In a now classic Harvard Business Review article, Ansoff (1957) identified four strategies for business growth. These four strategies also identify four basic types of marketing plans and the types of investments and activities associated with each. The strategies are defined by whether the focus is on new or existing products and new or existing markets.
1. Market Penetration Strategy
When a firm focuses on selling its current products to existing customers, it is pursuing a market penetration strategy. The marketing activities that will dominate in this type of marketing plan are those that emphasize increasing the loyalty of existing customers so that they are not vulnerable to loss to competitors, attracting competitors’ customers, increasing the frequency of product use, and converting nonusers into users.
Increasing awareness through marketing communications and increasing availability through expanded distribution are common marketing activities in this type of plan. Identifying new use occasions and new uses for a product may increase usage frequency or convert current nonusers into users. For example, the advertising campaign for orange juice that has the tagline “It’s not just for breakfast anymore” was an effort to expand usage. Price promotions might be used to encourage competitors’ customers to try the firm’s product if there is reason to believe that such a trial will result in repeat purchases. Loyalty programs can be very effective in retaining existing customers. This strategy reduces risk by relying on what the firm already knows well—its existing products and existing customers. It is also a strategy where investments in marketing should pay back more quickly because the firm is building on an existing foundation of customer relationships and product knowledge.
2. Market Development Strategy
The efforts to expand sales by selling current products in new markets are referred to as a market development strategy. Such efforts may involve entering new geographic markets, such as international markets. Creating product awareness and developing distribution channels are key marketing activities. Some product modification may be required to better match the needs of the local market. For example, as fast food restaurants have moved into international markets, they have often changed their menus to better match the food preferences of customers in local markets. Expanding into a new market with an existing product carries some risk because the new market is not well known to the firm and the firm and its products are not well known in the market. The return on marketing investments in such a strategy is likely to be longer than for a market penetration strategy because of the time required to build awareness, distribution, and product trial.
3. Product Development Strategy
Creating new products to sell to existing customers, a product development strategy, is a common marketing strategy among firms that can leverage their relationships with existing customers. For example, American Express has been able to leverage its relationships with its credit card customers to also sell travel-related services. Similarly, cable television companies have expanded their offerings into Internet and telephone services. Research and development activities play a dominant role in this strategy. The time required to develop and test new products may be long, but once a product is developed, creating awareness, interest, and availability should be relatively rapid because the firm already has a relationship with customers. A product development strategy is also riskier than a market penetration strategy because the necessary product may not be possible to develop, at least at a cost acceptable to customers, or the product developed does not match the needs of customers.
4. Diversification Strategy
A diversification strategy involves taking new products into new markets. This is really the creation of a completely new business. This is the riskiest of strategies and the strategy likely to require the most patience in waiting for a return on investment.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: David Stewart, President’s Professor of Marketing and Business Law, Loyola Marymount University, Author, Financial Dimensions Of Marketing Decisions.
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