Brand: Mercury Vehicles. Mercury vehicles are part of the Lincoln-Mercury brand, which are manufactured under the Ford Motor Company.

What is Mercury’s category membership?

Mercury’s category membership is motor vehicles. Mercury competes with other car dealerships because the competition offers close substitutes that are in the same price range as the cars Mercury has to offer.

List all of Mercury’s competitors and analyze the competition.

Mercury currently offers five different models under its brand. There are the Mercury Milan, Mercury Mariner, Mercury Mountaineer, Mercury Sable, and the Mercury Grand Marquis.
The base price of the Mercury Milan is $18,725. The competitors for the Milan are:
1) The Nissan Altima has a base price of $20,080. The Altima offers more horsepower and torque than the Milan, and also has a lower destination and delivery price of about $100 less. The Milan outweighs these negatives by first offering a lower base price, including an mp3 player and heated exterior rearview mirror, both as standard equipment.
2) The Toyota Camry has a base price of $21,075. Between these two, the Milan seems to be a better choice because the Milan is not only cheaper, but has more horsepower. The Milan also offers exterior security approach lights, which are not even an option with the Camry. The Camry does though have a higher combined fuel economy with 25 mpg, while the Milan has 23mpg. This is not a significant enough difference for the Camry to be a better option than the Milan.
3) The Honda Accord has a base price of $21,160. Besides the difference is price, the Milan and the Accord are very similar in offerings. The Accord does offer more than the Milan in that it offers a160 watt speed sensitive volume radio/ CD/ mp3 player as standard equipment. The Accord also has more horsepower and slightly better combined fuel economy with 24mpg versus 23mpg. These are some of the reasons why the Accord is priced slightly higher than the Milan.
The base price of the Mercury Mariner is $20,920. The competitors for the Mariner are:
1) The Toyota Rav4 has a base price of $21,100. The positives of the Rav4 are that is has six speakers, instead of 4 like the Mariner. The Rav4 also offers more horsepower and torque. The Mariner though offers features that are not even optional for the Rav4, such as a moon roof and a keyless entry keypad.
2) The Jeep Liberty has a base price of $20,330. The Liberty and Mariner are about equal in price and offered features. The Liberty offers higher horsepower and torque and an unlimited powertrain warranty, but the Mariner offers a higher combined fuel economy and multi-adjustable power seats.
3) The base price of the Honda CR-V is $20,700. The CR-V outweighs the Mariner in not only price, but also features. The CR-V has a higher combined fuel economy, more horsepower, and like the Accord, offers the 160-watt speed sensitive volume radio/ CD/ mp3 player.

The base price for the Mercury Mountaineer is $26,050. The competitors for the Mountaineer are:
1) The Buck Rainier has a base price of $31,550. The higher price does not seem at match up with the added features. The Mountaineer and the Rainier seem to have the same amount of added features, but the Mountaineer keeps its lower price. The Mountaineer would be the better choice because of price; it also features an mp3 player and side impact airbags, which are not available for the Rainier. The Rainer does though offer a warranty that is one year longer than that of the Mountaineer.
2) The GMC Envoy has a base price of $27,015. The Envoy is the obvious better choice in this match-up, especially for a music lover. The Envoy has a top-notch sound system with six speakers, speed sensitive volume control, and XM Satellite Radio. The Envoy also has more horsepower and higher combined fuel economy.
3) The Jeep Grand Cherokee has a base price of $28,115. With this match-up the Mountaineer is the obvious choice. The features the Mountaineer offers that are not available for the Grand Cherokee are: an mp3 player, higher horsepower, side impact air bags, third row seating, dual zone automatic climate control, rear seat climate control, keyless entry keypad, and a rollover sensor.
The base price for the Mercury Sable is $23,540 and $25,005 for the Mercury Grand Marquis. The competitors for the Sable and Grand Marquis are:
1) The Chrysler 300 only competes with the Sable, and has a base price of $28,445. The 300 offers better traction control than the Sable, and also an unlimited powertrain warranty. The features that the Sable has, much like other Mercury cars, are the keyless keypad entry, rollover sensors, side impact airbags, and dual zone automatic climate controls.
2) The base price of the Buick Lacrosse is $25,310. The Lacrosse is very similar in its features when compared to the Mercury cars. The main difference between the two is that the Lacrosse offers a longer warranty and a higher combined fuel economy.
3) The base price of the Toyota Avalon is $27,075. The features specific to the Avalon are nine speakers, six disc CD changer, XM Satellite Radio, and a trip computer with average fuel consumption, fuel range remaining, and a stopwatch. The Avalon has the same combined fuel economy as the Mercury cars. The Avalon is lacking in that it does not offer a second row bench seat, and rear-electronic parking aid, which the Mercury Sable offers.
4) The Buick Lucerne only competes with the Grand Marquis, and has a base price of 26,245. The Grand Marquis offers six available seats, while the Lucerne offers five. The Grand Marquis has rear wheel drive, while Lucerne has front wheel drive. The Lucerne has features that the Grand Marquis does not that include an mp3 player, XM Satellite Radio, and longer warranties.

What are the points of parity Mercury shares with its competition?

Mercury shares many different points-of-parity with its competitors. The most obvious, and important, is the fact that Mercury is an internationally established vehicle manufacturer, with which they share with many other vehicle brands. Mercury has been manufacturing reliable vehicles since 1930, therefore offering legitimate and credible products, this being a category point-of-parity. Mercury has achieved competitive points-of-parity in that they have continued to stay current, alongside their competitors, in their offered features.

What are Mercury’s points of disparity?

Mercury’s main point-of-disparity is that they offer the same features as their competitors, but at a lower price. This has been the reason Mercury has not been exceeding its competition as well as it should, because this point-of-disparity is negatively correlated to its points-of-parity. It is natural that we, as consumers, do not positively relate lower prices with better or equal features.

Do you think they fulfill the POD criteria?

Mercury does fulfill the POD criteria in some areas, but not in others. As for the Consumer Desirability Criteria, Mercury succeeds in that the POD is relevant because low prices are always a feature that is important to consumers. Mercury also succeeds in that their POD is believable and credible. Because of Mercury’s long history in the vehicle business, consumers know who they are, and their brand is recognized. Consumers do not second-guess Mercury as a credible brand. Mercury’s POD fails in the area of distinctiveness. There are many other brands that offer low priced cars, therefore making Mercury not stand out in this area. Low prices also do not render a feeling of the brand, or the feature, being superior to others. This goes back to low prices being negatively correlated with quality.
As for the Deliverability Criteria, Mercury again fulfills only a portion of the criteria. Mercury has succeeded in the areas of feasibility and communicability in that they have created their POD by offering the low prices and delivering them to the consumers. Mercury fails in sustainability, much like they do in distinctiveness. Their POD is not difficult to attack, because, once again, there are many other lower priced car dealerships.

Using the Ansoff’s Product Market growth market, suggest a strategy for Mercury using each of the four quadrants.

Using market penetration, Mercury must use its existing products and existing markets to create growth in sales. The best way for Mercury to do so would be to look at how they market their cars, and what type of advertisements are being used, then consider what could be done to improve these. Mercury should try and relate their commercials and ads to their consumers. They need to more closely identify what type of people their consumers are, and relate to them. I would also consider advertising to outlets other than television and print ads; Mercury should extend their advertising to radio as well. Overall, they should increase their advertising in all outlets.
Using product development, Mercury must use its existing markets, but introduce new products, to create a growth in sales. I think that the best way for Mercury to succeed in this area is not to offer a new model of car, but to offer more features in the existing cars. A way for Mercury to gain knowledge on what consumers would want for additional features would be to survey past consumers and potential consumers. From the answers, Mercury could then make the additions in future models. For example, I have noticed that many of Mercury’s competitors offer XM Satellite Radio as standard equipment. These small features can highly influence a consumer’s decision on which vehicle to purchase.
Using market development, Mercury must use its existing products and introduce them to new markets, to create a growth in sales. Mercury currently markets their cars to an older consumer. I would have to say that this aspect is the largest problem that Mercury must conquer. I would suggest creating advertisements that appealed to younger consumers. Mercury might consider using celebrities, or sports stars in their commercials, or also including music from the current generation. Something that other car companies do to promote sales is by having a display model in places such as malls. By doing this, people are more willing to look at and consider the product, because they do not have to go out of their way. If Mercury were to start this, they could gain consumers attention that would otherwise not be willing to go to the dealership.
Using diversification, Mercury must introduce new products to new markets, to create a growth in sales. I would suggest that Mercury add another model to their line-up to gain interest and increase sales from the younger consumer. Mercury currently does not have any two-door car, which is often favorable by younger consumers. This new car should have sleek, sportier look.

Five strategic changes Smirnoff can implement to boost brand value.

To boost brand value, Smirnoff should extend their current line. Smirnoff can do this by adding different items to their product line. Some of the items that could be added are different flavors of vodka, lacquers, mixers, or possibly even different types of liquor itself. With this line extension, Smirnoff will be able to target its current consumer as well as a new market segment.
Category extension is another way that Smirnoff would be able to gain value. With this concept, Smirnoff would be introducing products outside of alcoholic beverages. For example, some items that they could introduce could be cocktail tools. These tools usually consist of a shaker, strainer, double jigger, bottle opener, zester, stirrer, and ice tongs. Smirnoff’s motto is “Clearly Original. Clearly Smirnoff.”, so to go along with this motto, all the cocktail tools could be made clear. This would differentiate Smirnoff in that typical cocktail tools are silver metal. Smirnoff could also introduce a line of cocktail glasses, especially the martini glass, which is the drink Smirnoff most heavily advertises.
Smirnoff could also tap into co-branding and ingredient branding with their alcoholic beverages. Smirnoff can do this within the recipe section of their website. When listing the ingredients, instead of listing 1 oz. Cranberry juice or 1 oz. Pineapple juice, Smirnoff could list 1 oz. Ocean Spray Cranberry juice or 1 oz. Dole Pineapple juice. They can also do this by listing recipes that include lacquers such as Godiva Chocolate Lacquer or Starbuck’s Coffee Lacquer.
To gain more value from the consumer, Smirnoff could improve their brand elements. I do not feel that Smirnoff is currently differentiating itself enough in the market. Smirnoff is not as meaningful as it could be; therefore it is not very suggestive about the brand user. The two ways I feel that Smirnoff can gain more value are by changing the packaging and making the “Smirnoff experience” more personal.
The current packaging of Smirnoff is very generic and plain. There is nothing about the bottle that jumps out and makes it unique. Consumers, especially the younger generation, are more likely to buy a bottle of vodka based on price, taste, and if it is aesthetically pleasing. Many new alcoholic beverage companies are becoming successful because they have either had aesthetically pleasing bottles, or had a more “hip” name. For example, Pink Vodka has been doing well because of its obvious pink colored bottle, and so has Little Black Dress Wines because of their name, and how young fashion-forward women can relate to it. Smirnoff should obviously not change their name, but think about how to change the shape of their bottle, or the colors used in the packaging, to make it more aesthetically pleasing; therefore catching the eye of potential new consumers.

Whom should NPR’s marketing campaign target within the college going student market?

Within college going students, the reference group that NPR’s marketing campaign should focus on attracting more of should be graduate level students. Graduate level students are highly educated students that have already, or are very close to, entering the workforce. These students are more likely to care about issues relating to current world news and political issues. Because current news and political issues affect jobs in the United States, the information given on through NPR will be more relevant to the personal lives of graduate level students.

Which reference group should NPR avoid?

NPR should avoid the younger college student, for instance freshman, and also possibly sophomore level students. NPR should avoid this reference group, not because these students do not care to hear the given information, but because the typical lifestyle of these students does not allow the time. Typical freshman students deal with the stress of living a in a new and different location, along with meeting new friends. They also deal with the issue of adjusting to the college structure of classes and homework. In addition to these situations, they deal with peer pressure, enabling them to be socially acceptable within their new environment. Because of these factors, students have little free time or “down” time, therefore leaving little time for radio listening.

How should NPR position themselves in the minds of their target audience?

In specific to college going students, who use the Internet as their main source of news, NPR needs to market them as a better and easier source than the Internet for news. NPR should also position themselves as a quick and easy way to receive the daily news. Graduate students often live very busy lives and do not have time to listen to an entire radio program, or even the entire news show on television. Therefore, NPR should possibly every half hour, or every hour do recaps of the current daily news that only last a few minutes at most.

Suggestions for what media NPR should use to reach this audience.

The number of radio listeners is decreasing within all generations, because of this NPR should market through other outlets besides radio. NPR should mainly market on the Internet; especially search engines, like Google, which are often used by students. Another good place to advertise NPR would be magazines, such as TIME, or any other publication that touches on the same issues that NPR does.


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