In the fast food industry the competition is huge and many times when a niche market is discovered it is a matter of time before competitors notice and "copy, or even improve upon, [the restaurants] unique values or advantages, and therefore the advantage is soon lost" (Voice Marketing, 2009). Understanding the products lifecycle, positioning and differentiation is essential to the restaurants success. If one is ignored the others suffer. Each area can be conquered by distinguishing the restaurant in the following ways.
With differentiating the areas that should be considered are features, services, personnel, channel, and image (Kotler, 2009). Features can include things such as quality, performance and design. The area of services might include ordering ease and delivery. With personnel there are many areas that fall under this. A few are competence, courtesy, and responsiveness. Channel cover areas such as the expertise of the managers. Finally there is image and this is important.
An effective image does three things for a product or company. First, "it establishes the product's planned character and value proposition" (Kotler, 2009). Second," it distinguishes the product from competing products" (Kotler, 2009) and third "it delivers emotional power and stirs the hearts as well as the minds of buyers" (Kotler, 2009).
Kotler goes on to discuss in the article positioning and how positioning "is the result of differentiation decisions". He even lists different positioning strategies or themes.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Attribute positioning: The message highlights one or two of the attributes of the product.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Benefit positioning: The message highlights one or two of the benefits to the customer.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Use/application positioning: Claim the product as best for some application.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢User positioning: Claim the product as best for a group of users. - Children, women, working women etc.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Competitor positioning: Claim that the product is better than a competitor.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Product category positioning: Claim as the best in a product category Ex: Mutual fund ranks - Lipper.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Quality/Price positioning: Claim best value for priceA service or products lifecycle is also based on the decisions discussed above. A product or service of any kind has a lifecycle which is a sequence of stages from introduction, growth, maturity and ultimately decline. Presenting a healthy food, fast food restaurant poses challenges. Attention to each of these stages is essential for the continued success of the restaurant.
Each of these stages consists of the same areas, product, pricing, distribution, and promotion; however, each area will be handled in a way that connects with the current sage the restaurant is in at the time. The following information was obtained from an article on QuickMBA.com and describes each of the stages in great detail. This outline will be essential to the forward progress of the restaurant and should be used as a reference guide as each stage progresses.
Introduction StageIn the introduction stage, the firm seeks to build product awareness and develop a market for the product. The impact on the marketing mix is as follows:Ã¢ÂÂ¢Product branding and quality level is established and intellectual property protection such as patents and trademarks are obtained.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Pricing may be low penetration pricing to build market share rapidly, or high skim pricing to recover development costs.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Distribution is selective until consumers show acceptance of the product.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Promotion is aimed at innovators and early adopters. Marketing communications seeks to build product awareness and to educate potential consumers about the product.
Growth StageIn the growth stage, the firm seeks to build brand preference and increase market share.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Product quality is maintained and additional features and support services may be added.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Pricing is maintained as the firm enjoys increasing demand with little competition.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Distribution channels are added as demand increases and customers accept the product.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Promotion is aimed at a broader audience.
Maturity StageAt maturity, the strong growth in sales diminishes. Competition may appear with similar products. The primary objective at this point is to defend market share while maximizing profit.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Product features may be enhanced to differentiate the product from that of competitors.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Pricing may be lower because of the new competition.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Distribution becomes more intensive and incentives may be offered to encourage preference over competing products.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Promotion emphasizes product differentiation.
Decline StageAs sales decline, the firm has several options:Ã¢ÂÂ¢Maintain the product, possibly rejuvenating it by adding new features and finding new uses.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Harvest the product - reduce costs and continue to offer it, possibly to a loyal niche segment.
Ã¢ÂÂ¢Discontinue the product, liquidating remaining inventory or selling it to another firm that is willing to continue the product.
References:Voice Marketing Inc. Product Differentiation Helps You Build Competitive Advantage. Retrieved on May 23, 2009, from http://www.more-for-small-business.com/product-differentiation.htmlKotler, Philip, Marketing Strategy - Differentiating and Positioning the Market Offering. Retrieved on May 23, 2009, from http://knol.google.com/k/narayana-rao-kvss/marketing-strategy-differentiating-and/2utb2lsm2k7a/150#