The case involves Reed Supermarkets Company, which constitutes a regional grocery store with a considerable market share of the local industry. The supermarket chain has 192 stores operating in two regional distribution centres in the same country. The centres have employed more than 20,000 individuals in the United States (Carlson and Quelch 1).
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However, the case is focused on the company’s target market in Ohio, specifically in Columbus, which makes its largest market (Carlson and Quelch 1). Despite considerable growth being observed in the Columbus market, the market share for Reed Supermarkets is reported to have decreased in this region over the last half a decade. The entry of new companies in the market has meant new competition for Reed with a stagnating the market share.
Some of the factors in the market that have made the company underperform include changes in the customer preferences. Their customers have different preferences for value and quality from those that existed in the last few years. The company has not responded adequately to these fundamental changes.
The chief executive officer has noted that the reason why Reed is stagnating is due to the poor strategies in place. Therefore, he has tasked the executives in the company to concoct a new strategy that will help the company achieve a revenue growth of 2% (Carlson and Quelch 1).
The company and the individuals face a number of problems to which they must offer solutions. The challenge that these individuals face is how to increase the market share from the current 14% to 16% without making customers change the high brand image that they perceive of the company (Carlson and Quelch 1). However, the individuals who are tasked with increasing the market share for Reed Supermarkets will feel a number of challenges.
The first thing is that the company faces significant competition from the existing and new market players. The market is also fragmented. It will be difficult for Reed Supermarkets to secure a fast increase in the market share under these conditions. Therefore, the executives must devise creative ways of achieving this goal.
The other challenge that they face is in the operating margin. The operating margin is at 2.1%. This means that the strategies they employ must be effective enough to ensure that the company uses the least possible resources. The third constraint that the company faces is in the expansion plan. The poor strategies that have been employed in the past have been insufficient to allow the expansion of Reed Supermarkets.
This applies for the financial year of 2010 (Carlson and Quelch 1). Despite the desire to increase the market share, the company has not set up an investment plan that will oversee the increase in the number of stores that it operates in the region and in the county in general (Carlson and Quelch 1). Therefore, the problem is to achieve the increase in market share for Reed Supermarkets with the limited resources and poor past strategies.
Reed has several strengths that are important in the realisation of the planned strategies. According to Sarin, Challagalla, and Kohli (566), the strengths of a company are important in the evaluation and assessment of the success that the strategies it puts in place will be achieved. One of the strengths that Reed has is that it has significant experience in handling private label merchandise (Carlson and Quelch 1). This strategy is important in the improvements for the customer selection practices that will lead to better performance.
The other strength is that the area of Ohio that Reed Supermarkets has established itself is rich in high-income consumers. This observation is strength to the company because it will lead to the promotion of high-end products that are recognised as beneficial to the company’s performance (Carlson and Quelch 1).
The executive officers also recognise that Reed is a renowned brand whose awareness by people comes from the quality products that it offers (Carlson and Quelch 1). Therefore, it might be easy to promote the company and its operations and hence significant improvement in the market share.
Despite the existence of the above strengths, there are also several weaknesses in the company and its strategies. The main weaknesses include the limited product selection that customers have from the organisation (Carlson and Quelch 1).
According to Carlson and Quelch (1), the product selection that an organisation manages to adopt is crucial to its performance in the market. For Reed Supermarkets, product selection may be improved through an increase in the experience that the company has in private label merchandise (Carlson and Quelch 1).
The second weakness for Reed Supermarkets is the customer perception that exists on its products. The supermarket chain is perceived to have low-value products, which this may affect its performance (Carlson and Quelch 1). This weakness may be corrected through the change of perceptions of customers, although this move will require adequate marketing and promotion.
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Reed has processed some opportunities in the development of a strategy that will see a 2% annual growth in market share for the company. The first opportunity is the increasing growth in the local economy. The area is said to be emerging from poor economic performance that has been present in the last few years.
Therefore, the purchasing power of the residents is likely to improve. Improvement in purchasing power means improvement for the retail companies in the area. Hence, this outcome translates to improved performance for Reed Supermarkets.
The second opportunity is the improved international economy, which means that the company may engage in international expansion to improve its performance. Carlson and Quelch (1) claim that a company that aims to increase its local dominance in an area must also focus on other markets.
The company also has labour as the other opportunity that it can utilise in its expansion and improvement agendas. The large number of employees may be trained on how to increase efficiency and to achieve individual and organisational improvement.
The main threat that the company faces is the increased number of competitors in the market. This increase is likely to bring intensified competition to the company in addition to the aspirations of increasing its market share.
The other threat to this company’s strategy of having an increase in the market share is the perception of customers about the company’s products. The company’s customers view Reed as a high-end company. This means that some of them are not able to purchase items. However, this situation may be changed through price modifications.
Reed has a good position in the market. Thus, it manages to stay ahead of most of its competitors in the area. Some of the companies that are important to consider while positioning the company include Wholefood, Delfina, Costo, Family Dollar, and Trade Joe’s (Carlson and Quelch 1).
In the positioning of quality, the company may be positioned above Costo, Family Dollar and Trade Joe’s. Wholefood is the only company to offer a higher quality than Reed in the area. In the pricing category, the company also performs better than Family Dollar, Costo, and Trade Joe’s, with a higher price for its items. However, Delfina has higher prices compared to Reed, with Wholefood ranking highest in the category.
The product positioning is compatible with the company’s performance. It is renowned for high quality products, products that have been imported from other nations and natural and organic products (Carlson and Quelch 1).
The challenge will be to maintain the product positioning while ensuring an increase in the same over the period within which the strategy is to be implemented. The pricing of the products in the organisation has to take the consideration of customers. This means that prices have to be according to the value that is accorded to them by the customers.
Perceptual map for Reed Supermarkets and competitors
Source: (Reed Supermarkets 11)
Apart from the suggested solutions to the problems described at Reed Supermarkets, other possible solutions include increased efficiency at the company, creation of a loyalty programme for customers and the introduction of products whose prices are in the mid-range. These alternative solutions along with their advantages and disadvantages will be discussed in this section.
Increased Operating Efficiency
The operating efficiency of an organisation affects its overall performance, and improvements in efficiency often result to increased performance (Peattie and Notley 333). Reed can increase its efficiency through the increase in employees and/or process efficiency.
This move entails motivating employees to work towards the achievement of organisational goals. It can be done through training and rewards (Valeriu, Tudor, and Andrei 732). The organisation can also engage in a restructuring process where the occurrence of role duplication among employees is tackled. It needs to maintain an effective staff team that is devoid of inefficiencies.
The other area that can be changed to improve efficiency is the supply chain. Reed operates in an industry where the supply chain is important in the success of a company. Supply chain management practices that can be employed to improve efficiency include automation and the use of technology.
The company also needs to engage positively with key stakeholders, including suppliers and retailers who buy the company’s goods. The optimisation of performance through the improvement of the supply chain is an effective way of increasing performance.
The main advantage of increasing operating efficiency in the improvement for Reed is that it is less costly compared to other methods. It is also easier to implement. Besides, it can be achieved within a short period.
The disadvantage is that it will lead to the organisation retrenching some of its employees, especially those who are deemed less effective. This reduction in the workforce may work negatively on the company, thus leading to fewer improvements in services.
Creation of a Loyalty Programme
The loyalty programme is a means of rewarding customers that are loyal to the organisation through the provision of special benefits. The creation of a loyalty programme is an effective way of ensuring that an organisation attracts and retains customers. Varadarajan (122) stated that a loyalty programme works by making customers associated to an organisation, and hence contributing to its success.
When an organisation offers rewards for customers that purchase a given product or a given quantity, they encourage them (customers) to purchase the products. Providing rewards for customers who frequent a store makes them return to the same store to buy other products. This strategy improves the company’s performance.
This option is associated with several advantages over other forms of interventions for Reed. One advantage is that the company can increase its performance through the incentives provided to its customers. The development of a loyalty programme also means that the company can establish a genuine client base, which it can use to promote its products and services. The disadvantage to the use of loyalty programme is that it creates dependence on customers.
Reed is known for offering high-end items, which are accompanied by the high-end pricing and customers (Carlson and Quelch 1). This strategy has helped the company in terms of performance, with profitability being experienced as a result.
A sizeable number of potential customers is unable to afford the products that are on offer at the retail company. The company can realise considerable growth and increase in market dominance if it develops a special price package for the ordinary customers. The sales volumes can also increase, thus leading to profitability.
The advantage of this solution is that it has the potential of increasing the number of customers visiting the organisation. As a result, it causes growth in sales and market share. The main disadvantage of using this strategy is that the company’s image as a high-end retail organisation may be diminished. Reed has used this plan to create its strategy.
Answers to Case study Questions
This section looks at some of the questions that are important to answer in the case study on Reed Supermarkets.
Reed’s Position in the Columbus market
Reed Supermarket can be defined as a market leader in the Columbus market. It occupies a favourable position in the market. It is ahead of most of its competitors in Columbus. Some of the companies that offer stiff competition to Reeds include Wholefood, Family Dollar, Delfina, Costo, and Trade Joe’s (Carlson and Quelch 1). In terms of quality of services, Reed is better than Family Dollar, Costo, and Trade Joe’s. However, Wholefood is the only company that offers better quality services compared to Reed.
Reed is also a high-end company offering high-priced items at its retail outlets. In terms of pricing, Reed performs better than Trade Joe’s, Family Dollar, and Costo by offering higher end items compared to these companies.
Wholefood is the highest-ranking company in this highest in the category, with Delfina performing considerably better than Reed Supermarkets. The company currently has a market share of 14%, with the CEO aiming to improve this figure to 16% market share. The main customers visiting the company are those that demand high-end items. The company can be said to offer the same services.
How the Supermarket makes Money
Reed makes money through the sale of items in its retail outlets. The items are high-end and highly priced to ensure that customers who visit the organisation are wealthy and can afford these items.
Like most other retail outlets, Reed gets goods from suppliers who get them from the manufacturing industries, or directly from the manufacturers. The source of Reed’s products is mainly the international market. The company imports most of the products at its outlet. The importation is associated with high quality goods. High-end customers prefer the imported goods.
After these goods arrive at any of the two warehouses, they are priced conveniently so that their sale brings maximum returns to the company. These products are then marketed through the appropriate channels for the organisation. The marketing campaign is targeted to the high-end customers. The company makes money when customers purchase items from its stores. It also proceeds to ensure that all the other costs are properly controlled.
Effective strategy for Reed moving forward: Is it Defensible?
The most effective strategy for Reed Supermarkets will be to concentrate on the profit margin for the items that it sells. The company should improve on the profit margins by reducing the operational costs and the losses that occur out of inefficient processes. The profit margins can also be improved through a lean and efficient workforce. This strategy may necessitate an audit of the human resource for the organisation. Reed should also embark on optimisation of the profits through the retention of the profit margins that it currently enjoys.
The company is known for providing high-end items, which are offered at a high price compared to other retail centres in the area. This character of the organisation means that most of the customers visiting its outlets are those that can afford to buy the items. Therefore, the company has managed to create a brand name for itself through offering these high priced and high-end items.
The dollar coupon is not an effective strategy for the organisation since it will erode the image created over a long time as a high-end company. The depreciation of the brand image may also result in the customers leaving the brand loyalty (Varadarajan 122).
The new strategy for Reed should be focused on the assurance of customer satisfaction, which is the main reason why organisations exist aside from making profits (Carlson and Quelch 1). It should be more customer focused, meaning that the products offered are relevant to the needs of customers. Therefore, the strategy is defensible based on the effectiveness that it may bring to the organisation.
Seriousness of the threat posed by Dollar Stores and Aldi
The threat by Dollar Stores and Aldi is not very significant to Reed Supermarkets. The reason behind the low threat from the companies is that they offer different services to different customers. Reed has managed to position itself as a high-end company while the Dollar Stores and Aldi serve customers on the lower markets. The only threat that these stores offer to Reed is in the fallout because of favourable pricing. Customers that are unable to afford the goods offered at Reed are likely to run to these stores in search of better pricing.
Reed has managed to maintain its brand image through pricing and quality of goods as stated above. Loyal customers have remained loyal even in the presence of dollar stores. Therefore, they are attracted by the brand (Carlson and Quelch 1). These customers are unlikely to migrate to these stores from Reed.
Hence, the Dollar Stores and Aldi pose little threat to the company. Over the past few years, competition between Reed and other companies has often been on the pricing platform, with the competitors purporting to offer better prices compared to Reed Supermarkets.
Should Collins continue the Dollar Specials campaign
The dollar specials campaign at Reed Supermarket was meant to make some of the goods affordable for the average and mid-range customers. The campaign led to some increase in the number of sales. However, the overall effect from this campaign is a reduction in revenue.
The opinion is that Collins should stop the dollar specials campaign immediately and revert to the traditional pricing method that the company employs. The brand positioning and equity that Reed has been able to attain over the past is based on high pricing of high-end products. The dollar campaign was going against this plan (Carlson and Quelch 1).
There were also financial losses associated with the dollar campaign, with a net loss of 76% on all the discounted items (Carlson and Quelch 1). The company’s operating profits for 2010 are said to be lower in relation to those of the previous year, with 0.4% of the reduction being attributed to the dollar campaign (Carlson and Quelch 1). Since some of the dollar stores are located close to the Reed Supermarket stores, the information on the dollar stores is causing the regular customers to change their loyalty.
Financial Impact of the Decision
The financial impact of stopping the dollar campaign with immediate effect at Reed will be positive and negative with reference to the organisation. However, the effects will be dependent on whether the period is immediately after or long after the disbandment. In the first few months after the dollar campaign is abandoned, the number of customers in the company is not likely to change.
This means that the profit margins are likely to be sustained over the same period. The 76% loss in profit from the items that were in the programme is likely to be corrected, with the company regaining its market share in terms of revenue.
The company had a net gain of about 3% in the number of customers in the period over which the campaign was in place. This was not significantly large compared to the losses that the company was incurring in the form of revenue. With the withdrawal of this programme from the organisation, the additional customers are likely to move away from the organisation, thus taking with them part of the revenue that the company makes. However, the revenue saved through the cancellation of the programme will compensate this loss in revenue.
Collin’s Action Plan for Reed for 2011
Collins should have an efficient plan for Reed for the year 2011, with this having the objective of reducing the operational costs and ensuring an increase in the market share in keeping with the company’s aspirations. Several recommendations are possible a highlighted below.
The first recommendation that is stated in the previous section is that the company should stop the dollar special campaign that it has in place (Carlson and Quelch 1). The reason behind the recommendation is that Reed has cultivated a culture that is part of its brand name. The company has traditionally dealt with high-end pricing and products. This plan has been important in the creation of the brand image and loyalty.
Most of the existing customers are a result of this image. However, the dollar campaign is eroding it. There are also no significant gains from the programme, with the net value being a loss. There is only an increase of 3% for customers to the institution.
These customers are mainly looking for bargaining and hence of little value to the organisation. The profits for the previous year are also said to have reduced by about 0.4% because of the introduction of the special dollar campaign. Therefore, the first strategy should be the cancellation of this programme.
The next step that Collins should take is to increase the sales target for Reed Supermarkets. According to Varadarajan (122), the sales targets are an important aspect of any organisation with the strategy of being successful in any industry. The current market share of 14% has stagnated over the last financial year.
This situation has not been received well by the CEO and other stakeholders. This assertion is the basis of the targeted increase by 2% for the current financial year to make the market share about 16% (Carlson and Quelch 1). The target that the organisation has in increasing the market share to 16% is a general increase of 95 million dollars to a sales total of $775 million for the year 2011 (Carlson and Quelch 1).
The target is reasonable. With the achievement in market share, the revenues for Reed Supermarkets will increase significantly. The current market for all companies stood at $4.74 billion (Carlson and Quelch 1). In the targeted increase in market share for Reed Supermarkets, the assumption that the executives and other individuals involved in the plan is that the total market share remains constant over the same period.
This assumption is valid, although the devised strategy should allow the achievement of more market share. The market share, being the first target in the assessment of the company’s improvement, should be monitored throughout the implementation of the strategy to allow for the establishment of the effectiveness of the strategy that is in place.
The other strategy that Reed Supermarkets should adopt is the maintenance of the target segment and an increase in the customer wallet share (Carlson and Quelch 1). Varadarajan (122) states that the retail outlets such as supermarkets are especially affected by the wallet share of their customers.
Reed has focused on the affluent in the society as the main customer base. This strategy has made the company operate with the brand that it has created. The other individuals that the company has targeted as its important customers are the older individuals in the society. These customers have a considerably smaller household size (Carlson and Quelch 1).
Collins should maintain the target population in his strategy to increase the market share for the company. The wallet share for the current customer base for Reed Supermarkets is 8.93%, which is smaller than the wallet share that exists in other types of supermarkets that are in competition with Reed Supermarkets (Carlson and Quelch 1). Therefore, Collins should target to increase the wallet share for customers of the organisation by at least a percentage a year.
The increment in the wallet share for the customers will mean a better performance for the company. The average wallet share for supermarket customers in the region in general is 10%, with this figure being above what is calculated for Reed’s customers (Carlson and Quelch 1). A percentage increase in the customer wallet share for Reed Supermarkets will result in an increase of about $79 million a year. This outcome will cause the company to regain its position in the market and increase its market share.
The next strategy that Collins should put in place is to maintain the brand positioning that the company has maintained to construct. Reed has maintained a culture of serving high-end customers, with the prices that are offered being relevant to this population of customers.
This strategy has worked well for the company, with the current advantage that it is enjoying over other institutions being because of it. Therefore, a suggestion is that Collins should maintain this strategy even as the company aims to increase its market share. The maintenance of the high-end market means that the brand name and the image created over the past few years will be maintained, and that the company will be able to retain its regular customers.
The company may use many ways to maintain its brand positioning. One example is that Reed should specialise in the provision of quality services and goods to customers, with these services and goods being better in relation to those of its competitors such as Delfina and Wholefoods.
The customer experience at the stores should also be improved, with the provision of better lighting, faster check out, and longer opening hours for the stores. The provision of improved services will also lead to improved competition, and consequently increased market share for the company.
The next strategy that Collins should use to improve the performance of the organisation and lead to an increase in market share is the provision of improved product mix (Carlson and Quelch 1). According to Kurt and Hulland (58), companies that provide a wider variety of goods often perform better than those providing a limited range of products.
The retail chain offers private labels in its product line. This move is considered an important contributor to the revenues of the company. A way of improving the sales from these products is to increase the private labels with the introduction of new ones.
The proportion of private labels to the other products should be increased to 25%. This increase should be accompanied by maintenance of the SG&A and the Gross margin (Carlson and Quelch 1). The company can use intelligent means of countering competition by the use of this method.
Another way of killing the competition that Reed should use is to sell two types of goods in each of the categories on offer, with three quarters of these goods being premium goods while the other share goes to private label products that are offered at cheaper prices. This move affects competition in that the competitors such as Aldi will be warned against entering the high-end market (Carlson and Quelch 1).
Reed should ensure that it rolls out food-containing and beverage-containing bundled products since this strategy will also lead to an increase in the market share for the company. A significant proportion of Reed’s customers buys organic pets food. The company should ensure that it maintains a hold on this proportion of its customers.
The current proportion of customers that are involved in the purchase of organic pets’ food stands at 20%. This figure is a significant proportion of the customers for the organisation (Carlson and Quelch 1). Therefore, Collins should ensure that these customers are retained in the company even with the changes that are likely to take place.
The other strategy that Reed should adopt is to increase the customer base that it relies on. Any increase in the customer base will translate to an increase in the market share for the company. Therefore, it is paramount that Collins focuses on an increase in the customer base if he wants to achieve the increase in market share.
Galaxy Stores Company presents a good example of one of the companies that Reed Supermarkets may attract some of the customers. Galaxy Stores Company is said to be in the verge of losing a significant proportion of clients, with this situation being driven by the poor location of its retail stores. They are unable to sustain the promotions (Carlson and Quelch 1).
Reed Supermarkets can attract customers from Galaxy Stores through the provision of more private labels and a convenient location of Reed’s stores (Carlson and Quelch 1). Reed should also add more stores, increase the quantity of prepared food, and establish a good relationship with customers who are willing to buy from the stores as an option for Galaxy Stores (Carlson and Quelch 1). With any percentage increase in market share that Reed is able to attain through the grabbing of Galaxy’s customers, the company stands to gain an excess of $47 million (Carlson and Quelch 1). The increase in market share will be in keeping with the strategy put in place by Collins while the increase in revenue will be beneficial to the company.
In the price strategy, the only change that is suggested is the scrapping of the dollar special in the organisation (Carlson and Quelch 1). The move to eliminate this programme, as stated above, will be important in guaranteeing of positive performance of the organisation. Collins should not adopt new strategies to improve the prices for the moment apart from this suggested scrapping of the special dollar programme.
As Varadarajan (122) says, the pricing of a commodity for any organisation should be done after consideration of several factors such as the market value, the production process, the utility of the product, and the demand. In the case of Reed Supermarkets, the pricing for its products is based on the brand image that it intends to maintain. The prices are adequate after the elimination of the special dollar campaign.
The next strategy that Collins should adopt for the success of Reed in increasing the market share is to embark on a promotional drive for the company. The company should utilise the various media types in existence to ensure that it expands its brand image (Varadarajan 122). Promotion and marketing constitute some of the most efficient ways to increase the sales of a company. Collins should adopt these measures to increase the performance of Reed Supermarkets.
The promotion should be carried out on the media, including the internet and print media. The internet is the most effective and efficient method of running advertising campaigns for the supermarket chain. The traditional media types such as the television and print media (Varadarajan 124) should complement it.
The company should ensure that while carrying out the advertising campaigns, there is an emphasis on the type of clients that the company serves and the type of products that it is offering (Varadarajan 125). The company should target the high-end market. Hence, its advertising campaigns should be specific to this group.
It should sponsor events that are often attended by the high-end individuals with the aim of boosting the image of being a classic company with its interests in mind. The adopted marketing campaign should be effective in the promotion of the company. With this move, the market share for Reed should increase.
The other strategy that Reed Supermarket should adopt to achieve an increase in the market share is the use of e-commerce in its operations. Varadarajan (122) states that with the developments in the telecommunication age, companies cannot afford to ignore the role played by the internet and other forms of technology in their success.
Therefore, Collins should ensure that the company has a strong presence on the internet, with development of a working website and the use of internet advertising. The use of e-commerce at the retail centres should allow the company to stay ahead of its competitors, with the customers being able to transact using the online services.
In organisations where the internet has been applied as a form of e-commerce, significant improvements in revenues for the organisations have been recorded. Reed Supermarkets should implement the same plan where customers can shop from different parts of the state at the comfort of their sitting rooms.
The other areas where Collins should focus on improving is the supply chain, which is an important part of an organisation operating in this industry. The supply chain should be automated with the introduction of different strategies such as effective inventory management (Barbu and Ionescu 296).
The last suggestion for Collins in terms of to increase the market share for Reed in 2011 is to maintain the existing stores, with no addition of new ones. Although the other companies that are indirect competition with Reed such as dollar stores have increased their stores, they have only managed to realise a small increase in the number of sales and market size of share (Carlson and Quelch 1).
The current stores that Reed operates are located in favourable places. An addition of more stores will affect the company’s image, as these new stores will be located in inaccessible areas for customers.
The other reason behind the advice of not increasing the number of stores for Reeds is based on the strategies that the company has over the next year. Reed plans to increase its market share over the next year. This move will lead to the consumption of most of the available revenue.
The company is also reported to have limited revenue that is available for expansion in the financial year. Therefore, expanding and opening of new stores will not be financially feasible. The other reason behind the dissuasion for Collins to open more stores is that the new stores will also be a liability for the company. If implemented, the above measures will be effective strategies for Reed that hopes to increase its market share by 2% points over the next year.
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