Marketing Research of Spanx -
April 8th, 2011
Spanx, Inc. is a U.S. company that mainly manufactures footless pantyhose and other undergarments for women, particularly "body shaping" undergarments and bodysuit shapewear intended to give the wearer a slim and shapely appearance. They have been endorsed by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Miranda Lambert.
About 5.4 million Spanx power panties have been sold since the year 2000, and the global retail sales for Spanx products exceeded $750 million for 2008.
Company founder Sara Blakely received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2002, and appeared on Fox's 2004 reality television show titled The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best. She has also appeared on the second season of American Inventor as a panel judge. She is a member of the Atlanta chapter of Entrepreneurs' Organization.
Every business organization needs to take the time to plan for the future. Indeed, successful planning should envision that future, and plan the strategy and tactics to make it a reality. It is important to identify the unique attributes and advantages of the firm’s offer to the marketplace, while developing a strategy to leverage the firm's strengths and opportunities. Strategic marketing planning process should be worked upon. Goals must be identified, and work on building a roadmap to reach them. Then at the end of the planning process, a comprehensive strategy will be formulated for growing the business, together with an implementation plan that will produce concrete results.
Market research is an integral part of the planning process. There are things that need to be done like the client satisfaction surveys, studying the competition, test brand recognition and then analyze market trends. In order to build future marketing programs and putting the company at a significant competitive edge, better information about an organization’s business environment should be established. The purpose of this paper is to tackle and understand deeply how consumers make purchase decisions in order to choose one appropriate target market. The “needs” and how these needs fit within the states of the consumer behavior model will be discussed and how the product/service target market and competition is being applied.
However, marketing is an energetic activity, and information has to be kept up to date and the need for deep and detailed research becomes vital (Chisnall, 2003). Part of the process of developing a Comprehensive Strategic Marketing Plan is audience and competition. An internal consensus should be achieved, which is a critical factor in the ultimate success of any carefully designed plan.
Target Audience and Competition
It is very important that the target audience will be determined first. In knowing the prospects and competition, it is important that the target audience will be identified. Competition on the other hand, provides understanding on who influences the market and the choices of the prospects (Ceonex, 2004). Moreover, information about the target audience should be familiarize, in order to understand it’s behavior, need’s and know-how to be able to market them better. By learning their needs and preferences, the marketing strategy and the target audience will be narrowed. It should be given importance that there is always something to learn in the success and failures of the competitor. Knowing and understanding the target audience will determine why the competition has succeeded or failed. It is necessary to determine the decision making process that consumers go through as they make a purchase in different buying stations and the diversity of customer needs. The determinants (psychological, sociologic and economic) that affect the consumption and customer behaviors must be clearly defined.
Consumer Buying Behavior
The decision process and act of people that entails buying and using of products is called consumer buying behavior. Therefore, we need to understand why consumers make the purchases, what factors that influence them and the changing factors in our society (Consumer Buying Behavior). The following questions should be asked: What do customers want? Can we develop it while they still want it? How can we keep our customers satisfied? The marketing concept that the firm must adapt should be focused on the customer’s needs before developing the product; aligning all functions of the company to focus on those needs; realizing a profit by successfully satisfying customer needs over the long-term. In this a comprehensive marketing strategic plan is needed (The Marketing Concept).
Six Stages of the Consumer Buying Process
There are six stages of the consumer buying process. The actual purchasing of product is only one of the stages. However, all consumer decisions do not always include the six stages. First stage is problem recognition, which means the awareness of needs. It is the difference between the desired state and the actual condition of the consumer. This awareness of needs can be stimulated through product information. Next is the information search classified into two, the internal search (memory) and the external search that is if more information is needed (can be channeled through the “word of mouth”). Successful information drive will give a buyer possible alternatives. There is the need to establish criteria for evaluation, featuring what the buyer wants or does not want, the evaluation of alternatives. What the marketer’s can do is to influence by “framing” alternatives. The fourth process is the purchase decision wherein the buyer chooses buying alternative that includes product, package, store, method of purchase. The fifth one is the process of purchasing. It may differ from decision, time lapse between four and five and the product availability. The last stage of the buying process is the post-purchase evaluation, which is the outcome. This is where satisfaction or dissatisfaction is determined, whether the buyer has made the right decision (Consumer Buying Behavior). The firm should have an alternative approach to this by giving product warranties, after sales communication, etc. Cognitive dissonance can be reduced when the firm provides communication with the consumer after the purchase.
Product/Service Target Market and Competition
While it is very important that the target audience and competition should be clearly defined, it is also essential to identify the distinctive attributes and advantages of the firm’s offer to the marketplace. Every individual has the capacity to learn and this acquired learning can change a person’s behavior caused by information and experience. Therefore new information on the product should be established in order to change the consumer’s behavior product. This is where the application mix is applied like promotion, press release, advertising, etc. It is a fact that organization do exist to satisfy customer needs, for that reason everyone must be concerned with customer satisfaction. For example when introducing a new line of product in the market, like an orange juice, the target market audience should be the young ones, children aging from 3 -12 years old and the young adults from 13-21. The first goal is to create an impact to the minds of these young people about the quality and unique packaging of the product. Communication can be directly catered through advertising and promotion. Competition should also be identified in order to know the influences, at the same time knowing the prospects. If the competition does create the same product line, a strategy that will create unique packaging, dynamic promotion and advertising, and an additional offer of warranties as a way of reducing cognitive dissonance can be established.