Cyber Space, Corporate Restructuring, Advertising:
Boon for Competitive Advantage


By

SubbuLakshmi.S
First Year MBA
Panimalar Engineering College
Chennai
 


ABSTRACT

Hyper competition is a key feature of the new economy.  New customers want it quicker, cheaper, and they want it their way. The fundamental quantitative and qualitative shift in competition requires      organizational change on an unprecedented scale. Today, sustainable competitive advantage should be built upon the corporate capabilities and must constantly be reinvented. A little competition can be a healthy thing. It can also be both costly and disastrous if you aren't up to par with others in your particular business or industry. How we handle competition can be a direct link to the success or the failure of our company. We can, however, significantly increase our chances of coming out on top by creating a competitive edge.

Once we have developed a competitive edge, maintaining it will be a daily challenge. It will require you to look into our crystal ball and attempt to forecast where the trends and changes in our industry will come from, and what our company can do to stay ahead of the game. It will demand that we continuously track our competitors and their future plans. We will also need to recognize that through the course of time our customers' needs may change due to a variety of circumstances. Our company must be flexible and willing to change as well. In this paper the authors have discussed some of these capabilities such as cyberspace, corporate restructuring, advertising which act as competitive advantage for some of the companies.

Key words: competitive advantage, cyberspace, 4p's, kTDC, restructuring, RIL, L&T, advertising, Zoo zoos, competency, etc.

Introduction

An advantage that a firm has over its competitors, allowing it to generate greater sales or margins and/or retains more customers than its competition. There can be many types of competitive advantages including the firm's cost structure, product offerings, distribution network and customer support. Competitive advantages are those resources that allow a business entity to develop and maintain an edge over competitors who produce similar goods and services. The competitive advantage differs from the comparative advantage, in that the focus is often more on the strategies and skills involved, and less on the resources and final cost of production. A competitive advantage may be achieved by a brilliant public relations strategy, a unique mode of production, or the addition of some benefit that goes above and beyond the benefits offered by similar products on the market.

The purpose of seeking a competitive advantage is to establish the company and its products as unique within the wide range of comparable goods and services. By doing so, companies are able to create a loyal client base that will remain with them even if operating costs make it necessary to increase the unit price of the product in question. In order to accomplish this goal, the manufacturer must include and exploit some aspect of the product that will keep and hold the attention of the consumer. Along with developing a unique benefit to the product, aggressive and appealing marketing campaigns can help to establish a company and its product line as being highly desirable. Even when similar products are as good or maybe even better at the core purpose for the product, a competitive advantage is achieved when public recognition is higher. Many consumers will only purchase products they consider to be brand names. Successful marketing helps to establish a product as a brand name and thus increases the chances that the consumer will buy the product instead of a competitor.

How to achieve a competitive advantage

All businesses must meet the challenges of competitive markets. Doing so involves using a range of approaches and skills. Competitive advantage does not necessarily mean lower prices. Since it is obviously vital in the long-term to maximize margins, the key is to find other ways to make customers want to buy from you.

1. Build solid foundations

2. be easy to do business with

    * Accessibility 
    * Promptness 
    * Simple systems
    * Flexibility

3. Communicate effectively

    * Clarity
    * Description
    * Persuasion
    * Courtesy
    * Be organized 

4. Deliver quality

5. Please people with excellent customer care

6. Develop and improve your image

7. Use public relations

8. Use customers as promotional tools

    * Testimonials.
    * Referrals.
    * Develop customer loyalty

9. Network effectively

10. Form business-to-business partnerships

    * Joint promotion.
    * Strategic alliances. .
    * Outsourcing. 

11.  be adaptable

12. Monitor levels of customer satisfaction

CYBER SPACE

Many companies across the world have made their presence in the cyber space through their Websites. Companies located in any part of the world are easily accessible through Internet because of their web presence. Internet Technologies are making the world look like a small village inter connected with each other. The net worked global world offers tremendous opportunities for even small & medium companies to reach a large customer base transgressing the national boundaries. Thus the electronic commerce on Internet is the closest thing to a global free market where the barriers for entry are low, with several untapped business opportunities on the net, revenue sources are many and access being universal there is room for successful players.

Many firms underestimate the value of using their websites to gain significant competitive advantage in their given markets. Most businesses only utilize their website as a means of displaying their corporate profile, list of products as well as things like their contact details and email address.. It is fairly safe to say that managers should always view web technology in light of the whole marketing mix instead of merely as an extension of their existing advertising efforts. It is important to highlight some of the ways that a website can positively impact each of the these marketing mix elements:

Distribution (Place)

Ways to enhance the distribution networks may include using the web portal to enhance logistics, create new marketing channels (for example affiliate channels) or provide better or faster product access for customers. Be careful however when creating new e-commerce sites as it is important to conduct a thorough online market analysis of the product to ensure that the competitive as far as other Internet based competitors are concerned. Internet retailers such as Amazon are growing in size and dominance and should be taken into account when planning any online strategy. Affiliate marketing channels may also be something to look into in terms of gaining more traffic to the site. New incoming marketing and information channels can be easily established by creating an affiliate program which entails other firms listing the site URL on their pages which in turn can equate to more traffic for the site.

Promotions

The growth of the Internet's accessibility is inevitable and firms would be well advised to start the web advertising function as soon as possible. The reason for this is that "staying power" is paramount with more and more people starting to use the web. Firms that have been around the longest and which have high levels of interconnectivity will always maintain a pretty big competitive advantage over newer entrants. Once a firm's web page has established a decent ranking and is featured on other related sites, the ability for firms to utilize this coverage to reach out to new domestic and international markets can be quite powerful. The success of large Internet advertising campaigns is well documented. Email marketing lists are also a great way to stay in touch with your customers and their effective use can provide a valuable marketing and information channel. The benefits are two fold with the ability for marketers to use them to heighten brand awareness whilst strengthening customer relationships. Newsletters and other marketing can be used to let customers know about new products or services as well as provide segment relevant information to them designed to offer value and a "good read".

Product

Whilst observing the product part of the marketing mix, an Internet portal can substantially strengthens the firm's current product offering. Ways that a web site can enhance the product offering are many, ranging from offering new web related products through to establishing outgoing affiliate programs. Giving customers better services that bolster the appeal of the core product is a great way to effectively relate products to customer needs. This usually involves the creation of secondary or ancillary products that can either be sold or provided for free. These additional offerings can help to generate higher, sometimes passive, earnings as well as increase a firm's potential differentiation.

Price

The automation of some of the firm's functions using web technology usually equates to a significant saving of operational costs .For instance having an effective inbound ordering form can reduce sales staffing costs. Because ordering online doesn't require a sales representative to take the call and then effectively turn it around this costs the firm a certain amount per enquiry in staff time. Encourage clients to use the web form as opposed to other methods of product ordering may be an effective means of reducing these costs. Ways that a firm may wish to do this is to reflect the reduced staffing cost in the price by offering a "better deal" to Internet customers. Also, this can help to establish a pattern of online behavior in customers that can sometimes be translated to other online firm functions such as support pages.

Example of companies using cyberspace as competitive advantage

The perfect example is the website of Kerala State Tourism as well as KTDC. The State of Kerala often referred to as God's Own country has been endowed with beautiful landscape laden with its picturesque beaches is an ideal place that attracts tourists from all over the world. The Kerala Tourism realizing the immense potential the tourism can generate in terms of revenue for the state, has developed the website that provides valuable information to tourists not just from India but for tourists from different parts o f world as well the website has language translation facilities for French, Dutch, German and Spanish. Several Multinational companies have redesigned their websites with country specific strategy. Big Companies like Coca Cola, Nokia, GE, Microsoft etc. are some examples to quote. Many business analysts emphasized the need for country-specific web content as early as 2003.
 

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Source: E-mail May 14, 2011

 

           

 

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