In the context of global expansion and competition of numerous businesses, effective marketing management is one of the key factors of success, playing an essential role in obtaining competitive advantage. Hence, the success of a company is determined by its ability to identify customers’ needs and offering products and/or services to satisfy them.
WHSmith is a UK brand with world-wide recognition, best known for its chain of shops selling books, stationery, newspapers, magazines and entertainment products. In the last few years, the high street market has experienced a significant slowdown in economic activities. This includes a rise in tougher competition along with a decrease in customer spending, which has challenged corporations and their marketing department.
One of the first issues emerging from our research, affecting primarily the trend of the business, is the absence of a real brand identity and the lack of a Unique Selling Point (USP). During tough economic periods WHSmith attempted to expand its market by differentiating the range of products through entering new markets not directly linked with their core business. Whilst the WHSmith Travel stores have been deemed a great success, attracting the attention of commuting customers with strategically positioned impulse goods, in the High Street the current economic climate has led the business away from its historic objectives. It is fundamental to understand what customers’ focus on and, subsequently, create the USP by rationally highlighting the company’s strengths.
There is a long history of strong competition between companies that are striving for an increased market share through differentiating themselves from competing companies. In today’s overcrowded business environment competition results in creating a “red ocean” where rivals are endeavouring to conquer a profit “basin” which is ever decreasing. (Kim & Mauborgne, 2005)
When market share goes down, the company has
References: Diamantopoulou, A. 2004. Foreword from; Habisch A, Jonker J, Wegner M, Schmidpeter R, 2005, “Corporate Social Responsibility Across Europe”, first edition, Heidelberg Germany, Springer. (Facebook, 2009) http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics date accessed 26/11/09 Hill, L & O’Sullivan, T (2004) Foundation Marketing 3rd edition Hopkins M, 2007, “Corporate Social Responsibility & International Development”, second edition, London, Earthscan. Kim, C. W., & Mauborgne, R. (2005). Blue Ocean Strategy: how to create uncontested mark space and the competition irrelevant. unknown: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. Kotler, P., Armstrong, G., (2008), “Principles of Marketing Thirteenth Edition”, London, Pearson. Kurtz, 2009, USA, South Western Cenage Learning, “Contemporary Marketing 2009” (Neill, 2008) http://www.thebookseller.com/news/59291-w-h-smith-tops-the-ad-spend-league.html date accessed 19/11/09 Oliver, G. (1995) Marketing Today 4th edition, London: Prentice Hall WHSmith PLC [19/11/09] Figure 4: Total WHSmith Waste (2004/05 to 2008/09)