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Perceptual map in marketing is an important tool in positioning a company’s product in the market. The business environment is never short of competitors, prompting a company to devise strategies that will not only increase market share of its products, but also help it to remain relevant and competitive. This paper discusses the perceptual map of Thorr Motorcycles, Inc. in relation to its high-image product whose sales are declining, despite scoring high in terms of quality and lifestyle image. Although price is a factor, the company seeks to reposition the product by differentiating it, rather than altering the price. In so doing, it has managed to continue attracting the targeted market.
The primary means to prosper in business is the ability of a firm to beat competition from rival firms and stake a sizeable market share. This is no mean business, as it requires a lot of intelligence in the market. Moreover, a product may be thriving during a given period, but start losing its appeal later. In this respect, differentiation and position of the product is important. This will be aided by having a clear perceptual map of the product as well as other competing products. Having a perceptual map will not only help the firm to reposition the product in the market but it will also help the firm to understand how customers perceive the product, based on their tastes and preferences (Jayachandran, 2004, p. 185).
Thorr Motorcycles, Inc. is facing this problem of declining market share, more so due to the changing preferences of its customers. Importantly, the company offers one of the best brands in the market, but some aspects and attributes of the product no longer appeal to the targeted customers. It is also important for the firm’s marketing department to understand the pertinent issues related to differentiation and position of the product as well as the life cycle that the product undergoes since its first introduction to the market. More so, the firm must first identify its position in the market, as well as conduct its own SWORT analysis in order to know which direction to follow.
This essay will discuss perceptual map in marketing in relation to Thorr Motorcycles. Primarily, the essay will look at the three parameters identified, including lifestyle image, quality engineering and price. It will discuss the situation existing at the company, give recommend solutions and assess what are the likely results. These will be done in relation to the differentiation, position and the lifecycle of the company’s product.
One of the most important aspects in marketing is to retain existing customers, and one way of doing so is to ensure the product continues to meet customers’ needs (Armstrong & Kotler, 2011). Customers will always like to associate themselves with the product whose brand image is high. In Thorr Motorcycles, lifestyle image is very important, as the targeted customers will like to purchase motorcycles that improve their lifestyle image. The problem here is that, retaining the existing customers is becoming difficult, since, as they age, their lifestyle changes and they may no longer prefer the image portrayed by Thorr’s motorcycles. However, redesigning the brand may alter its image as a status symbol. Therefore, it is recommended that the firm improves on the services offered in order to retain the existing and attract more customers.
The results of this improvement in services show that customers continue to regard Cruiser Thorr highly, with significantly high percentage stating that they enjoyed the brand due to its solidity and stability despite it being costly, while others claiming that the motorcycle signifies power, which they could not find in other brands. In addition to their affection on cruisers, customers also prefer purchasing the cruiser as it fits their lifestyle and portrays a status symbol that makes them stand out from the rest.
It is important to note that customers purchase a certain product due to the value they derive from it. This value normally comes from the quality that the product exhibits, which may be by design, performance, or sophistication. In the case of Thorr, it is important to keep up with the market’s demand in terms of quality, more so considering that other competing brands may also be improving in quality, as well as the fact that the sales of the company are declining despite the growth of the market. However, it is important to note that, altering the features of the brand may not go well with customers, as they rate the cruiser brand highly in terms of performance.
In terms of product design and characteristics, a big percentage of customers consider Cruiser Thorr as being of high quality, especially in terms of engine performance, power and capacity.
Price is one of the most sensitive areas in marketing, more so because it directly influences the purchasing decisions of the customers irrespective of other attributes. As discussed above, it is important to note that customers tend to rate cruiser Thorr highly in terms of image and quality, but they are taken aback by its pricing. In assessing the perceptual map of Thorr, it is evident that price of the product ranks it lowly in the eyes of the target customers, and this is the main reason why sales are declining. As seen above, the high status image portrayed by Cruiser Thorr attracts the younger population; however, the same group of people is not endowed with high disposable income required to finance this brand.
Although the firm may like to capture this market segment with a low price incentive, it also needs to consider that in so doing, the image of the product will be affected adversely – indeed, a low price depicts low quality and low brand image. Conversely, increasing the price of the product will significantly reduce the market share of the product, considering the purchasing power of the customers. Therefore, the firm needs to maintain its pricing and improve services such as promotion and financing.
The result of this is that, although the price may be unaffordable by a significantly larger number of customers, most customers will find it attractive to purchase the Cruiser when financing service is offered. In so doing, the firm will not only continue to command its stake in the market, but also attract the ever-expanding target market. Given the above parameters that the firm has in its perception map, the following marketing components need to be implemented; repositioning, provide financing and increase services, and differentiate the product using promotion, place and services.
Cruiser Thorr positioning and differentiation
The firm has the option of repositioning Cruiser Thorr or launching a new product that will suit the younger clientele, RRoth. However, considering the cost implications and the need to maintain the status symbol of Cruiser Thorr, it is important to reposition the brand in the market. Positioning and differentiation of a product in the market is very important in attaining a competitive edge over rival products (Cant, Strydom, Jooste, and Plessis, 2009, p. 137).
Before discussing the relationship between differentiation and positioning it is important to first understand what the two marketing strategies mean. Basically, differentiation involves offering a product that is unique in terms of design, quality or performance, such that it will be difficult or even costlier for competitors to offer the same. This allows the firm to gain loyal customers who will like to be associated with a product that offers the maximum benefits even at a higher cost. On the other hand, positioning involves creating an image in the minds of customers about the company or product.
In this case the customers will have an image of the firm based on the value they derive from it. For instance, customers view Cruiser Thorr as status symbol. Position is actually one of the strategies that have enhanced the success of perceptual map in marketing (Jayachandran, 2004, p. 185). The relationship existing between the two is that positioning follows from differentiation. Simply put, a firm first differentiates the product to the liking of the customers, and then it positions the product in the market with a certain image that is favourable to those customers.
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This relationship can be seen in Cruiser Thorr, whereby, the firm differentiates the product by altering its marketing mix to suit the needs of customers. However, given that the firm wants to maintain its lifestyle image, altering the price may not be favourable, and as such, the differentiation strategy adopted will simply dwell on promotion, place and services. Primarily, the firm needs to promote Cruiser Thorr through film including sponsoring events that are of high calibre such as the Daytona, offering free ride tests as well as giveaway merchandise. In terms of place, the firm needs to place the products at locations where customers can access them with ease.
Importantly, dealers, distributors and showrooms are good channels, but internet beats them all given that the target market is made up of younger generation that is more technology savvy. Finally, in terms of services, needs to train dealers as they are directly in contact with customers as well as customize the services to cater for those who seek high image product at any cost. Moreover, financial services will be important to cushion the effect of high price of the product.
Having differentiated the Cruiser to suit the customers’ needs, it is still not a guarantee that the customers will buy the product due to its high cost. Therefore, positioning is important. Here, the fir identifies providing financial options and increasing services as the best positioning strategy. This creates an image of the Cruiser as a high-image product, yet the price component does not hinder its appeal as financing option is provided.
A product goes through various phases since its first introduction to the market – introduction, growth, maturity and decline. Basically, the lifecycle affects marketing, for instance, during introduction, the firm needs to aggressively market the product in order to penetrate the market. During growth and maturity, marketing may not be extensive as sales are high but new marketing strategies are needed during decline phase. In the case of Cruiser Thorr, the lifecycle affected the product when the aging clientele started shifting to other brands as they could no longer associate with the attributes of the product.
Perceptual map in marketing is important as it allows a company to position its products in a more competitive way in the market. For Cruiser Thorr, three parameters were identified in forming the perceptual map – lifestyle image, quality engineering and price. While the first two ranked highly on perceptual map, the latter ranked lowly prompting the firm to reposition the product in order to continue being competitive in the market.
Armstrong, G., & Kotler, P. (2011). Marketing: An introduction (10th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Cant, J. W. et al. (2009). Marketing Management. New Delhi, Juta and Company Ltd Publishers.
Jayachandran, S. (2004). Marketing Management. New Delhi, Excel Books India publishers.