Building a brand in a business-to-business context is different from doing so in a consumer market. The case study given about Cisco demonstrates this fact. When Cisco started its operations, its main target market was corporate bodies. It was selling its products to firms, which needed systems that could help them run more efficiently.
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The firm has however, grew exponentially over the last decade and it has come to appreciate the fact that consumer market can no longer be ignored. The approach taken by Cisco to build its brand when it was targeting other business units has changed following its decision to include consumer markets as part of its target markets. The approach taken to attract organizational consumers is different from the strategy taken to attract consumer markets. One of the difference comes in the way building the brand is concerned.
When dealing with business-to-business market, the focus will be on the decision makers within the targeted firm. This can be the chief executive. In such cases, a firm will make an effort to ensure that the decision maker understands the brand and its superiority over other existing brands.
This is because the decision maker is known (McNally & Speak, 2011). It is very different from the case where the target market is a consumer market. In consumer market, the target audience is undefined. A firm will always try to build its brand by trying to communicate to everyone in the consumer market. This is evident from the case study given about Cisco.
When Cisco was targeting other corporate bodies as its target market, it would focus on the main decision makers in the companies and sell its brand to them. This changed when it focused on the consumer market. The management realized that the only way of making its brand strong in the consumer market is to ensure that the public knows it.
It is also apparent from the case that when targeting consumer market with the brand, more advertising would be necessary than when dealing with business-to-business market. When Cisco targeted organizational consumers, it found it easy to visit the companies and explain to the decision makers the importance of using their system. This changed when the firm expanded its market to include consumer markets. It had to use social and mass media to popularize the brand.
Cisco’s plan to reach out to consumers is viable. For a long time, Cisco had been a popular brand in the United States and other regions around the world. However, it was very unfortunate that this brand was popular but most people did not know its specific products. This was understandable because the main target market for this firm initially was organizational consumers. The management would advertise this brand in the market, with their target being the decision makers in various organization.
However, this has to change given that it has decided to target consumer markets. The management must devise ways through which it can make its products known in the market. The plan to reach out to consumers is viable and very timely. In the past few years, the firm has been popular with its brand, and not its products. The management must make an effort to ensure that the popularity that the brand has generated is translated into popularity in all its products.
According to Pride and Ferrell (2011), a firm can only benefit from its strong brand if its consumers are able to relate the brand with the products. This is the only way that a firm will be able to make its products gain a competitive edge over other firms in the market. Cisco has been keen on expanding its products line through acquisitions and takeovers. The firm has acquired many other firms that have helped it increase its market share and the products it offers in the market.
It is therefore, prudent to ensure that whenever such acquisitions are made, the customers are informed about the new product that have been introduced into the market (McNally & Speak, 2011). Cisco had depended on mass media to reach out to the customers. The television commercials were used to attract customers and inform them of any changes that could have taken place and the new products that the firm could have recently introduced.
Currently, the firm has decided to use social media to reach out to the customers. The decision is very timely. This is because when targeting the consumer market, it is important to know the attractive market segments. The youth make the most attractive market segment for electronic product or any technology-oriented products.
They get fascinated by the power of technology, and can easily make purchase of a product if they get convinced that it has what they need. This target market is easily found in social media such as Facebook, Tweeter and other blogs that Cisco has decided to use. This is a strong indication that this plan is very viable.
McNally, D., & Speak, K. D. (2011). Be your own brand: Achieve more of what you want by being more of who you are. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Pride, W. M., & Ferrell, O. C. (2011). Marketing express. Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning.