retailers investigated have been taken over a period of 5 years. The industry articles and case study reports on the leading companies in the retail sector and their marketing programs have been incorporated in the historical research as well. These have been analysed for their relevance, their contribution to the research and the insight that they provide on the successful branding and positioning tactics for extrapolation to the marketing programs of UTC Plc Nigeria.

The historical qualitative method is appropriate for the research study as it allows the analysis of the marketing programs and strategies employed by the market leaders of the retail industry along with the comparison of the resultant effects they had on the branding and positioning of the companies. There were considerable resources available on the marketing programs, promotion campaigns and brand building initiatives employed by the market leaders of the retail industry which enabled a thorough and comprehensive research of the most successful strategies that could be implemented by the UTC Plc for its operations in Nigeria, Kaduna Beach. However as comprehensive historical information was not available on the retail market in Nigeria, the primary research methods of questionnaire based survey and in-depth interviews were used to gather information from the UTC Nigeria management about their local retail market.

The other research designs that could have been adopted pertain to an explorative research of the local retail industry in Nigeria and the local market. Feedback could have been taken from the target market of the UTC Plc company in Nigeria about what their perceptions of the company are and how the company can improve its product and service offering. The industry analysis would provide the positioning of the company while the data gathered from the target market could be used to devise strategies which can be used by the UTC Plc Nigeria to improve its positioning and brand value in the local market. While this approach would have yielded better and more customized recommendations for the company, this approach was not feasible as the researcher did not have access to the resources to conduct hands on research in Nigeria.

The most suitable research method for the purpose was a mixed research approach combining qualitative historical research and primary research based on questionnaires and in-depth interviews. The qualitative historical research was suitable as it provided an assessment of tried and tested strategies that are used by the market leaders in the retail sector. This resulted in recommendations that have a high success rate for the UTC Plc Nigeria. Additionally, extensive resources were available for an historical study of marketing in the retail sector which further facilitated the researcher in conducting the research. The nature of the qualitative research historical methodology and the availability of the resources influenced the choice if the research method to be used in the dissertation. The in-depth interviews and the questionnaire based surveys used for the primary research allowed the researcher to gather more accurate and reliable information on the local Nigerian retail market.

Conceptual and Theoretical Framework

The conceptual and theoretical framework for the study is grounded in the concepts of marketing which have been laid down by the marketing gurus like Porter, Phillips Kotler and Al Ries. These marketing principles as provided by Phillips Kotler pertain to researching the market to determine what the customers want and providing the customers with the relevant product and service offerings. Porter has also significantly contributed to the field of marketing by providing strategies that imply the various organizational agreements have different competitive behaviour. He highlighted that larger organizations that have access to more resources tend to compete in the market by using price/cost leadership and differentiation. He also highlighted that the small firms however that have limited access to resources tend to use focus for staying competitive in the market. Al Ries has provided in depth information about the branding process and how companies can successfully brand themselves and their products while increasing their brand worth.

The research focuses specifically on exploring the concepts in marketing for competitive advantage, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and brand management. The marketing principles of market research, the development of marketing strategy, the marketing planning and the segmentation of the target marketing are incorporated in the study. The review of the secondary literature available on the subject has revealed that marketing strategy is a crucially important component in a marketing plan. It forms the basis of a marketing function at any company. The concept of marketing and the development of the marketing strategy is explored in the literature review along with the marketing concepts of positioning, segmentation, branding, retail strategy, global retail strategy, customer satisfaction, competitive advantage, and customer loyalty.

The concept of positioning in marketing deals with positioning the company, its name, image and associations in such a position in the market which corresponds with the one the company wants to occupy and reflects the perceptions of the customers. In most cases companies face positioning issues when the position they want to occupy is not the position the customers in the market perceive the company to be at. This leads to a mismatch of the marketing goals of the company and its marketing strategies. This issue can be alleviated by assessing the market conditions and re-positioning using marketing campaigns, advertising, promotions, and below the line brand activation strategies.

The concept of retail marketing strategy and global retail strategy is of significant importance in the case of the UTC Nigeria Company. A marketing strategy defines the long term marketing goals and objectives of a company while providing the actionable ways in which they can be achieved. The retail marketing strategy provides how a retail company can market itself in the market to attain a favourable and competitive position. The retail operations of the company and the process flow for the distribution of goods and services are taken into account in the retail marketing strategy. The global retail strategy is similar to the retail marketing strategy. However it has a wider scope and is employed by large retailers having multinational operations in different countries.

The study makes use of the above highlighted concepts of marketing to determine the successful strategies employed by the leading companies in the international retail market. The theoretical framework for the study is based on the highlighted marketing principles, the branding principles and the concepts pertaining to competitive advantage, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. UTC Plc can benefit from having competitive advantage in the Nigerian retail market as it can provide UTC Plc with strategic business propositions. By using a marketing strategy which emphasizes feedback from customers and promoting customer satisfaction, the company can attain a loyal customer base that can significantly increase the sales revenue of the company and its customer base. The initiative to brand the UTC Plc and its products using the principles of branding as provided by Al Ries can benefit the company in increasing its brand awareness and its brand worth in the Nigerian retail industry. The concepts of branding, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, competitive advantage and marketing strategy are further explored in the literature review for the study.

The Objectives and Research Questions

Objectives

The objectives of the dissertation that have been set out pertain to the following:

  1. To determine the degree and of change that is required by the UTC Plc Kaduna State Branch for its operations and marketing strategy in Nigeria to better target the local market in the region.
  2. The associations amongst the culture of the region, the social, economic, political, and legal and the technological environment will be identified specific to their effect on the marketing strategies that can be employed for UTC Plc Kaduna State Branch.
  3. To identify the effectiveness and the impact of the current marketing strategy that used by UTC Plc Kaduna State Branch specific to its strategy for positioning in the local market and establishing its brand awareness.
  4. To research and analyse the marketing strategies of Wal-Mart, ASDA and Tesco specific to how they brand their products, their companies and establish a position for them in the global retail industry and target the market.
  5. To provide recommendations for the marketing strategy and the operations of the UTC Plc Kaduna State Branch to improve its market position in the Nigerian market

The Research Questions

The research questions that have been devised for this dissertation pertain to the following:

  1. Seek to identify and comprehend the associations amongst culture and marketing for consumer and apply it to the Nigerian retail market.
  2. Identifying the marketing tactics that one can use in retail market
  3. Understand how a retail marketer can excel in a competing environment
  4. Enlightening the general public on the marketing programs that are being adopted by retail institutions like the UTC Plc

Limitations of the Study

The researcher has strived to keep the dissertation as accurate and realistic as possible however some constraints and limitations still exist. Due to the researcher’s residential location and the distance between the operations and the market of the company being investigated, certain constraints applied on the research. This is because the researcher is unable to go to the region of Nigeria and conduct a market research specific to the region. The constraints relate to the application of recommendations, research result generalization and the usability of the recommendations provided.. The limitations of the research include that a comprehensive interview based survey could not be performed on the realistic Nigerian market of UTC Plc Kaduna State Branch.

The other limitations that have been faced in the research pertain to conducting interviews and information gathering from the UTC Plc Company. The company is located in Nigeria which made getting information from the management difficult. As a result the interviews that were taken from the management of the UTC Plc Kaduna State Branch were questionnaire based interviews that were conducted through the email and the internet. A detailed investigation into the operations of UTC Plc was not possible due to the lack of easy access to the company and its management. This has made the researcher rely on the information provided by the management of the company.

Literature Review

Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy is a business strategy adopted by the organization to increase its revenues by increasing its sales and therefore arriving at the position of where the company has a sustainable competitive advantage. Michael Porter has provided extensive literature on the subject of competitive advantage. Through his works he has highlighted that companies can achieve competitive advantage if they employ cost leadership, differentiation in their product and service offerings and concentration in the form of niche targeting. Cost leadership can be attained by retailers and manufacturers by operating in an efficient manner and reducing the costs associated with waste. The lower prices can then be used by retailers to attract the customers who are sensitive to fluctuations in the product price. By using differentiation retailers can target those customers who are not sensitive to the changes in price. With differentiation, the retailer can provide the customers with products that are different from those that already exit in the market. Increasingly companies have also started to use concentration based strategies that target a small and specialised segment of the market. Such strategies are called niche targeting strategies.

Marketing strategy should focus on increasing the customer satisfaction of the customers and their customer loyalty to the organization and its products. “The marketing concept of building an organization around the profitable satisfaction of customer needs has helped firms to achieve success in high-growth, moderately competitive markets. However, to be successful in markets in which economic growth has levelled and in which there exist many competitors who follow the marketing concept, a well-developed marketing strategy is required. Such a strategy considers a portfolio of products and takes into account the anticipated moves of competitors in the market.” (‘Marketing Strategy’)

The strategy is often regarded as the crucial component of the corporate strategy that supports the entire group of functional strategies for the business operations. “Any building is as good as its foundations. The same holds true for any attempt to develop a practicable marketing strategy.” (Fifield, 1998, p3) The marketing strategy however deals with the engagement of the customers to the company, the attraction of the target market as customers, managing prospects and competing with the rival businesses in the local regions of operations. The marketing strategy is often developed in such a way that it coordinates with and supports the mission statement and the vision of the company.

The base of the marketing plan is formed by the established marketing strategy. A marketing plan highlights tactics and limited scope strategies that can be used to implement the marketing strategy. Different aspects of a marketing function that are covered in the marketing strategy pertain to advertising, channel marketing, sales promotion, internet marketing as well as handling the packaging and pricing of the products. The public relations function is also influenced by the marketing strategy of the company.

There exist many types of marketing strategies that are used by successful businesses in the international market. The types of marketing strategies that are used by successful companies can be categorized into five main types. These strategy types pertain to the market dominance strategy, the growth strategy, action based strategy, and generic strategies. It is also possible for the marketing strategy to be based on popular marketing models like the 3 C model, the Ansoff matrix as well as the four P’s or the marketing mix

The market dominance strategy is based on the market share or the industry dominance of the business. This can take the form of a leader strategy, a challenger strategy or a follower strategy. The generic strategies that have been put forward by Porter pertain to the strategies of product differentiation, market segmentation, while the innovation strategies pertain to the strategies of market/ industry pioneering strategy and close/ late followers. The growth strategies put forward by porter comprise of the horizontal integration strategy, the vertical integration strategy and the diversification and intensification strategy that depend on the scope of the market. The action based marketing strategies also exist that pertain to companies taking the role of the market prospector, analyzer, market/ position defender and a reactor.

The marketing strategies that are often used and modelled specifically for the retail operations and businesses pertain to the retail marketing strategy. “The retail marketing emphasizes strategic planning and the decision-making aspects of retailing.” (Samli, 1998, p3) These take into account the product offering of the organization and focus on the communication, promotions and pricing strategies based on the target market of the retail company. The additional aspect that is covered by the retail marketing is strategy is the development of a store image for the retail operations of the business. “When retail organizations make a major shift from an old-fashioned merchandise management orientation to a strategic marketing orientation, the development of a functional marketing plan for the implementation of strategic plan gains in importance” (Samli, 1998, p2)

Brand Management

Brand Management is specialized function of the marketing department that deals with the development and the implementation of the marketing strategies that are based on either the product or a particular brand. The brand is also largely dependent on the image that a product or the company may have as well as the attributed perceived value determined by the customers and the targeted market of the company.. The concept of branding is often utilized to depict the premium quality and the high standards of products offered to the customers. “Although communication is necessary to create a brand, it is far from being sufficient. Certainly a brand encapsulates in its name and its visual symbol all the goodwill created by the positive experiences of clients or prospects with the organization, its products, its channels, its stores, its communication, and its people. However, this means that its is necessary to manage these points of contact (from product or server to channel management, to advertising, to internet site, to word of mouth, the organization’s ethics and so on) in an integrated and focuses way” (Kapferer, 2004, p2)

There are different categories of brands that exist in the market that comprise of premium brands, corporate brands, family brands, Co-brands. Branding that is specific to the retail industry pertains to the corporate branding of the retail company, the branding of the companies own products that are known as the retail brands and branding of the retail store to reflect the branding of the retail company. “Starbucks, Pottery Barn, Eddie Bauer, Sunglass Hit, Putomayo and Old Navy have started to focus on music with the introduction of their own compilation CD’s. To create the right in-store experience, it is necessary to choose this music very carefully. This is an enormous opportunity to add value by adding meaning. Music may be the single most important device for delivering meaning to the retail environment and the retail environments ability to deliver meaning to the brand” (McCracken, 2005, p187-188)

Market Positioning

Positioning is vital component of the marketing strategy especially when it comes to retailers as it defines and provides the target markets and segments of the market that are targeted by the retailer. The positioning strategy seeks to position the retail company, its brands and its products in the relevant segments above its competitors. “The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different. But to manipulate what is already up there in the mind. To retie the connections that already exist” (Ries & Trout, 2000, p5). Positioning is often considered as a part of the branding strategy as it aids branding by placing products amongst others in the target markets. “The product position concept is an extension of the brand image concept, defined as the sum of perceptions, favourable or unfavourable, about attributes of a product based on consumers’ experience and knowledge of the product. In brief, a products position is its brand image with respect to competing products – the way the product is competitively defined by consumers on key attributes” (Sandhusen, 2000, p286)

The positioning of a product line or a retail company is done by building a brand or retail brands, assigning specific colours that represent the products and the brands, assigning logos and symbols. Taglines that are unique to the retailer and emphasize the SBU’s of the product are also effective for positioning. Advertisements highlighting one or more of the competitive advantages of the brand also help in positioning. Additionally, endorsements and associations are also often used to leverage the position in the market. One of the main tools that is used for positioning relevant to marketing strategy is the perceptual map that maps the products and the brand of the company along with the competitor brands on a three dimensional plane according to the perceptions of the consumers about the worth and the characteristics of the different brands. “Branding, combined with positioning usually offers the most sophisticated and powerful application of marketing principles and strategies.” (Mercer, 1996, p125)

When it comes to international marketing or marketing in the international market and industries, the concept of positioning becomes more difficult. “In the international market, approaches and techniques available to domestics markets also apply for segmenting markets, defining target markets, and devising positioning and marketing mix strategies attractive to these markets.” (Sandhusen, 2000, p287) Despite the similarity of techniques employed to position, companies in international markets face many challenges and constraints. The challenges that are faced by companies when it comes to positioning in the international market pertain to the differences in the external environments in the different countries and the cultural influences that make it difficult to position the product along the same lines in all the countries in the international market. “The problem of paucity of sources of valid, reliable information on which to build segmentation, targeting and positioning leads to a problem of effectively applying information that is generated.” (Sandhusen, 2000, p287) This is why the companies often adopt diversified positioning strategies in the different international markets that are relevant to the business environments in the local domestic markets.

Strategies for Competitive Advantage

Competitive advantage is attained by increasing the focusing on the elements of innovations, marketing operations, customer satisfaction and product/ service offering to favourably position the business in the market against the competitors. Porter has provided extensive insight on the concept of competitive advantage and the strategies that can be valuable for business to attain competitive advantage. For retail operations, it has been highlighted by Fahy et al, (2004) that sponsorship is a tool that can be employed by the retailers to increase the potential of the company to attain competitive advantage. “Critical to attaining an advantage in the competitive world of sponsorship is the deployment of a range of organisational resources to support the sponsorship investment.” (Fahy et al, 2004) Their claim is supported by the conclusion that “effectively resourced sponsorships generate a competitive advantage in the market for sponsors/zips, which in turns leads to competitive advantage and superior performance in product markets.” (Fahy et al, 2004)

Researches regarding the development of strategic advantages in the retail industry have revealed significant information about the successful strategies used by the various retailers. The results of a survey conducted by Baron et al, (2001) across the UK provided insight on how the majority the companies operating in the food, grocery based retail sector have achieved competitive advantage through the use of a convenience format. The survey provided that “the provision of a ‘social shopping experience’ emerged as a key competitive advantage that could be developed. Improving vertical and horizontal trading alliances, and the wider use of information technology, provided other options.” (Baron et al, 2001)

Another research conducted by Dirk Morschett, Bernhard Swoboda and Hanna Schramm-Klein developed a framework that provided strategies for being competitive in the industry of food retail. The research provided that “three basic types of competitive advantage seem to prevail in food retailing: (1) price, (2) quality (with a comprehensive set of quality-orientated instruments, including customer service), (3) convenience” (Morschett et al, 2006). Furthermore strategic advantage can also by retailers by adopting the franchise format of operations. “A study of franchise life cycle within the fast food industry reveals that the contractual agreement is a major source of competitive advantage. It is further revealed that franchisee motivation is a major source of competitive advantage during every stage of the life cycle.” (Lillis et al, 1976) Other competitive advantages that can be achieved using a similar format of operations pertain to risk sharing, market penetration and the competitive advantage of entry capital.

Strategies for Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is an indicator of the business success in pleasing its customers and satisfying their needs. The customer satisfaction is comprised of various elements such as perceived quality of the product and the service, customer expectations of the retailer, the price performance ratio, customer loyalty and the overall customer satisfaction with the provided service. The increased customer satisfaction can also lead to an increased sales performance of the retail business (Gomez et al, 2004). The elements that are taken into consideration when determining customer satisfaction as a target for the marketing strategy include store attributes, product and service offerings and customer profile.

A study published in marketing research news highlighted how the satisfaction level of the customer, the loyalty that the customer has towards the company and the brand and the commitment the customer shows towards the company impacts service based business. This is relevant to the retail businesses as the offerings provided by them to the customers is a combination of product and service based offering. The results of the study highlighted that “company satisfaction was not interpreted as a conceptually distinct construct from customer loyalty. A conceptual overlap also emerged between attitudinal loyalty and loyal behavioural actions such as word of mouth; whereas customer commitment was highly positively associated with loyalty (and satisfaction), according to expectations.” (‘Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty and Commitment in Service Organizations: Some Evidence from Greece’, 2006)

Retailers emphasize on customer satisfaction to build repeat business by encouraging repeat purchase from customers. The customers are influenced towards repeat purchase when they have an association or a loyalty to a retailer. A study by Jiang & Rosenbloom (2005) analysed the role that is played by the product price and the satisfaction of the customers at various stages. Results of the research indicated that “after-delivery satisfaction has a much stronger influence on both overall customer satisfaction and intention to return than at-checkout satisfaction, and that price perception, when measured on a comparative basis, has a direct and positive effect on customer overall satisfaction and intention to return.” (Jiang & Rosenbloom, 2005) An analysis of the customer satisfaction ratings in six industries as conducted by Gilbert & Veloutsou (2006) provided that the industries of “finance and hospitality/sports entertainment were rated highest by their patrons. Those dealing with government, general retail and moderately priced fast food restaurants received lower service satisfaction ratings. Differences were also found among respondent characteristics (i.e. age, gender, education and ethnicity/race).” (Gilbert & Veloutsou, 2006)

Strategies for Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is closely related with satisfaction. Customer loyalty is the result of a company providing its customers with high level of satisfaction from its product and service offerings. “The marketing literature has produced two schools of thought on the cause of customer loyalty in services industries. The service quality perspective puts forward that service quality evaluations substantially drive customer loyalty in services industries. The relationship marketing perspective puts forward that customer commitment to the service provider substantially drives customer loyalty in services industries” (Fullerton, 2005). A loyal customer of a retailer is a customer who sticks to the retailer and comes back again and again for repeat purchase.

The lifetime value and contribution of the loyal customers is significantly high in the revenue potential of the retailers and similar business. “Customer loyalty has been suggested as the most important indicator of a firm’s advantageous position relative to competitors” (Chao et al, 2007). An example of the customer loyalty being significant to retailers can be seen in the food retail industry where creating store loyalty has been one of the objectives of the marketing campaigns. “Although shoppers will often patronize many stores, they typically have a primary affiliation to a ‘main’ food store that captures the majority of their food purchases” (Doherty & Roy, 2008). As a result retailers have stared to focus on achieving customer loyalty through marketing programs and innovative customer rewarding strategies.

The effect of service quality on the loyalty level of the customers is analyzed in a study by Chao et al (2007). The results of the study indicated that “that all three variables independently had significant power in discriminating among three levels of loyalty (high, medium, and low). Customer orientation and interpersonal relationships also functioned as moderators that strengthen the effect of service quality on customer loyalty. Moreover, customer orientation had a greater moderating effect than interpersonal relationship. The research findings could, we believe, assist wholesale managers to allocate their resources more effectively to establish customer loyalty in an era of fierce competition. (Chao et al, 2007).

” A study by Bove & Mitzzifiris (2007) highlighted that trust, commitment and satisfaction of the customers effect the behaviour of the customers for any retailer. These elements influence the behaviour of the customers. The study indicates “that retailers need to be aware that even in a transaction prone retail environment, trust and commitment and not just satisfaction, play a significant role in both store behavioural and attitudinal customer loyalty” (Bove & Mitzzifiris, 2007). Another study that provides information on customer store loyalty in retail industry is that by Chen & Quester (2006). The study indicates that perceived customer value can be considerably increased with high levels of customer loyalty. The results of the study provide that “marketing practitioners should manage customer satisfaction and perceptions of value in their implementation of market orientation as they are directly related to customer store loyalty” (Chen & Quester, 2006)

The various strategies that are used by retail businesses to increase customer loyalty include rewards, CRM and feedback programs. “As a result of the increased competition between self-service chains, retail managers to an increasing degree try to strengthen store identity and customer loyalty.” (Bech-Larsen, & Esbjerg, 2006) One form of such programs is the loyalty card program. The concept of loyalty cards and the store debit/.credit cards is to increase the loyalty amongst the customers and to increase repeat purchase through the dissemination of benefits and rewards to the customers. “Loyalty cards are commonplace in European retailing; few retailers, however, are leveraging customer information to become more customer-oriented.” (Ziliani & Bellini, 2004) The other strategy adopted by the retailers to increase customer loyalty is to establish CRM based operations. “CRM is regarded as the integration of relationship technology (i.e. data consolidating and data mining) with loyalty schemes” (Minami & Dawson, 2008). The CRM technology allows the retailers to gather historical data on the customers who frequent the retailer and perform data mining on the raw data to make customer profiles. Targeting the customers as per the customer profiles allows the retailers to come up with loyalty programs that are better suited for their target market.

Strategies for Brand Management

In order to differentiate themselves from their competitors, retailers have been utilized the concept of branding to brand themselves. The retail stores can build strong bands by identifying the personality which best suits the target market and building the brand around the personality. Despite this retailers often find it difficult to build string and successful brands as they sell multiple brands under their product name. This makes them multibrand retailers that need to reflect multiple personalities. “Although some multibrand retailers have managed to command a national brand identity (in Sears’s case, one founded on reliability), many suffer from a lack of brand distinctiveness independent of the brands they carry. In fact, many multibrand retailers have lavished more thought and care on those brands than on their own banner.” (Henderson & Mihas, 2000) To be successful at building a brand, the retailers need to define their target markets and identify what the customers expect of them. The retailers can then seek to build the brand such that the rand fulfils the expectations of the customers. “Retailer’s marketing and advertising efforts must fashion an image around the brand that is not only consistent with these benefits but also credibly promises that they will bring excitement and satisfaction.” (Henderson & Mihas, 2000)

Various strategies have been used by the retailers to brand themselves. A strategy that can be used by the multibrand retailers to successfully brand themselves pertains to combine the emotional and the functional relationships to arrive at benefits for the customers and the business. This approach gives the multibrand retailers a customized identity and personality. “Two on-line grocers, Webvan and Streamline.com, are among the many multibrand retailers seeking to build brands around the emotional benefits–a life free of humdrum tasks like grocery shopping–that functional benefits such as convenience, assortment, and rapid customer service can provide.” (Henderson & Mihas, 2000) Another strategy that useful for retailers for successful brand building is to put the customers and the brand in close proximity. “For the sake of customers’ convenience, the office supply competitors Staples and Office Depot, for example, have begun putting smaller stores in more locations, expanding the definition of the brand by giving the consumer access to a killer assortment of goods through whatever format or channel best suits a given transaction.” (Henderson & Mihas, 2000)

A successful branding strategy in the retail industry has been that of the managing the store image to reflect the image of the brand. Store image management takes the form of providing the customers with high levels of customer satisfaction through an experiential based service offering which includes store environment and layout. “Retailers are refining the flagship brand store into new forms such as the themed retail brand store. This new form not only promotes a more engaging experience of the brand’s essence but also satisfies consumers looking for entertainment alongside their shopping.

There are four main categories of themes. First is the landscape theme, which employs images of nature, Earth, animals and the physical body. Second is the marketscape theme; third, cyberscape theme; and fourth, mindscape theme.” (Kozinets et al, 2002) The perceptions of the customers can be greatly influenced by a favourable store image. The retail store also provides the retailer with a place where the company can target its customers and promote its own brands. “Branding can be especially important in the retailing industry to influence customer perceptions and drive store choice and loyalty” (Ailawadi & Keller, 2004). The retailers can also increase the value of their brand by managing their vendors and limiting the role of the vendors pertaining to in store marketing. (Henderson & Mihas, 2000) The image of the brand needs to be reflected in store and the atmosphere presented to the customers as it increases the value of the brand.

The marketing strategies for successful branding and positioning require management support. The retailers need to highlight the importance of a management focus on the marketing strategy. The major decisions from the development of the marketing strategy to the implementation and the execution of the brand activation and the advertising campaigns are all made by the senior management of the retailer. As a result the senior managers need to take an active part in the brand building process. “Senior managers must make building the brand an integral part of how they think about the business, whether they are deciding what their target segments will be or how to speak to customers.” (Henderson & Mihas, 2000) Brand building efforts as a result require the significant contribution of the senior management to be successful at achieving its gaols and objectives.

Retail Industry

The UTC Nigeria Plc is a company that operates on a diversified format. The company combines the structure of a departmental store and a hyper market in its operations in the region of Nigeria. The global retail industry therefore is assessed in terms of the departmental industry segment and the hypermarket and the supermarket segment.

The companies and stores that operate in the departmental retail sector sell a diverse range of consumer products pf varying tastes to the market. The business nature and large number of companies operating in the retail sector creates an intensive competition in the sector. The departmental stores segment includes companies that operate on the format of departmental offering in their stores that provide consumer durables as well furnishings, electrical and grocery items to the customers. The different segments that come under the Global Departmental Stores Industry pertain to the segments of clothing, footwear, home wares, furniture, carpets, decorations, electric appliances and electric tools as well as health & beauty.

According to the industry report, the geographic concentration of the business in the departmental stores in the retail industry was based on the regions of Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe, with the Americas having the highest share of the business followed by Asia Pacific and Europe respectively. (‘Industry Profile: Global Department Stores Industry Profile’, 2008) The market share of the leading companies in the departmental store segment of the global retail industry for 2008 was such that Sears leaded the market with a market share of 11.10 percent, followed by Federal Departmental Stores with 8.10 percent, JC Penny with 5.60 percent and Kohl’s by 5.5 percent. (‘Industry Profile: Global Department Stores Industry Profile’, 2008) The rest of the companies come under the ‘Others’ segment that has a 69.70 percent share of the market.

The hypermarkets and the supermarkets segment of the global retail industry comprises of 30 companies. These 30 companies have retail operations in the format of a hypermarket or a super centre. The companies in this segment offer the customers with a complete range of diverse products to meet the general consumer needs under one roof. Wal-Mart is an example of a company which operates under the hypermarket and the supermarket format. The retail sector specific to hypermarkets and supermarkets is subdivided into super centres and superstores. As of 2008, the market share of the superstore sector was 55 percent while the market share of the super centres was 45 percent. (‘Industry Profile: Global Hypermarkets & Super Centres Industry Profile’, 2008) The geographic concentration of the global supermarket and hypermarket retail industry concentration is mainly in Europe loosely followed by the Americas and the Asia Pacific. The market share of the market leaders of the sector recorded as of 2008 is 25.60 percent for Wal-Mart Stores, 9.40 percent for Carrefour, 6.30 percent for Tesco Plc and 4.90 percent for Kroger Co. The rest of the retail supermarkets and hypermarkets come in the others category that takes up 53.7 percent of the market share. (‘Industry Profile: Global Hypermarkets & Super Centres Industry Profile’, 2008)

Successful Retail Marketing Strategy

In his book, Samli (1998) states that for a successful retail marketing strategy a number of components are required that pertain to having an established goal and objectives, a goods and services mix, a communications mix, a pricings mix, a human resource mix, store image management, and incorporation of consumer self perception, consumer satisfaction in the retail marketing strategy. “Successful, well managed retailers, by definition, find properly implemented strategic marketing plans to be a necessity” (Samli, 1998, p2)

The goods and services mix, the communications mix, the human resource mix and the pricing mix are the different product mix that are taken into account retail marketing strategy development. The components of the goods and service mix comprise of merchandise, variety, assortment, guarantee, exchange, customer services, credit, alteration and adjustments, deliver, parking and store image. The communications mix consists of advertising, catalogues, store layout, public relations, internal displays, window displays, telephone sales, sales promotions, special sales and store image. The human resource mix consists of personal selling customer services, interaction with the customers, merchandise information, salespeople’s advice, and support people for maintenance, cleaning, security, delivery and store image. (Samli, 1998, p16)

The goods and services mix is the combination of the merchandize carried by the retailer and the service that is provided by the retailer. The goods that come under the goods and service mix are merchandise good including apparel, consumer durables, home appliance, and house furniture. The services that are provided by the retailer are in the form of in store service and after sales customer service. Successful retailers ensure that the goods and services mix properly targets the consumers in the target market segments. For achieving this retailers integrate the goals of the retailer marketing strategy with the goods and service mix.

The pricing mix for the retailers is made up of three main elements that include efficiency, competition and the image of the retailer (Samli, 1998, p7). The pricing of the combination of goods and services provided by the retailer to its customers is dependent on the efficiency of the retailer according to which the retailing company with operates the level of competition in the market. Additionally, the pricing is also dependent on the image that the retailer has developed for itself in the market and the industry. The pricing mix consists of price level, price lines, markdowns, mark-ups, price perceived quality, efficiency, warehousing, handing goods, computerized controls and store image. (Samli, 1998, p16) The retailers use the pricing as a tool for combating the competitors and create and sell an image for itself e.g. premium pricing for a luxury retail brand.

The management of the in store image is a vital part of the retail marketing management as it is the main point of interaction between the retail business and the customers. “It represents all the aspects of communication that the store performs that are geared to specific marketplace or market segment. It is also the most significant retail marketing management feedback that provides decision makers with specific strategy alternatives, and it guides management in making the adjustments needed to fulfil specific goals.” (Samli, 1998, p8-9) The retail marketing strategy pretty much revolves around the developed store image & customers’ perception of a retailer and its brand based on the store image. “A customer who goes to Cartier’s, Neiman Marcus, or Wal-Mart knows what to expect and is making a deliberate choice. This choice, to a substantial extent, is generated by the store image that is being conveyed to this particular consumer and perhaps a consumer to be.” (Samli, 1998, p8)

The various strategies that are used by a retail business to support an effective marketing strategy pertain to the attraction of new customers while keeping track of the current customers and retaining them through loyalty programs. The first initiative that may be taken by a retailer is to attract the customers through advertisement, word of mouth marketing and references. The retailer will have to become visible in the market by advertising in the mass media, and registering in the yellow pages. The retailer then has to develop a mailing list for the customers and send them reminders on promotions and offers available at the retail store. (Abrams, 2001) The concept behind this is management of the customers and the implementation of a CRM plan. Amongst the successful retail marketing strategies, it is also highlighted that the retailers have to modify their operations and retail stores to allow them to be attractive and appealing for the customers. This takes the form of strategizing the store image as mentioned above.

Industry Leaders in the International Retail Industry

The Sears Holding Company is the market leader for the departmental stores sector of the global retail industry. The company is based in the United States and has about 2,300 full line stores along with speciality stores amounting to 1,100. (‘Sears Holding Corporation – Official Company Website’) The full line stores by the company offer a wide selection of products and product lines relating to merchandise goods, household appliances, home and garden gods, consumer durables, grocery and food. Entertainment and lifestyle products are also offered by the company. The specialty stores however are dealer stores and hardware stores that provide products for the outdoors. The company has divided its business segments into three groups that pertain to Sears Canada, Kmart and Sears Domestic. The Kmart operations sell general merchandise while the Sears Domestic and the Sears Canada are the sears regional operations for the United States and Canada. The Sears Company has its own line of branded products that include Kenmore, Diehard and Craftsman that are sold through its various stores.

The second leading company in the departmental stores sector of the retail industry is the Federates Departmental Stores Inc. The Federates Departmental Stores Inc. is a company that is also based in the United States and provides a wide range of upscale retail stores to the market. The products that are sold at these retail stores pertain to consumer goods merchandise including house furnishings and apparel for women, children and men. The company runs 845 retail stores in the United States under the operations of its companies Bloomingdales and Macy’s (‘Federates Departmental Stores Inc. – Official Company Website’). Majority of these stores however are located in the urban and the suburban areas of the Unites States and its major cities provide a wide range of branded goods to the customer by Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and TH. The Macy’s subsidiary also provides home furnishing, consumer goods, apparel and lifestyle goods to the consumers through its retail stores. Aside from this the Federates Departmental Stores Inc. also runs the websites for online shopping under its subsidiary brand name and operations.

The J C Penney Corporation operates the J C Penney retail stores and departmental stores having 1,033 branches in the United States (‘J.C Penny Corporation Inc. – Official Company Website’). The company has two main operations, one for the retail stores and one of direct retail. The retail stores of the company provide the consumers with consumer productions, durables, jewellery, shoes, home appliances and furniture, kitchen appliances, electrical as well as leisure and sporting/ recreational goods. The company has its own private labels and also provide the products of the national brands that include Nicole, Solitude and Stafford amongst others. The direct retail operations of the company pertain to the retail through the catalogues and the website.

The Kohl’s Corporation is a company that operations departmental stores that are family oriented and target the family based population of the United States. This company also is based in the United States and operates through 824 stores (‘Kohl’s Corporation – Official Company Website’).The Company has its operations divided in three formats pertaining to suburban, small and urban categories. The Kohl’s Corporation also provides its customers with the full range of merchandise goods and products that are sold by the other departmental stores as well as national brands like Carter’s, Dockers, Kitchen Aid, Reebok and Vanity Fair. The company also has private brands like Croft & Borrow, Urban Pipeline and Candie’s that are sold exclusively through the Kohl’s departmental stores. The Kohl’s corporation however has limited number of product lines and categories compared with the traditional full line departmental stores in US.

The Wal-Mart Inc. is the largest retail company in the world that operates above 6,000 stores in the international market (‘Wal-Mart Stores Inc. – Official Company Website’). The brand name of Wal-Mart is well known for low prices and availability of a comprehensive wide range of product categories and product lines under one roof. The company runs operations in three business formats that pertain to super centres, discount stores and neighbourhood markets. The differences among the formats exits due to their product and service offering as well as the orientation and the target market of these stores.

The other large retailer that operates in the international market is Carrefour S.A. The company runs over 12,550 stores in the global retail market (‘Carrefour S.A. – Official Company Website’).Carrefour is well known in the retail industry as being in the category of the retailers. The company operates using direct and indirect channels of distribution. The company has its operations organized into different business formats. These formats comprise of hypermarkets, hard discount stores, supermarkets, convenience stores as well as virtual super stores.

Tesco Plc is the company that runs the retail operations for Tesco. Tesco is identified for having the largest retail operations in the global retail market for consumer goods pertaining to grocery and food items. The company is based in United Kingdom and has 3,363 stores operating worldwide (‘Tesco Plc – Official Company Website’). Tesco also operates using multiple business and store formats. The store formats that are used by Tesco pertain to superstores, hypermarkets, extra and metro express.

Methodology

The methodology of the dissertation is that of mixed methodology research with a qualitative design. The research has been designed to comprise both secondary and primary sources of information. The secondary research uses the historical qualitative research approach. It is about the analysis of the researches conducted by others on the subject matter of successful marketing strategies being employed in the retail sector. The primary research mostly focuses on getting information about the operations and the marketing strategies that are being used by UTC Plc to determine the gaps and discrepancies among the strategies used by UTC Plc, and those of the successful market leaders in the retail sector.

The theoretical framework of the study, as provided in the first chapter, comprises of different concepts and principles of the marketing field that are interlinked to form the marketing strategies employed by the successful market leaders in the retail sector. The principles of marketing that have been taken into account as part of the theoretical framework for the dissertation include planning as a marketing function, relationship building, branding, and building awareness in the market. The concepts of customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, competitive advantage and brand building are the main conceptual elements highlighted in the theoretical framework of the study. Establishing a position in the market is also part the marketing principles that form part of the theoretical framework for the study that is focused upon in the design of the research study.

Using the theoretical framework of the study, the qualitative research methodology forms and builds the structure of the study while providing possible recommendations for the highlighted problems faced by the UTC Plc. The marketing principles have been used to determine the qualitative variables in the collected data that needed to be analysed to arrive at the solutions to the problems faced by the UTC Plc Nigeria. The theoretical framework provided that the research study should encompass an analysis of the planning, structuring, integration, execution and implementation of the marketing strategies. The results of the marketing tactics employed by the top retailers in the industry have also been analysed in terms of their market value in the market, the increase in their sales revenue and the worth of their brands.

The main research study that has been conducted to recommend possible solutions to the problems faced by the UTC Plc Nigeria is that of the mixed methodology. The mixed methodology approach is a research design in which different forms of research methods can be used in one study. For the purpose of the dissertation the qualitative historical research approach was used for the literature review of while a different format was carried out to gather information and data about the UTC Plc company and its operations in Nigeria. A qualitative research using survey based questionnaires was used for gathering information from UTC Plc about their current marketing strategy, the marketing campaigns that they have launched and the type of marketing initiatives they have taken to position themselves in the market. The in depth interviews were also used to get specific information about the marketing strategy of the UTC Plc Nigeria The reason for the use of the different method for this research was because limited information was available on the retail market in Nigeria and it was difficult to get hold of the UTC Plc management to conduct face to face interviews.

Research Design

The research design incorporates two forms of methodologies for gathering information and analyzing the data to arrive at the conclusions. The two research methods used in the study include the qualitative historical research and a qualitative primary research. The qualitative historical research has been used for the literature review section of the study where similar and associated studies conducted by other researches have been analysed. The qualitative and quantitative study has been used to conduct the primary research for gathering information about the retail market in Nigeria and the marketing operations of the UTC Plc.

Historical Research

Historical research is a type of research methodology comprising of a systematic collection of the data that is mainly historical in nature and that spans multiple periods. The data collected reflects long term observations. This data is evaluated on research questions to explain a phenomenon or provide recommendations for future events, strategies and actions that may be taken. The qualitative approach in historical research employs collection of qualitative data, which is then analysed using various variables key to the concept.

Historical research is a step by step process. The various steps involved in the historical research include determination and definition of the problem, the formulation of research objectives, the development of the research questions, collection of data through a systematic process, and evaluation of the data through variables and research questions to arrive at the recommendations and conclusions for the research. The historical research process comprehensively makes use of planning, data collection, and analysis to arrive at recommendations in the dissertation.

The literature review forms a large section of this dissertation. It covers an analysis of the existing research that has been undertaken on the topic of successful marketing strategies employed in the retail sector. It explores the marketing strategies and techniques by the retail giants like Wal-Mart, ASDA, and Tesco for gaining competitive advantage in their target markets. This research is mainly a historical research, which forms a major part of the historical qualitative research undertaken in the dissertation.

Qualitative and Quantitative Research

The qualitative and quantitative research is the research method for data collection and analysis of information available on multiple forms. In this study the qualitative and the quantitative research methodology has been used to perform primary research relevant to the study. As secondary information about the Nigerian retailer market and the marketing operations of the UTC Plc company was not available, the company was queried through in-depth interviews and survey based questionnaires about their recent marketing campaigns. The information about the retail industry and the local retail market in Nigeria was gathered through this approach as well using qualitative ad quantitative survey based questionnaires.

The primary research makes use of survey based questionnaires and the internet based interviews that were conducted on the management of UTC Plc Nigeria while the secondary research comprises of the literature review and the analysis of the international retail market leaders. The questionnaire based survey was designed by the for determining characteristics of the local Nigerian retail market. The respondents of the questionnaire based survey were the management and staff at the UTC Plc company. The analysis of the retail market leaders is conducted on their marketing strategies, their market performance and growth.

The primary research for this dissertation is only used to collect information from the UTC Plc management about their marketing strategy and the position of the company in the local market in Nigeria. This research is based on interviews and survey based questionnaires that were put forward to the management of the UTC Plc Nigeria Company to gather information about their current marketing strategies in practice and to determine the strategies that the competitors are employing in the market through cross reference questions. The management was not freely available for face to face interviews. As a result in order to gather information about the company and its marketing practices, the management had to be interviewed by phone and on the internet with a short survey based questionnaire also being circulated among the management for comprehensive data collection.

The sampling methodology that is used for the primary research conducted using the survey based questionnaire is that of non probability sampling procedure. In this scenario, the respondents who were available and willing to provide feedback and insight were included as the target respondents of the survey. The objective of the research is to get information about the local retail market and industry and in Nigeria and the sampling methodology facilitates this by providing feedback from the management of the UTC Plc Nigeria about the local Nigerian market. These respondents had insight and have access to information on the characteristics and the trends in the local Nigerian retail industry. Moreover they were east to approach for the survey as well. As result they were targeted using the non-probability based sampling that allows anyone who has reliable and valid information to share to respond to the survey. The validity and the reliability of the data gathered through the questionnaire based survey was ensured through the use of the triangulation technique whereby multiple questions were targeted at the respondents to determine the integrity of the answers.

Validity and Reliability

The research methodology employed was checked for validity and appropriateness by taking feedback from the instructors and the research supervisors. The validity was ensured in the mixed methodology research by ensuring both the historical qualitative research and the qualitative/quantitative research employed were valid with integrity. The sources for the historical qualitative research were taken from official company websites and the peer reviewed journals to ensure that the information used in the literature review was accurate and valid. The validity of the information gathered in the questionnaire based survey has been ensured by including triangulated questions to determine the validity and the accurateness of the responses.

Methodology and Appropriateness

The selected methodology for the research study is that of the mixed method approach that combines the qualitative historical research and quantitative/ qualitative research. Initially a different approach of only a historical qualitative study was adopted. However as the research progressed and took shape, it was realized that a mixed methodology approach was more valid and appropriate for the research. As a result the methodology of the research was changed to a mixed research using qualitative and quantitative research for the primary research, and historical qualitative research for the literature review. The methods of data collection and the techniques sued for the data analysis in the study are appropriate for the type of research. This is ensured by the comprehensive observation of the data and the extraction of relevant information from the literature review for the recommendations. The information from the primary research supports the recommended marketing strategies and initiatives that can be taken by the retailer to improve the value of its brands and positioning in the market.

Feasibility and Appropriateness

The research design was specifically selected on the basis of the feasibility it has in execution and the appropriateness of methodology to the type pf research that was best suited for the study. The feedback of the instructors and the faculty was taken in the selection of the research methodology. The mixed methodology was most feasible for the researcher as it allows the researcher to study to have two types of researches; a historical qualitative research and the primary research conducted using the qualitative/quantitative methods. The historical research provides for the analysis of the successful marketing strategies employed by the retailers. The primary research allows for the collection of information about the Nigerian market and the current marketing programs deployed by UTC Plc for its operations in Nigeria.

Qualitative Study

The qualitative research was conducted with adopting an open and unbiased attitude towards the data gathered and the resulting recommendations that it provided. The data was collected through extensive research from online peer reviewed journals, textbooks and reference books in the field of marketing. A comprehensive theoretical framework was employed in determining for the basis of the recommendations and the key/stress points. The data has been depicted in the literature review and in the analysis sections using an unbiased approach. For the collection and the analysis of the primary data, an unbiased attitude was also adopted. Where possible the respondents of the interview were not lead by the researcher to encourage complete and unbiased information to be collected.

Data Collection

The data for the historical research was taken from accredited and authorized peer reviewed journals, industry journals, industry reports compiled on the brand worth, local industry operations, global industry operations and the performance of the various companies in the industry. The detailed information about the performance of the industry leaders was taken from their official company websites that provided information about their financials, and information about the different marketing strategies that have been used by them. Trade and marketing journals were used as a source of data for the historical research as they provided information on the new and old marketing campaigns launched by industry leaders of the retail sector. No probability sampling or specific collection method was employed to collect this data.

The data gathered for the qualitative research study is in the form of journal articles, trade journal reports and reviews of the marketing campaigns and strategies of the selected successful retailers in the international retail industry. All the data collected is in the written form. The authorization and the verification of the data is provided by the peer reviewed nature of the journals and the bodies that have put the data on their academic electronic databanks. The reliance has been kept on the written sources of information on the successful marketing tactics used by top retailers as they provided an easy and reliable source of information making way for a comprehensive analysis of the successful strategies. Accounts of the textual analytic modes and the analytical techniques have been provided in the following sections.

Data Analysis

The analysis of the qualitative research conducted for the paper was employed through a subjective analysis of the qualitative information with the use of keywords of marketing and their performance statistics. Any quantitative information that was also gathered was analysed through statistical analysis techniques using the SPSS software as ell as MS Excel statistical calculations. The graphs provided to depict the results of the analysis however are based on MS Excel with statistical calculations run on the information for analysis purposes. This software is particularly for analysing the data gathered form the questionnaire based survey and the interview results based on the answers to the questionnaires.

Primary Research

The primary research for the study includes a survey based questionnaire and the in-depth interviews The survey based questionnaires were aimed at collecting information from the UTC marketing staff about the local retail market and the in-depth interviews were focused on the marketing management at UTC Plc for gathering information about their marketing strategies and practices. The UTC management was contacted via email and telephone for availability to answer the questions for the research. They provided information about their company, its operations and the current and historical marketing strategies employed by the company and their results. The survey based questionnaires, that were part of the research, were emailed to the management at UTC in Nigeria where they responded in kind with their answers to the survey based questionnaire.

The sampling technique for the primary research was based on a non probability based convenience sample. The convince sampling method used pertained to requesting the marketing managers and the company brand managers for the UTC Plc to participate in the questionnaire based survey and the in-depth interviews over the internet. The marketing head and the brand managers were specially requested in an email to participate in an in-depth interview. This was done to encourage them to discuss their current marketing techniques and the strategies that they have used to build their brands and shed light on the market positioning tactics they have employed in the past. The convenience sample was taken as it allowed the researcher to gather information from the respective managers in the UTC Plc company without putting a restrain on the target sample for primary research.

Questionnaires

No formal sampling methodology was considered instead the questionnaire was simply emailed to the management at UTC in Nigeria, to make it widely available to them. The resultant sampling methodology that was seen to be most effective in this situation was that of a non probability, convenience based sample. The probability based sampling methodologies were avoided as they were restricting the sources of primary information regarding the subject matter in the UTC Plc company. The probability based sampling techniques made it difficult to gather sufficient data to support the research problem and appropriately provide recommendations that could help the UTC Plc company to better brand, market and position itself in the local market.

The responses to the questionnaires were received from those members of the management team who could take the time out to provide answers to the questionnaire based survey. A total of 50 questionnaires were disbursed of which 22 questionnaires were returned with answers. The questionnaire based survey was designed in a way to correspond to the characteristics of the respondents and to make it easier for them to answer the queries and navigate through the questionnaire. The questionnaire mostly comprised of close ended questions, however on some aspects open ended questions were also used to gather exploratory information on the subject matter. The questions were put in MCQ (multiple choice questions) format to minimize the time taken to respond to it. The triangulation and cross reference techniques were employed in the designing of the questionnaire to verify and validate the responses provided by the management.

Interviews

The interviews incorporated in the primary research for this dissertation were conducted through voice conferencing and via the phone. The interviews were conducted on the senior management of the UTC plc and the management of the marketing function who were responsible for management the marketing strategies and deploying new initiatives. These strategies and initiatives were aimed at raising the brand awareness and the positioning of the company though routine marketing programs. The phone based interviews were used as the UTC Plc management was not available for contact and interview on a face to face basis.

A simple convenience sampling methodology was employing where the relevant marketing management and the senior management at the company were interviewed and queried. This was a realistic approach as it was not suitable to conduct interviews of the management at UTC Plc on a larger scale. In order to support the interviews a larger scaled survey was conducted as mentioned earlier. The interview question design and set up was maintained at a simple level that was easy to understand and communicate on. The questions were of open ended and exploratory nature that focused on gathering information on the market share, raise in sales volume, performance in the market, return on sales (ROS), and the effect on share price of the UTC Plc Nigeria.

Research Analysis & Findings

The following sections provide an analysis of the research conducted and highlight the findings of the research.

Primary Research

Primary research was conducted through the use of questionnaire based surveys and in-depth interviews. The target market for the survey included the people employed in the marketing field by the UTC Plc. The marketing staffs were the respondents for the questionnaire based survey. The respondents for the in-depth interviews however were the marketing managers at the UTC Plc and the senior managers who have been involved in the development of the company’s marketing strategies for UTC plc. A letter of intent and informed briefing was provided to the respondents before the interview and the survey via email. This letter of intent was the basis for getting consent from the respondents for their participation in the research study.

In-depth Interviews

The aim of using the in-depth interviews as a qualitative source of gathering information was to collect information about the UTC Plc company and its marketing operations. There was very limited information available on the internet and in industrial reports about the operations of UTC Plc Nigeria, particularly its marketing strategy. As a result the marketing manager and the brand managers of the products were interviewed. The interviews conducted were on the marketing strategy of the company and the branding and positioning efforts that have been initiated by it.

The marketing strategy of the UTC Plc is very similar to the marketing strategy of the company around the world. Instead of adopting a customized and differentiated marketing strategy, the company has stuck with its global marketing vision. The UTC Plc company has a mixed product offering based on apparel, food, grocery, toys, electric appliances as well as home decorations and renovation products. The company primarily makes use of a selective target market based marketing strategy. The company has positioning itself, in its own perceptions as a brand for the affluent while it strives to target the masses and increase its sales and revenue. This has resulted in a confused marketing strategy and market position for the brand in the Nigerian market. The pricing strategy and the marketing strategy of the company reflect that the company is targeting a very niche market of the affluent and well off consumers in the Nigerian market. The company has priced it products on a premium scale compared to other retail companies in the local market yet the management maintains that the company is for the masses and caters to the general consumer and retail product needs of the customers. This reveals that the management of the company is not aware of the position of the company in the market and its perception amongst the target market.

The marketing programs of the UTC Plc Nigeria are based on the advertising campaigns, direct marketing, and in store marketing. The advertising programs launched by the UTC Plc Nigeria are conducted through the mass communication media of television, radio, newspaper and print magazines. The most successful medium reported by the management is that of the radio. The direct marketing of the marketing program is also invested in by the UTC Plc company. The company targets the target market with direct marketing programs where the company provides samples of the various brands of the UTC Plc as well as those sold in its stores to the potential customers. The samples are disbursed with leaflets and along with formal advertisements in the newspapers.

The company also makes use of the in store marketing channel whereby the UTC Plc Nigeria places signboards, billboards, and banners on its store property to attract customers and update them on the new offerings and deals in the stores. While on one hand the company is targeting affluent customers through its premium price based pricing strategy and its marketing initiates, the company maintains that its target market is the general urban and suburban population of Nigeria. However, the company has not invested in establishing a theme or a store image for its outlets. As a result the stores of the company have a general super store feel with multiple products stocked on the shelves in the various departments. The management however has been initiating a move to separate its food products and launch them in their own chain of retail stores.

Questionnaire Based Surveys

The questionnaire based survey was aimed at gathering information about the Nigerian retail industry to determine which marketing strategies can be successful in the local Nigerian market. The questionnaire based survey revealed that the Nigeria is a country which is predominantly poor with a very low GDP. The majority of the population of the company is either unemployed or has a very low level of income. The country itself is a largely agricultural nation, with the majority of the manufacturing industries active in the region based on agriculture or food products.

The retail industry in the country is very small. The coverage of the retail stores in the country is very limited with majority of them being focused towards the minority based wealthy urban population. As the country itself is an agricultural country, the retailers tend to manufacture their grocery and most food based products locally. However, the retail industry is largely dependent on imports of foreign manufactured and packaged goods. There are almost no local retail store chains operating in the country. The majority of the retail stores that are being run in Nigeria are all multinational operations or foreign direct investments owned by foreign companies. In the recent years the South African retailers have entered the Nigerian retail market seeking the large target market that is available to them. Due to the retail industry in Nigeria being very static, no such change or competition existed until the entrance of the South African retail business in the region. With the South African retailers taking keen interest in the Nigerian market, the competition in the Nigerian retail sector has considerably increased with a demand for better product offerings, improvements in the store image, and the better marketing programs for the Nigerian retailers. The UTC Plc is also a multinational retailer that is operating in the Nigerian retail market.

The categories of retailer formats retailers that are operating in the Nigerian retail market pertain to the small shops, shopping malls, urban centres, and independent retailers. The small shops are the most common and the most popular retailer businesses in the region. The majority of the population in Nigeria can afford these shops and frequent them for their routine consumer durable purchases. There are specialized small shops and markets that cater to the high demand of new and second hand imported electrical appliances. The shopping malls are only present in the urban regions of Nigeria with mostly the middle and upper income population frequenting theses retailers. The malls also provide centres for entertainment for the shoppers with play areas, cinemas and eateries housed in the malls along with the retail stores. The urban centres are few and far between in the Nigerian market. These urban centres house multiple malls and high end retail shops that sell luxury brands like Chanel, Armani and Louise Vuitton. The independent retailers are the large retail chains that offer a diverse range of products under one roof like the South African retail chains. The UTC Plc Nigeria comes under the category of the independent retailer that has multinational operations.

Research Findings

The Sears Company is amongst the largest departmental establishments in US. Sears has employed a strategy of direct mailing and mass market advertising to target its customers. Sears is also a major employer of seasonal marketing. As the company has a departmental store format with products that are sold under the categories of apparel, furniture items, kitchen items, electronics, and food items, they are subject to seasonal variation and influences. As a result the company makes use of seasonal marketing and advertising to increase the sales of specific lines while increasing the flow of inventory turnover. (Cuneo, 1997) The company has also joined the list of companies that have started to market online through the increasingly popular social groups and network sites. The company launched a marketing campaign in cyberspace to launch interactive marketing programs. The company launched the prom marketing campaign on Facebook and now has even selected Vanessa Hudgens to be the face of the Sears BTS fashions. (‘Sears, Kmart aim young in new campaigns’, 2008) The company also incorporated seasonal marketing and advertising campaigns through web based marketing charnels in the cyberspace marketing and brand awareness programs.

The Sears Company has also been involved in the revamp of its store format in 2006. The company mixed the formats of its two stores Kmart and Sears to provide the customers with the best of worlds at convenience. (Alan, 2006). Sears has been selling on credit to increase its sales revenue as well and support its growth of profit levels. The company makes sales on credit to customers while also selling them specific lines of credit. This was a move by the company to reposition itself as a major broadband store instead of a simple departmental or a discount store. (Heller, 2002) An extension of the lines of credit lines has evolved into the loyalty card and the branded credit card programs where the company sells its branded cards for credit to its customers. The Sears Company has also launched the Master Card Store card offering with the MasterCard Company. (‘Sears Shortens Marketing Leash’, 2003) The Sears Company has also launched marketing campaigns supported by an increase in the apparel offering and electronic lines to increase the amount of foot traffic in their stores. The increase in the foot traffic in the stores has been targeted by the company to increase the likelihood of impulse buys and cross selling in store as well as compete with the specialty retailers, the like of Target. (O’Loughlin, 2006)

Sears Company launched positioning strategies that focus on the brand of sears and inform the target market about its image, its persona and what the company and its brands stand for. The departmental store portrayed and embodied the image of a convenience based departmental store where all types of consumer products are stocked under one roof. The company launched positioning oriented marketing campaigns with the slogan ‘Sears. Where Else?’ that depicted that Sears departmental stores stock everything a person could possibly want. The result that was experienced by the company due to the implementation of the positioning strategies pertained to significant increase in the sales and the profits for the company. “The September campaign start-up was seen as pivotal to position the chain for the holiday selling season that can account for up to 40% of a retailer’s annual profits. ‘We wanted to improve their inclination to shop Sears as we moved into the key selling season of the year,’ Selby says. The purpose was also to set Sears apart from its rivals with a clear, consistent image of its own, rather than just sell particular products.’ In the past, we were more inclined to sell Sears in pieces,’ says Selby. ‘This provides a… brand positioning that sells the totality of Sears.’” (Howard, 2002)

The Bloomingdales stores and the Macys departmental stores are managed by the company Federated departmental Stores. The company has invested significantly in the floor format, store layout and the image of the store for Bloomingdales in order to make it a successful chain of retail stores in the United States. These investments pertained to changes in the format and the layout of the sore to increase the number of dressing rooms, and the elevation of the store ceilings to support change the environment and the image of the store. (Moin, 2005) The company has let of its Bridge moniker and instead now uses the new floor format as per it’s the new view design. The company also increased the number of designer labels incorporated in the stores while also bringing them closer to the ground floors to make them accessible to the general public. The company has also invested in additional in store services and support to change the image of the Macy’s store by furnishing with sofas and chandeliers, providing the shoppers with water coolers at frequent intervals, mannequins on lighted pedestals and winder and more spacious shopping areas that have been decorated in different themes. (Moin, 2005)

In order to attract more and diverse range of customers, the Bloomingdales has started to sell specialty perfumes in selective stores (Finn, 2004). The shift towards niche marketing and specialty lines was a result of the collection of extensive data about the customers and determining for the product demands and the purchase tends of the customers. (Hoke, 2000). Bloomingdales has also been using data warehousing and database software to support its direct marketing programs to target only those customers who are interested in their products. This makes them more efficient. Bloomingdales has set up a CRM system that used complex MIS reports and calculations to determine the products that are bought by the customers in addition to the products not popular with the customers. The company uses the system to com[pare the current purchase patterns with the sales trends of the past to determine the best possible combinations and product lines that can be stocked to sell at their stores (Herberle, 2004)

The Bloomingdales departmental store energized and revamped its brand image by extensively focusing on the store image. The company made use of innovative store designs and formats (Barr, 2002). The strategies that are used by the company to revamp its store and its brand image include creating a stylish atmosphere, using lighting to increase the notion of space, integrating the section for kids, re-flooring the hard and soft material floors, reformatting and configuring the department devoted to cosmetics by changing the layout, bringing in new selective windows for variety, increasing the number of mannequins used, installing sound systems, zoning the departments as well as using innovative and exiting graphics which motivate the shoppers to enjoy the experience (Barr, 2002).

Bloomingdales and Macy’s both have been using house brands to lure the customers that tend to shop from private labels. The house brands that have been used by them since 1940s initiating with private collections for men and female clothing and specialised food products like wine. The two departmental stores now work in association with the brands and companies of Victor Costa, Anne & Calvin Kline, Ralph Lauren and Polo to manufacture clothing that are exclusively sold the outlets of Bloomindales or Macy only (Morgenson, 1993). Both the departmental stores have managed to leverage their own brand image through the brand image of the private label brands and collections that they stock and sell through their stores.

The marketing strategy for Macy’s is based on the five point strategy including provision of exceptional in store service to the customers, professionalism of the store salespeople, the exclusivity of the brands and product lines housed within the departmental store, the collection of the private labels sold at the stores, the epic proportions of the operations of the company and the provision of a wide range of consumer products and items that are required by the customers all under one roof (‘Macy’s “five-point” strategy’, 2008). With the changing market conditions however the company has become inclines to launch TV campaigns, and sales promotions that are localized to the different regions of its operations and its target market (Zmuda, 2008). The company has even announced that it would be consolidating its back operations while creating a more localised customer focus and orientation (O’Connel, 2008).

JC Penny’s is another successful American retailer that has been operating in the US. The company has been making innovative changes in its product lines to attract a different segment of customers. The market segment for the younger female shoppers has increased, and the company has been striving to attract the young women shoppers segment by up scaling its apparel, accessories, music, body & health care stores inside the departmental store. The company made drastic changes to its Sephora cosmetics store and the collections that it launched for the fall of 2006 to better attract the younger shoppers (O’Loughlin, 2006). Aside from this the company also updated its spring line of private label apparel as well as the home furnishings to increase sales and store traffic. The company worked in alliance with the private labels by Chris Madden, Bisou Bisou and Nicole Miller for targeting niche segments of the market (O’Loughlin, 2006)

Kohl a multi-brand retailer has worked on its marketing strategy by clearly defining its target market. This has helped the company position itself and brand itself amongst the customers and the competition I the industry. The company targets middle market segments for its products. This is reflected on not only the advertisements that are rolled out by the company that have the tagline of ‘that’s more like it’ as well as in the store and its image (Henderson & Mihas, 2000). The Kohl stores have parquet floors, lights that are recessed and elegant yet comfortable fixtures and fittings. The products that are housed in the store include both house brands as well as well know private label brands that are often sold through promotion schemes to the customers (Henderson & Mihas, 2000).

Wal-Mart is well known for its low priced product offerings that are cheapest in the market yet provide the customers with a high quality all in one shopping experience. The original image of the Wal-Mart store has been folksy and country based focusing on the lowest everyday price. The store depicts huge stock piles of products that are available in abundance and fully stocked to cater to the needs of the customers. (Henderson & Mihas, 2000) The company is well known for the use of the CRM technology and Kaizen based just in time inventory system for maintaining the supply of the products to match the customer demands.

The super store format based Wal-Mart however is also making changes to its brand positioning and store image by responding to the changing demands of the customers and the market conditions. The company is now focusing more on the fashion and image aspect of its brands and the labels housed within instead of the low priced focus. The company is shifting form its unique selling point of low pried products slogans and campaigns to those that highlight the change in the attitude of the company and its stores to reflect a high street market image. “‘Wal-Mart sees a sea change in the way consumers are looking at food and other products,’ says Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst at Mintel, Chicago. ‘Luxury is becoming more accessible.’” (O’Loughlin, 2006) The company has been striving to reposition itself specially its apparel lines house brands and the cosmetics stores by advertising with high fashion magazines like Vogue and Glamour (O’Loughlin, 2006).

Target is primarily a retailer that is known for its furnishings and apparel. The super store has its distinct brand personality and position in the market in the upscale retail sector. The Target Company has created brand awareness for itself though its unique logo/ brand symbol that depicts the bull’s eye. Using this symbol and without depicting any consumer products in the advertisements, the company has been able to create a distinguished brand image and personality for itself. The retail chain seeks to position itself as the retailer for the savvy, trend setting, educated and fashionable customers. The target market for the Target chain of stores are the young shoppers and the company caters to their needs and product demands by supplying them with both branded products as well as non branded merchandise of high quality that is not available at other retail stores (Henderson & Mihas, 2000). The company has targeted the trend setting apparel shopper segment by taking inspirations for its labels and product lines form the European fashion industry (Henderson & Mihas, 2000).

Conclusions and Recommendations

The following sections provide the conclusion of the dissertation and the undertaken research along with the recommendations that have been provided for the UTC Plc Nigeria.

Conclusion

The research undertaken in this study and the analysis of the literature review has provides that multiple factors can influence success for marketing, branding and the positioning strategies. These factors include the diligence of the company itself, the funds that are available to the company for investment in the strategies, the target market selection, the orientation of the management and the marketing staff, selection of the image the company seeks to portray for itself through its products and services. Amongst these the elements of the advertising strategies employed, the direct marketing strategies and the store image and atmosphere are the most influential in the success of the departmental and retail store. UTC Plc Nigeria has a confused brand image that it is portraying to the target market. This has the double effect of increasing the inefficiencies of the operations while decreasing the sales revenues as well as creating a positioning dilemma for the company. The research undertaken has provided that if the UTC Plc seeks to establish itself in the Nigerian retail industry as a front runner, then it will need to enhance its product lines, improve its service standards and offerings and also create a unique image for its brand that would be reflected in its store as well as in its marketing campaigns.

Recommendations

Develop a Comprehensive Retail Strategy

  • The main marketing strategy that the UTC Plc Nigeria should focus on is creating a more localized focus for itself. The benefits of the localized marketing strategy have been reaped by the Sears, Macy’s, Target, and Wal-Mart as depicted by the research. The company has been targeting a very limited and elite market up till now that has limited its sales revenue and growth. All the recommendations that have been provided above focus on creating a brand image and a position for the company by localizing the marketing efforts for the UTC Plc Nigeria to the region of Nigeria only.
  • For establishing itself as a successful Nigerian retailer the UTC Plc Nigeria will have to significantly invest in getting to know their customers and their target market. Currently the company is only targeting the upper end of the target market. However as majority of the Nigerian population have low income levels, the company will have to expand its target market to include upper as well as middle income customers to increase its sales revenue from the scale of sales.
  • The UTC Plc Nigeria should identify the best marketing channels which can provide them with best results. Research analysis provided that companies use different types of marketing channels for different purposes. While companies like Sears and Wal-Mart have made use of the daily store data to identify customer purchase trends and target the customers with customized direct marketing tools, others like Macy’s and Target have made use of print and television based to market themselves to the target market. The population targeted by the UTC Plc is one that cannot afford to purchase luxury items and a prestigious image on a routine basis. As a result the company should target the market using direct marketing efforts and through radio spots. Heavy investment in television commercials would not be recommended as the number of households owing a TV is very limited in Nigeria. This way the company can launch its seasonal sales promotions and new lines of products for the customers in an efficient manner.

Focus on Customer Satisfaction

  • The company can focus on customer satisfaction by looking into what the customer want and providing the relevant products and services
  • The company can make use of CRM technology that monitors and records daily purchase behaviour of the customers and allows data mining of the information to reveal purchasing trends that can highlight future or latent demands of the customers.
  • UTC Plc Nigeria should also initiate programs that attempt to understand the customers and their requirements. This will require investment into systems technology as well as customer relationship management resource that can help build customer satisfaction through the improvement of the service quality and the updated product offering as per the requirements of the customers. This will drive customer satisfaction
  • Customer satisfaction for the UTC Plc Nigeria can also be increased by investing in reconstruction and development of the store image and atmosphere.

Increase Customer Loyalty

  • The research undertaken has provided that the most successful of the customer loyalty programs in the retail industry are those that are based on providing benefit and rewards for the customers for their customers’ loyalty to the company and its brands. This knowledge can be positively used by the company that can develop customer loyalty based programs with a focus on rewarding the customers
  • Some of the customer relationship management and loyalty programs that can be launched by UTC Plc Nigeria include a point based discount system on which the customers can available discounts on their total purchase if it exceeds a certain limit.
  • A loyalty club can be formed that can have members who make routine purchases from UTC Plc stores. These customers can be provided updated marketing material, company catalogue of new products, newsletters of latest events, and privileges in terms of higher discounts on purchases.
  • A credit financing service can also be deployed by the company through the use of the loyalty card or the company credit card scheme. Through this scheme, the company can provide its customers with store/company credit that can be available by them to shop in the UTC stores at a small mark up. This delayed payment/ credit facility can increase the traffic and the purchases in stores as well as create an additional service product for the UTC plc Nigeria.

Marketing for Competitive Advantage

A new trend that has been observed for marketing promotions targeted to smaller market segments through a mass market medium has been market through the internet. The company can roll out an internet marketing campaign that markets through the community based sites like Facebook, MySpace and Orkut. The advantage of advertising through such sites is that appropriate promotions can be rolled out for the specific niche markets of the various product lines at UTC Plc Nigeria. Moreover computer and internet access has been increasing in Nigeria, this depicts the trend of increased internet usage in the future leading to more of the target market of the company on the cyberspace traffic.

Positioning the Company and its Brands

  • The positioning strategy of the UTC Plc company has been confused and ineffective as well, largely due to its branding strategy and brand awareness programs. In order to successfully position itself in the market amongst its competitors, the UTC Plc company will have to establish a suitable store environment for the shoppers. The strategic advantage that retail stores have is access to a wide space for product and service marketing at their retail stores. The UTC Plc can invest in refurnishing the store, and changing its layout to make it more attractive to the customers. Little things like putting in elegant fixtures and fittings, creation comfortable resting spots, increasing the number of café or food vendors, and adding artistic decorations like fountains, potted plants as well as innovate in store advertisements on counters can increase the foot traffic in the store. The increased foot traffic will lead to more impulse buys and increased revenue through cross selling.
  • UTC Plc has its own house brands and also sells private labels at its retail stores. The research conducted provided that retailers can establish an image for themselves through careful planning and marketing of the house brands. The private label brands on the other can leverage the image of the stocking retailer and its store image. UTC Plc however has not been utilizing the house brands to establish its image or the private brands to leverage its brand and store image. The company should attempt to re-launch as well as re-brand its apparel, and furnishing brands in a similar manner in which, the company has been re-branding its food and grocery based brands. Emphasizing the premium image and the atmosphere of the store specifically the departments where the company displayed and sells its house brands can greatly influence the brand image and the perceived quality of the house brands. The company can also go into alliance with the popular private label consumer brands to sell them through vendor based shops inside its retail stores. This will help in establishing the brand image and the position of the UTC Plc Nigeria through association.

Developing and Marketing the Company as a Brand

It has been stated earlier that a brand image of UTC Plc is confused resulting in inefficient and ill fitting brand awareness programs. The company should focus on identifying the image that it seeks to portray and market. An appropriate brand image for the company would be along the lines of that which is portrayed by Wal-Mart. The company can focus on low prices, and a wide range of products offered under one roof that is already a selling point of the company. The UTC Plc company can emphasize this aspect of their business and further down in the long term the company can shift its focus form low prices to value. The brand awareness can be created through a multiple channel based marketing strategy.

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