3. Competitor analysis
A thorough understanding of the competition is an important part of formulating any marketing strategy. Sometime firms business can be affected by niche players, international competitors, or more traditional competitors with new technology or products. Factors such as changes in markets condition, changes in consumer behavior, marketing strategy, and involvement of more aggressive firms in the business can influences agribusiness sales performance.
One simple but effective method for analyzing competition is completing a formal strength and weakness analysis for each competitor. This tool simply involves listing the key strengths and weaknesses of a competitor. With the list of strengths and weaknesses in hand, the marketer then focuses on the opportunities or threats each competitor presents. The final step in using this information is to develop a marketing strategy that capitalizes on the competitor’s weaknesses and take advantage of any opportunity that competitor vulnerabilities present.
4. Analyzing customer needs
There are a variety of tools available to the marketer to help them better understand the needs of their customers and prospect. Some of the tools are:
a) Survey Techniques
• Expected Sales and Inventory Changes
• Consumers’ Expenditure Plans
One of the best ways to learn what customers think about a product or service is to ask the customers directly. By communicating directly with customers through surveys, interviews, and informal conversations, agribusinesses can gain much valuable information, which can help in formulating market plans. Market research relies heavily on surveys of various types of track customer attitudes through personal interviews, telephone interviews, or written surveys.
b) Opinion Polls or focus group techniques
• Business Executives
• Sales Force
• Consumer Intentions
Focus group interviews are other method of learning more about customer attitudes and one that is widely used by agribusiness marketers. Focus group interview is simply a discussion among six to ten customers or other individuals of interest, guided by a skilled moderator. It is not a formal interview so much as it is an informal discussion where people get to know each other well enough to talk freely.
The key success in a focus group interview is the synergistic effect of the informal discussion. The group chosen for the interview is extremely important. It must fairly represent the population of interest and it must be a group where free-flowing discussion is possible.
Focus group interviews can provide many new ideas and perceptions from the customer’s viewpoint about advertising programs, packaging, and quality of products, performance, and relative comparisons of competitors.
ii) Time-Series Analysis
• Secular Trend – Long-Run Increase or Decrease in Data
• Cyclical Fluctuations – Long-Run Cycles of Expansion and Contraction
• Seasonal Variation – Regularly Occurring Fluctuations
• Irregular or Random Influences
(Reference: Erickson, S., Ckridge, J. T., Barnard, F. & Downey, D. (2001). Agribusiness Management. (3rd. ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill)