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Marketing Research of Crowley Maritime Corporation

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Marketing Research of Crowley Maritime Corporation
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Netra Shetty
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Marketing Research of Crowley Maritime Corporation - April 1st, 2011

Crowley Maritime Corporation, based in Jacksonville, Florida, and founded in 1892, is primarily a family and employee-owned company that provides transportation and logistics services in U.S. and international markets by means of six operating lines of business: Puerto Rico/Caribbean Liner Services, Latin America Liner Services, Logistics Services, Petroleum and Chemical Transportation, Petroleum Distribution and Contract Services and Technical Services. Offered within these operating lines of business are the following services: liner container shipping, logistics, contract towing and transportation; ship assist and escort; energy support; salvage and emergency response; vessel management; vessel construction and naval architecture; government services, and petroleum and chemical transportation, distribution and sales.
As of June 2010, the company employs approximately 4,500 people worldwide and provides its services using a fleet of more than 300 vessels, consisting of RO-RO vessels, LO-LO vessels, tankers, Articulated Tug-Barges (ATBs), tugs and barges. Crowley's land-based facilities and equipment include terminals, warehouses, tank farms, and specialized vehicles

long-lasting first-mover advantages. However, researchers believe that in many industries, companies entering later can overcome these advantages. Sometimes there are even first-mover disadvantages, or advantages enjoyed by companies who enter later. For example, the first entrant may invest heavily in enticing customers to try a new type of product. Later entrants would benefit from informed buyers without having to spend as much on education. Later entrants may be able to avoid mistakes made by the first movers. If first movers become complacent, later entrants may take advantage of changing customer needs. As the Internet continues to develop, technology companies find themselves especially susceptible to second- or later-mover success. Follower companies are reverse-engineering many new products to develop competing products either faster or cheaper—negating much of the first-mover advantage.

Researchers are continuing to learn under what conditions first-mover advantages are most likely to occur. They are looking for differences across industries and geographic markets. For example, consumer product markets appear to offer more first-mover advantages than industrial markets, but more research is needed on service industries. Little is known about first-mover effects in countries other than the United States, though some evidence suggests that pioneering advantages may be stronger in other countries. Another important factor appears to be the ability of the first-mover firm to use their other resources to maintain the initial advantage of being first. For example, a firm that is already strong in marketing and distribution may be better able to sustain a lead with a new product than a newly-formed company. Researchers are also studying successful follower strategies.

Given the uncertainty about when first-mover advantages occur, companies need to carefully consider their strategy. Does the firm want to invest in seeking opportunities to be first? If opportunities arise, what is the best approach to market timing? Which of the three types of benefits are likely to be available to the first entrant in this market? Does the firm have the resources to sustain any initial benefits they gain from being first? If someone else enters first, how difficult will it be to follow? What advantages might later entry provide in better or lower-cost technology, or better adaptation to customer needs? Although first-mover advantages may be attractive, there are also advantages to being a follower. Company strategists need to decide which approach has the highest potential for long-term profits given their resources and market characteristics.

he first step in conducting research is to examine the reasons why research is being undertaken. Determining the research purpose sets the stage for the rest of the research plan because it lets everyone (e.g., researcher, client, outside firms) with a stake in the outcome of the research know the general philosophy of the project and also establishes the urgency of the research.

As we noted in the Marketing Research Tutorial, marketing research serves as the foundation of marketing since it is used to support all marketing decisions. Marketers use research to support decisions in five important ways: explanation, prediction, monitoring, discovery and hypothesis testing. Thus, the purpose for research falls into one of these categories.

Explanation - Possibly the most cited reason for conducting research is to use it to explain why something is occurring. Most often this means identifying and explaining a problem facing the marketing organization. For example, marketers may seek to know why sales in a certain geographic region are declining when it was forecasted to rise.
Prediction - Research is used to help assess a situation and predict what may happen in the future. This type of information is critical in many marketing decisions such as forecasting demand for a new product. It is also used to predict what may happen if something is changed such as a key marketing variable decision (e.g., effect on sales if price is changed).
Monitoring - Many decisions made by marketers must be monitored to insure that goals are being attained. A sales manger, for instance, will look to monitoring research in order to track the performance of the sales force in meeting sales targets.
Discovery - Most marketers are continually on the look out for ways to improve their marketing efforts. Improvements may include such things as new product options, ways to increase sales or decrease costs, promotional approaches that improve the company’s image and many more. Finding new opportunities is sometimes the result of luck but more often the marketer engages in research to locate these.
Hypothesis Testing - Finally, marketers use research to help test theories or “gut feelings” about some issues. For instance, a marketer may suspect there is a difference between the purchasing habits of one type of customer as compared to another type. Hypothesis testing, which is at the heart of scientific research, relies on statistical analysis to help evaluate a hypothesis. It should be noted that each of the previously described purposes for doing research can also be undertaken as a hypothesis test. For example, a marketer looking to explain why sales are declining in a certain region may have a “gut feeling” for why this is occurring and thus can combine explanation with hypothesis testing.

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