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Business relay marketing Essay

 INTRODUCTION

As we are passing through the modern times, the variety of goods available for sale in any cities has reached levels never seen before. Within three decades, the domestic trade has expanded manifold. Many experts are placing greater emphasis on trade liberalization, expansion of markets, economic stability, advances in communication and efficient transportation methods, thus allowing consumers to be exposed to a wider arrange of goods.

This research is focused on the study of marketing of computer peripherals through relay internet websites and one of popular approach has been concentrated on the effect of   the judgment of marketing research.  Research has shown the perceptions of sale of a product are influenced by factors such as economic development, market stability and cultural similarity in the specific area.

 RELAY MARKETING AND RELAY INTERNET WEBSITES

Relay marketing are the direct marketing and communication agencies having the expertise to help someone to stand in the business. To get hold in the business in the initial stages one always requires to get new customers, making the Website of the company, placing the order,  processing the order , packing, shipping and tracking of online orders. Relay agencies have the requisites expertise and can handle all these factors. It deals

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in Direct Marketing, making Creative Design, Copywriting the message, Multimedia functioning and as a Marketing Consultant. It executes from marketing strategy to final solution. Some relay marketers also deals in E-Commerce, Identity Brand Marketing, CD/DVD Replication, Order Fulfillment Services-Production and Distribution, Inventory Management and Customer Support. There are innumerable services a relay marketer can do and each is specialized in his  own field.shopforbandwidh.com is one of the example to whom one can approach for doing business. The objective of this study is therefore to investigate the issues of Relay marketing of consumers with views of products and evaluate products.

e-Bay is worlds largest online shopping portal having generated incomes excess of 10 billion USD last year. The company was established during the dot com era and has a unique business model of bringing shops to the homes. Based in the United States, it markets its products globally based on the bidding system and couriers the items to the customers. The customer has an advantage as the price of the goods is dependent on the bidding (highest) amount and the excess of shipping costs to be borne. The report focuses on the intricate IT systems e-bay has implemented in order to safe guard its business and the interests of its customers.

CONCEPT OF RELAY MARKETING

Marketing penetration is the systematic gathering, recording and analyzing of data about factors related to the marketing of goods and services.  The rate of change in information would depend on the specific product and customer segment with which we are dealing. We would need continuous and extensive market information to find out what designs, colors and prices will appeal to this market segment. Customer tastes, habits, values, attitudes, or dealing in a product which is not that susceptible to environmental influences, we need marketing information to improve and be at least one step ahead of our competitors.

MARKETING PENETRATION BY RELAY MARKETING

The basic purpose of marketing approach is to facilitate the decision-making process. A manager has before him a number of alternative solutions to choose from in response to every marketing problem and situation. In the absence of market information he may make the choice on the basis of his hunch. By doing so the manager is taking a big risk because he has no concrete evidence to evaluate this alternative in comparison with others or to assess its possible outcome. With the help of information provided by marketing research the manager can reduce the number of alternate choices to one, two or three and the possible outcome of each choice is also known. Thus the decision-making process becomes a little easier.

The second purpose of marketing research is that it helps to reduce the risk associated with the process of decision-making. The risk arises because of two types of uncertainties:

uncertainty about the expected outcome of the decision, and uncertainty about the future. Uncertainty about the expected outcome of the decisions will always remain no matter how much information we may have collected to base our decision on hard facts. Unforeseen factors have the uncanny ability of upsetting even the most stable apple cart.  Despite best research effort the outcome can still be unpredictable.  The risk also arises because of uncertainty of what will happen in the future, the way the customers or distributors would behave, the manner in which the competition will react and so on.

The third purpose of market research is that it helps firms in discovering opportunities which can be profitably exploited. These opportunities may exist in the form of untapped customer needs or wants not catered to by the existing firms

Formulation of   Information

Marketing research is undertaken in order to improve the understanding about a marketing situation or problem and consequently improve the quality of decision-making related to it. The usefulness of the marketing research output will depend upon the way the research has been designed and implemented at each stage of the process.

i) Marketing Problem : A problem is any situation which requires further investigations. However, not all marketing problems need formal investigation or research. Many problems are of a routine and trivial nature which can be solved immediately after ascertaining all the facts of the case. Some problems faced by marketing managers are such that they can be handled on the basis of past experience and intuition. Such decisions can only be made if the manager has been in the line for at least a couple of years. When the problem is critical, spending resources to initiate formal marketing research is warranted.

A market survey on computer peripherals is conducted. The stated objectives of the report and the questionnaires serve the stated objectives

a) to make a detailed study of the computer accessories market in terms of its existing market size, future market potential, major geographical markets and important customer segments:

b) to record, who are the major competitors for this product, their respective product attributes, brand positioning and marketing strategies;

c) to study each of the major customer segments viz., institutions  and retail outlets.

ii) Research Design: If we have stated our problem correctly and precisely, we should be able to spell out the precise objectives for research.  The research design spells out how we are going to achieve the stated research objectives. The data collection methods, the specific research instrument and the sampling plan that we will use for collecting data and the corresponding cost are the elements that constitute the research design.

Data Collection Methods: A great deal of data is regularly collected and disseminated by international bodies, International Labor Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Government and its many agencies, private research organizations, and trade associations.. This secondary data already exists in an accessible form, it only has to be located. Primary data can be collected from customers, retailers, distributors, manufacturers or other information sources. Primary data may be collected through any of the three methods: observation, survey and experimentation.

Instrument Used:  Whatever the instrument used, the researcher must ensure that the instrument is appropriate to the occasion and is reliable.

In the survey method the most commonly used instrument is the questionnaire. This is a written and organized format containing all the questions relevant to soliciting the required information. The construction of a questionnaire requires skill. To check that the questionnaire serves the necessary purpose, it should be tested on a limited scale and this is technically known as a pilot survey.

The questions should have direct relevance to the problem being researched. Too many irrelevant questions will only increase the length of the questionnaire and also add to the burden of analysis without yielding any useful result.

Sampling Plan: After preparing the questionnaire or the equipment for observation, we have to identify the source of our information, the source is also called the ‘population’ or ‘universe’. For conducting marketing research we would rarely gather information from the entire population, rather we would select a small group known as sample which has all the characteristics of the population, and conduct research among the sample group.

 For the purpose of the survey, information was gathered from a sample drawn from four distinct segments, viz., institutions, retail outlets, office users.

RELAY MARKETING MODEL

The aspects of internet website arouse greater interests among the marketers. They tend to view relay internet marketing differently. The marketers can create the contents of their offers in more flexible and innovative ways. They can communicate about their offers to the customers who are not bound by the traditional geographical limits. He can create newer communities of customers having some common interests or need patterns. These communities can be utilized as target market segments which are more strongly linked with the marketers. Better commercial business can be expected to result from these new kinds of marketer-customer linkages.

The content from the marketers side are determined by the objectives of marketers, understanding of the customers profile and whether the target customer community already exists or needs to be created afresh.. Relay marketing can overcome limitations by converting the existing communities into internet communities. Marketer can bring together a new community bound by some common parameter of their interest or characteristic. The possibility of peer to peer communication on internet accelerates this community build up process in relay internet marketing.

Transactions can result much faster on the internet with these communities. This is further possible as the customers can approach the website market from the locations and timings of their convenience. Since the customers have the opportunity of scanning all the information of their relevance they are better prepared to transact when on internet. The speed of transaction can also be much more as a lot of customer related information may already

retrievable with the marketer and need not be repeated every time the customer wishes to transact.

 AN OVERVIEW OF THIS NEW BUSINESS PHENOMENON IN UK AND INTERNATIONAL MARKET:

  Relay Marketing is getting a widespread acknowledgement both in UK and international markets as the manufacturer can reach to unlimited customers and the scope has increased.

Consumer behavior is helpful in understanding the purchase behavior and preferences of different consumers. As consumers, we differ in terms of our age, education, occupation, income, family set-up, religion, nationality and social status. Because of these different background factors we have different needs and we only buy those products and services which we think will satisfy our needs. In marketing terminology, specific types or group of consumers buying different products represent different market segments.

To successfully market to different market segments, the marketing manager needs appropriate marketing strategies which he can design only when he understands the factors which account for these differences in consumer behavior and tastes.

In today’s world of rapidly changing technology, consumer tastes are also characterized by fast changes. To survive in the market, a firm has to be constantly innovating and understand the latest consumer trends and tastes. Consumer  provides invaluable clues and guidelines to marketers on new technological frontiers which they should explore

Consumer behavior is a process, and purchase forms one part of this process. There are various endogenous psychological and exogenous environmental factors which influence this process. All these factors and the type of influence which they exert on an individual’s consumption behavior can be understood and analyzed. Some of these factors can be further influenced by specific elements of the marketing strategy, so that the consumer behavior process results in a definite purchase decision. To the extent that the marketer can understand and manipulate the influencing factors, he can predict the behavior of consumers. Though prediction can never be absolutely accurate, it certainly reduces the risk associated with different marketing strategies.

  Consumer behavior is affected by a host of variables, ranging from personal motivations, needs, attitudes and values, personality characteristics, socio-economic and cultural background, age, professional status to social influences of various kinds exerted by family, friends, colleagues and society as a whole. The combinations of these various factors produce a different impact on each one of us as manifested in our different behavior as consumers.  One would find that each person has his own standards of judgments and distinct behavior in every aspect of his role as a consumer. At the same time, underlying the individual differences are similarities which help explain behavior of specific types or groups of people. It is these similarities which make it possible for us to classify and analyze the behavior of individual consumers.

PROCESS OF DECISION-MAKING

The most basic and important requirement for the marketer is to understand how consumers make choices. Human beings are usually quite rational and make systematic use of information available to them. People consider the implications of their actions before they decide to engage or not to engage in a given behavior.

Making a decision is a rational and conscious process in which the consumer evaluates each of the available alternatives to select the best amongst them. Each decision one makes involves an elaborate mental thought process, a degree of active reasoning, though on the surface it may not always seem to be so. Over a period of time one has taken certain decisions so many times that they now seem to be made almost automatically but that is not true at all. Even ones daily decision of buying a loaf of bread involves the element of active reasoning as buying new furniture for drawing room. In the former case, the extent and intensity of active reasoning may be much less as compared to the latter case.

MARKET SEGMENTATION

   All corporate marketing activities have to be necessarily carried out in such a way that they lead to generation of surplus funds. Even in case of non-profit and non-manufacturing setups, it becomes important to achieve marketing goals in the most economical way. This is so primarily because of budgetary constraints in such organizations. One of the ways to obtain economies in marketing is to concentrate and focus the marketing effort in respect of a well defined homogeneous cluster of potential customers. This approach known as market segmentation helps in optimizing the marketing mix for a segment.

 RELAY MARKET SEGMENTATION VERSUS PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION

Market segmentation is defined as the division of a market into groups of segments having similar wants. But wants must be interpreted very broadly, in terms far broader than product characteristics only. Segments may differ also in their needs for information, reassurance, technical support, service, promotion, distribution, and a host of other non product benefits that are part of their purchase. They may also differ in their capacity to pay for these differences.

 IMPLICATIONS FOR NEW ENTRANTS TO THE AREA

 Relay marketing takes a slightly different shape as compared to the conventional marketing.  With the change of technology, the new entrants are finding the market open and a flood of customers to buy their products. With the increase of customers the market has potential to take more loads. The manufacturer can deal with world wide customers just sitting at one place.

i) Customer profiling, segmentation and targeting: Relay marketing has the capability of viewing existing customer’s data through a wide variety of angles and compare the efficacy of each of these views. Various data mining tools available today are employed to do this job. They mainly utilize the processes of sorting, clustering and association seeking among the consumer characteristics. The history of the customer behavior in terms of past transactions and internet viewing generate rich data for this purpose automatically. Such data are often supplemented with the offline data collected through alternative sources.

The customer segments created with such methodologies can have the advantage of being more dynamic, more insightful and customers themselves selecting into a segment.

Each customer is individually identifiable and reachable at their personal addresses.. Therefore, the process of micro segmentation can be extended to its logical limit of mass customization of marketing.

ii) Product planning In the markets today there are several products which may be called as digitized products. The products whose main contents are information fall in this category.  Software’s, books, audio arid video products are  products which are already available in digitized forms or are very easily amenable to be converted into. These digitized products can directly be displayed, presented and even delivered through internet. The digitisable components of such products can take the advantage of mounting on the internet marketing platform directly.

 Marketers can also bring in the product optimization tools which can simultaneously look at the customer’s needs and the marketer’s objectives and achieve them. The marketer can estimate the profitabilities at the various levels of customization and offer that level of customization which satisfies his own objectives the best.

iii) Branding: Products on the internet can benefit as much as any other product from proper branding. The rapid proliferation of internet based products gathers a very large clutter of brands in least amount of time. In such situations the power of brand identity becomes even more indispensable.

iv) Pricing decisions: Customers can compare much larger range of offers and their prices has suggested that relay marketing exerts downward pressure on prices in the marketplace. Internet provides a large array of data about the different products prices and corresponding sets of features. These information assist customers to more easily sort out less valuable features of the product from the more valuable ones today. They can also evaluate the real worth of products when the market is flooded with a complex array of products with varying features. The customers can also utilize the wisdom of fellow customers for this purpose. In all, internet tends to make a wiser customer out of the ordinary.

Customers can also pool their purchasing power on internet. This purchasing power can help them to resort to reverse auction and secure best possible price deals from the marketers.

While customers get the benefit of better price information and bargaining, relay marketer can also see opportunities in it. First of all, the seller can apply price discrimination much more fiercely and dynamically because the seller can now deal with each customer more on one to one basis. The seller can also optimize on price and profit realization using the customer related data and the internal data about items such as inventory levels, incremental costs and competitive strategy followed. It also allows the marketer to better concentrate on the life time price realization from a customer rather than just the benefit through immediate transaction.

Another significant advantage offered by relay marketing is about the ease and speed of price collection from the customers. The electronic money transfers from the customers to marketers can take away considerable pain of collections and accounting.

v) Advertising and Sales Promotions: Like products and prices, customization of advertising and promotion are very much possible in internet marketing. Besides customization, the customer is contacted when he is giving, full attention to the internet. In fact, when a customer views any site he has done so after deliberate and conscious effort and choice.

Advertising generates a hierarchy of impacts like creation of awareness, interest, desire and action on the consumer. Different media are found to be better suited for certain kinds of impacts out of this hierarchy. Internet has been found to be amenable to finer tuning for most of these impacts. It is possible to better transport the customer from one level of impact to the next higher one and do so more quickly. The combination of this factor with the feature of individualization makes the output very powerful one. Besides this, the measurement of each of these impacts is also possible more easily and online.

vi) Distribution: Relay internet business is  seen as attacking on the length of the distribution chain. This is explained as internet is seen to be overtaking some of the distribution intermediaries tasks, particularly the information flow related ones, much more efficiently and instantaneously. As a result it is often possible to reorganize the distribution chain at the cost of its length. The span of control can also increase considerably as many of the control related processes can be transferred to the computer. The saving in costs due to these effects is often considered as the most important contributions of internet marketing.

The increased availability of distribution related information can also cause information overload to the consumers. A new category of channel members, called infomediaries, have also emerged. These infomediaries primarily consolidate the relevant information about the availability of the products and pass them on to the consumers after suitably repackaging them. Besides pure infomediaries, the existing distributors do also rebundle their services after integrating the online and offline elements of their services.

Internet also enables online distribution of digitized products. This helps in extending pinpointed reach to a large number of customers, eliminating the lead time between ordering and delivery, reducing the inventory requirements and smooth organization of transaction related data processing.

vii) Marketing Information: Customer interface with the marketer’s site on the internet itself generates substantial market research data. The online nature of such data makes them inexpensive, timely, transcription errors free, authentic and unobtrusive. Some data are also generated by the customers as they leave traces of their internet usage. These data are closest to the naturally emanating data without any outside tampering. Data on internet also enable the marketer to discover the associations between customer behavior and various other preferences and actions of the customers exhibited on the internet. These kinds of data are often unique to internet marketing and can not be collected through any traditional means of marketing research.

Specific marketing research can also be conducted on internet. In such researches respondents qualifying on a host of parameters can be reached with relative ease. The number of sampling parameters can often be much larger than what is possible through conventional modes of data collection. Such targeted respondents can be reached with customized instruments and during the timings of their convenience. Various computer assisted data collection tools available today can be easily used to customize these research instruments. These tools can also be embedded with data processing softwares.

LIMITATIONS OF RELAY INTERNET BUSINESS

Relay marketing, despite its tremendous advantages, has yet to overcome many of the associated problems. Some of these problems are inbuilt with the technology of internet and some others are contextual for the environment in which internet marketing is applied.

i)                    Limits to digitization: The key advantage of internet is achieved by converting marketing contents into digitized form. Therefore, the remainder part which is not digitisable virtually lies outside the domain of internet marketing.

ii)                   Shopping experience: Customers are quite used to the “touch and feel” experience of shopping. Internet based shopping is, therefore, finding some consumer resistance. Advantages of internet shopping and the practice over time are expected to overcome this resistance.

iii)                 Security issues: While shopping on internet, customers often have to share sensitive information related to their person as well as their financial matters. While the marketers are trying to make these sharing of information and details much more secure against the possible misuse the customers are not fully convinced about these security arrangements.

iv) Internet access density: Although more than  millions of people were reported to be online they still account for only less than 2 per cent of the total population of the world. This population of online is not only very low, it is also very asymmetrically distributed. As a result, only certain skewed segments of the market can be tapped through relay marketing today.

iv)               Customers used to freebies: The development of cyber marketing is characterized by intensive promotions of substantial values. Relay customers have started expecting freebies before responding to cyber marketer’s cues of any kind.

v)                  Dot.com bust: The sudden emergence of internet power and its relay marketing possibilities gave rise to great hypes about their commercial opportunities. Many half baked business models were deployed to capitalize on this wave. In fact, the market got cluttered with innumerous so called dot.com companies. When the bottom of most of these dot.com companies was removed the pendulum of market interests swung to the other extreme. Many marketers and customers have become shy of using any of the cyber marketing tools. The time has come to rectify this disbalance and evolve the business models which incorporate internet power more realistically.

CONCLUSION

Relay marketing has the great concern of attracting the target customers to its place. The process obviously starts with the selection of appropriate target customers. The contents of the business are expected to be designed keeping the total marketing offer and the customers profile in mind. Even after this unless customers reach to the site the marketing efforts will be less productive. Customers adopt their own peculiar methods and strategies to reach particular sites.

It is, therefore, clear that search engines and other sites play greater roles in directing traffic to the marketer’s site.. The search engines send customers based on the title of the site, key words used to describe the site and the brief page descriptions mentioned on the search engines. There is a good scope to find out the key words kept in mind by the cyber customers while exploring about a product category.

The aspects of internet arouse greater interests among the marketers. They tend to view relay marketing differently. The marketers can now create the contents of their offers in more flexible and innovative ways. They can now communicate about their offers to the customers who are not bound by the traditional geographical limits. He can now create newer communities of customers having some common interests or need patterns. These communities can now be utilized as target market segments which are more strongly linked with the marketers. The board of sales should go for Relay Marketing as better commercial business can be expected to result from these new kinds of marketer-customer linkages.

References

1.      Galbraith J,(1978) Strategic Implementation: The Role of Structure and Process, St. Paul, Minnesota,

2.      Malcolm McDonald, (2002) Marketing Management: Prentice Hall Inc: Englewood Cliffs.

3.      J. Taylor Sims, J. Robert Foster, Arch G. Woodside (|1998) Marketing Channels: Strategies Harper and Row: New York.

4.      Hamblin,A.C, (1995) Marketing Management planning,Implementation&Control,   McGraw Hill, London,

5.      Cascio, W.F.,(1996) Fundamentals of Modern Marketing,  McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York,

 

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