Marketing and Monsanto

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Monsanto: Linking Core Competencies to Market Opportunity

Case Summary:

Monsanto Co. is an innovative biotechnology company that is currently the world’s largest seed company. Since its inception in 1901, Monsanto has continually reinvented itself to realize growth opportunities in a wide spectrum of marketing environments. In 1981, a shift in strategic focus towards biotechnology has propelled the company to $11.7 billion in annual sales with over 20,000 people in 160 countries. As the world faces a growing population and declining natural resources, Monsanto’s technological innovations with genetically modified seeds have increased crop yields around the world. Although the company has enjoyed significant growth in recent years, concerns over the safety and environmental impact of its product continually present a challenge to long-term success.

Key Marketing Issues:

Market Opportunity- A combination of circumstances and timing that permits an organization to take action to reach a particular target market. Over the course of history, Monsanto has transformed from an industrial chemical producer during World War I, to the global leader in the seed industry at a time when the world faces declining food supplies for a growing population.

Stakeholders- Constituents who have a stake or claim, some aspect of the company’s products, operations, markets, industry and outcomes. Farmers, governments, and non-profits are one of many stakeholders in the company.

Relationship Marketing- Establishing long-term, mutually satisfying buyer-seller relationships. With farmer’s being the primary stakeholder, Monsanto uses technology such as the corn chipper to gain their support.

Customer-Centric Marketing- Developing collaborative relationships with customers based on focusing on their individual needs and concerns. Monsanto develops genetically modified seeds to meet the various demands of farmers around the world facing problems ranging from drought to invasive insects.

Green Marketing- A strategic process involving stakeholder assessment to create meaningful long-term relationships with customers while maintaining, supporting and enhancing the natural environment. One of Monsanto’s commitments is to conserve more resources through sustainable agricultural initiatives.

Performance Standard- An expected level of performance against which actual performance can be compared. Monsanto hopes to increase corn yields from the current amount of 150 bushels per acre to 300 bushels per acre by 2030.

Target Market- The group of customers on which marketing efforts are focused. Monsanto targets some products such as Roundup to retailers while marketing others to large agricultural corporations or governments.

Core Competencies- Things a company does extremely well, which sometimes gives it an advantage over its competition. In 2003, a new corporate strategy was developed to address the company’s core competencies.

Marketing Orientation- An organization wide commitment to researching and responding to customers’ needs. Monsanto spends $1 billion annually on research and development

Personal Case Analysis:

I’ve learned that Monsanto continually adapts to capitalize on marketing opportunities. Its core competencies in genetically modified seeds have allowed Monsanto to become a global leader in the seed industry. Initiatives involving non-profits are in place to improve the lives of farmers through agricultural education and sustainable practices. Although Monsanto’s innovative technology has increased crop yields, harsh resistance has been shown towards their products in Europe and in some cases Africa. In 2002, during one of Zambia’s worst famines, Monsanto’s donated corn was rejected by the population out of fear it contained genetically modified seeds. The increasing popularity of organic farming is also threatening the growth of Monsanto’s genetically modified products...
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