British Petroleum's Marketing Strategy in a Changing Business Environment

Topics: Peak oil, Petroleum, Energy crisis Pages: 13 (3965 words) Published: May 8, 2012
BP's Marketing Strategy in Changing Business Environment

1. Introduction

Multinational corporations operating in complex and diverse political, economic, social and cultural environments have to improve, adjust and develop their marketing strategies on a regular basis (Bamberg, 2009:46). Changing environmental factors create new conditions for their operating, which often require considerable and serious changes in strategic decision-making and positioning of companies. Inflexible and rigid firms will cease to be competitive in the market every time changes occur (Fight, 2006:85). The aim of the present report is to identify the past and present changes in marketing strategy of British Petroleum, which have occurred under the pressure of environmental factors. It is evaluated whether these changes were necessary, and future strategic options for British Petroleum are recommended.

2. Background

British Petroleum (BP) is a multi-national gas and oil company located in the United Kingdom. Taking into consideration the size of revenues, BP proves to be the third largest energy company in the world. It is reported that its revenue was equal to as much as $308 billion in 2010 (BP, 2010:18). Working in the field of the gas and oil industry, the corporation carries out a wide range of operations, namely exploration, refining, production, trading, power generation, renewable energy production, etc. BP is presented in more than 80 countries all over the world and employs more than 80,000 workers. The company was founded in 1909 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, but only in 1954, it was known as the British Petroleum Company. 1998 was marked by the merger with Amoco (BP, 2011:1). Operating in turbulent and dynamic industrial sector, BP has always had to adequately react to the environmental changes and adjust their marketing strategy (Bamberg, 2009:49).

3. BP in Dynamic and Changing Environment

Taking into account that this report analyses strategic positioning of BP as a response to environmental changes and influences, the external environment of the company should be carefully scanned. It is important to note that not only contemporary external influences ought to be investigated, but also the environmental factors that used to influence BP some time ago. This will allow for observing changes from a historical perspective. In this sense, the PESTEL framework appears to be a very useful tool. It is argued that "the PESTEL framework helps to identify the relative importance of political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal influences, and can be used to identify the key long-term drivers of change" (Fight, 2006:44).

It may be critically stated that "recent market events have provided a sharp reminder of the central role of energy for our near-term security; insecurity arises from a range of issues, including geopolitical instability, natural disasters, terrorism and even poor regulatory design" (ORCD, 2003:421). Indeed, geopolitical instability proves to be a powerful political factor, which can influence volatility in the energy markets. It is reported that the world is heavily dependent on Middle East since this region has more than 60% of the world's oil reserves (Thomas White Global Investing, 2010:1). The key oil producing countries are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, UAE, Venezuela, Russia and Libya. Oil reserves of these countries are demonstrated in the graph below. It is valid to argue that a number of instability 'symptoms' have been observed in these countries recently, including military conflicts, authoritarian political regimes, corruption, etc. For instance, Venezuela tends to use its oil revenues to finance governmental programmes and ideology (Thomas White Global Investing, 2010:1).

As it may be observed from the histogram, Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves in the world, namely 262.2 billion barrels. Canada, Iran and Iraq have 179.2 billion, 136.3...
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