Analyzing Marketing Problems and Cases
HIGHLIGHT 1 A Case for Case Analysis Cases assist in bridging the gap between classroom learning and the so-called real world of marketing management. They provide us with an opportunity to develop, sharpen, and test our analytical skills at: -Assessing situations. -Sorting out arid organizing key information. -Asking the right questions. -Defining opportunities and problems. -Identifying and evaluating alternative courses of action. -Interpreting data. -Evaluating the results of past strategies. -Developing and defending new strategies. -Interacting with other managers. -Making decisions under conditions of uncertainty. -Critically evaluating the work of others. -Responding to criticism. Source: David W. Cravens and Charles W. Lamb, Jr., Strategic Marketing: Cases and Applications, 4th ed. (Homewood, IL: Richard D. Irwin, 1993), p. 95. The use of business cases was developed by faculty members of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in the 1920s. Case studies have been widely accepted as one effective way of exposing students to the decision-making process. Basically, cases represent detailed descriptions or reports of business problems. They are usually written by a trained observer who actually had been involved in the firm or organization and had some dealings with the problems under consideration. Cases generally entail both qualitative and quantitative data, which the student must analyze to determine appropriate alternatives and solutions. The primary purpose of the case method is to introduce a measure of realism into management education. Rather than emphasizing the teaching of concepts, the case method focuses on application of concepts and sound logic to real world business problems. In this way, the student learns to bridge the gap between abstraction and application and to appreciate the value of both. The primary purpose of this section is to offer a logical format for the analysis of case problems. Although there is no one format that can be successfully applied to all cases, the following framework is intended to be a logical sequence from which to develop sound analyses. This framework is presented for analysis of comprehensive marketing cases; however, the process should also be useful for shorter marketing cases, incidents, and problems. A CASE ANALYSIS FRAMEWORK A basic approach to case analysis involves a four-step process. First, the problem is defined. Second, alternative courses of action are formulated to solve the problem. Third, the alternatives are analyzed in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. And fourth, an alternative is accepted, and a course of action is recommended. This basic approach is quite useful for the student well versed in case analysis, particularly for shorter cases or incidents. However, for the newcomer, this framework may well be inadequate and oversimplified. Thus, the following expanded framework and checklists are intended to aid the student in becoming proficient at case and problem analysis. 1. Analyze and Record the Current Situation Whether the analysis of a firm's problems is done by a manager, student, or paid business consultant, the first step is to analyze the current situation. This does not mean writing up a history of the firm but entails the type of analysis described below. This approach is useful not only for getting a better grip on the situation but also for discovering both real and potential problems-the central concern of any case analysis. Phase 1: The environment
The first phase in analyzing a marketing problem or case is to consider the environment in which the firm is operating. The environment can be broken down into a number of different components such as the economic, social, political, and legal areas. Any of these may contain threats to a firm's success or opportunities for improving a firm's situation. Phase 2: The industry The second phase involves analyzing the industry in...
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