For the Marketing core module’s individual assignment, I chose to embark on understanding a little bit more about the British retail and supermarket space by creating a marketing plan for Waitrose’s mobile app, proposing to upgrade it in a way that would target and engage new markets, leveraging the opportunities in its micro and macro environment. Waitrose & Partners are a brand of British supermarkets, predominately selling groceries, who are part of the John Lewis Partnership – the largest employee owned retail group in the UK. Having worked for the Partnership myself, I have a very special connection with the brand, and it was very exciting for me to explore the brand through a marketing lens. In this article, I will go through the structure of my assignment, which very largely followed the brilliant guidance that Professor Macdonald provided.
Chapter 1: Plan Objectives
Firstly, it was important for me that the aims and objectives of the marketing plan was strongly aligned with Waitrose’s mission to…
“Share knowledge and passion for quality food with the people who matter the most – customers.”(Waitrose.com, 2019)
This is absolutely key for staying authentic to the brand, regardless of your short and long term strategic objectives, so this needs to be aligned with the key features of the marketing plan. The 4 areas I addressed through my plan were:
- Ease and speed
- Easily accessible
- Easy to read
- Flexible delivery
Chapter 2: Market Audit
The market audit begins with an in-depth and thorough PESTEL analysis. I conducted an end-to-end analysis of the supermarket industry, which essentially formed my first appendix. Following the analysis, I teased out the most relevant points to include in the main body of my assignment. For example, there were 19 big topics I addressed and covered as part of the PESTEL analysis, but in the end decided to pick only one to focus on and expand further.
By focusing on the rise of online shopping in the UK grocery shopping market, I was able to dig deep and present the key facts and figures that supported my analyses, drawing further conclusions in the form of ‘threats’ and ‘opportunities’. Think about… what is happening, why is it happening, and that organically helps out draw out potential challenges and windows of opportunities. Most importantly, think about how you can capitalise on the potential opportunities by creating an unique value offering.
The number of topics you choose to highlight from your extensive PESTEL analysis depends and varies across assignments over the course of the MBA, but a strong singular focus felt appropriate for this piece of work. Similarly, in the next step, I conducted a comprehensive 5 Forces Analysis, forming my second appendix, picking out one key ‘force’ to focus on; the high existing competition between supermarkets, and following a similar format of drawing out threats and opportunities. For example, Waitrose’s main threat is their weakness in price competition withinin a competitive market, where there is not only existing aggression between the traditional ‘big four’, Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Asda, but also disruption to this model by new entrants Aldi and Lidl, who are now leaders in the ‘value for money’ category. However, there are interesting opportunities at bay as well, such as the opportunity to develop a comprehensive online platform themselves, following the end of their partnership with Ocado.
The final section of this chapter addressed the market positioning of Waitrose against its competitors and looked to identify potential customer segments, by addressing the following key questions:
This might initially look like a lot to process, but I’ve always found that creating a set of guiding questions are instrumental to ensuring that all key points are addressed and covered in any piece of work. Answering these questions step-by-step, using the relevant frameworks and tools from the module, such as Value-In-Use, Product Positioning, Two-tier (or multi-layer) Segmentation approach, I was able to identify new value propositions and customer segments, resulting in segmenting customers on their lifestyle, based on requirement for ordering ease and speed vs. ability to visit a physical store (as shown in the diagram below).
Note: all segment positions need to be justified in detail, which formed a substantial part of my Appendices, discussing each segment’s requirements and relevant Value-In-Use. From this pool of eight segments, I picked six to focus on. Again, it is important to justify why you are picking the segments that you are.
Using the findings from this chapter, particularly the opportunities, I embarked on the next – identifying a marketing strategy for Waitrose’s mobile app, with the aim to enter new customer-markets, increase revenue and expand market share.
Chapter 3: Marketing Strategy Formulation
The chapter commences with a crisp outline of the marketing objectives and aim, i.e. what are you wanting to achieve?
Having this at the start of the chapter sets a focus and precedence for the upcoming portfolio analysis, comprising of a comprehensive Directional Policy Matrix, which will identify which product-markets to focus on. There are three parts to this analysis:
- The first is identifying the ‘market attractiveness factors’ (MAF) for the product, in my case, the proposed mobile app, by making educated estimations about the market size, revenue potential, customer loyalty, market growth and competitive intensity. A lot of this information, or supporting information, is usually out there – but in most cases, requires a level of adaptation and extrapolation.
- The second part aims at measuring customer priority, using the value-in-use against Waitrose’s performance compared to its competitors, in order to determine the critical success factors (CSF).
- Using this data, a plot of MAF vs. CSF-weighted score can be visualised, placing segments in one of 4 quadrants. Each quadrant represents ‘generic strategic’ recommendations, for example, the quadrant with high MAF and high CSF-weighted score represents ‘investing for growth’. The segments that fall in this quadrant have high market attractiveness and also high potential for growth.
- Extra tip: Even within quadrants, segments can tend to form clusters. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to point this out, and identify why this is happening. What are the differences between these ‘groups/clusters’? And how can your strategic approach be reflective of these differences?
“To keep a tight strategic focus and apply resources effectively, the objectives and marketing mix will address segment clusters, rather than each individual segment.”
The marketing strategy formulation, using the marketing mix, needs to be specific. Target specific and time specific, with tangible and measurable KPIs in place, supported by your data, research and analysis thus far. Get Numerical. They may be educated estimations, but it is important to place value within your objectives for it to be meaningful. For example, a target could look like:
- “Improving user engagement by W% in the next X months, by doing Y, measured by Z.”
- “Increase delivery flexibility by reducing minimum order level to £X, and offering more Y, measured by Z”.
The final part of the chapter is outlining your ‘expected results’. Again, don’t hesitate to quantify your expectations where you can. For example, I had outlined 5 expected results, around attracting new customers, improving brand image, increasing turnover and market share. Following this, is a quick risk mitigation exercise to conclude the chapter. Ask yourself, What are the risks of not meeting my targets? What will be the impact, and how can I mitigate it?
Chapter 4: Resource Allocation and Monitoring
The final chapter explores the feasibility of the marketing strategy, and dives into the financial aspects of turning the objectives into reality. This is the time to dive into the company’s annual reports to understand their financial statement, in particular their profit margin and R&D allocation breakdown. There is often information available online and in reports on prior budget allocations into different areas within the business – in this case, I investigated John Lewis Partnership’s investment and allocation to digital and e-commerce projects. It definitely helps to have primary resources and insights into the organisation’s spending habits, so seek this out if you can! Finally, it is important to outline the on-going monitoring of success over the time periods you have specified in your objectives, and this will form a great ending to the essay.