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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Rationale for an international supply chain at FORD Motor Company

FORD runs an international supply chain. This could appear to be an obvious choice for the organisation since its 77 manufacturing plants are located in different parts of the world. But when reviewed critically, it is possible for an international company to source for its supplies from the same market. A focused strategy in sourcing where all supplies come from the same market can present the organisation with the benefit of enhanced coordination between the suppliers. The sourcing would also be in bulk and this could help with negotiation of better discounts. But it is quite uncommon to find a single market that can comfortably produce a wide range of supplies. FORD uses in excess of 100,000 materials in production. It is highly unlikely that all these could be available in a single market. The main merit of international sourcing is therefore the fact that variety can be obtained.

The second merit for an international supply chain network is that it tends to be very resilient. Catastrophes and economic upheavals in one region would often be overcome by focusing more on suppliers in different regions. This helps in operational efficiency being maintained around the year. The international network also helps the organisation to benefit from obtaining the best supplies available. Where the supplies are being sourced from a wider scope, the probability of getting the best supplier is much higher. This is important for promoting quality and innovation.

The only weakness in the international supply chain is the risk of poor coordination and supplies. Having suppliers that are geographically remote increases the lead times needed for the delivery of supplies. Besides, the long distances could prove to be very costly where the price differences are not sufficient to offset the projected increase in the cost of transportation of supplies. This demerit is overcome by FORD through enhanced coordination where the regional offices help in ordering in bulk and distributing the supplies to the manufacturing plants. The overall assessment is therefore that the international supply chain is the appropriate model for the organisation. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

How different minority groups compare to each other in terms of racism in America

America is a country that has been described in many occasions as a melting pot.  This term has often been understood to mean that various cultures are brought together and are tolerated. By implication, cultural and ethnic tolerance should mean that every person is treated equally and fairly. But the situation tends to be different as there is evidence of racism across the society. This report briefly discusses the experiences of African, Latino, Native, and Asian Americans with a view to comparing and contrasting their experiences with racism.

When you read that black children are less likely to get higher education than the white children (American Ethnicity, p. 103), you appreciate that racism is not a thing of the past. It is still here with us. The African Americans are synonymous with a past of slavery. They were subjected to inhumane treatment by White Americans who saw them as lesser beings; giving them the justification to categorise them as slaves. The perception was that the African American (the Negro) is inferior in mental capacity, moral standing, and physical abilities to the White person (American Ethnicity, p. 105). There have been many attempts to challenge this with the civil rights movement of the 1960s asserting that African Americans are equal and deserve respect and all rights due to them. However, there is still a general perception driven even through simple things like television programs where the whites are continually depicted as being superior to the blacks.

The modern day African American is no longer a slave. They have more rights in terms of expression, access to economic opportunities, access to education, right to participate in political processes, and a more general feeling of safety. However, they are still discriminated against when compared to the white population in terms of employment and other economic opportunities (American Ethnicity, p. 147). An example can be drawn from the justice system where the average African American is seen as being vulnerable and more likely than a white person to be convicted of a crime. The prison complex challenge provides insights on how the African American and other minority races flock the prisons unfairly instead of the social challenges they undergo being addressed as a challenge. For instance, drug abuse and trafficking could be addressed as a social ill and handled more humanely be searching for better solutions. Instead, it is criminalised for purposes of decimating this section of the society where hundreds of thousands of productive young people are sent to prison.

The black community has come a long way. It would be difficult to discuss race relations without pointing out that the USA currently has a black president. To some extent, this shows how far the society has come where a community that was once enslaved can have one of them as president. However, the culture of racism is still prevalent with President Obama often having to ward off various forms of racist attacks (Racist America, p. 166). This proves that the blacks are yet to be accepted by some sectors of the society as equals in spite of the political power they may have garnered over time.

Latino Americans are, like African Americans, perceived to be inferior to the white population. Their way of life is regarded as being inferior and there have even been incentives for them to discard it in favour of the ‘American way’ which is basically the culture of the white Americans. Even though they were not subjected to slavery, Latino Americans tended to be very poorly paid and could only afford to live in deplorable states in slums across the USA.

One of the main challenges they face today is still related to the question of lifestyle and their ability to afford certain services. For example, Latino mothers will often give up on pursuing prenatal care because they are unable to afford to pay for it (American Ethnicity, P.198). This, in addition to being a risk to the lives of the babies, becomes a disincentive for them to want to raise children. It is an element that suppresses population growth in this group. The lack of money also translates into them being unable to afford healthy living places.

The deplorable conditions that Latino Americans lived under led to an increase of social challenges such as drug trafficking and abuse as well as insecurity challenges (American Ethnicity, p. 200). These would be some of the most unsafe residential areas in the USA and the police would invest little resource or time to try and keep the neighbourhoods safe. The neglect led to the quality of life being poor, increased risk of diseases, and low life expectancy in general. For instance, a study on the cause of death for children between 1 and 14 years was found to be unintentional injury (American Ethnicity, p. 198). This paints a grim picture on how unsafe the residents occupied by these Latinos really are.

The Native Americans were the original inhabitants of America before different groups of immigrants started coming in (American Ethnicity, p. 151). They owned the expansive tracks of land that is now the USA and would often live them uninhabited as a way of preserving them for their wild horses and other forms of wildlife. This, to the white settlers, appeared to be a signal that the land was idle and up for the taking. They sought to practice the kind of land use that they’d been accustomed to in Europe. They sought to ‘civilise’ the Native Americans. With no regard for the original owners of the land, the White settlers moved in to divide the land into plantations hence changing ownership. This led to a confrontation with the Native Americans with the latter being driven out of their land. Subsequent killings left these Natives almost completely wiped out. The Native Americans therefore have a bitter past in terms of ill treatment by the White Americans.

In the present day, the Native Americans are like other non-white races: largely ostracised and locked out of many social and economic opportunities. They are still referred to using demeaning and derogatory images. For instance, movies will often portray the Natives as savages; hence creating an air of danger around them (American Ethnicity, p.163). Even though this could be seen as minor because they are just movies, it is important to appreciate that this view is consistent with what the dominant white group wanted them to project about them. They also tend to be presented as something un-American where they have big noses and pot-bellies (American Ethnicity, p.165). This presents them as some forms of strange and perhaps less witty and lazy characters who shouldn’t be entrusted with positions of economic or political importance.

The Asians are more successful economically than the other minority groups discussed in this course (American Ethnicity, p. 262). They include Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino Americans among others. This group was often seen as a threat to the Whites because they were considered to be intelligent and hardworking. An example is Vincent Chin, a charismatic and creative actor who rose as high as to be nominated for Oscar Awards in 1987. Vincent Chin was killed by 2 well-known White Americans who never got convicted for their crime. This was an example of a case of the system regarding this Chinese American as lesser than his murderers hence the murderers didn’t need to hang for their crime.

Traditionally, the progress of Asian Americans was inhibited where systems to limit their prosperity and acquisition of economic and political power were put in place. One of the most ridiculous cases was people being locked out of job opportunities because they have funny accents. It is recorded in American Ethnicity (p. 234) that Asians would often be unable to secure jobs because they were yet to master the ‘American accent’.  This points to an attempt by the dominant white group to use their influence over the economy to assimilate and possibly impose their culture on the non-whites.

The Asian Americans from the Arab world tend to feel the brunt of societal challenges related to terrorism. They are often victimised or generally viewed with suspicion where an air of fear and intolerance tends to follow them (American Ethnicity p. 277). It is a development that has been brought about by the rising threat of terrorism around the world. By being Muslim, these Arab Americans are often made to feel out of place and this exclusion is expected to affect how they relate to others; and even to the ability of them accessing various amenities within the country.  

The main similarity between these groups is that they are all seen as being inferior to the White American group. Even though they have been in the USA as long as or even longer than their white counterparts, they are seen as the outsiders. Their cultures are seen as inferior and this has gone as far as seeking a white identity for America. Even though these groups will often dispute the fact that USA has the white identity, the dominant white group sees it as such.

The second similarity between these groups is that they are all actively discriminated against by the dominant white group. The genocide of the Natives or the enslavement of the African Americans is no longer an active policy. However, they are still exposed to deplorable living conditions through neglect and deliberate downgrading of areas where they live by neglecting important infrastructure or neglect of security. When compared to the white population, these minority races tend to be at a disadvantage even when it comes to economic and social opportunities. An example can be drawn from Racist America (p. 143) where people applied for jobs and a study showed that those with names that appeared to be white were 50% more likely to be contacted. The white Americans manage to secure jobs with greater ease than the non-whites. They therefore do not have to work as hard as the other races to make it in life.

Another similarity is the differences in pricing and access to certain services. In a study that involved Latinos, Blacks, and Whites, testers were looking for insurance covers. In this study, it was established that there is some form of racial discrimination on insurance cover where the whites tended to be granted the most favourable terms as compared to the Latinos and the Blacks (Racist America, p. 175).

There’s also one thing that ties these minorities together: the issue of self-pride. Self-pride refers to one being happy and proud of their culture (American Ethnicity p. 152). The blacks have continued to uphold their culture to an extent that certain elements such as the pop-culture and accents are being adopted even by a section of the white population. The same can be said of the Native Americans who have come together to fight against poor images of them being used in the media and public functions. Virtually every minority group appears to be identifying what makes them stand out and are embracing it aggressively. This translates into the White American attempt of assimilation failing. In the future as these minority groups grow in numbers and influence, it is even less likely that the White identity will hold.

The differences are significant in the sense with which these minority groups are treated. By being able to use their population size in spearheading the rights of minority groups, the African Americans have been able to raise their cultural profile to a certain degree. The Arab Americans are also noted to have overcome many of the hurdles in their path and are seemingly doing better than the rest of the society. While the average number of Americans with a degree is 24%, the Arab Americans have 41% of their adult population with a university degree (American Ethnicity, 287). This is a very high percentage and it signifies a possible growth in political and economic power for some of these minority groups.

The minority groups in the USA have all suffered discrimination. These forms of discrimination have tended to cut across. Instances such as being denied employment opportunities have been common with the White Americans more likely to access employment opportunities more than any other group. However, some groups have been able to overcome this problem. For instance, the Arab Americans appear to be more educated than most other groups. There is also a unique challenge when it comes to terrorism where Asian Americans from Muslim regions appear to be subjected to unnecessary suspicion and harassment. In spite of these slight differences, the racist experiences undergone by each of these minority groups are quite similar with differences being only slight. 

Friday, 1 January 2016


Porter’s model for strategic management provides managers with the overall strategic approaches that they could use to develop and sustain a competitive advantage. The strategies often used include cost leadership, differentiation, and the focus strategies.

Cost leadership strategy
This generic strategy calls for low producer of an industry for a given level of quality. The firm either sells its products at average industry price to earn a profit higher than its competitors, or below the industry  prices in order to gain market the event of price war , the firm can attain some profitability while the competitors suffer the loses. Cost leadership strategy always targets a broad market and this helps when the firm matures and price declines, the firm that can produce more cheaply can remain profitable for the longer time.
Affirm  may be able to sustain a competitive advantage  based on cost leadership  by improving process efficiency gaining unique access to a large source of low cost materials making optimal out sourcing and vertical integration decisions.
A firm that succeeds in cost leadership had the following internal strength;
  • ·         Access to capital required to make significant investment in production asserts, this investment represent a berries that mast firms cannot overcome.
  • ·         Skills in designing products for efficient manufacturing.
  • ·         High level of expertise in manufacturing process engineering
  • ·         Efficient distribution channels.

·         Cost leadership also has risks as other firms may be able to lower their cost as well. As technology improves, the competitors may be able to improve production capabilities thus eliminating competitive advantage.

Differentiation strategy
Differentiation strategy calls for the development of a product or service that that offers unique attributes that are valued by the customers and the customers perceive to be better than or different from the competitors. The uniqueness of a product may make accompany to charge higher than the competitors’. The firm hopes that the higher price will cover the extra cost incurred in offering the unique product. Because of the uniqueness so the product the firm may be able to pass the cost to the customers who cannot find substitute products daily.
For a firm to succeed In differentiation strategy the following internal strength’s must the achieved:
  • ·         Access to leading scientific research.
  • ·         High skilled and creative production department.
  • ·         Strong sells team with the ability to succeed in communication and perceive the strength of the product.
  • ·         Corporate reputation for quality and innovation.

Differentiation strategy also has risks including competitors being able to imitate the products that may confuse the customs and change their taste.

Focus strategy
Focus strategy concentrates on narrow segment and within that segment attempt to achieve either cost advantage or differnciationa firm that uses focus strategy often enjoys a high degree of customer loyalty and when customers are loyal may discourage the completive firms from competing directly.
Firms using focus strategy have lower volumes and therefore less bargaining power with their suppliers. However firms practicing differentiation strategy may pass on their cost to the customers since close substitute products does not exist.
Firms that succeed in focus strategy are able to have a broader range of products development strength to a relative narrow market segment that they know well. Focus strategy also has limitation such as imitations and changes in the target segment.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Using fiction in strategic branding

The main approach to branding has been through the use of stories, events, and the history of the organisation. This is in addition to being able to clearly project the value proposition of the organisation with clarity. Few, however, have sought to use fiction or mythology in branding.

In using science fiction, an organisation creates fictional stories with it as a player in the story; often playing the role that it would want to play in the eyes of the consumer. This is referred as the sci-fi approach to branding.

Lowe's, the home improvement chain, is among the companies that have waded into the sci-fi branding approach. To achieve this, the company has hired about 100 sci-fi authors in what is seen as a fresh attempt to exploit corporate story telling in strategic branding.

In Lowe's case, the storytelling is expected to take the form of science prototyping; demonstrating the kind of technologies that are expected to emerge in future and how the organisation is likely to be of value to the consumers.

Sci-fi branding takes a sharp break from the past where organisations seek to build on their past to capture consumer confidence. Instead, it focuses on projecting future developments. This has the impact of challenging consumers to think ahead in addition to shaping the organisation as the company of the future.

The sci-fi branding approach can lead to effective strategic positioning of the organisation if properly used. The fiction needs to be not only captivating and intriguing, but also quite effective in securing the confidence of the consumers. This, like neuromarketing, can be a basis for future strategic planning and branding for the organisation.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Neuromarketing key to success in outdoor advertising

Outdoor advertisements can be made more effective by singling out the trigger moments in TV commercials and displaying these sections in outdoor mediums.
This was established after an experiment was conducted across the US using 60TV commercials. The most intriguing moments on these commercials were used on outdoor advertisements with results being that using this approach can increase long term memory by up to 42%.

When an image is taken out of the most intriguing moment in a TV ad and displayed in OOH, it acts as a replay button enabling the audience to replay the whole commercial and recapture the essence of the advertisement. This makes advertisements more effective than when images are designed independently.

This case proves the application of neuroscience in increasing the returns on investment in marketing. What is needed for effectiveness is to capitalise on the same images used in commercials that have been proven to be more intriguing and captivating. Even though this research was conducted using static images, it is believed that a similar result would be achieved in outdoor media that display moving images.

If well applied, neuromarketing can help to reduce the cost of advertisement dramatically and increase the returns on marketing expenses.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The New domain name .sucks overpriced?

According to Warc Marketing Research, having a domain name .sucks comes with potential challenges; including the poor image that it is likely to accrue on the brands.
Registration for this domain name started in late March and is due to end in early June. While this gives would-be subscribers sufficient time to subscribe, the greater concern is on the domain cost. The companies are expected to pay as high a $2,499; a figure that pundits have termed as pure extortion. The lower range for the consumer advocate subsidy is also significantly higher than the market average at $10 a year. In fact,
Jay Rockerfeller, a former US Senator, is quoted as having termed the pricing as little more than a predatory shakedown scheme.

.sucks administrators have however justified the high pricing by noting that they wanted to attract customers who had use for the domain. The pricing is ostensibly to avoid people registering then 'putting the domains in their drawers'. From a strategic management perspective, this could be interpreted as a branding strategy in which the administrators would be aiming at establishing a strongly vibrant domain and create the buzz; making everyone to desire to be part of the new movement. But .sucks? In the common use of the term, .sucks already sounds like a hardsell for brands.

A common principle in strategic management is to consider branding as an integrated process; requiring consistency in every aspect of the organisation. This consistency would begin with the brand name, the product names, positioning strategies, conduct of the employees....virtually everything that an organisation would want to be associated with. With this in mind, it would be expected for consumers to associate any brand that buys the new domain .sucks. Picture this:, It automatically sends the message that whatever the brand sells sucks.

Nevertheless, there are endless possibilities and strategic marketers could turn this around. With sufficient positive campaign around the name .sucks, there's the possibility for the consumers to embrace the terminology as a symbol of anything apart from its literal meaning. It could be branded as trendy or be popularised with a certain market segment; making such a segment identify with the organisations that adopt it. New domain, new perceptions, new trends, new possibilities.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Demand for vouchers among UK online shoppers and implications for business strategy

UK online shoppers get savvier
By Warc, 17 March 2015

LONDON: More of the UK's online shoppers are hunting out voucher codes to use before making a purchase: new research has revealed., a UK voucher code site that has a stable of more than 1,500 stores, including leading retailers, surveyed 1,000 consumers to find out how often they used voucher codes when shopping online. It found that at the start of 2015, 57% were using voucher codes at least occasionally, up from 48% a year earlier.

The biggest increase had come among frequent users. Some 17% of those polled said they now "always" used voucher codes, compared to 10% in 2014. And "regular" users had risen from 13% to 16% over the same period. With one third of UK shoppers now falling into this frequent category, Voucherbox stated that they were "43% savvier than last year". The proportion of occasional users remained steady at 24%, a one point decline on 2014, while that of non-users fell from 42% to 35%. The percentage of respondents professing total ignorance of the subject had also fallen, from 10% to 8%. "Responding to this growth in consumer culture benefits both parties," said Shane Forster, UK country manager for "Sales generated by the incentive of a discount are proven to drive significant extra revenue for retailers," he told The Drum. Younger shoppers are most likely to look for a deal, the research found. Voucher code use has doubled since last year among consumers aged 18-24, going from a reported 32% to 63%, while the proportion of people aged 25-34 using voucher codes jumped to 68% from 40% last year.

A regional breakdown shows the biggest rise has come amongst Scottish consumers, with a 40% increase in voucher code usage over the previous year. Wales saw a 29% overall increase, followed by England (17%) and Northern Ireland (11%). A quarter of online shoppers in the East Midlands region said they always use voucher codes, compared to none in the same category last year. Consumers in the North West seeking out codes each time they shop grew by 172%, to 23%.

Implications for strategic management by retailers 
By Juma CJO
An increase in demand for vouchers is an indication of the fact that the UK consumers are becoming more price-sensitive than in the past. Instead of simply looking for cheaper products, they opt to go for vouchers in consideration of the desired product quality. This is in line with the consumer psychology of the price where cheaper products are often regarded as being of a poorer quality than the expensive products. Emphasis on vouchers can be interpreted by strategic managers as an increase in the number of consumers who want to save on their expenses while not willing to give up on the quality demanded. Understanding this aspect of price-psychology is very important for the marketing mix strategies that the organisation embraces.

One of the tactics that have been used by leading retailers is the use of loyalty cards where subscribers are exposed to larger discounts than other customers. This means that they can make savings without concerns over possible deterioration of product quality. The level of loyalty is enhanced where consumers appreciate that there is a high value attached to their membership to the company's loyalty schemes. For the companies, this development has important strategic operations management implications.

Whether prices are reduced directly or indirectly through an offer of attractive discounts and vouchers, it translates into lower profit margins per unit. This means that an organisation that wishes to sustain its competitiveness must invest in operations efficiency by streamlining internal operations to minimize the resources being used. It is the organisation that is most dynamic and effective in realigning its strategic operations management systems that will be able to emerge as being more competitive in an environment such as the UK where the level of price sensitivity is on the rise.