Slendertone

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Executive Summary
Kevin McDonnell, owner of BioMedical Research Ltd. (BMR) believed when he purchased the company that one of the product lines, Slendertone, could become a £100 million a year business by the year 2002. His strong belief in new product development as the “key to future growth,” led him in the journey to build a business based on this philosophy. Realizing that this ambitious goal would take more than product development and would also require a strong marketing plan, McDonnell placed faith in Brian O’Donohoe to build the marketing strategy that could cast Slendertone as a world-class brand. No doubt, BMR faced some challenges – identifying target markets, creating distribution channels, handling customer perception, as well as the norm, dealing with competitors and gaining market share. Slendertone had the makings of a potential world-class brand, but without a clear marketing strategy, the brand could be overcome with lesser quality products from competitors offering lower prices, not to mention, negative consumer perception due from lack of knowledge of the product’s purpose and overall perception. The management of Slendertone would need to build upon its core objectives and create a strategic marketing objective that would permeate the entire product line in order to meet the goal of McDonnell. The company had much strength to build from as their stability was proven in that they had been in business for over 30 years. In their base country of Ireland, Slendertone products had been established as having higher quality and the products had since been introduced in over 40 countries. However bright the opportunities appeared, there were many threats facing Slendertone. The focus to shift from a product development strategy to a market-driven strategy would entail a budget that would enable new market penetration and enhanced advertising plans. However, Slendertone had recognized the need to continue the efforts in R&D and did not want to abandon these efforts to afford an aggressive marketing strategy. Limited resources hindered the company from expanding target markets and developing new distribution channels. To accomplish their goal, it would be necessary for Slendertone to incorporate profits into a careful balance of R&D expense and advanced marketing expense or resort to looking into investors or other external financing alternatives.

Background
Slendertone is a brand of electronic muscle stimulation (EMS) devices that were created in 1966 by BMR Ltd. Originally located in England, BMR relocated to Shannon, Ireland two years after the development of Slendertone. Since its beginning, BMR manufactured EMS products designed to serve both the medical and cosmetic markets. EMS is a technology that delivers tiny electrical charges to a person’s muscles that simulate the electrical or nerve pulses that one’s brain would send to those muscles to initiate movement. It mimics the natural currents that flow through the nervous system. Each pulse that flows from an EMS device is practically the same thing as a pulse sent from the brain to that particular muscle or muscle group telling it to move. With prolonged repetition of these signals, it is essentially the same as exercising. However, there is one major exception – with EMS, there is no need for the rest of the body to move. One can exercise particular muscle groups without having to use other muscle groups at all. This was particularly useful in physical rehabilitation scenarios where a patient, due to injury, disease or whatever, could not move certain body parts of the body but still needed to “exercise” other body parts to prevent atrophy. The technology of Slendertone fit the bill. After proving successful in this arena, it began to become apparent to BMR’s managers that EMS could benefit others in a more cosmetic sense. People could get the benefit of exercise, improved circulation, and body tone without having to endure the...
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